Fi­nally, a show to leave you think­ing

The Press - The Box - - VIEWING GUIDE -

Too of­ten tele­vi­sion is watched and for­got­ten. Tune in in prime-time and it’s just a blur of cook­ery comps, tal­ent comps and bitchy housewives. But if you’re af­ter some­thing that leaves you think­ing, then try new United States drama Quarry (Wed­nes­days, 8.30pm, SoHo).

Adapted from a se­ries of nov­els by Max Al­lan Collins, it’s the tale of US Ma­rine, Mac Con­way (Lo­gan Mar­shall-Green) who, on re­turn­ing from Viet­nam, strug­gles with civil­ian life. Sure, that’s not a par­tic­u­larly orig­i­nal sto­ry­line. But like ev­ery­thing in this drama – it’s not quite that sim­ple.

Set in the 1970s, it’s placed firmly in the pe­riod. There are vinyl records and tow­elling T-shirts and checked lounge fur­ni­ture and brown, so many shades of brown.

But this is not a se­ries de­fined by its pe­riod drama de­tails alone. It’s got in­trigu­ing char­ac­ters and a crack­ing sto­ry­line. Mac is shunned by the town, due to his link with a par­tic­u­larly high-pro­file mas­sacre.

De­spite hav­ing been cleared of any in­volve­ment, he strug­gles to find a job, money be­comes a worry, his re­la­tion­ship with his wife comes un­der strain and pretty soon the sheen of the wel­come home party has well and truly worn off.

In steps The Bro­ker (per­fectly played by Peter Mul­lan), a shady high­level crim recruiting for a some­what vague job.

‘‘Peo­ple have prob­lems, I fix them,’’ he says prof­fer­ing a large sum of money in notes. It seems an un­con­ven­tional job in­ter­view, but he clearly has a rea­son­ably high suc­cess rate and pretty soon Mac’s post­mil­i­tary life looks like it’s go­ing into free-fall.

The char­ac­ters here are per­fectly drawn – The Bro­ker is clearly a hard­ened crim­i­nal fixer, but he’s also un­flap­pable and in­trigu­ing. Mac is strug­gling with his own dark world of post-war life and he’s just con­flicted enough to keep it in­ter­est­ing with­out tip­ping it over into a Deer Hunter- style par­ody. While crim­i­nal Buddy, with his tight shorts and Span­ish karaoke, could have been lifted straight out of a David Lynch movie.

The mood is slow and dark, with a ten­sion that ratch­ets up again and again be­fore ex­plod­ing into some very bru­tal vi­o­lence. And at points, it does feel a lit­tle bit gra­tu­itous, but it also feels like we’re learn­ing some­thing about Mac – he’s un­re­servedly vi­o­lent when it’s called for.

This is a thor­oughly grip­ping show that hooks you in from the start, with skil­ful sto­ry­telling. It’s the best thing I’ve seen in a long time and I’ve got high hopes for it.

An­other adap­ta­tion from a novel is Bri­tish se­ries The Se­cret Agent (Mon­days, 8.30pm, SoHo), based on Joseph Con­rad’s work of the same name.

Set in London in 1886, it fol­lows busi­ness­man Ver­loc, who is spy­ing on a group of an­ar­chists for the Rus­sians. The Rus­sians want Ver­loc to cre­ate a ter­ror­ist in­ci­dent and awaken Eng­land to the threats of the an­ar­chists.

There are some recog­nis­able names among the cast (Vicky McClure, Stephen Gra­ham, Toby Jones) and it looks good. And yet, some­how, it feels like hard work to watch.

Toby Jones is The Se­cret Agent

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