DI Hale turns up at The Body Farm with a human hand in a (shoe?) box for Dr Eve’s forensic team to have a look at. Next thing we know, they’ve discovered the rest of the body – a young man’s – on the estate of an aged wealthy businessman, philanthropist, and Howard Hughes type recluse, Harold Penton. There’s a history of ‘suspicious circumstances’ here: a young man working on the estate had accused Penton of sexual assault, then withdrew the accusation, then went missing. But our intrepid Body Farm forensics quickly work out that it’s not the same man – thank the Lord for a comprehensive dental records’ database (not such a cert with all those private dentists working out there these days). So is Penton a murderous pervert, ably served and protected by his butler/bodyguard Jimmy West? (Who must surely be on a fantastic retainer, bonus and pension plan given that 30 years’ service…) Now come on, the episode would wrap up in 30 minutes if it was that simple.
Episode two did deliver a decent mystery and with more pace than episode one. Veteran crime readers and TV watchers would not have been/will not be surprised at the twists at the end, but it’s the journey and disclosure of evidence that counts in this one.
However, I remain perplexed on a few issues with this series. Let’s start with the setting. I had assumed – perhaps erroneously – that episode one was set in London. Episode two took us to Salford. Episode three will take us to the seaside where a ‘member of a fishing trawler’s crew, is found floating at sea’. So it’s all over the place geographically. Thus it’s making DI Hale even more suspect as a character. What exactly is his absent unit of attachment here? The Peripatetic Squad?
And back we come to the absent unit again. Hale continues to have no police team supporting him. He appears to report to no one and is accountable to no one. He’s working as a loner. Is he an impostor? Unless the ending of episode two was a surreal dream sequence, it suggests not with Hale appearing in his three piece suit at court. Therefore, where’s the police team? I really think all handbags at Victoria Station need to be searched. So many people have been lost on the realism front and the hunt for them lacks any sense of ‘earnest’.
Lastly, Dr Eve’s forensic team is still serving up ‘multi-purpose’ pathology here. This week she ventured into forensic psychiatry during an interview. ‘How did you feel?’ asked Dr Eve. ‘Terrible. Terrible… Guilty.’ And quick as a button she added ‘And relieved?’
Meanwhile, Rosa the ‘expert botanist’ in the bunch threw her touchy-feely side into compassionate psychotherapy this week. Romantically placed on one of the farm’s hills, she got ‘the one that got away’ to open up. As he didn’t turn green during proceedings, we can assume that bit of hill does not overlook one of the decomposing bodies for research purposes.
Next week The Body Farm heads Howard’s Way. Will you be watching?
Comments on episode one here.