Lynda La Plante's Prime Suspect series ranks up there as a favorite. Great performances, especially one from my favorite actress of all time, Helen Mirren. Great casting across the board, to be honest. There are a number of Prime Suspect cast members whose careers I watch regularly because of that show, including John Bowe and Zöe Wanamaker.
When I heard that Ms. La Plante was doing another series and Kelly Reilly (loved her in A for Andromeda) and Ciarán Hinds (Rome!) were headlining, I jumped to watch Above Suspicion. I loved it! When I spotted that a follow-up series arrived, I decided to definitely check it out.
I was first introduced to The Black Dahlia case in high school when I took to studying high profile murder cases and serial killers. Yes, I was a creepy teenager. I later rediscovered it after the Brian De Palma film (which was rather ridiculous and not really worth the time to watch, IMHO).
When I heard that the new Above Suspicion was called "The Red Dahlia, I knew that there would be connections. It was interesting to be a little bit ahead of the characters in the story for most of it. Unfortuantely, the turn that allows the characters to move in the right direction for solving the case was something external to the investigation, which is something I don't really like. I want the characters to be clever. Instead, the lead was dropped in their laps. On that point, the story was disappointing. It made the story feel like it came in two acts: the first act where they are gathering clues and trying to figure stuff out and the second act where they are given this anonymous lead, follow it, and it turns out to be true.
However, the second half did prove fruitful because it revealed a quite unexpected guest actor. His name is not in the credits for the first or second parts, so his appearance was a HUGE surprise.
I completely freaked out. Rewound and watched the scene again.
He's the man that, after I watched David Tennant's Hamlet, I was absolutely drooling after and cursing the casting gods why he wasn't in more stuff for me to watch because he's so good as Laertes. (In fact, I would've loved to see him perform the lead role when David was recovering from surgery and all that. Perhaps in the future, Edward Bennett will have his own Hamlet, but I would've loved to see him in that particular production of Hamlet. Very much.)
I've seen stills of him before and I thought he had an interesting face, but I wouldn't have called him a looker or anything. But after seeing him perform, I've become just enthralled by him. He captures my attention and I've come to think of him as really handsome. His smile melts me. His sadness is utterly convincing. His anger... rises me to anger too. It's rare for me to discover a character that I so empathize with. Very rare.
His performance in Above Suspicion, like the one he does in Hamlet is full of nuance and subtlety. It's beautiful. He is beautiful. And if I could wave my magic wand, he would be far better known because he deserves to be.
In Above Suspicion, he plays the son of a very rich retired surgeon who is fingered (via the aforementioned anonymous call) to be the one who committed the Red Dahlia murder.
He gets bossed around by his father.
He gets interrogated by police...
...and it is revealed that they know he's been sleeping around with his stepmother.
Oh, he feels such shame!
But perhaps he was in a drug-fuelled haze when he slept with her?
Wow, he's got very manly chest hair.
And he likes feeling her breasts with his pretty hands.
Eventually, though, he breaks down when faced with the crimes of his father.
He gets arrested and interrogated and implicates his father as being the one behind the tortue and the murders.
AND BONUS PICTURE OF HIM AS A KID, METHINKS!
That made the disappointing second half worth watching.
In short, I enjoyed the new series. It's definitely graphic and I could guess the content from the subtitle, being all-too-familiar with many gruesome murder cases, but worth the two hours and a bit required to see the whole thing... if just to see a guest star that needs to be in more stuff.