Waking the Dead: Series 3, Episodes 1 and 2: Multistorey
Written by Ed Whitmore; Directed by Robert Bierman
After a somewhat lengthy break, I return to my Waking the Dead reviews and plunge into the show’s third series. For some reason, Series 3 is always the one that I have the most trouble remembering: ultimately, only the final episode stands out in my mind, and that’s only because it’s unusually character-driven for Waking the Dead at this stage in its history. That’s not to say that Series 3 is in any way poor, but it’s not particularly memorable, and it has the unfortunate disadvantage of starting with what was, at the time, the programme’s weakest storyline to date.
The focus is on a mass shooting which took place in 1996 when a lone gunman, Carl Mackenzie (Sean Pertwee), murdered or injured several pedestrians in the high street from the vantage point of the top floor of a multi-storey car park. In the present day, the case is up for appeal. Pertwee always claimed his innocence, stating that he had in fact been kidnapped and framed by the real gunman, but two witness reports, including that of the police officer who succeeded in apprehending him, state that they saw him with the gun in his hands…
It’s hard to put my finger on what it is about Multistorey that doesn’t work. On paper, it’s actually a very interesting scenario, but for some reason none of it really pulls together. There’s no real sense of urgency, despite Boyd have a personal connection in the form of having been friends with a police officer who was killed in the massacre, and despite him (temporarily) concealing evidence when an eyewitness’ account is revealed to have been less than reliable. None of the characters, not even the accused, really come to life, and it ultimately all feels a little pedestrian.
On a side note, after swapping producers every year since the pilot, the show finally got itself a long-term producer in the form of Richard Burrell, who remained in that role until the end of Series 5 and has since gone on to produce a diverse array of programmes for the BBC, including the first series of the recent re-imagining of Robin Hood, The Invisibles and Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story. Oh, and, on a purely trivial note, it never ceases to amaze me how much the moustache and beard Spence adopts as of this episode changes his appearance, adding at least ten years to him and greatly increasing his stature.
Holby connections: Robert Pugh (Robert Cross in this episode) played paramedic Andy Ponting in the first two series of Casualty, while Kim Vithana (Beth Downing in this episode) played midwife Rosie Sattar between Series 5 and 7 of Holby City.