Today on Dork Adore: I review Accused, a proper BBC drama, with powerful acting, real-life issues and a firm grasp on the fundamentals of storytelling! I suspect our Beloved Editor gave me this assignment because she sensed my growing frustration reviewing Sinbad, a show which is the opposite of all that.
But any port in a storm, frankly. So, the BBC’s new big-stars drama mini-series– can it live up to that pedigree?
Well, I’ve seen two of four episodes in this second series. At the start of each standalone story, a character is in court for a crime, which we see unfold in flashback, then hear the verdict. Simple. First up: Sean Bean plays a transvestite with an unwise romance in Tracie’s Story. Check it out on iPlayer here.
I won’t spoil the plot, even the crime he’s charged with, because the suspense is the main appeal, but a big sell is seeing Bean, normally playing doomed action heroes, acting against type as a less rugged character who will definitely survive to stand trial. And he’s a pro, so he sells the hell out of it, especially the duality between his character’s male and female sides.
The story itself is a tad predictable by the halfway mark, even as writer Jimmy McGovern tries to toy with us, but it’s still hard to look away if you find Sean Bean’s performance as mesmerising as I did.
This is solid character-driven drama, but it evoked more of a resigned sadness than genuine stabbing emotion.
But don’t worry, episode two Mo’s Story is absolutely heart-breaking! It centres around Ann-Marie Duff and Olivia Colman as two mothers on a gang-ruled council estate, who find themselves dragged into the cycle of violence. And, again, get it on iPlayer now.
Although Duff is the lead, Colman gets the emotional scenes and proceeds to completely nail them. I first knew her as Sophie from Peep Show, but between this and last year’s Exile with John Simm, it’s clear she’s also a big dramatic talent.
It’s not as visceral as episode one, visually mostly grey boxes, and I have no idea how realistic this portrayal of “gang culture” is – for some reason it didn’t ring as true as Sean Bean’s cross-dresser – but the emotions on display still hit home.
And yes, miserable. So sad. So unhappy. Hardcore BBC urban grim drama, complete with a sense of unavoidable doom throughout the second half. Definitely a programme to watch though, as long as you don’t mind a downer afterwards.
So, that was the first two episodes of Accused. Join me in a fortnight or so for the second lot, with Robert Sheehan of Misfits and Sheridan Smith. They could be even grimmer and grittier, but I still expect to enjoy them more than Sinbad.