Tom Delaney is a successful British surgeon who was recently widowed, leaving himself to bring up his two daughters who are becoming increasingly distanced since the tragic loss of their Mother. When Tom’s eldest daughter Jenny goes missing, whilst assisting Police in their search he discovers an intricate and tragic secret that may hold the key to understanding what happened to her.
For Netflix’s first foray into BBC Drama territory they picked a story from one of the most prolific crime writers of all time; Harlan Coben and for the most part they have managed to pull it off. Instead of lavish set pieces and effects-ridden sepia-toned gloom we are provided with a show that would easily be forgiven for being funded by licence payers instead of subscribers with gritty dialogue, lashings of anxiety and red herrings galore that only “Broadchurch” has managed to previously achieve to this level of success with its ‘Guess Who?’ concept.
However, there are only so many red herrings a show can take and “Safe” does teeter dangerously on the side of parody towards the climatic finale when almost every supporting character is given lingering shots and silence. At times it felt although there was just too much going on, especially in the Netflix trademark middle episodes where the writers were clearly treading water to fill out the show’s eight-episode template.
Whilst Michael C Hall does portray the frantic father Tom with the perfect blend of mania and desperation, quite why it was decided that he should adopt a British accent is beyond me. Whilst not approaching Van Dyke levels of linguistic absurdity, it certainly detracts away from the performance for little pay off – why couldn’t he just be American? Amanda Abbington is her usual dependable self as Sophie Mason, the senior Officer in charge of the search for Jenny and, adding spice to the mix, Tom’s secret love interest even if common sense would dictate that she would have either been removed, or recused from the case due to a conflict of interest.
Marc Warren is also exceptional as Tom’s best friend, and fellow surgeon Pete but the best performance of the show has to be Nigel Lindsay as one of the trio of bunglers that are the Marshalls who give a welcome comedic break to proceedings from time-to-time as the “have a go” body disposal team.
In a strong supporting cast, Hannah Arteton stands out, but not in a good way. Perhaps it’s the pointless twist that’s attributed to her character to fill time, or the lack of screen presence she can muster in the face of Amanda Abbington but she ultimately feels pointless in the grand scale of “Safe”. Had the show focused on fewer characters and less pointless plot twists and dead ends, “Safe” would be a superbly tight show. But what we end up with is a slightly flabby narrative that could have been easily rectified by a KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) approach.
Watch this if you liked: “The Five”, “Save Me”, “The Missing”, “Broadchurch”