Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

PICK OF THE NIGHT; TV Editor the Commander 9pm, ITV1

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

PICK OF THE NIGHT; TV Editor the Commander 9pm, ITV1

Article excerpt

Byline: TERRY RAMSEY

Amanda Burton returns for her third outing as police Commander Clare Blake (right). And what an oddball piece of work it is - a seriously gruesome murder case, with a personal twist for Blake, combined with knockabout humour in the shape of a comedy Dutch detective.

It sounds like the sort of mix that shouldn't succeed, but somehow writer Lynda La Plante makes it work. Just.

The two-part story (concluding next week) starts in gothic style: a dark and brooding mental home in the middle of a night-time storm, with flashes of lightning illuminating the sky and a lunatic inmate on the run in pouring rain.

It's not long before the escapee is tracked down. But when he is, he's hanging upside down from a girder with the body of a young girl in his arms.

He's hanging upside down because he's so unhinged that he hasn't spoken coherently in eight years and thinks he's a fruit-bat. (Yes, really - that's what we're told. And no, I don't know how anyone knows what he thinks if he hasn't spoken.) Anyway, the dead girl turns out to be the Commander's goddaughter - which is a bit awkward as she's just been hauled before her boss for getting too personally involved in her cases. But this one really is personal.

She hands the case to the irascible DCI Mike Hodges, and the story begins to look as dreary and predictable as a wet Sunday afternoon in Bognor Regis.

So, thank heavens for the arrival of the comedy Dutchman (not a phrase one gets to write very often).

Eric Van Hauten turns up from the Amsterdam murder squad, convinced the girl's murder is linked to similar cases in Holland.

He is unorthodox and even slightly barmy but he brings a much needed injection of life to the story (thanks to an excellent performance by Yorick Van Wageneingen).

What's more, he also catches the eye of Blake.

And not just because of his detecting skills...

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