Monday, March 09, 2009

Five Days

Huzzah for HBO and BBC TV. Their recent miniseries Five Days is excellent entertainment, not quite State of Play level, but certainly a better use of your precious viewing time than most things on TV. The story begins with a pair of disappearances, one of a young mother and the other of her two children, and then follows the police, the family and other citizens across five separate non-contiguous days.

The show feels very much like a good crime novel. There are the frustrations of the investigation, surprising plot developments and the trauma of the family left behind. Much of the story revolves around the reactions of the father, the mother's parents and the older sister (from a prior marriage) left behind. The characters alternate between attacking and supporting one another as they try to deal with their loss. The acting is quite strong, especially by David Oyelowo, as the father.

While the series has been widely praised, the ending is a problem for some people. The major criticism is that it is an afterthought and feels disconnected from the story. I think it is in fitting with modern crime novels, where the whodunit element is of less important than the effects of the crime itself. I do think the ending is reasonable and that clues to it are provided throughout the show.

The length of the show is a bit of a problem. The fourth show in particular doesn't add as much to the overall story as do the rest. The developments could have been folded into other elements. In the bonus features, the writer tells us that she was approached to do a five part program. As such I think the story was stretched a bit to fit the format.

This one should appeal to fans of both true crime and crime novels. Note, despite being a crime show, there is little to no violence and not much on the detection. So don't go looking for it.

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