Review: The Fall

The Fall title card (screenshot via Bravo GO)

The Fall title card (screenshot via Bravo GO)

B-

If I learned anything from The Honourable Woman, it’s that the Brits like their dramas slow—I mean really slow, like moving at a snail’s pace. After some quality time with the second season premiere of The Fall, my belief was only cemented.

The Fall tends to squander precious air time with numerous scenes like this where the killer makes breakfast (screenshot via Bravo GO)

The Fall tends to squander precious airtime with numerous scenes like this where the killer does menial things like make breakfast (screenshot via Bravo GO)

Much like CBC’s The Honourable Woman, Bravo’s The Fall is an import from BBC Two, and both shows don’t mind taking their time to get to the point. On The Fall, it’s particularly comical. For example, the show spends over a minute on a dialogue-free scene consisting of only walking into a bedroom and opening a box. Then there are similarly dull scenes involving riding a boat, waiting for a train, boarding a train, walking around slowly (or worse standing completely still), cooking breakfast and making a cup of coffee that just eats several minutes of the show. Actually, if you manage to come across The Fall during the wrong moments while channel surfing, I wouldn’t be surprised if you thought it’s a cookery show (as the Brits might say), a Maxwell’s House commercial or some sort of show on transportation.

With the number of pointless scenes in the episode even the actors look bored (screenshot via Bravo GO)

With the number of pointless scenes in the episode, even the actors look bored (screenshot via Bravo GO)

The Fall‘s slow pace is all quite different from broadcast TV shows from this side of the pond. I’m thinking things like How To Get Away With Murder that grip your attention for almost the full hour. I suppose since BBC Two has the luxury of not having to worry about adverts, they can keep in meaningless scenes, just for the sake of being artistic, or whatever. However, as a viewer I wish they’d just get on with it.

I suppose I may be a bit different from other folks, but I’d much rather have 44 minutes of solid, riveting TV, with Amy Poehler nagging me to buy a coat at Old Navy every few minutes, than closer to 60 minutes of TV that might get good, or might be a waste of time, but you have to sit through all of it because you don’t want to miss the point where the action goes down.
Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson (screenshot via Bravo GO)

Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson (screenshot via Bravo GO)

So we’ve established The Fall‘s pacing is rather slow, but what about the show itself? What is it about? I’m glad you asked. The Fall shares a lot in common with many other shows. I felt it has some similarities with CBS’ Stalker, however, instead of a duo trying to catch a random creeper every episode, you follow one detective (or detective superintendent if you’re particular), Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), trying to catch one creeper for what seems like what will turn out to be an entire series. (She already spent one season trying without any luck.)
Paul Spector taking a phone call while trying not to look diabolically evil (screenshot via Bravo GO)

Paul Spector taking a phone call while trying not to look diabolically evil (screenshot via Bravo GO)

Paul Spector likes to snip a bit of his victim's hair as souvenirs (screenshot via Bravo GO)

Paul Spector likes to snip a bit of his victim’s hair as souvenirs (screenshot via Bravo GO)

Paul Spector managed to out do Dexter Morgan by tying up a doll (screenshot via Bravo GO)

Paul Spector managed to outdo Dexter Morgan by tying up a doll (screenshot via Bravo GO)

This creeper, as I called him, is actually a serial killer, but lives in plain sight. His name is Paul Spector (also known as the Belfast Strangler to the press and Peter or Peter Piper to some) and he may seem innocent enough with a wife and kids. However, much like Dexter Morgan from Showtime’s Dexter he has a job relating to death—Spector is a bereavement counsellor. They both also share some oddities. Spector likes saving his victims’ hair, while the title character from Dexter likes to save blood samples. They both also like to tie down their victims in some capacity, but Spector is a bit stranger as he appears to enjoy tying his daughter’s dolls like his victims for fun. Unlike Dexter, however, Spector doesn’t have a moral code. He goes around seeking out, killing and abusing young women.

I'm pretty sure you're meant to fall for The Fall's Jamie Dornan (screenshot via Bravo GO)

I’m pretty sure you’re meant to fall for The Fall’s Jamie Dornan (screenshot via Bravo GO)

Like Dexter, the show decided to cast the serial killer as a really attractive guy. Jamie Dornan, who plays Spector, will also star as Christian Grey in the 50 Shades of Grey movie coming out next year—no joke. So don’t be surprised if you search #TheFall on Twitter and see people fawning over him. What made the move particularly curious in The Fall’s case opposed to Dexter is the sexual elements in the killings.

