TV – Mayday Review – Episode One

In BBC One’s new drama everyone is a suspect, smoking cigarettes like criminals do and looking all shifty eyed like a cartoon dog. Seemingly, they all have skeletons in their closet which, in most cases, will turn out to be red herrings.

To be aired over five days – an annoyingly common policy the BBC persists with, making the decision to watch the show a chore, as if you’re forcing yourself to do some work – Mayday revolves around a small town in which a teenager has been killed. The villagers try to work out what happened, and who is guilty.

Mayday is clearly influenced by The Killing, BBC Four’s unexpected hit import, about a teenager who is murdered and the attempts to find the culprit amongst her family and friends. But Mayday seems to have taken the worst element of that show, namely the heavy air of guilt that hangs over every character. The Killing wrapped itself in implausibility as it revealed clearly guilty characters to be innocent and seemingly relevant plot points to be red hearings, over and over and over again.

I can see no scenario were this won’t happen with this show. So far, we’ve got a creepy policeman who borderline raped his wife, a creepy forest nutter whose brother ‘knows exactly what he’s done’ (an annoyingly obvious piece of misdirection), creepy Aidan Gillen who beats his son and a creepy councillor with a motive who hangs a model of the dead teenager from a model tree. Almost all of these characters are going to have to turn out to be innocent at some point; how is that plausible? Can one town really have that many suspicious people all on one day?

Meanwhile, you have the march of the Sun readers out hunting pedos, a plot point which could go either way; an interesting and relatively brave examination of how ego and mob mentality often rise to the surface in the aftermath of child abductions, or, alternatively, a lazy plot technique.

All that said, the show moved pretty quickly, and I found myself immersed and not watching the clock. There are some nice character details such as the young floppy haired kid making money out of some dodgy internet activities, a plot point handled relatively subtly by the show – so far. The acting is good and the directing quite haunting if a little heavy handed.

I remain optimistic, and there was enough in the first episode to keep most people watching the next.

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