Up first in our foray into the hidden gems of television is The Fall, the new series starring Gillian Anderson that debuted this past May in Ireland and the UK and is available for streaming on Netflix. Anderson, more popularly known for her role as Dana Scully in the X-Files, plays a Detective Superintendent brought in from London to oversee a murder investigation in Belfast after the original investigation is unable to make headway.

Now 45 and still able to command a scene with her combination of beauty and intensity, Anderson is pitch perfect as Stella Gibson who plays not only by her rules, but also equally by those of her male colleagues much to the uncomfortableness of those around her. That such equality subsequently impacts the investigation is one of the strong themes of the show without ever resorting to political correctness.

Unusually we know who the murderer is early on in the series and the drama is in the cat and mouse game that ensues along with the tangled web of the lives of those involved. Belfast native 31-year old Jamie Dornan, better known to US audiences for his role as Sheriff Graham in ABC’s Once Upon A Time, plays killer Paul Spector a grief counselor with a family that are unaware of his activities. Dornan is about to become a whole lot more well known with his recent casting as Christian Grey in the upcoming film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. Here he is the right level of creepy and in control without straining credulity.

Given that it is Belfast, the “Troubles” are never far the surface and there is a particularly well done and poignant moment as Gibson walks by the dedication to her police colleagues who fell in the line of duty.  There’s also a sub-plot involving some political considerations that feels a little like filler, but overall The Fall stays on point with the focus on Anderson’s Gibson and Dornan’s Spector.

Be warned, spread over five one-hour episodes, The Fall is deliberately paced, even more so than typical British shows, and is also of the gritty European variety. It is however well worth the time and once you’ve watched the first episode a blitz of the next four is fairly inevitable. Netflix has assigned a NR rating to the show, but an MA would not have been out of place particularly when Spector strikes.

A second series has been commissioned in the UK by BBC Two with Anderson once again reprising the role of Detective Superintendent Gibson.

— Wallace Poulter

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