The Daily Telegraph
Shetland’s gloomy clouds part for a fairy-tale ending
It’s been a week for fond farewells and here came another as actor Douglas Henshall’s careworn detective, Jimmy Pérez, hung up his trademark black peacoat in Shetland (BBC One). He was finally ground down by the Scottish archipelago’s unfeasibly high murder rate, I presume.
The seventh series of windswept sleuthing climaxed with DI Pérez racing to avert an eco-terrorist atrocity. A rogue protestor was on the loose with a homemade bomb. Our hero gave hot pursuit – unusually for this glacially paced drama, we were even treated to a car chase – before a tense clifftop stand-off. Surely Pérez wouldn’t go out with a bang by being blown to smithereens?
Mercifully not, although the case wasn’t quite closed. There was still time for another twist as it became clear that not all three murders this series were connected. Pérez reluctantly nabbed unlikely killer Alison Woods (Laurie Brett), who’d committed a crime of passion to protect her lover.
Artist Lloyd Anderson (Patrick Robinson) was behind bars, awaiting extradition to the US, where he was a wanted man after being framed for murder. Knowing he’d likely receive the death penalty, Pérez broke the rules by letting him go. Not a bad day’s
work – catching two murderers, setting an innocent man free – but would he get the girl too?
His faltering romance with nurse Meg (Lucianne Mcevoy) has been on and off more times than the Lerwick police station kettle. She feared he was married to the job and for an agonising moment, it appeared they wouldn’t end up together. However, his explosive near-miss had put the future in perspective and he quit the force. As the pair embraced on the harbour wall, the camera glided up and framed the handsome scenery. It was as close to a fairy-tale ending as we would hope.
Beneath the Scandi stylings, Shetland is resolutely middlebrow, rather like Ann Cleeves’ other creation, ITV’S Vera. The plot didn’t always convince, the dialogue was awkwardly expositional, a few accents creaked. However, Henshall’s quietly powerful performance lifted it – a sad-eyed truth-seeker, his peacoat collar turned up against the dark forces of evil.
Shetland will continue with a new lead detective, yet to be announced. Devotees are rooting for Pérez’s sidekick, DS Alison “Tosh” Mcintosh (Alison O’donnell), to be promoted to protagonist. “You’re ready,” Pérez told her. “Trust me.” It felt like a message to BBC bigwigs as much as Tosh herself.
The central relationship in Minx (Paramount+) is between an uptight young woman and a charismatic man who thinks she needs to lighten up. You’ve seen it a hundred times before, but probably not in a show featuring quite so many penises.
It’s set in the 1970s and Ophelia Lovibond plays an earnest feminist named Joyce Prigger, who is sick of magazines offering tips on snagging a spouse or sticking to the Grapefruit Diet. She wants to launch her own publication addressing gender pay inequality and abortion rights.
A publisher does offer Joyce a deal. Unfortunately, it’s freewheeling porn publisher Doug Renetti (Jake Johnson), whose other titles include Stiletto Slappers, Lusty Lesbos and High Heel Hoochies. The magazine is reimagined as something close to Playgirl and Doug’s big idea is to have naked centrefolds. As he bluntly puts it: “Feminism is about making s--t fair and equal for the chicks. How is it fair and equal that a guy has 12 places to go to see a pair of t--s but a gal has no place to go to see a dong?”
This leads to a full-frontal sequence in which a variety of male models come in to audition. Think Channel 4’s Naked Attraction but with a higher level of quality control.
Despite this – and it’s a pretty naked attempt by the show’s makers, HBO, to grab your attention – Minx is rather tame, if you’re relaxed about the racy language. It trips along lightly, with plenty of fun deriving from the odd-couple chemistry between the two leads (less can be said for the thinly drawn supporting characters, including a ditsy model named Bambi and Doug’s straight-talking black secretary). Lovibond has decent comic timing and when her character becomes annoying, Johnson’s scruffy charm compensates.
If only it weren’t so predictable – when Joyce reacts prudishly to a feature on sex toys, you know full well that she’ll have discovered their delights by the end of the episode. The moral messaging is all over the place, and ultimately it’s a bit awkward that the most likeable character in this feminist comedy is a man. Anita Singh
Shetland ★★★★ Minx ★★★