Television crime dramas have been done to death--just look at CBS’s own CSI and NCIS franchises for proof. Thanks to the little box in our living rooms we’re now overly familiar with stubborn rule-breaking detectives, the gory scenes they frequent, and the lengths they can go to catch a killer. In these respects thorne is no different, but don’t let that stereotype put you off. The storyline of thorne (an adaptation of Mark Billingham’s Sleepyhead novel) is more original and compelling than most.
The killer, in this three-part drama, wants his victims to live, not die. Or so we’re led to believe. Most of the investigating detectives don’t actually think this, but the lead Tom Thorne (David Morrissey) seems to have more common sense (and, we’re told, a sixth sense): he works out that when the murderer dumps a body, telling a nearby old man that “they keep breaking” he, in fact, means his victims keep dying--by mistake.
It’s no wonder these poor women keep dying: he thrusts them to the floor, drugs them, and then paralyses them. So far only one woman appears to have survived, and she’s in hospital unable to move or talk. Her emotionless staring face is enough to put chills down your spine. “It’s like waking up in your own coffin” her doctor (Californication’s Natascha McElhone) explains none-too-subtly. She’s not as scary as she looks though. Viewers are able to hear her thoughts, which, as well as offering intimate insights into her mind, offer a release from the intensity because of her sarcastic sense of humour.
There are a couple of moments where the tense atmosphere takes a welcome break. Our favourite being in one of the first scenes of episode one, in which Tom gets a call from his dad, while a dead body lies in the kitchen next door, to ask: "what has a nine inch knob and hangs up." Yep, you guessed it, he then ends the conversation. These moments add a sense of realism to the case’s early days and help you bond with the characters, but they become less frequent as the story progresses, making way for a much darker tone.
At a time when our schedules are saturated with whodunits, thorne is a refreshing honest and tough take on an genre that has been replete with by-the-numbers clones. It has plenty of intricate, inter-woven storylines to keep you entertained, and just enough omissions to have you guessing until the end. Fans of the book won’t know what’s coming either: Mark Billingham told TV & Satellite Week: “I think sleepyhead now has a better ending than the book.” Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is for you to decide. Thorne’s first episode starts on Sunday, October 10, at 9pm on Sky One and Sky HD.