Fresh Persona or an Identity Crisis?

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We all know we should shred old bank statements and destroy used credit cards, but do we also want to watch a cop drama about identity theft? The makers of ITV1’s new six-parter Identity certainly hope so, but here at TV.com we’re still undecided…

Set in London’s elite Identity Unit, the show’s case is helped by two attractive, talented leads. Keeley Hawes (Ashes to Ashes) plays the team’s ultra-composed boss DSI Martha Lawson, while Aidan Gillen (The Wire) plays DI John Bloom, the new bloke with a shady past.

Things don’t start well when Lawson’s boss questions her recruitment judgment, while reading out his staff file to her: the scene is clunky exposition at its worst. However, we’re soon distracted by stunning aerial shots of London, sped-up CCTV footage, and an opening episode full of framed fraud victims.

Viewers may struggle with a messy narrative as the cops attempt to link up developments. The endless ways in which people were tracked via store cards was tedious, yet it did remind us it’s more than a little careless to only have one password for everything! (This show’s scare tactics are superior to any government campaign).

An implausible reveal towards the end of the episode didn't help matters and squeamish viewers won’t enjoy a hit-and-run scene being replayed twice. The final scene of episode one hints at Bloom’s double life in an obscure manner, but it’s pretty hard to care.

Thankfully, episode two is a corker and involves less techy stuff and more old-fashioned psychodrama in the Single White Female vein. It’s definitely worth catching, and the main guest-star Joanne Froggatt is really effective as devious imposter Jane Calshaw. It’s edge-of –your-seat stuff, with some tense, well-shot chase scenes.

However, Bloom’s method of gaining information from the suspect at the end is beyond ridiculous. And we refuse to believe that any Sydney beach party in 2010 would be blasting out INXS’ Suicide Blonde, even if it has sledgehammer-like relevance to the plot.

It certainly feels topical, with all its terror alert and civil liberties references. Identity theft is a growth area with fictional dramatic potential. We’re dismayed that Hawes is sidelined by Gillen in the grilling and chasing of criminals. But we’re curious--and alarmed--to learn more about the new and inventive ways in which the writers and crooks can steal people’s lives. Criminals will be taking tips…

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