By Any Means: Series 1 Episode 2 Review
Reviewed by James Amos.
“Clocks ticking Charlie, it’s time to get your hands dirty. Are you in or out?”
Last week we were given a rather poor attempt at a new modern crime drama. The characters were unrealistic, the crime was boring and the villain was exaggerated. So did episode 2 of ‘By Any Means’ do a better job?
Absolutely. This episode is a massive improvement over last weeks, it had emotion, it had humour (and proper humour this time), and it had tension. The real improvement is that I cared about what was going on. One of my main complaints last week was that the characters were horribly one dimensional, this week didn’t quite toss that complaint out the window, but its making its way out. Each character is, I think, developing their own story. Thomas certainly feels right in the ‘By Any Means’ team now, he is funny, but also a bit vulnerable. The ending sees him supposedly sneaked up upon by the ‘baddie’, he’s beaten and screamed at. Obviously it turns out to be part of the plan, but I realised at that point I actually cared for Thomas. Jessica is still getting there, unfortunately the new bloke Charlie already has more character development than she does but I’ll take anything after watching the one dimensional characters I watched on screen last week.
One thing this episode had that also drastically helped push ‘By Any Means’ out of the ‘average crime drama’ slot was emotion. The episode had a heart, and we saw that through the reactions of the victims parents. It’s something that is so integral in any drama, and it was much appreciated here. I wanted the ‘By Any Means’ team to solve this case and I wanted the villain to get his comeuppance, that’s something I didn’t care about last week as the show didn’t allow me to care. Now obviously the emotion and the narrative the episode was displaying wasn’t perfect, but what comforts me is that the writers are trying. They’re putting in emotion and they’re telling a story that I’m glad to be told. I feel as the series develops, the emotion and story telling will get better and better as the show finds its feet.
Unfortunately not everything improved this week. Everything so far seems to be going too well for the ‘By Any Means’ team. They’re catching the baddies, and they’re doing it quite marvellously I’ll admit. But are these really cases that can’t be done by any other detectives? So far it all seems a tad too easy for them. The prospect of the show is to take villains out ‘by any means’, surely meaning they should do it whatever it takes. At the moment they’re not really sacrificing anything to get the bad guys, there doesn’t seem to be much at stake. Everything went rather swimmingly for them, and I thought a twist in the middle to shake things up a bit would make everything a bit more interesting. Maybe I have to wait for that; perhaps the writers are saving a mistake or a backfire on the ‘By Any Means’ team for a later episode. I hope so, I want to see a case be more of a challenge, I wouldn’t mind seeing it get personal for the team. If they raise the stakes, the entertainment people get from the show will heighten.
Again, the director is on top form. This show no doubt looks very stylish and is shot uniquely, at times showing glorious visuals of London. It certainly enhances the viewers experience and is a nice breath of fresh air from some of the lousy directing you still find on the television. As I said, the humour of the show has gotten a lot better since the opening episode. Specifically the moment Jack feels the need to punch a member of the paparazzi at the victims funeral, casually guiding him to “watch the step” as he falls over backwards. Not only is this amusing, but it’s building on Jack’s character. He understands people and their privacy, and more importantly, he understands what he’s fighting for.
The acting seems to have improved as well, Warren Brown especially appears to be getting to grips with his character; most probably because he actually has one now. The same goes for the others, Andrew Lee Potts (Thomas) especially gave a much more endearing and convincing performance than he did last episode, presumably for the same reasons as Brown.
All in all, thank goodness. I seriously am overjoyed the show has taken a step forward rather than remain in the arena of the average. Now as I said the episode was far from perfect, and the show still has a bit of a way to go. Specifically in giving the team more of a challenge, and perhaps a twist that even they don’t know about; maybe something that affects them in the wrong way. But for now, I’m happy with what we got. It was great Sunday night television, and I’m actually very much looking forward to next weeks. All we can do now is cross our fingers and hope the show takes another step forward rather than a step back.