The Escape Artist

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The Escape Artist

*Warning may contain some spoilers*

You know hat a TV show is good if you are thinking about it through the following day and just now there are a few shows that are really hitting the mark: Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” finished its second series on Monday and I really hope it returns for a third because it found it’s feet this season with flowing dialogue, great characterisation and some excellent performances. Then tonight we have the British remake of the Norwegian Drama “The Bridge” called “The Tunnel” based around a murder right on the halfway mark of the Channel Tunnel which is a great psychological thriller and is building the tension nicely. But since last night there has been one image in my head – of Liam Foyle standing at the window looking in at Will Burton. Chilling.

It would be easy and lazy to say the show was clichéd (step forward Telegraph reviewer Neil Midgely) but while many of the premises were standard fare there were some great human moments, shocks and Hitchcock-esque camera angles in play here. To be fair to the writer David Wolstencroft, while there were clichés around he used them to get us to the end of the episode and open the story up because from here the real action starts. With David Tennant (as Will) on reliable form and Toby Kemmell (Liam Foyle) on chilling form the two were well matched sitting opposite each other as Will coached Liam for his Murder trial. Burton gets Foyle off on a technicality and the action really kicks in from that point.

What could have been a fairly run-of-the-mill courtroom drama then threw open the story to a very personal one and changed the style of the show from the moment Burton refused to shake Foyle’s hand. The subplot of Will being the number one up and coming solicitor and Maggie Gardner (Played by the magnificent Sophie Okonedo) as the second place in the power play comes to the fore when she then takes on Foyle’s next murder charge which holds a moral mirror up to Will Burton and makes him consider his earlier line “Everyone deserves a defence” as it’s thrown back at him by her.

The writing is good but the performances makes it a great show. David Tennent is never unbearable – even as the solicitor who hasn’t lost a case he shows the moral dilemmas defence lawyers face as they try to do their jobs defending the obviously guilty but ensuring they are fairly treated within the legal system. It’s tragedy in his life that brings Tennant’s skill as an actor to the fore and he pulls you in with those big eyes and your empathy is unquestionably with him. Toby Kemmell is chilling in his performance as the cold outsider Liam Foyle. His calmness and stillness are punctuated with flares of anger and ironic statements making him difficult to take your eyes off when he is on screen. Sophie Okonedo plays ambitious Maggie perfectly showing the balance of moral integrity with ruthless determination to be the best and outshine Will. The whole cast perform their roles well and bring what could be an over clichéd script to life in a realistic and engaging way.

Can’t wait for the next two instalments – if you missed it go and watch it on the iPlayer now. Word of warning though, close the curtains or blinds if you are having a bath after…

JD

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