Have loved detective-mystery shows/dramas for pretty much half my life, and have always admired that a wide range of tones are encompassed, from light-hearted to quite brutal. Will not say that every one around is great (there have been disappointments) or that every episode of personal favourites is immune from criticism, as neither are the case, but those of high-quality are so many.
In primarily the Mark McManus period, 'Taggart' was one of the gritty kind of shows, deliberate in pace until the period when Burke was in charge (where the shorter-length episodes felt rushed) yet very compelling, tense and suitably twisty, complete with scenes not for the faint-hearted. Do like a lot of the James MacPherson/Jardine-era episodes, though overall the period wasn't as consistent. Although it was the Burke episodes that introduced me to 'Taggart', with its regular runs on ITV some years ago, the episodes generally aren't as good, that is especially the case with the late ones where they suffered from the shorter lengths as well as not being gritty enough and running out of ideas and surprises.
To me, "Fearful Lightning" is one of the weaker episodes of the Jardine period, the bizarre "Apocalypse" being my least favourite. Not an awful episode certainly and there are far worse episodes overall, but not really a 'Taggart' high point by any stretch. Feel exactly the same about "Fearful Lightning" as with "A Fistful of Chips", except this is the marginally better episode as it wasn't quite as dull and was slightly more memorable.
"Fearful Lightning", as always with 'Taggart' looks just fine, have always loved the gritty, like-a-character-of-its-own Scottish setting, the moody colour pallette that adds to the grit and the slick photography. The music fits well and doesn't intrude or feel dull, while the theme song is not one to forget.
Do like how the team work, their rapport and how they go about solving the case, they keep the episode afloat. Liked the writing for Jardine here and the unnerving influence Taggart himself has over the case. The best thing about "Fearful Lightning" is the acting of the leads. MacPherson and Blythe Duff are always great and their chemistry is always a delight to watch. Robert Robertson is ever the scene stealer and John Michie has settled well. Colin McCredie injects some nice levity here and there. Larry Lamb is also very credible in his role, although the character threatened to veer into over-the-top territory. Even more impressive is a suitably intense Alex Ferns.
Unfortunately, on the most part the story again didn't really grab me, lukewarm is a very good word to describe it. Couldnt get into it on first viewing, and second time around it still feels over-stretched and with too many lapses in momentum, even for a deliberately paced show like 'Taggart' parts of this episode dragged, and could have done with more tension. There were also parts where it felt confused and fewer characters, a few not having much to them, and having less ideas going on in the story and developing the ones left much more would have helped it.
With the ending, it is another that did come over as rushed and under-explained and there are also more surprising endings on 'Taggart', on first viewing it went over my head while only just about getting it on re-watch. As disturbing as the murders were, they also had an out of kilter strangeness to them too. Other than Lamb and Ferns the rest of the supporting cast didn't really stand out to me.
Overall, certainly isn't unwatchable but nowhere near close to being electrifying enough. 5/10 Bethany Cox
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this