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A perfect start with a so-so finish
on 1 September 2009
I was split between giving this three and four stars, because it starts off so well... and then tended to go downhill.
Firstly, the pilot. Wow. This was so tightly written. From that first minute it had me enthralled as to what was going on. Starting at the end, with a murder, then going back six months to see how it unfolds is genius.
Glenn Close in particular was enthralling as Patty Hewes, and Close embodied her with a quiet malevolence with the occasional glimmer of a softer side. But probably the star of the show, for me, is Zeljko Ivanek as Ray Fiske -- purely because he's one of the few characters that feels complicated, likeable and feels like he undergoes any form of emotional journey throughout the first season.
But after about episode 3, the pace starts to stall. Filler stories come in of family antics etc. One character faces leaving the law firm, and it adds nothing to the overall narrative. Now any show ever created tends to have arc plots and episode plots, so I feel bad criticising the show for this. But it was hard to stomach after the extremely focused storytelling of the first three episodes, and the attempts felt half-hearted.
The show then kind of stumbles towards the end, and does pick up some pace again in the last few episodes. And while there are some good plot twists towards the end, the main overall arc feels unsatisfactory. The revelations that have been dangled for the season weren't revelations at all, and some plot devices (such as a stalker story) just make the viewer feel cheated because they were obvious filler.
I think as a six episode season this could have been stunning. As it is, it has its highs and lows. It reminded me most of 24, and I think fans of that show will probably like this. At the price it is, I'd still highly recommend watching it. You could certainly do a lot worse for 13 episodes of TV.