Sunday, 5 June 2011

Case Histories: review


Case Histories, a new BBC series introducing Kate Atkinson's private detective Jackson Brodie to the small screen, has just begun and I've watched the first of six episodes. In fact, I'd meant to take another look at Scott and Bailey, but decided they would have to wait, as I'm a big fan of the Atkinson books.

The first episode certainly didn't disappoint. Jason Isaacs, one of my favourite actors (he was born in Liverpool and I once imagined him as a candidate for Harry Devlin) plays Brodie, and does a very good job of conveying his appealing character. So appealing that, even though his glamorous wife has left him, three other attractive women pursued him in the course of this single programme, which might just be the scriptwriter over-doing it a bit.

However, the story was very entertaining, pacy and mysterious, with Jackson investigating the death of a young woman (whose father was played by the excellent Phil Davis) and the disappearance of a child, one of four rather enigmatic sisters.

This was a show which made good use of background music as well as the Edinburgh setting, and there was no sense that the story had been padded out - far from it. Scott and Bailey made a reasonable start, but Case Histories is, so far, more compelling.

10 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - Thanks for the review. I hope some of the U.S.television affiliates start getting some of those series; this one sounds well-done and it's not the only one...

Tim said...

I'd agree, although I did find the shift from Cambridge (the book) to Edinburgh (TV) a bit perplexing.

Spangle said...

I was gutted that I missed the start of this series, because everyone in my house likes 'Scott and Bailey'.

I'm going to watch the first episode of 'Case Histories' today. I'm glad that this novel has translated well on screen, as Kate Atkinson is one of my favourite authors. Great Post.

Maxine said...

Hmmm - the music was intrusive, the direction tricksy, the JB character far too fit and healthy, and one of the main stories isn't even in it (but there is still time for repeat shots of woman dying with blood spurting out, and JB as young boy running across woods over and over again)....I don't usually watch TV and I think I now know why! (I am not really comparing it to the book, I just found it very bitty and unsatisfactory). JI is very good looking, etc, though, so I suppose that part was OK.

Martin Edwards said...

Margot, yes, it's made a good start.
Spangle, hope you like it as much as I did.

Martin Edwards said...

Tim, Maxine, I have to admit this is one of the JB books I haven't read. Which may make a difference. But I did enjoy it. Just seen the second episode, which again I found pleasingly different from most TV crime dramas.

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I read Case Histories not long after it was first published and my memory of it was vague, but somehow this version didn't seem too similar - and checking back on the book I see why.

I was wary of watching the programme, as I'm often disappointed by film versions of books I've enjoyed but liked this one well enough as a completely new experience. But I agree with Maxine - the music was distracting and those repeat shots were excessive. And why the switch to Edinburgh?

Minnie said...

Good review, thank you. I thought it was mostly very well-done.
Moving the setting to Edinburgh does much to compensate in advance for an otherwise perhaps inordinately fragmented series of plots: continuity of background plus sense of place both help 'ground' the series IMO.
I appreciated the fact that the complex structure was retained + the viewer wasn't patronised (one of my bĂȘtes noires, esp. the wildly signalled shock-to-come!).
Have read the books (big fan of Kate Atkinson), & tend to see JB increasingly as more of a female fantasy figure than a fully-rounded character; but that's just me, maybe - & Jason Isaacs is terrific in any context!
Bit bothered by premature presence of Louise (who doesn't appear until the next novel) & thought the script failed to show Julia Land's true battiness as much as it might have done ... but am quibbling now!
PS Don't give up on Scott & Bailey just yet, Martin - they improve upon further acquaintance.

Martin Edwards said...

Margaret, it may even be a plus, then, that I haven't read the book!
Thanks also to Minnie. Yes, I must watch Scott and Bailey again!

Martin Edwards said...

Margaret, it may even be a plus, then, that I haven't read the book!
Thanks also to Minnie. Yes, I must watch Scott and Bailey again!