Movies in Focus can often be very critical of British television. Even when it’s firing on all cylinders on a script level, it never feels like it pushes the boundaries on a story telling or visual level. However, that changed with The Fall – a show that could potentially be the best drama to grace British television screens in years. I might unleash the big plaudits and say that it might even be one of the best ever.
This second series of The Fall sees Metropolitan Police Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) continue her investigation into Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan in a role that didn’t make his Fifty Shades of Grey casting difficult), a serial killer terrorising the streets of Belfast. On the surface Spector looks like a loving family man, but there’s an inherent darkness hiding within.
The Fall has the potential to be the average cat and mouse police drama, but there’s a richness in the writing and characterisation that elevates it above the standard fare. Anderson and Dornan may be the focus of the show (and both do great work) but the supporting characters all get the opportunity to shine. This gives creator Allan Cubitt’s show a wide selection of emotional off-shoots that may not be a major part of the plot, but help to add a complexity to the overall tale.
The writing and characterisation of The Fall may be first rate but the ace in the hole is Belfast. This is the first major TV drama shot in the city after ‘the troubles’ and it simply looks stunning. The unique look of the city adds a visual sheen to the show that makes it feel fresh and original, offering much more than a generic UK city. The Fall doesn’t focus on Belfast’s political past, but it plays underneath the show’s main plot and John Lynch’s Jim Burns is a relic of this time, a man driven by Belfast’s past who must play an important role in its future.
The Fall is a stunning piece of British television which manages to mix impressive writing with outstanding visuals. On the surface the show may look like another generic serial killer police procedural, but this is much, much more. This is a complex drama that has seriously raised the game for UK television, upping the ante in front of and behind the camera.