Monday 18 September 2023

TV review: Marcella, Netflix (2018)

Running to 3 seasons, ‘Marcella’ is a standard police procedural where the lead character, Marcella Buckland, has mental illness problems. In this way it joins the excellent ‘Bordertown’ from Finland where the lead detective was borderline autistic. I’m watching another cop show right now titled ‘Paranoid’ where one of the detectives has problems with panic attacks, so this type of show with this variety of difference seems to be the norm nowadays.

Thirty years ago or even less the idea of a policeman with mental health challenges would have been unthinkable though ‘New Tricks’ a decade ago flirted with the trope through Brian lane played by Alun Armstrong. There seems to be a sense now that the nature of policing invites health problems and this is probably closer to the mark than the opposite.

Anyway ‘Marcella’ is replete with incidents to do with violence as you’d expect since you’re dealing often with murder. There are three cases, but I won’t talk about any of them in detail because to do so would spoil the suspense. Marcella is an interesting character who thrives in a high-pressure environment and is competent but whose private life is fractured. She seems to have problems with all of the people who come close to her but your sympathies are cemented in place by her frailty.

I was entertained in season two by the presence of Jason Hughes as Vince Whitman, who is a suspect. Hughes for many years played the detective sergeant in ‘Midsomer Murders’ so to see him on the other side as it were is amusing. He’s suitably menacing.

Anna Friel has a lot of work to do as marcella and her role demands that she be not only thorough but attractive. It’s an interesting character for this reason, and I assume that ‘Marcella’ will go down as a seminal moment in police shows. Directed by a Swede on Wikipedia it’s categorised as Nordic noir.

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