Alan Waldman :
TELEVISION | ‘Marcella’ is a twisty 8-part U.K. mystery from a popular Swedish writer

Anna Friel is a female detective with memory problems who suspects she may have killed her husband’s lover.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | April 8, 2017

[In his Rag Blog column, Alan Waldman reviews some of his favorite films and TV series that readers may have missed, including TV dramas, mysteries, and comedies from Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Scotland. Most are available on DVD, Netflix and/or Netflix Instant Streaming, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

Marcella is a smart, involving, British eight-parter in which female former investigator Marcella Backland (Anna Friel) is called back to solve a multiple murder that closely resembles one she tackled 11 years ago. She is disturbed to learn that the serial killer’s fourth victim is a woman Marcella’s husband Jason (Nicholas Pinnock) was having a three-year affair with and whom she confronted the night before her death. Only now she can’t remember clearly.

A slippery-fingered sex worker is threatened online by someone she stole from and she’s later run over in a car. Jason, who has knocked up the murdered daughter of his haughty lady boss (Sinéad Cusack) is summarily fired from his high-powered job. He is then beaten by four men.

Marcella fakes DNA so that she can’t be linked to the fourth victim’s body. More murders and a young girl kidnapped. A car is burned. A girl is drowned. Someone named Yann is arrested. There is an apparent suicide. A lodger blackmails his landlord. Jason bribes an investigator. You following all this?

A cabby’s brother breaks into a home. A blackmailer is found dead. The currently suspected murderer appears to have absconded abroad. Jason is stabbed. A wealthy gay man attacks Marcella who passes out and then wakes up handcuffed to him — with a bag over his face. Sure you’re following? It actually makes perfect sense when you’re watching it.

In Britain, the first episode drew 9 million viewers (a 29% share), and the series averaged 6.8 million (25%), making it one of the ITV network’s top dramas of 2016. Fully 92.3% of 6,310 viewers polled at imdb.com gave the series thumbs-up. It rated well with all demos but was strongest with persons 18 and younger.

Amy Anna of Cut Print Film wrote:

“Netflix’s Marcella will keep you binging until the credits on the last episode roll, and it will leave you wanting more. It’s an outstanding show in which we look over the shoulder of a detective as she investigates what may be her own crimes.”

Hans Rosenfeldt, who created this series and wrote seven episodes, is a Swedish writer with 30 credits, including The Bridge, which he created. It earned him BAFTA and Danish nominations. He and Anna Friel have been hired to do a second season of Marcella for 2017.

Anna Friel has 61 credits, including five nominations for Pushing Daisies, a Canadian Genie nom for The War Bride, a Czech Lion best actress nom for Bathory, and a 1995 most popular TV actress award. Nicholas Pinnock’s 42 credits include Dalziel and Pascoe, Captain America: The First Avenger and The Keeping Room. Sinéad Cusack has 74 credits, including Eastern Promises, V for Vendetta, and A Room With a View.

All eight episodes are on Netflix instant streaming. Here’s the first one from YouTube.

This is a nice, trick little series that you are likely to enjoy.


[Oregon writer and Houston native Alan Waldman holds a B.A. in theater arts from Brandeis University and has worked as an editor at The Hollywood Reporter and Honolulu magazine.]

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