Goodness Grace-ious me, another crime drama? How can we possibly be expected to make time when we’re still catching up with Unforgotten and Bloodlands, and with only a week to go until Ted Hastings and his bent coppers are back on our screens in Line of Duty? Well unlike all these crime epics, spanning seasons and years, this ITV offering is going solo, with just one two-hour session of crime fighting coppers.
Based on the first novel in Peter James’ series of the same name, Grace introduces us to DS Roy Grace (John Simm), a formerly respected detective whose reputation took a hit after a headline making last case, where, struggling to find answers, he sought the help of a medium. Now he’s stuck in some dark back office, working on cold cases. Luckily his pal and fellow copper DS Glenn Branson brings him out of his funk, by asking for his help on an investigation.
A bus carrying a stag party was involved in an accident, killing all inside. But the groom is not found among the dead, and nobody knows where he is. Well, actually, those riding in the bus know where he is – clearly these stags have been watching far too many horror movies, as for some reason they thought it might be a bit of a banter to stick their soon-to-be-married mate in a coffin and bury him underground, armed only with a walkie-talkie and a tiny tube to allow air in from above ground. That groom needs new friends…
From here there’s the obvious – and claustrophobic – race against time, as DS Grace and the team try to find out where these idiots buried their mate. This alone is enough to have you gripped, but once you add in a shady business partner, a secretive wife and an offshore account, you’ll be sad it’s only a one-parter.
We’ve had these sorts of complicated crime dramas on our screens all winter, and this is a good addition. John Simms is brilliant as ever – nobody does a furrowed brow quite like him – and the fact you can watch it in one sitting is brilliant. No commitment, with all the fun. We’re starting to sound like Must Date, rather than Must TV…
Ed Cumming of The Independent is swiping right on the casting of Simm, saying he gives Grace “a winning sense of humour beneath all the grit,” making for “a cut above the average detective drama.” And he’s not alone in that opinion – The Telegraph’s Anita Singh thinks this TV film is “thoroughly enjoyable,” whilst Lucy Mangan in The Guardian calls it “pleasingly complicated,” agreeing with Cumming on Simm’s brilliance, saying “he turns up and you just … believe him.”
However, the lead’s stellar performance wasn’t enough to win over The Times’s Carol Midgley, who reckons this was “torture by television,” clearly disturbed by the whole trapped underground thing. We shan’t expect her on I’m a Celeb any time soon then.
First shown March 2021.