The best thing I watched this past week is an ITV-produced crime drama called Chasing Shadows. You and I both know shows of this genre are a dime a dozen. A good and proper mystery must have compelling cases, a red herring or two and the resolution must be surprising, but not entirely out of the blue either.
For me Chasing Shadows hit all those marks very well. But what makes this type of series really stand out are unique characters who solve the crimes and/or the relationships between crime solving partners.
Which brings me to the very quirky DS Sean Stone played by Reece Shearsmith. Those of you with a sharp memory will recall that Reece also starred in my previous pick of the week, Inside No. 9. In Chasing Shadows, Shearsmith calls on the slightly creepy, outsider qualities he’s perfected in past roles in order to portray a brilliant but socially inept detective. Stone has been demoted from the murder squad for embarrassing his superiors at a police press conference for very simply and bluntly telling the truth.
Once installed in his new position, we learn why CS Drayton (Don Warrington) might have been so eager to be shot of DS Stone. With his new Missing Persons Bureau liaison partner Ruth Hattersley (Alex Kingston) and their frequent police contact DCI Pryor (Noel Clarke), we see first hand how dysfunctional Sean truly is.
He is candid to the point of being rude with witnesses, suspects and co-workers alike. He quickly loses patience with those who aren’t honest with him. A problem when a major part of your job includes interrogating people. Sean is prone to walking out of rooms when people are still speaking to him. Finally, one of Stone’s most unusual habits is making his co-workers take separate cars even though they’re all driving to the same location. Bad for the environment and communication.
On the other hand, DS Stone has phenomenal focus which allows him to see patterns no one else seems to detect. Despite his impaired inability to function in social situations, he is acutely observant of his surroundings. Only his housekeeper Adele (Myriam Acharki) seems supportive of his situation and accepts Sean for who he is. She also offers him advice on how to interact with people which unfortunately has a tendency to backfire when put into practice.
Neither the autism spectrum nor Asperger’s is ever mentioned, but it’s implied. DS Stone is basically a less charismatic Sherlock and far less funny than Big Bang Theory‘s Sheldon Cooper. Perhaps you’re asking why should we care about this character. It’s the moments when Sean does make the effort to connect that tug at your heart just a bit. They make you hope he can improve for his own sake even though we know that will never happen.
As for the rest of the cast, it’s a veritable Doctor Who reunion. River Song, Mickey Smith, Martha Jones’ mother Francine and the President from the Rise of the Cybermen episode all sitting around one table discussing a missing persons’ case! In all seriousness, Alex Kingston is always a pleasure to watch, but don’t expect the brassy Melody Pond. She’s very sympathetic as a single mom trying to help families whose loved ones have disappeared.
The series features two 2-part mysteries – one about a group of missing teens who have apparently committed suicide and the other concerning a string of murders all tied to one schizophrenic mental hospital inmate. Chasing Shadows was broadcast in the UK back in September of 2014, but it is coming to the States on Acorn TV. The first episode airs starting tomorrow (July 27) and a new installment will be added each Monday through August 17th.
If you’ve already seen it, how did it go over in the UK? If not, does Chasing Shadows strike you as intriguing or just like all the others?
Alas I couldn’t find many YouTube clips, but here’s the briefest of sneak peeks…