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The new BBC drama 'Quirke' takes us into postwar Ireland - seedy, drunken, dominated by the twin evils of the church and the wealthy and corrupt. It's a somewhat clichéd view, made palatable by the series' muted tone, although at times in the first episode I struggled to follow the softly spoken dialogue and relatively (for a murder drama) understated plot. Unlike many such series, there's an overall narrative as well as individual stories; the fact that Quirke's niece has a separate, personal connection to all three murders reduces the overall plausibility. The cast is an impressive one, but the scripts don't really call on them to do anything extraordinary; the detail with which their characters' feelings are observed is often weaker than its symbolic depiction (endless booze and cigarettes). To me, 'Quirke' fell between two stools: too low-key and gloomy to be fun family entertainment, but not truly deep either.
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