On the programme of the Zürich Film Festival, British TV series No Offence is advertised as a comedy drama. But the show isn’t very funny at all. That doesn’t mean it’s not good, though.
England has proved to be a nation of very good television series. Often times, the studios there manage to create very entertaining, gripping and emotional TV series with little to no budget, crafting good stories and having likeable or otherwise engaging characters to root for. And with the smashing success of Doctor Who, British TV has gained traction with international audiences. And with that, it was only a matter of time until a show made it to the ZFF.
Out of these shows is, series like No Offence have arisen and are given a shot. And it’s worth it.
Set in Manchester, No Offence tells the story of Detective Inspector Vivienne Deering (Joanna Scanlan) who runs the murder unit. Under her command are Dinah Kowalska (Elaine Cassidy), Joy Freers (Alexandra Roach) and quite a few other notable characters that are somewhat larger than life, but could exist.
Unusual Crime, Lots of Footwork
No Offence’s format is quite unique. It doesn’t start with a notable and amazingly filmed murder that will be solved over the course of the episode, but opens with a date. A date on which Dinah Kowalska dumps her date before, unrelated to the dumping, she gives chase to a murder suspect. She doesn’t catch him as his head ends up under one of England’s famous double decker buses.
The police officers at the station laugh about the incident, as it is darkly funny. This establishes the humour of the show. It’s pitch black and not all that funny. Viewers will not be in stitches over the hilarious antics of the police officers. The most laughter out of this is a very dry «Heh» while realizing full well that the humour is actually quite unfunny if it wasn’t on a TV show.
However, as part of the fallout of the chase, Dinah Kowalska is not being promoted, but discovers that there’s a previously undiscovered series of disappearances of girls with Down Syndrome. It’s not actually a discovery, but more of a hunch. But following some logic that says that three incidents is a pattern, a preliminary manhunt reveals that one of the victims wasn’t actually affected with Down Syndrome but had recently been injured and her face looks as if she does.
Further complicating matters is the discovery that apparently, one of the missing girls with Down Syndrome was actually the leader of a prostitution ring, catering to a very specific audience.
Incredibly Smart, Incredibly Human
The case that the officers around Vivienne Deering has to crack is a gripping one and very intelligently crafted, too. It’s a very solid and straight-forward case, really, but due to the nature of its details and the people involved, there’s no real guessing of it.
British Newspaper The Independent pretty much nails it with their review summary:
It’s the sort of show that has you spending the first half wondering what the hell’s going on, and the second hoping that, whatever it is, will never, ever end.
Add to that some premium British wit and some likable characters and No Offence ends up being a cult favourite. It most likely won’t resonate with a large audience – and while I’m writing this I hope I’m wrong about this – and remain on air for a while. It’s difficult TV, far from the usual CSI treatment.
If you want to see No Offence, you can do that. It will screen at Arena 8 at Zürich Sihlcity at 12.45 tomorrow, so it might be a good way to spend your lunch break.