BBC TV Crime Drama: The Fall

Poster for The Fall BBC Tv Series shows a picture of Gillian Anderson along with the words The Fall in capital letters
Gillian Anderson stars as DS Gibson in The Fall, BBC 2 original TV series

It’s rare for me to do a write-up of a TV series or film but when opportunity  strikes for me to rave about one, I go full steam ahead.  The Fall, a new BBC 2 series completed its first season and is available now on Netflix streaming. The Fall is dark, disturbing and features one of the strongest female performances in awhile. The Fall is one of the best crime drama’s I’ve watched on TV this year.

The Fall is described as an “Irish-British” crime series that premiered on BBC 2 earlier this year and ran from May 2013 to June 2013. The series stars Gillian Anderson from the X-Files fame and Jamie Dornan (I haven’t heard of him but he’s on my radar now). I’ve never watched the X-Files and didn’t recognize her but Gillian Anderson’s performance in this series is what made this one a winner. She’s tough, as the lead investigator Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson. She’s brought in to help find a serial killer who’s terrorizing Belfast.

The Fall has the classic “violence against women” type of story line. The killer targets beautiful, professional women who live alone. His hunting ground is a dating service. The identity of the killer is known from the start. He has a wife and family. He’s a grief counselor. He’s good-looking and smart.  He hides in plain sight. I thought he was one of the creepiest villains I’ve seen on TV. The suspense for the most part lies in the hunt. DS Gibson is determined to catch this sadistic killer. You can also say that they are equally matched in how he continues to elude capture and in how she tries to get into his mind.

I thought the series, it’s only 5 episodes, well written and well-acted. Nice cinematic style with close-ups in key scenes and moments to amp up the tension. This is also a psychological thriller, in part. For a short series, it hit all the bases for me. This in spite of its unsavory subject.

Nice Belfast scenery but I wish there was more of it. The dialogue was smart and incisive. DS Gibson had some great lines. We all know that the best women detectives are depicted as what? Emotionally distant, smart, dedicated and tough and can hang with the big boys. DS Gibson is no different. However, most men tend to find her sexually alluring and are willing to leave their wife and children behind for her. Of course, she’s the only one with common sense enough to say: that would be a mistake. She enjoys her share of “sweet nights” (first time I’ve heard the term) and gets called on it when things get messy and complicated in an internal investigation in another storyline. I liked how she handled that one, too. I liked her character, period. She’s no nonsense and calls it like it is. She’s a strong female protagonist. She makes this series  worth watching.

There are multiple storylines with one involving a prostitution ring. The pacing was great. Every episode left me wanting to watch the next one. I liked how the surprises popped out of nowhere making things even more complicated and interesting. The show’s violence is matter of fact. Different from other shows where the bloodier and gruesome it is the better. Not for me. There are forensic details and clinical scenes. While this story may sound conventional, the writer Allan Cubitt decided to emphasize some things and make tweaks to other elements in the serial killer trope. The ending is somewhat different and unexpected. I’m not sure how most viewers felt about it but it made sense to me and dare I say it? Realistic. There’s to be a season two and I’m excited by that news. I think this series is worth watching.

If you get the chance to watch it, do it.

16 thoughts on “BBC TV Crime Drama: The Fall”

  1. Grrrh, I lost my first post. Anyway, I cannot wait for this series to arrive from Netflix. It’s been at the top of my queue forever, just hanging on until it was finally available. It has everything I could want in a crime drama, particularly the Belfast setting, and I am relieved that your review put any fears I had on its quality to rest.

    How is Gillian Anderson’s Irish accent? I realize plenty of English/Irish, etc., actors play American parts, but we seldom get it right going the other way. I can overlook a mediocre accent for a great story.

    PS: If you haven’t picked it up yet, Harry Bingham’s TALKING TO THE DEAD is only .99 at Amazon UK. My favorite read in crime fiction for quite some time: smart, Welsh, female, psychological issues. Loved it.

    1. Hi Darlynne. Anderson’s accent is pretty good believe it or not. Not once she “forget it.” I was so caught up in this series that I didn’t notice anything off. Also I watched Top of the Lake! It was earlier this year. Debated doing a review of it and didn’t think I could pull it off. It’s a combination of disturbing and weird with great scenery. Elizabeth Moss did drop her accent a few times but still both of these TV series are good. Thanks for the tip on Harry Bingham’s TALKING TO THE DEAD. Will go sccop it up now.

  2. PPS: We should be on the lookout for another crime series, this one set in New Zealand, TOP OF THE LAKE. It stars Elizabeth Moss, most recently known for her portrayal of Betty on Mad Men (and Zoe on West Wing).

  3. I watched the first two with my wife and son and then inexplicably missed the rest of them, even though we were engrossed by it.
    I will have to get my son to locate them on the net and we will try and finish it.

  4. Sounds like a series I would like and will watch eventually. We have so many unwatched TV on DVD discs AND movies, it will probably be awhile. I had not heard of it and I was glad to get your take on it.

    1. Hi Tracy, I understand the plethora of shows out there. I’d make the time for this one. I’m not good at selling stuff but trust me, this series is good.

      1. Keishon, We broke down and bought the series 1 DVD because it was a good price at Costco. Still don’t know where it fits in our viewing schedule, but looking forward to it.

        1. TracyK: Hope you will let me know how you all like it. I think Gillian Anderson is worth watching it alone. Take care! and thanks for letting me know.

  5. I’m thrilled with the level of writing on crime t.v. these days. I eagerly await “The Fall”. For top-notch writing, check out “Justified”. This show leaves me shaking my head with each episode, saying to myself, “Man, now there’s a phrase worth remembering”.

    1. T.E. Woods – I absolutely _love_ JUSTIFIED. OMG. I cannot wait till the fifth season starts next year. While I love all seasons, I keep rewatching season one and season three. Season three I think is my favorite.

      1. My favorite season was the one with Megs as the villain. Who could have thought a frumpy middle-aged woman could make a Preston’s blood shiver like that? The whole plot line of Raylon and Boyd being two sides of the same coin…each struggling for the same father’s respect is worthy of the greatest Greek playwrights. Can’t wait for January.

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