Archive for February 26, 2012

There is at least one well known crime fiction columnist who refers to those of us who read Scandinavian crime fiction as the “chattering classes”.  What does he make of the new fashion for watching foreign crime TV series, and eating herrings on rye bread. Are we exhibiting some kind of middle class snobbery, or do we just like a good story well told?

I have recently watched one episode of the promising American series Homeland, and two episodes of Montalbano, which had all the charm and comedy of the books. The start of the Danish series Those Who Kill awaits me on the recorder. To provide some balance I decided to watch the new series of Kidnap and Ransom starring Trevor Eve, who I remember from his days as private investigator Eddie Shoestring in 1979-1980. I had not seen the first series and had no idea what to expect.

I had hoped for something of the standard of Foyle’s War, or Scott and Bailey,  and was even prepared to put up with the incessant adverts on ITV. Unfortunately despite a large travel budget and a star cast, Kidnap and Ransom will send this viewer rushing back to Borgen, The Killing, Spiral, and Braquo begging for subtitles.

Writer Michael Crompton stated in The Guardian that “he wanted to make sure the drama wasn’t like those Hollywood films where there are standoff and guns. I wanted to look at the psychology and give it a sense of veracity.”

I don’t like being critical, but almost all the viewer got in episode one was “standoff and guns”.

The setting is Srinigar in Kashmir where the handover of the money for the release of a wealthy British Asian family goes disastrously wrong, and negotiator Dominic King [Trevor Eve] is faced with a situation in which one of his hostages is held hostage again on a bus with a tour group, which just happens to include the daughter of an important foreign office official.

We assume that Dominic King [Eve] is a clever expert because he calmly plays a strange game of chess with an elderly local before the first handover. That was apparently the veracity. We know King is high tech because he rambles around with several mobile phones all apparently taking advantage of the excellent mobile reception you get in Kashmir. Luckily he does not have to operate in the Exe Valley or on Dartmoor.

We know he is a smooth operator because his assistant, the attractive Amara Karan, does all the work; and back in London he has the gorgeous women Helen Baxendale and Natasha Little fighting over him. Not content with this array of female beauty the daughter of one of the hostages on the bus is played by Sharon Small.  I admit it was the presence of the fragrant Sharon Small on the cast list that made me watch this program rather than any determined search for balance in my television viewing.

The action in episode one strained one’s credulity to the limit. One of the hostages is shot attempting to escape, and with incredible speed, an autopsy, and ballistic analysis prove it was the black clad trigger happy Indian security police that shot him. Then Dominic King is allowed by the Indian police to saunter round the tour bus containing the frightened hostages and terrified kidnappers, writing messages on the side of it, while telephoning all and sundry. 

I lost interest at that point, but will probably be back for episode two to see Sharon Small travel out to Kashmir; and to find out whose body Trevor Eve dumped in a lake in the start of the episode before we flashed back to action two weeks previously.

I have my theories, the script writer…the director….his agent……..