Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Catch Up TV... Missed the TV Moment Everyone's Talking about? Alastair McKay Looks at the Shows You Should Have Watched (and Still Can) and Gives a Serial Update

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Catch Up TV... Missed the TV Moment Everyone's Talking about? Alastair McKay Looks at the Shows You Should Have Watched (and Still Can) and Gives a Serial Update

Article excerpt

Byline: Alastair McKay

IT'S not easy to get to Fortitude (Sky Go). You have to fly over The Killing, north of Fargo, and keep going past Insomnia the Stellan Skarsgard version or the Al Pacino, the effect is the same. Just as your eyes start to burn from the extremes of weather the poles will reverse, and you'll notice the wreckage of John Carpenter's The Thing, which made a space-station horror out of the sense of isolation felt by a group of scientists stuck at the southernmost tip of the Earth. Oh, The Thing was great. It had Kurt Russell and a parasitic extraterrestrial life-form. Fortitude has Christopher Eccleston making an ominous joke. "Cannibalism's not the only aberrant behaviour we're seeing," he says, showing some foresight about his own dramatic longevity.

Did we cover Twin Peaks? Fortitude's not really like that, unfortunately. In truth, it's more like Jaws with parkas, but there's an avalanche of desaturated subplot to wade through before the Terrible Thing happens. Is it, perchance, the strange infection that the young boy is suffering from, which is 99 per cent likely to be mumps but could be Something Far Worse? Is it related to the man shot by Michael Gambon while aiming at a polar bear on a bleak, bleak beach? Is it Sofie Grabol's obviously misguided plan to open an ice hotel "for lovers of the Northern lights or just lovers"? It's all of these things, probably. But it's hard to resist the feeling that the drama would have been heightened by starting with the Bad Thing and then wading nose-first into the blizzard of motives and outcomes. Because nothing really snaps into focus until Stanley Tucci arrives midway through the second episode, playing an ex-FBI man now in the employ of the Metropolitan (London) police. Until that point, the main excitements are the sporadically unlikely dialogue and the sex scene spliced with a death-metal concert. …

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