Today marks the highly anticipated return of eerily-cool crime drama The Fall to BBC Two, bringing with it the perfect accompaniment to a chill winter’s evening.
The show was the channel’s highest rated drama series launch in eight years, with an average of 3.5 million viewers tuning in every week to watch its compelling tale of hunter becoming the hunted.
If you haven’t seen the first season, make your excuses and settle in for a day of catching up – it’s available for free on BBC iPlayer right now.
In return for angering your boss or missing a catch-up with friends, you’ll be rewarded with a gripping psychological thriller, as Gillian Anderson’s enigmatic detective superintendent is pitched against Jamie Dornan’s exacting serial killer.
Don’t worry that the killer’s identity is revealed pretty much from the off – this isn’t your average procedural whodunnit, but a dark insight into lives entangled by a particularly horrific series of murders.
So here’s why we should all be excited at spending the next five weeks checking all the doors and windows are locked at exactly 10pm every Thursday night:
1. Gillian Anderson as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson
With roles like Miss Havisham in the BBC adaptation of Great Expectations and Blanche DuBois in the National Theatre’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire, Anderson has already done more than enough to escape the shadow cast by The X-Files’ Agent Dana Scully. But DSI Stella Gibson really is her crowning glory. Clearly the intellectual superior of her colleagues, a feminist, fearless and sexually liberated, The Fall would be nothing without her at its centre.
2. Jamie Dornan as Paul Spector
Sure, the whole world and its husband and wife now know Jamie Dornan as actor cast to play 50 Shades Of Grey’s Christian Grey. They should also get to know Dornan as Paul Spector, the psychosexual killer in The Fall. On the face of it, his character is ridiculous – an impossibly handsome bereavement counsellor who lives at home with his wife and two children…and also leads a double life as a murderer of women. It says everything about Dornan’s acting chops that he still manages to make Spector so utterly believable.
3. It showcases powerful female roles
It might sound counter-intuitive for a show that revolves around the brutal murder of beautiful women, but The Fall puts women in control at the heart of a world beset by terribly flawed men. The police investigation into Spector’s crimes would be hopeless without Gibson, who in turn needs the analysis of pathologist Reed Smith (played by The Good Wife’s Archie Panjabi, pictured above) for essential clues. And the first episode of series two features two great scenes where the aggressive male/submissive female gender roles are quite brilliantly reversed through the subtlest of actions.
4. It’s the best non-Scandinavian Nordic Noir yet
When trying to replicate the success of Scandinavian hits like The Killing or The Bridge, English-language television went for straight remakes, losing the originals’ essence in the process. The Fall certainly attracts comparison with the likes of The Killing – its detached, female detective, washed-out palette and haunting, ambient score for starters. In actual fact, The Fall’s script was developed long before Sarah Lund and her natty line of sweaters ever appeared on British screens.
5. The Fall is a British drama that can compete with the best US television going
If you look at the market for box sets right now, it’s no surprise to see it dominated by US shows. Going head to head with the likes of Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, House of Cards and The Walking Dead, British drama still struggles to compete with the budget and brains behind them. While it may not have the resources of its US counterparts, The Fall is a show that punches well above its weight among any of the top televisual contenders. How do we know this? Well, as with all great series, no matter how late the time is, try getting to the end of an episode without thinking: “Oh go on, just one more.”
The Fall starts tonight on BBC Two at 9pm
Follow Nick Norton on Twitter @OnlyForKoolKids