In Plain Sight (TV Mini-Series 2016) Poster

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Compelling good guy / bad guy duel.
khunkrumark23 December 2016
Compelling good guy / bad guy duel.

Captivating procedural set in 1950s Scotland... and that's what is going to make it heavy going for some - because the dialogue is entirely in Scottish.

But I reckon it's worth the effort because this is a really good, unpretentious and straightforward yarn based somewhat on real events which devastated a small Scottish community back at a time when a murder was always front page news.

A Lanarkshire police detective, William Muncie (all-around good cop and family man) is living in an age where cops plod along looking for cold hard facts and old fashioned evidence. The idea of people killing just for fun doesn't compute and Muncie has a tough time selling his newfangled ideas.

The story is simple and focuses on the drama and conflictions between the good and the evil of the two leads. The conclusion is inevitable so our focus is guided more towards the drama rather than the action. And the drama is gripping in parts, scary in other parts and always tense.

Both leads are excellent although it has to be said that Martin Compston is particularly compelling as the baddie. Thankfully this commercial TV production didn't feel the need to trot out the same tired faces to play all the parts so it has an added bonus of feeling fresh and original.

Of the two IMDb reviews submitted so far the American complained that the pacing was sluggish and the Brit seemed to not have an issue with that. Worth bearing in mind before you engage yourself to this. As with all British TV, the locations, cinematography and attention to set details are world class.

If you binge watch all 3 episodes it racks up just over two hours of your time of which I'm sure you'll think was well spent.
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Glasgow Kill
Lejink26 December 2016
Being from Glasgow, the murder spree of Peter Manuel is still infamous in these parts, some 60 years after their perpetration and he remains I believe the worst serial-killer in Scottish criminal history. There was no rhyme or reason to his acts, some of his murders were sexual in nature, some were just coldblooded slaughter, some were singly carried-out and covered up, some were shot, some beaten to death, some were of multiple victims (he twice murdered whole households) and then left the slain out almost on display. A callous, selfish, conceited individual, he acted as if he was superior to the police on his tail, almost daring them to catch him. Thankfully, they eventually did, but not before he'd accounted for nine victims, finally being hanged at Barlinnie Prison in 1958.

This three-part ITV series posits as his nemesis pursuing Detective Police Inspector Muncie and sees the latter drawn into a treacherous game of cat and mouse before Manuel finally overplays his hand and is at last brought to justice.

It's interesting to compare this dramatisation of a British 50's serial-killer with the recent BBC three-part series on another infamous mass-murderer John Christie from about the same era in "Rillington Place". Both are good but with faults, the problem here being, almost inevitably, the simplification of events (a murder he committed in England is ignored completely) and creation of characters to presumably empower the story, as if fiction could have more dramatic effect than the cold hard truth. For example DI Muncie has as his main assistant a woman detective, which nothing in my background reading has brought up as based in fact. It just looks like what it is, a PC casting decision probably made with a view to modern relevance and to possibly broaden viewer appeal too. It had to be a mistake too not to show something of the criminal trial of Manuel, at the time dubbed in the press up here as the "Trial Of The Century", especially when the accused chose to run his own defence.

On the positive side, the depiction of the times was fine, helped no doubt by the fact that the neighbourhoods in which Manuel ran amok are pretty much still standing today. I also think it was wise not to show the depiction of any of the actual murders, presumably on taste-grounds. The two leads are fine, Douglas Henshall, never off the screen as a cop these days it seems and Martin Compson, playing a villain from a previous generation this time as opposed to his recent turn as Paul Ferris in the film "The Wee Man". At first I thought Compson would be a physical mismatch for the evil-eyed Manuel, but I learned they both shared a diminutive stature and though Compson can't match the devilish intensity of the well-known contemporary Manuel mug-shot, he does resemble him at other times.

I do think the piece could have been darker and sharper in presentation but perhaps the makers did the viewer a favour in cutting this would-be big-shot murderer down to size without glorifying his terrible misdeeds. One of the last men hanged in Scotland, I disapprove of capital punishment but if ever there was a deserving case of the rope, Manuel was surely it. And as for the strong local accents requiring subtitling, there was no problem in my household and it was good to hear the realistic vernacular of the day as opposed to pukker-English or bland American accents for a change.
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Disturbing and full of menace
Sleepin_Dragon27 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Real life events are chillingly brought to life in this three part series from ITV. A case that spanned three years, William Muncie takes on Serial killer Peter Manuel, a clever and twisted killer who took great pleasure in taunting Muncie. Manuel, a cocky and sadistic man known as The Beast of Birkenshaw, left his calling card at the scenes of his crimes, and almost got away with murder.

Almost a drama of good and evil, the case of Manuel is well known, and the drama does a good job of remaining grounded and not sensationalising the events, almost subtle.

The drama was very much in sage hands, Douglas Henshall is such a talented actor, bringing Muncie to life, giving him credibility. Martin Compston on the other hand, what a turn around, so used to him in Line of Duty as the handsome good guy Steve Arnott, he shows us his skills here, he injects a venom into the character, he manages to look older and sinister. A fantastic interplay between both characters.
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A gripping drama based on real events in the 1950s
Tweekums21 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This three part mini-series, based on real events, is set in Lanarkshire where police detective William Muncie spent several years trying to bring rapist, and later murderer, Peter Manuel to justice. Muncie knows just what Manuel is like but finding the evidence will be very difficult and all the time he knows that Manuel is sure to strike again. For Manuel it is almost a game as he taunts Muncie and escalates the scale of his offences.

