THE TUN­NEL

(Acorn Me­dia) Out Now

Crime Scene - - CONTENTS - By KEVIN HAR­LEY

The duo re­turn for Se­ries 2 of the An­glo-french ver­sion of The Bridge.

Amer­ica’s Diane Kruger­star­ring twist on The Bridge lasted just two sea­sons, but you hope a hap­pier fate awaits this An­glo-franco vari­ant. Ben Richards’ The Tun­nel is a largely ex­em­plary re­make-as-rein­ven­tion: af­ter Se­ries 1’s Scando-xe­rox, the show’s head writer con­fi­dently forges fresh routes sec­ond time round with­out los­ing sight of the main event.

Pick­ing up a year on from Se­ries 1’s tragic cli­max, Sab­o­tage doesn’t muck about. The open­ing episode in­volves air­plane pas­sen­gers shored up on a beach, a hairy kid­nap in the Chan­nel Tun­nel, hor­ri­fy­ing gang-rape and a chill­ing act of re­mote-con­trol air­borne ter­ror­ism. And Clé­mence Poésy’s newly pro­moted Com­man­der Elise Wasser­mann doesn’t can­dy­coat her dis­in­ter­est in ba­bies.

Yet even with es­ca­la­tion thrust up­front, the nu­anced emo­tional/pro­fes­sional push­pull of the friend­ship be­tween re­united Brit-cop Karl Roe­buck (Stephen Dil­lane) and Elise re­mains the main draw. Far from Wes­teros, Dil­lane makes like­ably la­conic work of his job­bing dick, a grounded con­trast to the autis­tic, of­ten bril­liant Elise. Poésy’s sup­ple turn, mean­while, pro­vides scope to en­rich Elise; soft­en­ing her could have seemed clichéd, but the shifts are han­dled sub­tly as she breaches new emo-ground.

While atroc­i­ties and plot twists mount, this sense of mea­sure holds Sab­o­tage steady. Richards seems to blow his wad early, with open­ing episodes serv­ing vil­lain re­veals and a tense at­tack on a multi-faith re­treat. Stacked themes in­clude Is­lam­o­pho­bia, cy­ber-crime, prej­u­dice, peo­ple traf­fick­ing – and we’ve hardly even started. Yet when a vil­lain­ous bluff leads to a thrillingly tense prison-sta­tion siege/ break­out, dou­ble­cross­ings and un­ex­pected con­se­quences fol­low for all in­volved. Toy bunny in­cluded.

As shock deaths, evil chemists and che­root smoke thicken the air fur­ther, top­notch cast­ing helps pre­serve con­vic­tion and clar­ity. Guest slots from Clarke Peters ( The Wire), Han­nah John-ka­men ( Happy Val­ley) and a toxic Emilia Fox ( Silent Wit­ness) pro­vide classy sup­port for Dil­lane and Poésy, whose chalk and cheese dy­namic is a joy to watch. Be­tween Karl’s home front is­sues, Elise’s ro­man­tic changes and some earthy ban­ter about sausage rolls, the lay­er­ing of big themes, tense stand-offs and work-a-day dy­nam­ics is in­tel­li­gently fo­cused. True, the cli­max leaves some plot strands dan­gling: but that’s all the more rea­son for an­other re­union.

“AS SHOCK DEATHS AND EVIL CHEMISTS THICKEN THE AIR, GREAT CAST­ING PRE­SERVES CLAR­ITY”

The es­tate agent had sold them a real le­mon.

He was be­gin­ning to sus­pect that this was no or­di­nary tele­scope.

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