The Escape Artist with David Tennant is brilliantly acted but has a bin liner of a plot

TV Review

The Escape Artist [BBC I, Oct-Nov 2013] had an ingenious central idea, lots of brutality and blood, and good acting by a superb cast. Unfortunately its dramatic impact was frequently stalled by a bin liner of a plot

In each of its three episodes, the watchers in our household uttered cries of frustration at clunky plotting rather than of horror at the almost obligatory scenes of blood and violence meted out by almost obligatory psychopath. Wife victim returns to lonely cottage where she has seen creepy said psychopath; Slick Barrister Tennant seeks revenge v cunningly with implausible plot line [another ‘Oh no it’s not that one’ moment].

They used to say Naomi Chambers could model a plastic bin-liner and make it look good. David Tennant almost pulled off the bin-liner trick, but even his acting couldn’t sustain the dramatic thrust of this bin-liner of a production, written by David Wolstencroft (creator of Spooks).

Other views

Other reviews have been cautiously ambivalent, with mentions of great acting mingling with references to the ludicrous plot and the violence. As Grace Dent of the Independent put it with irony

[I]f I’m going to sit through another “And you’ll never guess what? He cut her vagina off! And then he shoved it in her mouth!” sort of drama, then I’ll choose one with Tennant, Okonedo and Kebbell. And let’s be fair here, the victim did return to a deserted cottage where she’d seen the killer previously. A good defence lawyer would say that she was asking for it.

2 Responses to The Escape Artist with David Tennant is brilliantly acted but has a bin liner of a plot

  1. Trish says:

    After the final episode I was full of questions — WHY did he elaborately sneak around the Scottish house if he intended all along to talk to Foyle ? WHY did Foyle even HAVE a big house in Scotland (with no birds – his only hobby supposedly) and WHY was Will Burton so readily believed at his trial when all the facts were against him? WHY didn’t Maggie pursue the investigation, having discovered the murder plot? And so on. I’m fed up with ludicrous plots that teach only revenge and hatred, when it could so easily have presented us with an ending of “good triumphing over evil”. This morning I spent a few minutes rewriting the plotline and it turned out even more suspenseful and engaging, and it didn’t leave us with a Barrister supposedly dedicated to the Law, committing murder. If I can do it, surely experienced scriptwriters can?

  2. Thanks for this. And congratulations on your testing and re-making of the ending. That was a far healthier reaction to that of many viewers on one chatline, which was one of uncritical and near universal acclaim.

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