CONSTANINOS PSILLIDES is happy to binge on a new UK thriller on Netflix
I’m a simple man, with simple needs and simple habits. To that effect, when I see Stephen Graham’s name anywhere in a series or film, I click it. I don’t care if it is a remake of Citizen Cane in musical form or a gritty sequel of Dumb and Dumber set in a post-apocalyptic America where the duo destroy the world by accidentally launching the nukes. In short, I love Stephen Graham. He is an amazing actor, he is low-key as a person, has an extremely wide range and to date I have not seen him phoning it in, whatever the part was. Not even in Pirates of the Caribbean, a film series where the protagonist checked out after the first one and just reduced his character to a caricature. From Boardwalk Empire, to The Irishman and Boiling Point, Graham never disappoints.
So, you can imagine how elated I was when I opened Netflix three days ago and was greeted by Graham’s face and a suggestion for a new, limited series. The cherry on top? It was a crime show made in Britain. If you want a good crime show, you have to go British. Broadchurch, In the Line of Duty, Bodyguard, Luther, The Fall, the list of great British shows can go on and on.
The name of the show was Bodies and was advertised as a ‘mystery, genre-bending’ series. I binged all eight episodes in one day and my review can be summarised into 3 words: Give. Me. More.
The series is based on a graphic novel written by Si Spencer and opens in 2023 with London Metropolitan police officer Shahara Hasan, a Muslim single mom living with her father and trying to get her life back together. Everything changes for Shanara when she makes a startling discovery: a murdered man, lying naked, with a strange tattoo on his wrist and a gunshot wound through his eye.
With no explanation, the action shifts to 1941 in London during the Blitz. Charles Whiteman is a Jewish police sergeant who finds himself under investigation, following accusations that he is corrupt. Later, Whiteman is called by a mysterious woman who instructs him to dispose of a body. Whiteman drives to the location where he finds the body: a naked man, with a strange tattoo on his wrist and a gunshot wound in the eye.
In 1890, Detective Alfred Hillinghead lives an agonised existence. He is happily married, with a beautiful daughter and is highly respected in his field. He is also secretly gay and he struggles to suppress his true nature. His inside struggle though takes the backseat when he stumbles upon a scene that must be familiar to all by now. A naked, murdered man, with a strange tattoo on his wrist and a gunshot wound through his eye.
Action now shifts to the future and 2053. Detective Iris Maplewood drives her electric car in the streets of a futuristic London. Through various ads, we learn that the country is under the control of an unnamed tyrant and a company known as KYAL. Maplewood makes an unexpected stop near an abandoned area and on instinct goes to investigate, making the discovery everyone else did. Naked man, wrist tattoo, gunshot through the eye.
The twist? In every single case, in every single time period, the victim is the same person.
The four detectives must solve the same crime and in doing so uncover a conspiracy that stretches back through time.
Paul Tomalin, the creator of Bodies, skillfully navigates between the four storylines, effectively maintaining a consistent level of engagement in each one, with Stephen Graham looming behind the scenes as a sinister puppeteer, directing events. The production design and costumes for each era are meticulously crafted, creating distinct visual worlds.
Each detective gets their chance to shine, as each one reveals crucial pieces of information at various points.
If you love series and films with a time-paradox, especially if you have watched Dark, you are going to figure out what’s happening early but it is still worth finishing the series to see how it ties everything together.
While thrilling, the series is by no means perfect. It could do with much less runtime (six episodes would have been enough) and some plot holes are impossible to explain. Actually, at some points, the series requires a staggering level of suspension of belief from the viewer. Despite its flaws and its predictability, Bodies is still an amazing series a great one to binge.