BBC’s The Body Farm Episode One

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.

40 thoughts on “BBC’s The Body Farm Episode One

  1. Tom Williams (@twilliams81)

    God it was totally, eye-bleedingly awful wasn’t it? It’s as if someone had seen a bit of Fringe (that’s the only place I’ve ever seen mobile phone headsets be taken seriously), a bit of CSI (about ten years too late) and a bit of Silent Witness (the very worst bit of course: another terrible drama) and thought Hullo let’s mash this together into a lump of rotteness and stick it on TV. The writing was shoddy, the characters clichéd (of course the step father of one missing boy would be a Millwall hating, England shirt wearing thug) and the plot – as you’ve pointed out – derisory. The only upside to the whole thing is that the annoying bloke from the Doritos and Halifax ads has finally got a regular job.

      1. Tom Williams (@twilliams81)

        I suspect the Body Farm could be the new Silent Witness. Consider the evidence: series is based around vaguely respected actress in the lead role; there are several weirdo colleagues; there is a morgue; it is atrociously awful. I think Doritos Boy could be in for the long hall unless they kill him off, which is also a possibility.

  2. evahudson

    Couldn’t agree more. It’s such a wasted opportunity – I’m sure the budget would have been big enough to come up with some quality drama. Tip for the Beeb – learn all you can from Danish crime drama

  3. Norman

    Missed it! I will rely on your amusing review, and your opinion.
    I saw the last few minutes while waiting for the News at 10.00, and then immediately wiped the recording. You made your judgement on the first two minutes, if that, and I on the last, but we came to the same conclusion, dire.
    What is wrong with the BBC when they bin Zen, and produce this trash? Obviously a lot cheaper to make as they only have one policeman.

  4. Michael Jecks

    I do have to wonder why the witty, enjoyable Zen was ditched in favour of this. The BBC has some problems. Thanks for excellent review!

  5. Lynne Milford

    Excellent review and I totally agree with your points! What a shame they didn’t use the budget from this to make new Waking the Dead instead of cancelling the show!

  6. Rebecca Emin (@RebeccaEmin)

    This is brilliant. So brilliant and funny. My husband and I watched “The Body Farm”, thinking it could be based on the book by the same name by Patrica D Cornwell. Alas, no. Some striking similarities, it has to be said. But we rated it an average of 4 out of 10 and had a debate about whether we’d watch it again. I do love Keith Allen but even his role was verging on pointless. The look of joy from Dr Eve at finding such a “fantastic” crime scene. Wrong on so many levels. She’s not a patch on Kay Scarpetta.

  7. gherkinette

    It was so awful I can’t even bring myself to relive its awfulness without feeling despondent. It actually made me wish I’d just watched CSI Miami instead which I think says it all. At least you know Old Sunglasses Caine doesn’t take himself seriously unlike this lot who were so very very serious to the point of awfulness…

  8. Shirley Wells

    I’d been looking forward to this for weeks but it was dire. I did manage to sit through the full episode but only because I couldn’t believe anything could be so awful. What with the clean window, the lack of a team of detectives investigating a murder, totally unsuitable people telling a family that the girl lying in the hospital bed before them will never recover … everything was wrong. The BBC should be ashamed.

  9. David

    This sounds even more ludicrous than LUTHER, and frankly I wouldn’t have believed such a thing could be possible in my lifetime. I’ve virtually given up watching TV crime shows – usually the trailer is enough to know it’s going to be garbage. Too many dimly-lit police stations, with even the vaguest sense of realism thrown out of the (bombproof) window – and worst of all a cast of Basil Exposition characters who just stand around telling each other the story (the last time I looked, that was called a radio play). I’m sure budget restraints come into it, but too often it’s that the writing is so weak. On the rare occasion that they get a quality script, the difference is extraordinary: witness EXILE, THE HOUR and the Denise Mina adaptation of THE FIELD OF BLOOD.

  10. Yvonne Johnston (@Whyjay99)

    Very funny Rhian. Like you, I was very surprised about the speed with which they were able to get DNA results. Perhaps Jeremy Kyle should give The Body Farm a contract. While you wait DNA testings could add a bit of tension to a worn format for his show too.

  11. Itchy

    Another poor self-congratulatory review that failed to enlighten me as to the merits, or not, of The Body Farm. Bitching isn’t criticism. Obviously it wasn’t in Danish or made by cash rich HBO – ie in both cases produced for minority audiences rather than the mainstream – in which case it would instantly, and unquestioningly, be hailed as classic TV. But it was nowhere near as poor as this showy and ungenerous review suggests.

    1. crimeficreader Post author

      Thank you for commenting. I am glad you enjoyed it.
      I feel it’s only fair to respond that I actually cut down the list of totally unrealistic components for comment here. All based on knowledge of fact and nothing else.

  12. Dónall

    I am pleased to see that most of the people who commented hated this show but I am surprised to have seen a couple of positive reviews of the programme. I know people are entitled to their opinion but I also think that anyone who derived the slightest enjoyment from this godawful garbage should be kept away from sharp objects and referred for psychiatric help as soon as possible. To Itchy, why should anyone be generous about this rubbish? You mean generous as in squandering the license fees of a small city on a dull, pretentious and ludicrously badly-written travesty of a crime show? The people who were responsible for commissioning this dross couldn’t find their own arses with a blowtorch. Heads should roll over this one.

      1. Dónall

        Is that his name or is he now living under an assumed identity with a false beard and glasses, along with Declan Croghan and the entire cast? (Apart from the guy lying naked on the slab, displaying his buttocks but not his face, the one actor who escaped with any modicum of dignity out of this atrocious televisual train-wreck). God, how I hated this programme …

        1. crimeficreader Post author

          He’s the BBC1 Controller. He axed Zen as ‘too many male detectives’ on the telly. He’s recently said he wants to better cater for the older generations too. He was previously BBC3 so God help us.

  13. Norman

    Rhian, I was congratulating myself on wiping the recording after watching only three minutes right at the end, and even before I read your review. I immediately spotted it wasn’t in Danish and wasn’t set in Baltimore so clearly was not worthy of my attention.

    But on the other hand I may be in a minority audience, but the new Rizzoli and Isles series does look like Classic TV to me. I am not bothered by the plot or production values, I just want to look at the two stars. What excellent casting.😉

    1. crimeficreader Post author

      Darling Norm, how could I not approve this comment? Good to see your hormones are still functioning well!
      From the trailer clip I posted up, I recognise one of the actors and will have to look her up to see what it is I have seen her in.

  14. suzigun

    I thought your review was spot on. To me Tara Fitzgerald was always just ‘the one who replaced Holy Aird’ in Waking the Dead, so I have no loyalty to her character. I watched somewhat baffled by the whole programme, but am prepared to give it another go. Who knows if I will get beyond episode 2 though!

  15. Trish

    I tried to watch the show, but after about 5 minutes, I was too disgusted to continue on. The Body Farm really takes the worst parts of Waking the Dead to a whole new level of disgusting. I am disappointed that this show is taking macabre fascination to a whole new level!

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