Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Pilot Review: Ordeal by Innocence

Ordeal by Innocence (Amazon)
Premiered August 10

Here’s the latest three-part BBC drama to be put out by Amazon for American audiences, and considering my affinity for the last one, “A Very English Scandal,” I was definitely intrigued. What I will say about this show, which is adapted from an Agatha Christie novel, is that it manages to convey mystery and dread better than anything else I’ve ever seen, mostly thanks to its score by Stuart Earl. The flashes of events, both real and concocted by those seeking alibis and to blame others, are extremely effective in creating a chaotic sense of confusion, one in which truly any of the characters we met could be guilty of killing the vicious, hated matriarch or had some villainous role in her demise even if they didn’t land the final and fatal blow. It’s great to see a few familiar faces leading this cast, starting with Bill Nighy, whose favorite performance of mine remains “Love Actually.” Matthew Goode, who recurred on both “Downton Abbey” and “The Good Wife” towards the end of their runs, is Emmy-nominated this year for “The Crown,” and plays a very intense role here. I’m also fond of Alice Eve, who gets to play a juicy part of the young woman who’s marrying the widower and has almost as few fans as the late monster wife she’s replacing. If I wasn’t so behind on all my TV, I might pick this show up, but at this point I’ll settle for just this one involving and suspenseful hour of television.

How will it work as a series? Three episodes doesn’t seem like it will be sufficiently long enough to fully sort out what happened with this murder and its many players. Given how fast the last three-part saga I watched moved, I think the exposition in this opening episode will be replaced by clarification and complications in episode two, and then swift resolution in episode three.
How long will it last? Reviews were mostly good, and Amazon is a good platform the for the show. There isn’t more of a story than what’s contained in these three episodes, I’d imagine, but adapting more of Christie’s seventy-plus works, even without the participation of the BBC, could be a good move for Amazon if this proves a real success.

Pilot grade: B+

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