Paranoid is a crime series set in Cheshire that uses a “softly softly” approach in its pacing. This is a slow boil but the pacing allows the show to present some interesting characters with a lot of depth. It comes from the same chap who brought us the 2009 The Prisoner re-imagining; Bill Gallagher.
The eight part series, which aired on Netflix in September, has a lot of familiar faces. From Shobna Gulati from Coronation Street and Dinner Ladies as the physician treating Detective Bobby Day (Robert Glenister) to Indira Varma as Nina and the splendid Lesley Sharp as Lucy Cannonbury.
A woman is stabbed to death in broad daylight in the play area of a park. Quick thinking Lucy grabs the victim’s child and saves him. As the detectives question witnesses and Lucy, a “ghost” detective begins his own investigation.
Lucy and a number of other witnesses are approached by Detective “Galen.” The dead woman’s father; Eric Benton (played by John Duttine) reveals that her ex husband is an American who lives in Germany.
The cast of characters are an interesting lot. Nina has just been dumped by her boyfriend of four and a half years. Alec, her partner at work (played by Dino Fetscher) gives her a shoulder to lean on and Bobby, the senior detective of the group seems to be suffering from severe anxiety.
Nina is an abrasive and over the top detective that would drive anyone mad who had to spend any amount of time with her. Presumably in her long relationship she was a bit calmer.
Bobby feels like he is one step from a breakdown and he is drawn to their main witness, Lucy. The detectives contact a German colleague; Det. Linda Felber (Christiane Paul) and ask her to hunt down the victim’s ex.
The detectives ask Linda to inform the victim’s ex about her death and to find out anything else about the man. Ferber goes to hunt the man down and she finds his dead body floating in an indoor pool.
Bobby is sent a DVD from the “ghost detective.” The footage on the recording is of him.
This Studio Canal production seems to be taking a leaf from the Brit crime thriller River; offering up cops with a full set of issues. Like the BBC drama, the police are as interesting as the crime they are investigating.
Lesley Sharp, who won two Best Actress Awards for the 2005 drama Afterlife (which also starred a pre The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln) manages to command every single scene she is in. .
Game of Thrones actress Varma gives a complex performance portraying a woman who is annoying as hell one moment and then softly vulnerable the next. Her character is also, it seems, a pretty good cop.
The added device of the ghost detective makes for a complex storyline but it is the impending meltdown of Bobby that grabs the viewers attention. Like River, Paranoid moves at a languid pace but this allows for a depth of character its story to be solidly revealed.
This may not be a quaint and twee British drawing room mystery but it offers up a puzzle that will, or will not, be solved by detectives who feel real. These cops are damaged people who have a job to do and their issues make it all the more interesting.
It looks like the detectives in Paranoid will be following clues across Europe.
Paranoid is streaming on Netflix. Head over and check this British mystery out.
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