Given that this is based on events that really happened the ultimate outcome is not in much doubt but it is still a tense watch at times. Manuel's crimes are not actually shown; not to introduce an element of doubt but I suspect because the makers thought is inappropriate to dwell on details of unpleasant real crimes that took place within living memory. Douglas Henshall does a fine job as the determined policeman William Muncie but it is Martin Compston's performance as Manuel that stands out the most; he makes the character genuinely disturbing while still being plausible. The rest of the cast are pretty solid too. The production nicely captures the feel of the 1950s; a time long before DNA evidence and CCTV cameras. Overall I'd say this was a fine drama and well worth watching.
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Great Acting, great Drama based on true events
drbadass54 January 2017
This is the Drama of the year for me from ITV (that are based on fact). Compston plays Manual great and Henshall plays Muncie great as well. This 3 part series tells the story of the murder spree of Peter Manual and IMO doe's a great job, each episode went by so fast for me and they did not drag it out like many other dramas have been before. I would say to anyone watch this mini series and the fact it is based on real events makes it more interesting. Manual was a cocky man but Muncie was going to get his man. Muncie investigated 50 murders during career and solved everyone but will be remembered for the Manual case. Manual was a twisted man who even did his own defense at trials after sacking his legal team, even the judge comments on how he performed his defense. He was a step ahead all the time until his downfall came. He was a very committed his offenses in a very calculated manor, all the time right under the nose of the police hence the title i guess. I recommend this 100%. Good script and great acting to along side it.
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rivanerakaren12 July 2018
Great acting, great cast, extremely well made series based on true events in my eyes its a must see show.
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A mixed bag, but mostly good.
kitellis-9812112 July 2018
A very watchable and well-made piece of television drama.

The period detail was excellent, as was the cinematography and the acting from both lead actors. The writing was workmanlike, but lacked cohesion, and this dribbled through to the edit which was a bit choppy and uneven.

Certain events (which really happened) were referred to in the dialogue but were never shown, leaving me wondering a few times if I'd accidentally skipped an episode. Also, certain aspects of the storytelling were poorly executed, leaving me unclear about the order of events; for example, in the middle of a crime-spree the bad guy was suddenly in prison with no scenes explaining why/how he came to be there. At first I thought I must have dozed-off and missed the big arrest. (Upon reading about the real-life events on Wikipedia I discovered that he'd been out on parole and then went back inside for previous crimes unrelated to the story being told).

The directing was also somewhat uneven, with the interior scenes featuring small groups of people being far better directed than those on location with larger crowds. He seemed not to know where to place the camera, and the blocking was awkward. This is surprising, considering that the man credited as Director, John Strickland, is highly experienced and has produced an impressive body of work. Maybe he just wasn't inspired by the material.

But overall, and despite a few niggles, it was a perfectly acceptable dramatization of events which may not otherwise have been spectacular enough to make it to the screen, and I now know about a historical serial-killer case that had previously eluded me, so it was educational too.
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chilling drama
myriamlenys31 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
First the good : this is fine drama, lovingly crafted and acted. The pace is unhurried, the period atmosphere is convincing and evocative and there are a number of outstanding performances, especially by protagonists Douglas Henshall and Martin Compston, who show a fine chemistry. Compston's Peter Manuel is deeply, chillingly convincing : glib, cocksure, cunning, murderous and (who knows ?) perhaps not entirely sane and/or human.

Sadly there are also a number of missed opportunities. The series does not succeed in digging deep into Manuel's psyche : the viewer learns what he does, but not why he does it. (Still, this may be an unjust comment, as there is a chance that killers like Manuel may not have a recognizable inner life or may not understand their drives and obsessions themselves.) By the same token the series does not fully explore the constant enabling by Manuel's family, which provides excuses and alibi's like other families provide food or shelter. Are his family members terrified of him ? Do they benefit from his crimes ? Do they envy his daring ? Do they belong to some perverted clan which recognizes no law from God or man, save clan loyalty ? And if so, where does this perverted clan attitude come from, and how does it function ?

It might also have been a good idea to include Manuel's trial, which must have been both stunning and heart-rending. It would have been a good opportunity for examining a number of crucial questions such as : are our society and our legal apparatus really suited for dealing with killers like Manuel ? Where does one draw a line between sanity and insanity, between punishment and treatment ? (But again, this may be an unjust comment, since I have an almost boundless appetite for courtroom scenes and will gobble anything, including procedural discussions about venues or cross-examinations about stolen bikes. And of course it's entirely possible that the makers of the series wisely, and kindly, refrained from re-opening old wounds or stirring up forgotten quarrels.)
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A Love/Hate Relationship with the Protagonist!
rickbuggyphotography25 August 2018
There has to be more episodic television programs about Detective Muncie of Police Scotland! The serious crimes and their investigative solutions by this man warrant much more television or movie exposure. If he was a Londoner or a New Yorker, everyone would know about this Detective and his accomplishments!
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Pretty good
whatithinkis22 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Once the premise was established during the first episode, Compston and the writers did such a thorough job of portraying Manuel's taunting, teasing and flaunting in the face of his bad acts already performed and yet to come that I found it impossible to actually watch. Especially in the face of Muncie's (Douglas Henshall) repeated and repeated and repeated defeats and humiliations.

In that context I found the pace too slow, the tension too high, my frustration and dislike too much. So I fast forwarded through much of the first two episodes, checking in to get a feel for what was what.

I hadn't googled any of it and didn't know the outcome. I was able to settle in and watch the third episode once things had advanced to the point where something else was likely to evolve.

So, given all of that, I can say it was pretty good. The accents are at times challenging and access to subtitles will help with that.
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