Frankie: Series 1 Episode 2 Review
Reviewed by David Selby
“We stumble along, don’t we, you know, doing the washing and filling the car, and making the best hash of it we can. We never get to that moment, do we, when we got, “Right, decision time. Telly’s flying through the air, dreams are trashed, people are falling off pedestals like skittles; this is where I take control of my free-fall life, because no one’s going to do it for us, are they?”” – Frankie Maddox
The first episode of Frankie was a complete success. It was engaging, well-paced, humorous and poignant drama that exhibited some of the BBCs finest writing in years. Sadly, the second episode didn’t fare quite so well.
One of the main issues with the second episode was Eve Myles’ character, Frankie. Last week, she was completely unique; impassioned, impulsive, idiosyncratic, and, most importantly, we, the audience, could completely believe for that one hour that we were in her shoes. And despite being in almost every scene with her, this week didn’t have quite the same effect. I didn’t feel myself sympathising with her maybe as much as I should have at times, and, when she should have taken centre stage, she just felt like a nagging gooseberry at the side. And more importantly than that, her appeal has been lost, and I found myself getting tired of her, instead of being entertained by her. I’m left asking myself: was Frankie (the character) just a one-hit wonder?
I found it to be the supporting cast who shone this week. Andy Peat (Derek Riddell), for instance, came across as more likable than Ian (Dean Lennox Kelly), and, most interestingly, far better suited as a partner to Frankie. He’s a good friend; a good listener, supportive, and actually quite undemanding. I wonder when he’ll begin to reach his limits.
Paula Simms (Leila Mimmack) was also given a bit more depth, but, this early on, mainly used to convey awkwardness or dishonesty. I’m more intrigued, say, to see whether she makes it awkward for Frankie in the next episode, or is apologetic about the affair.
The character who stood out the most for me was Zoe (Jemma Redgrave), and I can see her becoming a favourite. She’s actually quite deceitful and harsh, and, more importantly, doesn’t like the protagonist, which could lead to a few potential difficulties later on. Arguably, her role in this story of persecuting a man who’s just helped his dying wife to commit suicide is the best way to introduce this less pleasant side to her. I have a theory that, as the series moves on, her vendetta against Frankie will lead her to becoming manipulative and devious – culminating in a reveal in the final episode of how underhanded she has been.
The cases this week weren’t handled badly, and once again, Frankie managed to superbly balance comedy and pathos into a diverse narrative. Dean Andrews and Janet Dibley were a fantastic double act as a husband and his terminally ill wife, Joseph and Liana Corden respectively. It would have been nice to delve a little deeper into his decisions, but, in due course, the moving goodbye had the intended effect of being incredibly heart-rending (Joseph’s crying from behind the camera was unbelievably effective – kudos to whoever thought that idea up). Indira Joshi was hilarious as Mrs Khan, however the other sub-plot about Max Hall (Kobna Holdbrook-Smith) was nothing more than sub-standard, to be perfectly honest.
It wasn’t a bad week, but I just find myself struggling to connect with the character of Frankie. I hoped her actions at the end of the first episode would be justified, and ultimately, they weren’t. I didn’t feel her pain as she became emotionally attached to her dying patient, and I wasn’t left thinking, poor Frankie, I can really sympathise with you – instead, I felt like saying, get a grip woman, it isn’t all about you.