IN THE DARK sees DI Helen Weeks grapple apprehensively with pregnancy - and she has been compelled to return to her loathed rural home town of Polesford, Derbyshire.
Two girls have been abducted, and the man arrested is married to Helen's childhood best friend, Linda. But is he guilty? And why is Helen so desperate to come to Linda's aid after avoiding Polesford for all these years?
Opening with a shot of the drenched countryside, In the Dark reflects its title – the subject matter is dark and the initial cinematography is as dark. Yet not all is brooding and depressing – which is surprising given the plot of the series.
Yet the delicate balance between darkness and light is what makes In the Dark interesting in the first place. Rather than simply being a cold hearted, depressing, detective series the mixture of comedy and tragedy ensure that the show is more than just watchable – it makes it compulsively watchable.
One of the secrets at the heart of why In the Dark is so compelling is its central character, DI Helen Weeks (MyAnna Buring). Buring is a skilled actor whose performance in Doctor Who and Ripper Street highlight her ability to play both sensitive and hardened characters. Those two characteristics as expertly combined in In the Dark; Weeks is neither an overly grim character or overly cheerful. Rather than portraying a caricature of a hard working police officer, Buring invest Weeks with real feeling and passion.
The first scenes of Weeks in Polesford are excellently played by Buring – the tense reaction she gives to everyone and everything around her, highlights Weeks intense dislike of the situation she had found herself in. Buring does not fail to engage the audience in this opening episode and one imagines this will be the case with the rest of the series.
Ben Batt is equally engaging as DI Paul Hopkins, Helen’s boyfriend. Batt’s relaxed and persuasive demeanor is a welcome contrast to Buring’s much darker performance. Batt’s levity helps keep the drama from plunging too far into the depths of despair and breaking the balance between good and depressing drama.
Batt’s humour and Buring’s intense portrayal of her character are at the heart of the first episode. It is the interplay between Buring and Batt that makes the conflict between Weeks’ past and present so engaging for the viewer.
In the Dark is an interesting, subtle and dynamic new drama that expertly walks the line between being a depressing police drama and being a drama without any impact. Instead it is has shades of dark and light that complement one another and ensure that the dark subject matter never becomes too much for the audience. This is combined with stylish direction by Gilles Bannier and excellent acting by Buring, Batt and the rest of the cast to ensure it's one of the best dramas that you will see this year. Gripping, malevolent and extremely watchable.
- Aired on BBC One, July 11 2017 at 21:00.