Emetophobes may wish to shield their eyes in the opening scenes of the pilot, as rookie Detective Constable Anna Travis (the magnetic Kelly Reilly, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) has trouble getting used to the job’s sights and smells when it comes to corpses.
She eventually proves useful elsewhere, when her superior, the brusque Detective Chief Inspector James Langton (Ciarán Hinds, The Woman in Black), calls upon her feminine wiles to help them draw information out of a cocky actor they suspect of murdering a handful of women over a dozen years. Travis really proves her might, however, in an interrogation scene that chills, featuring a bravura turn from [redacted].
At just shy of two hours, the pilot has the feel of a crackling good feature film; better and longer and is the second season, subtitled The Red Dahlia. Finding Travis more comfortable after a few more cases under her belt, the drama focuses on a murder whose details mirror the infamously unsolved case of Elizabeth Short, aka the Black Dahlia, in late-1940s Los Angeles.
This storyline has even more twists — and is even more twisted — than the previous. Upping the dramatic ante is the sprouting seed, however tiny, of an unlikely attraction between Travis and Langton. Given their age gap, it should make one feel icky, but both actors are so likable, it just makes sense. So, too, does the series’ use of nudity, profanity and gore — never for shock’s sake, but in service of the story.
Both seasons boast fine, unobtrusive direction from Christopher Menaul (Zen) and Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky), respectively, and methodical, well-paced writing by La Plante across the board. With this firm foundation, Reilly and Hinds take Above Suspicion to a splendid high. So it goes without saying, this show comes highly recommended. —Rod Lott