There’s something rather comforting and compelling about Trevor Eve. The actor has been on our screens since 1979 when the detective show Eddie Shoestring made him a household name in the UK. Since then Eve, now 62, has appeared regularly as the strong dependable type in such shows as Waking the Dead.
True to form Eve is back in just such a role in the ITV commissioned Kidnap and Ransom, with two seasons of the show each split into three episodes, all available via the streaming service on Netflix. The three-episode arc is a format that UK television likes a lot although here there’s a sense that the show could have actually used more episodes to develop what has the potential to be a rich backstory.
Dominic King, played by Eve, is a kidnap and ransom negotiator; hence the title. In the opening season, fresh from a failed negotiation in Bolivia, King and business partner Angela Beddoes, portrayed by Helen Baxendale, are called upon when botanist Naomi Shaffer is kidnapped in South Africa. Working for Shaffer’s employers, King negotiates a deal with the perpetrators before it all goes wrong at the exchange.
Actress Emma Fielding gives a solid, if unspectacular performance as Shaffer and it would have been nice to see her relationship with researcher, and second husband, Philip fleshed out some more. Actor Patrick Baladi, Neil Godwin in the British version of The Office, has little to work with in what could have been a substantive role. The same can be said for the marvelous John Hannah who regardless shines in his role as the villain of the piece. Hannah remains a favorite of mine from his work in The Mummy, The Mummy Returns and the first two seasons of Rebus. Here he’s a smooth operator, but there’s little about his motivation other than greed – and Hannah exudes much more intelligence than a simple goal.
The second series moves the tension to India where the daughter of the British Foreign Secretary gets caught up in a hostage situation after a kidnapping exchange goes south.
Kidnap and Ransom works best when Eve’s King is on the screen, which is what recommends the series. There’s the stereotypical dysfunctional family at home with King so focused on his job that he misses issues with his daughter, but if you allow yourself to focus on Eve, then the show moves along at a very impressive clip.
— Wallace Poulter