The Reckoning Review: Chekov It Ain’t

THE RECKONING – Monday 18th April, 9pm, ITV1

We had a discussion in OTB towers last week about which television programmes had “jumped the shark” in recent years. Inspired by the moment when Fonzie cleared a shark in a water-skiing stunt on Happy Days, the phrase refers to the point at which a show loses credibility by going a bit too far. Well, The Reckoning jumps over its first shark about five minutes in, and gets slowly more ridiculous until the characters are practically somersaulting over a marine life pyramid on jet skis fuelled by moon-dust and magic dreams.

But, if you can stick with the plentiful plot twists and gaping holes, it’s a pacey two-parter that does what it says on the tin. Dismiss those nagging voices that say “But WHY is she doing that? But, why don’t they just go to the Police? Why is any of this happening?” and The Reckoning is positively enjoyable.

Ashley Jensen (formerly of Extras and Ugly Betty) is Sally Wilson, a beleagured mum looking after a very sick daughter. She’s called to the creepy offices of a creepy lawyer, who tells her she stands to inherit five million quid, if she can abide to certain ‘stipulations’. Those stipulations are – wait for it – she only gets the money if she can kill a man who ‘deserves to die’. Cue oh-em-gee music, and we’ve got some classic ITV Drama on our hands.

Her boyfriend, ex-copper security guard Mark (Max Beesley), is intrigued and before long the couple are debating the whys and wherefores of murder. Throw in the idea that Sally’s daughter needs an expensive American treatment for her illness and the proposition looks even more attractive.

As the plot unfolds, and unravels, you might find yourself picking too many holes in the character’s baffling actions to bear. But, dim your logical faculties a little bit and the drama is perfectly sustainable. If this had been played by, say, an Amanda Holden and a Darren Day, we might have been in serious trouble, but Jensen and Beesley are both brilliant enough to have us hanging on for the second installment. Watch with a glass of wine in hand, and brain firmly on standby.