|the first episode but you won't get any more drama, thrills or revelation from the five that follow
|Christopher Eccleston, Connie Nielsen, Henning Jensen, Leanne Best, Lorraine Burroughs, Nick Blood, Ray Fearon, Rosy McEwen, Susan Lynch, Tom Taylor
|Michael Samuels, Alison Sterling, Amanda Reynolds, Angela Pell
|7th November 2021
|Mexico, Sweden, UK
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Jo Harding (Connie Neilsen) wakes up, lying on the floor at the foot of the stairs, blood dripping from her temple.
Her husband of thirty years, Rob (Christopher Eccleston), comes running to her aid.
He takes her to hospital, where it becomes clear that she can’t remember anything that happened during the last year of her life.
In the weeks that follow, Jo starts to rebuild her life and piece together the events of the previous twelve months, with flashes of memory returning as she catches up with loved ones and colleagues – some she remembers, others she doesn’t.
Initially unsure who to trust, her paranoia grows as she tries to work out how she came to tumble down the stairs with such devastating consequences.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
This six-part Channel 4 drama gets off to a strong start. By the end of the first episode, we’re as much in the dark about what’s happened to Jo as she is. Like her, we’ve seen that her husband, Rob, doesn’t appear to be entirely sympathetic – he’s supporting her, but to a point – he’s holding back on the truth – but is it to protect her or to protect himself?
We quickly learn that Jo herself has been depressed since their son Finn (Tom Taylor) left to go to University, just as she’s trying to deal with the onset of the menopause. We learn that their daughter Sash (Rosy McEwen) is involved in a relationship with someone who’s gone down rather better with Jo than with Rob.
Jo thinks she might have been having an affair, but she doesn’t know who with.
As the episodes progress, we – along with Jo herself – learn more about the events of the past year but soon we start to question how reliable a narrator she is.
So far so good.
But from this promising start, it crashes down the stairs, bumps its head and can’t really remember what was meant to be doing.
Rather than a clever drip-feed of clues, most of the revelations come out of nowhere and turn out to be either obvious or simply red herrings. Many of Jo’s thoughts and feelings emerge through expositional voiceovers, much of the dialogue feels contrived and some of the acting feels unconvincingly weak – as if the actors don’t quite have the confidence in what they’re saying.
Even when the couple are meant to be at their most lovey-dovey, there’s little chemistry between them – and the way Jo throws herself at each situation like a juggernaut just doesn’t seem right for someone who’s so unsure about what’s going on around them.
But worse – and not wanting to give away any spoilers, but simply trying to stop you wasting your time – dramatic twists that you wait six hours for don’t emerge and everything ends pretty much as you predict it will, within minutes of the start of the first episode.
Perhaps the novel works better on paper, but the cinematic devices of voiceover and flashback make the narrative feel clunky and contrived rather than a satisfying mystery that unravels with each reel.