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bevan on the box; nathan bevan casts a critical eye over the week's tv.

Byline: nathan bevan

nathan bevan casts a critical eye over the week's tv HALFWAY through the second series of Marcella (ITV) and I still can't understand the appeal of this utterly overblown and ludicrously daft cop thriller.

Then again, I still find myself inexplicably drawn to it each week - so what does that say about me? Following in the footsteps of Idris Elba's Luther with its 'troubled detective in an over-sized trench coat' vibe, it stars Anna Friel as the maverick DS Marcella Backland.

With a home life as troubled as her cadaver-strewn day job - bitter custody battles, prone to lengthy violent stressinduced blackouts - she's a woman struggling to keep the fraying ends of her psyche together.

So it was no surprise to see her at the start of this series, face bloodied, teetering on the ledge of a high-rise building somewhere contemplating suicide.

Confusing but Anna Friel in Indeed, all the action that's followed since that opening scene a few weeks back - and there's been a lot of it - has been in flashback, revealing bit by gruesome bit the events that led her to the top of that tower block in the first place.

All well and good were it not for the fact that the script writers seem intent on stuffing each hour-long instalment with so much plot contrivance and seemingly incidental characters that, four episodes in, I'm still none the wiser about what's supposed to be going on.

Young boys are being kidnapped and murdered, but not before an unseen nut-job in blue nitrile gloves does unspeakable things to them, including stuffing talismanic discs up inside their rib cages.

Then there's Nigel Planer's elderly rocker with creeping dementia who may or may not have killed a young girl back in the day, the truth about which is being fiercely obsfucated by Keith Allen's weasely band manager.

Oh, and don't forget Jason Hughes' smarmy industrialist and his slightly icky obsession with a young male boxer, or Marcella's nerdy colleague and that fact he's set up a covert camera in her house.

And that's before we even mention former Harry Potter star Josh 'Gregory Goyle' Herdman as a pugilistic shop floor worker first seen about to hold up a convenience store with a baby strapped across his chest and a gun stuffed down his waist belt.

And quite what the two women in a same sex relationship and their struggle to conceive has to do with price of IVF-fertilised eggs is anybody's guess.

It's as bad as the first series with its raft of pointless auxiliary names and faces, so no doubt we're once again dealing with more red herrings than Vladivostok fish market.

compelling: Marcella All the while Marcella inches ever nearer to the run-down rural cottage where all manner of nastiness has been going on - and to the truth behind the past trauma which sparked her worrying fugues in the first place.

But, with another month's worth of instalments left to go, I just wonder if I'll still care come the big climax.

Friel is great, but this gleefully grisly and po-faced show makes it hard work for her, or anyone else, to really shine.

SAD to hear the passing of Sir Ken Dodd. ITV broadcast 2002's Another Audience With... in tribute to the veteran entertainer.

A master of his craft and the last of the real old school entertainers, he'll be much missed.

Tatty-bye Doddy.


Confusing but compelling: Anna Friel in Marcella
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Mar 18, 2018
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