Back in time, Willy's on the phone to a breathy blonde who isn’t his wife. They’re plotting to break up with their spouses at exactly the same moment (half past six, just as the BBC news reader says "And now it's time to join BBC news teams in your area.") so they can start a new life together. It’s a two-hander that should ooze unsettling deceit, except it’s scripted like a GCSE drama project. Did McGovern go back to bed on writing day one, having thrust his laptop at a pack of teenagers? Did they refuse to give it back? Because the dialogue doesn't improve--it gets worse.
Eccleston, perhaps unsettled by the pubescent prose and lazy plotting, decides he can mask the problems by pumping every scene with adrenalin--enough to revive a ward full of asphyxiating peanut allergy patients. He shakes, shouts and pants his way from disaster to mishap to crossroads and eventually finds himself hunched on a church pew bashing out a recovery deal with God. Here, surely, we should see a pace change. But no, because soon he’s being hassled by a beardy, interfering, mindreading priest who tells Willy he’ll have to give up something really huge--the other woman!--if he’s going to persuade the Almighty to sign off on the pact. Cue more unwarranted shouting. I’d have less trouble buying into a do-the-right-thing sketch on Sesame Street.
There’s not a lot to like about this opening episode, which belongs on daytime TV, if not in the bin. Everything that you think is going to happen does, and the clunky disquiet sewn into each scene quickly becomes infuriating. Whether or not Willy committed the crime he’s accused of you’ll want him locked for life just for being a criminally gloomy cliché.