So back we are again with our merry band of flesh-cutters, though they were hardly very merry today. Things are still a bit awkward with the new boss (who Nikki spends most of the time acting as if he’s an ex-husband she’d rather forget, even though all he has done so far is, well, his job), and the case is getting murky.
Not everything is bad for Nikki. She is being hit on by a superstar footballer (played by Hugo Becker, who is admittedly easy on the eye), but he’s been arrested on suspicion of murder and has a history of tweeting racist jokes. Awkward. Plenty of fish in the sea, Nikki.
The beautifully bleak, washed-out cinematography was so gorgeous you could go through screenshotting and hanging the images on the wall. Extremely shallow depth of field was often employed (background blurred, foreground in focus) and, most noticeable of all, everything was kept very dark. This was partly because nobody turned any lights on. Actually, I’d just like to make a point about this….
DO WE NOT HAVE LIGHTS ANY MORE….?
IS THIS BECAUSE OF OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT?….
OR BBC BUDGET CUTS?….
NAH, IT COSTS A LOT OF MONEY TO MAKE EVERYTHING THIS DARK…
But it all looked so atmospheric it was probably worth them straining their eyes when reading their autopsy notes.
This slow-burning story proceeded at an almost glacial pace, but this is what Silent Witness does. It changes and adapts to the story it’s telling. Next week we might be pumping along as if we’re in Sky’s Strike Back, but today the mood was sombre and brooding and it worked very well. In an age when nearly every crime drama seems to involve a woman being raped and tortured in a dungeon by a pervert dressed as Chalky the clown, it’s refreshing to get a story that is more concerned in the puzzles and clues than the horror. The plot did border on the overly complicated towards the end (who was doing what and why?) and some may not have been satisfied by the ‘it’s all down to the secret service’ conclusion. Amanda Burton certainly wouldn’t have been fobbed off with that. Maybe she should return next series in a dramatic comeback. That would certainly have Nikki chewing up the scenery.
Although it went off the boil for one silly series in 2011, Silent Witness has, over its seventeen years, matured into a rather superb series of excellently crafted films (even if they have our brains doing somersaults). I’m intrigued to see where it takes us next.
Parts 1 and 2 of Silent Witness: Commodity are available to view for a limited time on BBC iPlayer. Images: BBC iPlayer.