January 27, 2015

Killer TV: Women & The Fall...

We have just spent two weekends binge-watching  The Fall, a terrific British miniseries and its sequel starring Gillian Anderson (X Files) and Jamie Dornan (50 Shades Of Grey).

Anderson is Stella Gibson, a senior police officer investigating a string of murders in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Dornan is the serial killer she is pursuing.

Anderson's Gibson is a smart strong confident sexual career woman, and the actress is amazing in this. Dornan, a model turned sex symbol turned actor, shows he can act.  The first season is the deliberately paced discovery as they learn about each other over five episodes, and we see the crimes and the methodical investigation, and the second is their personal battleground over six episodes. 

This is not a boom/crash action-packed network TV... it is careful; every word and every action by the large cast of supporting characters matters and helps build the psychological profiles of the two leads.

I see a huge difference between The Fall and the shock and awe of weekly explosive violence porn series like Stalker or Criminal Minds

Unlike most police shows, here the cop and the killer are both leads. And at first, it is the ice queen investigator who is the outsider, vs the conventional family man suspect, as the show jumps back and forth between them, a riveting cat and mouse game building until when they will eventually come face to face. Both are compulsive and methodical, both have calm exteriors and seethe below the surface.

This is a show about women, from the victims to the investigator; as I thought about each female character, I thought of them as real people rather than the stock disposable characters we see in less aware TV shows -- the wife of an abusive husband who looks for solace in the arms of a stranger, a young babysitter who falls for her charge's father, the killer’s wife who knows nothing about his secret sex and murder tendencies, an obsessive police officer whose fascination with the psyche of a suspect becomes intertwined with her own sexual desire -- the care and intelligence given to each one of these women is remarkable.

The Fall is quiet and creepy and twisty and suspenseful ... and goes to some very dark places, especially with the killer's relationship with the family's teenage babysitter. Of all the personal journeys here, hers is the darkest as she becomes obsessed with her sexual father figure, who is a serial killer obsessed with pain and suffering.

This is our first contender for best TV of the year... If you have Netflix, or a friend with Netflix, or can make a new friend to get access to Netflix, watch The Fall.