When something opens with a voiceover from the main character made up of profound statements of promises to killers and victims you know that what you are watching will be really good, or really dire. Sadly, this body farm was in the shire of Dire requiring a suspension of disbelief to match a bungee jump without elastic rope in the Grand Canyon.
Kicking off with opportune product placement for both Hunter and Barbour, we soon went indoors at The Body Farm where everyone seemed to communicate by walkie talkie. It was so Star Trek I was waiting for someone to say ‘Beam me up, Oggy’. But soon, the team’s communal breakfast was broken up after Dr Eve took a call from DI Hale: he had a crime scene he wanted her to take a look at. It was with great relief that I watched her gutsy old Land Rover perform with greater reliability down the country lanes than the one the women had to use on Rosemary and Thyme. (All of TV’s amateur detective ladies really do need to get a grip on their vehicular selections.)
At the crime scene, even the amateur-sofa-sitting-viewing-would-be-detective could tell something was wrong. The setting was obviously one based on ‘sensationalise’ to grab viewers from the start (all shock factor rather than connection to victim). There was a good spread of gore all over one room in a derelict tower block. Some of this human Shippam’s had even made it onto a board in an outside hallway, to look like a modern art installation. But DI Hale thought all this was the result of an explosion. Did anyone explain why the room’s window had withstood this massive, pulverising blast then? Of course not. No one seemed to notice. Confirming human remains and holding up a small bit of bone, Dr Eve professionally announced ‘Ah. Mandibular notch. Excellent.’ As that was the biggest human part found, you’d still have to question the window, wouldn’t you? No, nobody did.
But could this programme have been set in the future with a very high specification of glass? After all, there was some seriously high-tech equipment in the frame here. The Dr Eve forensic team managed to communicate by mobiles and ear pieces, carry cameras on their shoulders and relay video recordings in real time. They even managed to collect a DNA sample (from a mouth swab) and somehow input it to a laptop locally to transmit to the database for a match in minutes. Now that was impressive.
DI Hale was a true made-for-TV maverick cop if ever there was one. He worked alone. No, really, all the time. There was no sign of another copper. Ever. When Dr Eve asked ‘Hale, don’t you have a home to go to?’, I sat there thinking ‘Hale, don’t you have a police team to back you up for an investigation?’ As a result we then had members of the forensic team conversing with witnesses and questioning suspects.
The Body Farm: not even one small ossicle of realism to be found in the ossuary here.
Now on BBC iplayer, in case you missed it.