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Moses fails to make it to the promised land
on 17 February 2009
A three hour cop drama that promises much, but ultimately disappoints.
Whilst the leading actors deliver fine performances through out, this lacks the punches, surprises or twists that are the hallmark of truly engaging "gritty" TV thrillers such as Messiah or Prime Suspect.
Focusing on the a variety of Ugandans now domiciled in London, detective Moses Jones is called upon to investigate an apparent ritual murder of a down and out. Patronised by his boss's assumption that he is somehow conencted with the Ugandan ex-pat community, DI Jones is joined by the wonderfully named Sergeant Twentyman, played by new Dr Who, Matt Smith.
Their investigations take them through a maze of the usual crime staples - seedy brothels, corrupt politicians and reluctant witnesses. Inevitably and precitably, Moses Jones (his very name surely intended to reflect his dual identity of integrated Brit and black African) has to comes to term with his and his native country's history to make sense of the mystery.
Although, herein lies the problem. There really isn't much of a mystery here at all. So limited is the plot that, dragged out over 178 minutes, the pace is yawningly slow. Revelations about the secret past of a number of the leading characters have virtually no impact on either the unfolding drama or the audience's empathy with them.
There are no key moments when we alter completely our view of any of the men and women involved. Victims are victims. Baddies are baddies. Thugs are thugs. There is a grinding one dimensional predictability to it all.
The TV viewing figures would have been boosted enormously - and artificially - by the presence of Matt Smith in his first major role since being cast as the 11th Doctor.
There are worse ways to while away three hours then watching Moses Jones. But don't expect to be blown away by it. This is a cop show with ideas above its station. Neither engaging in its plot or incisive in its social comment, this will leave you thinking it really could and should have been so much better.