Silent Witness: Protection Pt 2

“Science doesn’t lie. People do.”

Silent Witness

Ah, Silent Witness. The show that proves time and time again that there is a difference between thoughtful, intelligent telly and telly you actually want to watch.

See, Silent Witness is continuing the streak of excellence that began with the Falling Angels serial. The second part of Protection follows up on the first part’s discussion of child protection – “protection”, of course, having a spectrum of meanings – with depth and sensitivity and a refusal to allow the kind of simple good/evil categorisation that detective dramas have a tendency to fall into. As in Falling Angels, by far the best character study here is that of a secondary character (the forensics team, it seems, are gradually being relegated to the background, mere framing devices for the story): Louise Marsh, child protection officer, burdened with the responsibility of deciding the difference between accident and bad parenting. Actress Claudie Blakley’s distinction between professional façade and personal struggle, often a transition effected in seconds, is particularly striking – in fact, this detailed character work is sharply at odds with the very one-note characterisation of several members of the forensics team, most notably the apparently unmoving Clarissa. And though the separate plots don’t actually converge as I thought they would, the thematic unity they provide is satisfying without being glib.

There’s no denying, then, that Silent Witness is good television. But, dear gods, it’s depressing. Although there is sort-of a happy ending, there’s also rape, paedophilia, suicide, teenage pregnancy, parents who lose their children, all of which tends to dampen one’s lunchtime somewhat. I know it’s disingenuous to complain that things like Death in Paradise are silly and then turn my nose up at serious shows like this, but…

But…

Can we just have Sherlock back, please? That would solve all my problems. Thank you.

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