Let’s start with the reality that there are no likable characters in this mini-series. None. Zero. The adults are all flawed and selfish, and that is reflected back to them in their children and the story that unfolds. It will sadden you and anger you that such situations exist, and you won’t be able to deny they do. The current generation or two of child-bearing adults around now are, in a huge generalization, more worried about themselves and their emotional happiness than they are the next generation to follow. Yes, huge generalization, but it is more a cultural norm than we’d like to admit.
So, why watch this? It is very cleverly constructed such that it will pull you along. It begins with the death of a child. The rest is the background and, frankly, one of the more clever denouements I’ve seen in such a mystery show. While there is some police procedural going on, they are really a side-line to the emotional story. The police become the viewer trying to figure out, amidst an embarrassment of motivations, what happened.
I came to this piece for Whately (Inspector Lewis) and Sharp (Bob & Rose, The Second Coming), both of who I very much enjoy watching. But there is a host of talent that keeps the story alive. The blended family adults are filled out with Somerville (Harry Potter), Puleston-Davies (Revolver), Ashfield (Line of Duty), and Madeley (Mr Selfridge). There isn’t an adult without neurosis in the lot. But somehow, they all make you believe and fret and doubt.
But the miniseries would have failed if the younger actors, Boath (The Mummy Returns, Pillars of the Earth) and Michael (The Sarah Jane Adventures) hadn’t been able to sell a beautifully painful dynamic of step-siblings and growing up. These two become flawed mirrors of their parents, though neither is inherently trying to harm the other.
The series is a heck of a ride. You may want to shower afterwards and hug your kids, or nearest substitute, but you won’t have been bored.