I review the first episode of BBC One’s new Sunday night crime drama, By Any Means, starring Warren Brown, Shelley Conn and Andrew-Lee Potts.
Episode Spoilers Follow…
By Any Means is the first part in a new BBC One crime drama, that quietly was aired somewhat under the radar on whilst a vast majority of the country was watching Downton Abbey’s fourth season premiere on a different channel. I can imagine the reaction to the people who were behind By Any Means when they heard that – because thanks to that, it means that this show is probably not going to have the exposure that it should. But then again, is By Any Means deserving of that exposure?
Like Peaky Blinders beforehand, By Any Means is another non-genre TV show that you’ll be seeing on this blog (or at least, for as long as it can grab my attention). It’s a straightforward crime drama, made by the same people who did Hustle, but with comparable similarities to Sherlock, and a dose of the witty team banter (although working a bit closer inside the law) of Torchwood. And it’s quite light-hearted as well, which surprised me, and it probably could have been easily aired at eight pm as opposed to an hour later without any difficulties apart from schedules of other programmes, thus avoiding the clash with more popular and more established Downton Abbey. I also think that to deserve a bit more attention, By Any Means could have had a few more advance reviews – I didn’t spot any on websites like Cultbox (although they did have an interview with an actor) or otherwise, which was a shame, as this show has potential. I’d like to see it become something great, because we all know that Torchwood took a good two seasons before it became awesome even if like me, you didn’t see most of those two seasons –(The fact that it did go downhill following Children of Earth doesn’t matter).
The three lead characters are both among the show’s biggest strength and biggest weakness. They’re fun, likeable and with plenty of quirks and they come up with more than one amusing line throughout the series. Jack Quinn (Warren Brown, Luther) – is your stereotypical smooth team leader, and his two allies, Jessica Jones (Shelley Conn) and Thomas Tompkins (nicknamed Tom Tom, played by Andrew-Lee Potts), are also clichés – Tom Tom is your typical high-tech wiz, capable of hacking into everything, and Jessica Jones, whilst being the most realistic of the trio, falls into the trap of being a straightforward, attractive lively woman. It’s something that we’ve seen done a thousand times before, but all the same – I did enjoy the interactions between the various cast members, which provided a lot of fun in places. However, the main villain wasn’t that much better – celebrity criminal Nicholas Mason (Keith Allen) – providing a cliché portrayal of a mob boss who proves to be the first person that Jack, Tom Tom and Jessica have to take down, by any means – acting within the law, but using the so-called ‘grey area’. Mason however was so clichéd and weak that when he was eventually caught by the leading three actors, I half expected him to say “And I would have got away with it as well, if it weren’t for you meddling kids”, and it would have got to the point where it would have seemed entirely in-character (maybe with a few added swear words) for Mason to say it.
The episode itself almost feels too neat and convenient, and whilst the twist at the end was somewhat fun, I felt that everything was wrapped up far too easily for my liking – it could have been dealt with a lot better, and it really was a bit too predictable for my liking. I knew something had happened to the van – and to top it all off, the flashback sequences towards the end weren’t really needed and dragged out a lot longer than they should have done.
However, despite all the problems that I had with By Any Means, it was still a lot of fun, and I enjoyed it a fair amount. It’ll be nice to have something with a slightly lighter tone to look forward to each week– kind of like Leverage in a way, although I have a feeling that the spot may be taken by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, which airs in the UK on Friday. But as long as something doesn’t come up on the TV in the same spot and By Any Means can keep me engaged (I’ll stick around for at least the next two episodes) – you can expect reviews on this to come.
Looking forward to reviews in the next week, you can expect maybe (although not certain) the first two episodes of Young Justice, a DC animated series to go live, along with episode 3 of The Peaky Blinders, and then at some point over the weekend, coverage of both Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’s first episode and Orphan Black. Maybe the first episode of Atlantis as well, if I decide to check it out.