You might wonder why he’d kill when he could probably seduce anyone he wanted; however, not to fear, the writer manages to find a way to get that to work. You don’t think the show would throw away any excuse to put a ridiculously good-looking guy on screen? How would The Fall draw the key female demo? What would distract people from the heinous acts against women that Stalker was bashed for online? Well to have an obscenely attractive serial killer and explain his actions, the writer manages to get Detective Gibson to deduce that he has a bit of a superiority complex—enjoying deciding if people live or if they die. The killings are a bit of an addiction as well. Spector kills, he waits a bit and the urge builds over time to the point where he feels he must kill again.
Good luck with getting that to work (screenshot via Bravo GO)

Good luck with getting that to work (screenshot via Bravo GO)

Of course, since this is TV, Detective Gibson is quite a looker herself, but too bad the writers couldn’t make her more intelligent in other places where it matters as well. When dealing with one of Spector’s traumatized victims, Gibson takes an elastic band from her hair and puts it around her wrist, suggesting she snap it when her thoughts overwhelm her. I don’t think that actually works because if it did, wouldn’t shock therapy be the most effective form of therapy? The poor thing was left snapping the band around her wrist repeatedly as if she’s hoping it would magically send her back in time to prevent the entire thing from happening. Then Detective Gibson touts the benefits of journaling, a better suggestion as far as I know. It’s probably not going to be enough to get her together though, but I guess that’s why she’s a detective, not a therapist.

How could I make it any more obvious that I'm the killer...(screenshot via Bravo GO)

How could I make it any more obvious that I’m the killer…(screenshot via Bravo GO)

With Detective Gibson’s intelligence being rather average, that meant a lot of the other people on the show had to be dumb, really dumb. For example, while on the train Spector notices a woman pulling out a newspaper with a composite image looking like him on the cover. He asks her if the image looks like him, likely knowing full well it does. She says it kind of does. So he draws a beard like the one he’s sporting at the moment and asks her again. Despite the number of alarm bells any of that would set off for a sane person, she seems to think he’s only making small talk. This is even after he asks her if it’s safe to travel back to Belfast.

You have to be a straight-up idiot to hand your driver's license over to a stranger like that, let alone someone who looks like the composite sketch of the killer on the front page of the newspaper (screenshot via Bravo GO)

You have to be a straight-up idiot to hand your driver’s license over to a stranger like that, let alone someone who looks like the composite sketch of the killer on the front page of the newspaper (screenshot via Bravo GO)

If that isn’t weird enough, Spector keeps talking. They chat about how all the victims had dark hair and then the woman on the train reveals her hair was dark as well, but she dyed it as she lived in the area and wanted to deter the killer. She goes as far as to pull out her driver’s license—complete with personal information—to prove her hair was in fact naturally dark, to a guy who looks exactly like the composite sketch of the suspect. She might as well have taken out a billboard asking to be killed.

How wouldn't anyone freakout if they came across a guy walking around in their house? (screenshot via Bravo GO)

How wouldn’t anyone freakout if they came across a guy walking around in their house? (screenshot via Bravo GO)

That isn’t the worst of it, unfortunately. A young girl comes across Spector walking around in the dark in her house and doesn’t scream, doesn’t throw a fit, but merely asks who he is. He says he’s a friend of her mom’s and she believes him blindly. They go to the washroom to have ever so much fun with tongue twisters, somehow not managing to wake anyone up. Spector then slips into her mother’s bed, and, well, you could probably guess things didn’t get pretty.

A kid being comfortable with having an adult stranger they just met in their house in the washroom with them is just one of the many things wrong with this scene (screenshot via Bravo GO)

A kid being comfortable with having an adult stranger they just met in their house in the washroom with them is just one of the many things wrong with this scene (screenshot via Bravo GO)

The absolute idiocy of some of the people on the show is astounding at times. I just couldn’t understand how a child could be comfortable meeting someone in the pitch dark, at night, in her own house, or how someone would go out of their way to dye their hair to avoid being attacked by the killer, but felt okay with not only sharing that her hair was dyed to a guy who happened to look like the composite sketch of the killer, but also to show her personal ID to him as well.
Believe it or not The Fall didn’t have the stupidest scene involving a kid from a British drama I’ve seen this year. That honour goes to The Honourable Woman, where two kids witnessed someone plowing a pair of tongs into their father’s neck with blood spewing out and didn’t scream or run for cover, but rather sat there with blank faces like Dora the Explorer after she asks you a question. I guess all the Brits who can write kids characters are all working for CBBC or CBeebies.
While the character’s stupidity would be a turn off for some shows, for thrillers like The Fall it’s almost pardonable. Part of the fun of shows like these is just yelling, “you idiot,” at the TV and being teased with knowing something horrible is likely going to happen soon. The Fall is actually quite fun. If you’re patient enough to sit through several meaningless scenes and you don’t mind that every character on the show isn’t really a genius, then The Fall could quite possibly be a show you could get lost in.
These two have absolutely hilarious Irish accents (screenshot via Bravo GO)

These two have absolutely hilarious Irish accents (screenshot via Bravo GO)

That’s if you can ignore the character’s rather goofy accents. As the show is set in Belfast, for the most part, many of the characters have strong Irish accents, with some being so thick, they sound more like sheep than anything else. I was unaware Gillian Anderson had an accent as well. At first I thought it was something she put on for the show, but it seems she uses it even for interviews as well over in the UK (check out this clip from BBC One’s The One Show). However, when she travels to the US, it all but disappears as seen in this clip from Live! with Kelly and Michael. Thankfully, her accent isn’t as ridiculous sounding as some of the Belfast accents on The Fall.

Episode Reviewed: Walk The Line
The Fall airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on Bravo
(Featured Image: Screenshot via Bravo GO)
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