Home » Film & TV » Watching the defectives #1V – Silent Witness

Watching the defectives #1V – Silent Witness

With the help of endless, instantly available CCTV footage and the incomparable forensic skills of sarcastic Dalek-with-hands, Clarissa, quivering ET-lookalike and perennially sex-starved pathologist, Nicky (‘Silent Wetness’?) and her edgy paranoid-psychotic cage-fighting Irish crime-scene investigator anti-buddy, the improbably undamaged Jack, have finally connected enough dots in the face of police blundering and dishonest false trails laid by the writers, to lead about-to-be-promoted, parricidal depressive Detective Sergeant (name escapes me, sorry) and his meat-faced, about-to-be-pensioned-off, fit-’em-up Inspector (name also redacted by alcohol) to the on-the-run London Underground serial killers, a sad pair of losers hacking their way through a messy litter of heartless ex-social workers to recover her long-ago adopted-out son, who are cornered on the northbound platform at Chalk Farm station.

A train enters the platform. For some reason it does not look like it will stop.

Now, the first episode has started with a gorefest as a mutilated body is scraped off the line in front of muttering commuters (‘did he fall or did he jump?’ Oh, come on, this is a weekly two-part whodunnit, right? Of course he didn’t bloody jump!).

So knowing the worst that can happen, and presumably having seen Bonnie and Clyde, Thelma and Louise, Butch and Sundance, etc., what do our unlikely sleuths do, as the killers link hands and gaze at one another moistly on the platform’s edge?

That’s right, they stand around doing NOTHING, apparently unable to believe they’ve finally got to the ending.

Until, of course, the inevitable happens.

So, now Nicky has cracked both cases, Detective Sergeant whatsisname goes back to see his mumbling old mum in the home, to thank her for taking the rap for him and doing time in Holloway all those years ago for the crime he has had trouble remembering he committed while attempting to save her from being run down by his dad in a fit of extreme depression at being cast as a man stranded in a tiny farm-labourer’s cottage on a bleak Scottish moor.

Even though Nicky has pointed out to us that he was below the age of criminal responsibility when he miraculously managed to stab his abusive dad to death with a penknife through what would have been the fixed rear cab window of a pickup-back 1960s Land-Rover, and so Mum needn’t have bothered after all. Such is life.

Hey, you know that great special effect where the escaping killer falls/throws himself in front of the train/bus/speeding truck/airplane propellor, apparently in realtime? Yep, CGI meets CSI. Possibly the most expensive part of a show that eclipses even the BBC’s ‘Spooks’ for low-budget silliness.

(I mean to say, a reputable pathology research institute employing only four people? Come on! That’s almost as credible, surely, as MI5 employing only six!)

Apart, that is, from the bloody prosthetics. Ooh, I can’t bear to watch. Look, there’s two more chopped-up faces! Cue castrato wailing incomprehensible lyrics, just like in The Bridge.

And roll credits.


And would the writers of Episode 3 kindly note, it’s ALWAYS the apparently loyal and honest but secretly embittered security chief…. That’s how we guessed who the killer was in Part One. The apparently loyal and honest but secretly embittered security chief is the new Agatha Christie’s butler.

More of the above

Double-episode #4, and I am getting that something strange is going on in the production department.

I have noticed that the budgets for Part Two of every double-episode are approximately half those allocated to Part One.

Because, whereas in Part One you might get lots of extra characters wandering around, like in any scene where the two paid detective actors are sticking little pictures up on the wall to try and solve the crime there are usually four or five non-speaking parts in uniform, with their sleeves rolled-up, looking busy in other parts of the room, or a bunch of extras demonstrating in the street, brandishing the writers’ idea of placards bearing topical slogans, by Part Two of Silent Wetness it’s just the four or five principal goodies, and a couple of baddies and their brassy blonde wives, who are still in the show, and everyone else seems to have gone home, or have ended up in effigy on the slab while Nicky toys speculatively with their liver.

I was greatly concerned last night, therefore, when only three or four of the usual black-garbed ‘armed response’ squad could be found to turn out to tackle the baddie and his cage-fighting, drug-addled son (who the scriptwriters had consistently tried to pretend was the actual baddie, only it was daddy who was the baddie) under the flyover, even though they’ve been warned by the teenage hostage daughter of the bent Customs officer who lets the drugs in to fund his wife’s treatment for MS using a random broken phone from the glove compartment while Bad Dad chuckles maniacally over an entire containerload of heroin from Pakistan packed in cheery blue and pink kiddies’ lunchboxes, that “e’s go’ a gun!”, so that the sweaty, lank-haired, middle-aged copper hero, who gets to bed the undiscriminating Nicky, goes in unarmed without even a stab vest and is shot through the heart before the low-budget three-man Swat team can take out the son, who isn’t the real baddie after all. (We never do find out what happens to Dad. While blonde, brassy mum doesn’t even get charged as an accessory to murder, which is odd considering she has consistently lied to everyone to protect him, but maybe there wasn’t the budget for all that paperwork.)

In a final act of ruthless scriptwriterly dishonesty, we see the policeman, now mostly recovered except for walking with a stick, being ruefully grateful to Nicky (thankfully without them both actually nodding and chuckling, the way everyone does at the end of 1970s US TV cop shows when the hero and his buddy standing atop a pile of corpses have survived another episode) for bringing him back from the dead. Presumably, while shouting ‘Stay with it!’ as the hapless paramedics are complaining that he has no detectable  functions, she has managed to perform a roadside heart transplant operation, something all pathologists are trained to do just in case they are ever invited to join in a live police operation against armed drug dealers and heavyweight crims.

At which point, indeed, she makes a joke about it making a change dealing with the living; a pleasantry the writers might take to heart.

In passing, I am beginning to imagine that somewhere in West London dwells a gang of maybe two dozen blokes, possibly Poles or Lithuanians, ex-military, disguised from head to toe in black, bullet-proof armour, with their own agent, who hire themselves out to TV production companies on minimum wage as a kind of permanently on-standby Swat team.

It’s the sort of quietly anonymous but occasionally adventurous life I’d like to live, to be honest.



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