Silent Witness, TV review: 'The acting is still as lifeless as the autopsy corpses'
The script in the latest series is so wooden it makes CSI look like Pinter
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Thursday 02 January 2014
The only compelling mystery in Silent Witness, which began it’s 17th series on BBC1 last night, is who on earth actually watches it? This deathly dull forensics drama has been going since 1996, (Emilia Fox took over from Amanda Burton as the lead in 2004) and it still hasn’t developed any watchable assets.
In last night’s episode (part one of two), Dr Nikki Alexander (Emilia Fox) was investigating two cases, one involving a charisma-free Premiership footballer facing a forced transfer after making some unfortunate remarks on Twitter; the other involving a Jewish businessman who found his wife and autistic son dead after returning from a business trip.
That sounds like a plot that’s moved with the times, but in fact Silent Witness has remained so consistently impervious to criticism, that only the ever-changing support cast can be used to date an episode. The forensic pathology team still work in an office so dimly lit, it’s a wonder anyone can find the way to their own desk, the autopsies are still gratuitously gory and the acting is still as lifeless as the corpses.
Much of this can be attributed to the script, consistently one of the clunkiest on television, and exemplified in this episode by Nikki and Jack’s crime scene banter, an attempt so pathetically wooden it makes CSI look like Pinter.
“Why are you breaking his balls?” asked Nikki after she arrived to find her hunky colleague arguing with a detective about a contaminated scene. “I’m not breaking his balls,” he replied. “You’re breaking his balls. What’s wrong with you?” she countered, thus repeating not once, not twice, but three times, an American colloquialism that no real-life British person has ever used in everyday conversation.
Except, maybe, if they were doing an impression of Silvio from The Sopranos. If only Nikki had been doing an impression of Silvio from The Sopranos. Anything to lighten the tedious gloom of Silent Witness.
game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers
Arts & Ents blogs
- 2 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 3 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
- 4 Ryan Gosling posts tribute to 'Ryan Gosling Won't Eat His Cereal' creator Ryan McHenry
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
Eurovision 2015: What date is the song contest and who are the favourites to win?
Game of Thrones, season 5 episode 4, review: Sansa in danger of becoming another footnote in Westeros' bloody history
Noel Gallagher 'cannot wait' to hear Oasis-inspired One Direction album but rants about 'pointless' Tidal and Spotify
Top Gear: Paul Hollywood criticises BBC's handling of Jeremy Clarkson - 'whether he left is almost immaterial'
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally