Case Sensitive: The Other Half Lives
Saturday, 8.30pm, ABC1 This is the second two-episode miniseries in the Case Sensitive crime franchise. Shown in Britain in two 50-minute episodes a week apart, the whole 100-minute shebang runs together tonight. It’s not the best British crime series we’ve seen on the ABC but it is far from the worst. We first meet lovers Aidan (Theo James, last seen ever so briefly as Kemal Pamuk in Downton Abbey) and Ruth (Eva Birthistle) in a beautiful English park. She has laid out a picnic. He has gone missing. Rising strings lead us to believe he may have met with foul play, though we don’t yet know whether the Aidan she is frantically calling to is child, man or labrador. Turns out Aidan is indeed the very handsome James. After scaring the crap out of her (and us) in a boathouse, he goes down on one knee and proposes marriage. She accepts, even though she is still married. In the afterglow that follows their lovemaking, Aidan blurts out that he hurt someone once and that the woman later died. But he recoils from his own confession, saying he doesn’t want to talk about it. Ruth mentions it to someone she barely knows in a self-defence class, as you do, and this person turns out to be series protagonist Charlie Zailer (Olivia Williams), a hard-nosed detective sergeant. She gets involved in the case against the wishes of her superior officer. ‘‘ Our job is to investigate crimes that have already happened, not to chase up gossip from your Pilates class,’’ he barks. Red rag to a bull. The plot thickens when Ruth’s former husband turns up dead as well. almost impossible to write about Breaking Bad without giving away spoilers. Pivotal things just keep happening. So let’s just say that early in this second episode of the fourth season (the second half of the fifth and final season is expected later this year on Foxtel’s Showcase channel), our protagonists Walter (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul) take definitive action to remove competition from their methamphetamine (‘‘ice’’) production operation. There are many television shows in which a death is just a death, an expedient plot turn. Every death in Breaking Bad — and there are many — is torture for these men. They are not psychopaths but each is well on the way to a harder, more fearless identity. Each death and unsavoury act scars their souls and lines their faces with sorrow. Just watch Paul’s intensity after the shooting in this episode. He is so stunned by the horror of what he has just done. When Walter — held at gunpoint in the room to which Jesse is driven — wordlessly works out what Jesse has done he is at this stage still man enough to be aghast for him. If you are new to Breaking Bad it will not be difficult to pick up the threads at this point. Chemistry teacher Walter White and his former pupil Jesse Pinkman form an uneasy yet binding alliance to manufacture ice. Walter’s justification is that he needs to supply his family with funds after his impending death from cancer. Jesse is kind of lost in almost every way except morally. Along the way they encounter every imaginable horror of the drug business, from its ruthless murderers to its deceptively smooth operators. The tension generated by the collision between Walter’s family values as a decent American husband and father and the monster evolving within him makes for epic TV. It is my firm belief that, as it proceeds towards a resolution to some of the conflicts set up in earlier seasons and in these first episodes, season four of Breaking Bad is some of the finest, most engaging TV made. It is not yet too late to board the speeding train.