Sunday, May 12, 2024

After the Flood, on BritBox

Flooding is often a human tragedy, but it also poses great risks and challenges for law enforcement. It will be all hands on deck for this fictional Yorkshire police force, when the waters start rising—even for the mega-pregnant PC Joanna Marshall. The newly promoted detective’s final day as a uniformed officer will be quite eventful, when she discovers a drowned body that wasn’t really drowned. As Marshall officially and unofficially works the case, she uncovers corruption within the local council government in creator Mick Ford’s six-part After the Flood, which premieres tomorrow on BritBox.

If you only watch only one episode of
After the Flood (and maybe you should), it ought to be the first. Marshall and her soon-to-be former patrol partner Deepa Das are literally waist deep in water flooding out a row of lower middle class town houses. Indeed, this episode’s special effects should be a nice appetizer for fans eagerly anticipating the extreme weather of Twisters.

From there, they are called to the river, where a newborn infant is caught up in the currents. Almost miraculously, a good Samaritan saves the baby, but he is swept out of Marshall’s grasp. In the days to come, she doggedly searches for news of the mystery hero, but Lee Ellison has his reasons for keeping a low profile.

This disaster sure kept Marshall busy. She is also first on the scene, when a building manager finds a body presumably drowned in an office building elevator. Except, the CSI-equivalent determines he was bludgeoned, not drowned. Since he has no I.D. Marshall rather rashly puts his DNA into a genealogy database, even though that violates British privacy laws. Therefore, she panics when the DNA matches with a sister in France, who won’t stop calling her. Marshall fears her career as a detective will be over before it even starts, especially when Tasha Eden arrives from France to demand answers regarding her brother, Daniel. That would be the brother she assumed already died five years ago.

The mystery of the not-drowned Eden holds promise, but Ford and co-writers Roanne Bardsley and Nina Metvier are more interested in scoring political points against the Conservative Council chair and the crooked real estate developer, Jack Radcliffe, whose latest project supposedly acerbated the recent flooding. Frankly, a lot of this intrigue is so predictable, it gets boring. (They also largely gloss over the scam of Radcliffe’s bogus “green tech” development.)

Sophie Rundle is easy to root for as the earnest and grounded Marshall, even when she makes some incredibly bad decisions. However, Matt Stokoe is too obviously dodgy as Marshall’s husband, the supposedly by-the-book DC Pat Holman. They just are not a credible couple. In contrast, Jonas Armstrong is terrific as ethically complicated Ellison, while Nicholas Gleaves adds a lot of grit as Marhsall’s former boss, Sgt. Phil Mackie.

A lot of good work in the series is undermined by the dubious political posturing. That is disappointing, but maybe not so unusual. To make matters worse, all the contrived secret coincidences linking most of the characters in unlikely ways are just ridiculous. After a strong kick-off, the series steadily deflates with each successive episode. Consequently,
After the Flood is not good enough to recommend when it starts streaming tomorrow (5/13) on BritBox.