While Scotland is definitely bonnie (seriously, if you haven’t been, it’s a must-visit for any Brit TV fan), the amount of Scottish television programming available in the US is lacking compared to its English and Irish counterparts. But things are looking up, because the hoora good Scot TV crime/mystery drama, The Field of Blood, is headed stateside.
“There’s been a murder.” Oh, wait. That’s the unofficial tagline for Taggart.
But similar to the Scottish police procedural, a murder does happen in The Field of Blood, only this time it isn’t a quartet of detectives out to solve a modern-day case, but one young copygirl investigating a killing in 1982 Glasgow.
Based on the Denise Mina novel of the same name, The Field of Blood stars Jayd Johnson (River City) as Patricia “Paddy” Meehan, a feisty, wanna-be journalist at the male bastion of the (fictional) Glasgow Daily News. She’s a sign-of-the-cross-making non-believer in a house full of Catholics, engaged to boy-next-door Sean (Kevin Guthrie, Case Histories), and ambitious. Too bad she isn’t taken seriously in the newsroom.
That is, until one of Paddy’s family members is arrested for a murder. And even then it’s a struggle for her to get the go-ahead to investigate from Devlin, the paper’s editor, played all governor-like and with a Glaswegian accent (at least in the first episode) by the award-winning David Morrissey (The Walking Dead).
But that’s a relatively small issue compared to Paddy’s crisis of conscience. She is loath to use family as fodder for a story that could give her the break she needs to be a bona fide member of the press, but not getting to the truth of the matter could be the difference between freedom and prison for the accused, Paddy’s being ostracized by her family in the process notwithstanding.
And then there are the similarities between this murder and one that happened eight years before that Paddy uncovers. Are they merely coincidences or does she see something deeper that Devlin and even the police don’t?
Writer/director David Kane’s (Rebus, Taggart, Foyle’s War) tight script and methodical pacing give The Field of Blood a sense of ordinariness in which the story and characters set in 1982 Glasgow could be those of 2014 wherever you are. And the casting, well, it’s spot on.
Jayd Johnson (who reminds me of the superb Sheridan Smith) does a fabulous job of portraying Paddy. With the exception of the opening scene, Johnson is in every one, and from start to finish has you sympathizing with and championing the much put-upon Paddy at the same time.
Alongside the ever-brilliant David Morrissey are a couple of my Glaswegian actor favorites, and although they have far less screen time than him, they make their mark. One is the multiple award-winning Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who), who plays Dr. Pete, a chain-smoking, heavy-drinking journalist who befriends Paddy. The other is Derek Riddell (Happy Valley), who plays DS Patterson, one half of the “we’re-the-police-and-you’re not” detective team investigating the murder.
Also costarring in The Field of Blood are Matt Costello (Rab C. Nesbitt) and Bronagh Gallagher (Pramface) as Paddy’s parents, Con and Trisha Meehan, and Ford Kiernan (George Gently) and Jonas Armstrong (Robin Hood) as fellow journalists George McVie and Terry Hewitt, respectively.
The two-part The Field of Blood premieres in the US at Acorn TV on Monday, 2 June 2014.