Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Pilot Review: The Split

The Split (SundanceTV)
Premiered May 23 at 10pm

The latest international series to be broadcast stateside by a network known for exposing American audience to great foreign fare is this BBC1 drama, which airs its sixth and final episode in the UK tomorrow. This is quite the dramatic show, one that has a distinctly British flair but also involves nearly as much sex and intrigue, if on less explicit display, as any cable American drama. I immediately recognized the two top-billed stars from their roles on shows that have made it over to the United States, Nicola Walker from her recent part as a lesbian reverend on “Collateral” and Stephen Mangan from his memorable lead role on “Episodes.” Walker’s Hannah is a quiet force to be reckoned with, someone who works in the messy world of divorce law but doesn’t seek to break apart families and go for her opponent’s throat, and she’s often sitting right across from her sister during negotiations as she represents the other side. The featured client of the hour made a passionate appeal himself to spend time with the son he knew was in the building, a far more pressing concern than giving up his right to make jokes at his ex-wife’s expense. The other major client dropped a shocking divorce request on his wife in the meeting with the lawyer, hardly a kind step mired further by his obvious and problematic infidelity. There’s a whole lot of interwoven webs and illicit affairs going on here, which is sure to lead to some disastrous explosions that should keep this decent drama going.

How will it work as a series? The return of the patriarch is already causing the three adult sisters and their mother to grapple with long-suppressed questions, and the ongoing cases are such to make matters even more stressful. The six-episode format should allow the arcs to be properly explored and wrap up in a way that could well legitimize another season or conclude it satisfactorily.
How long will it last? I can’t find much ratings or review data on this show for either the United States or the UK, but my suspicion is that it will be positively-received in both countries, perhaps better across the pond. There are so many limited series like this these days that it’s hard to know what will be renewed, but I think this one could very well be recommissioned for another round.

PIlot grade: B+

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