After watching this miniseries I went back and read Ruth Rendell's original novel, and was pleasantly surprised at what a faithful adaptation this is, even gracefully making the transition from the glam-rock era setting of Rendell's original to the postpunk era (IMDB's dates for this show contradict each other--was it 1987 or 1990?) Peter Capaldi is great casting as the sadistic pop superstar Zeno Vedast as he not only fits Rendell's description of Zeno in the book but from his performance of the series' title song you can see he knew exactly how a lead singer and guitarist of Zeno's type ought to conduct himself onstage. Peter was in fact the front man of a punk band called the Dreamboys in the early 1980s, which recorded a pretty decent EP. The title song is actually pretty good, musically a sort of mashup of "All The Young Dudes" and "Piano Man," and though I think Peter's vocal track suffers from his having suppressed his natural Joe Strummerlike burr to create a thin, clear Bowiesque sound, I have to admit it fits the character. Fans of the Twelfth Doctor will appreciate Zeno's very Doctorlike concert costume, a notable departure from Rendell's Zeno, who went onstage shirtless in love beads, which is just not Capaldi's look.
I'm not a big fan of the mystery genre so I enjoyed the "Broadchurch"-like emphasis in this teleplay on relatable characters and the human costs of deliberately inflicted pain and trauma. I think Capaldi finds a nice balance between Zeno's obnoxious aspects and his cool ones. To someone who's used to thinking of British pop stars as exotic creatures it was enlightening to see one portrayed as just a local boy made good, and I think the story has some interesting things to say about how celebrity can give people more power over others than they can safely handle.
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