We Brits are big fans of three things: long weekends for bank holidays, complex murder mysteries solved by someone with recurring nightmares about a traumatic event from their past, and Suranne Jones’s impeccable taste in fashion.
The BBC is well aware of this, which is why it is premiering the first two episodes of Vigil (Sunday, August 29 and Monday, August 30, 9 p.m., BBC One), a multifaceted murder mystery starring Suranne Jones being classy, on this hazy holiday weekend that marks the end of summer.
Put away the barbecue and soothe that sunburn with aloe: Suranne has arrived, and – what’s that? Get down on your hands and knees, look around, and beam your flashlight into the dark area. What I suspected all along: blood. That was just upgraded to a murder inquiry, captain.
To the mythical vanguard submarine HMS Vigil, which patrols the calm Scottish waters west of Glasgow and is armed with enough nuclear weaponry to “kill everyone.” For the time being, however, just one death has occurred; Suranne is on the scene to inquire into the circumstances behind this death.
The only catch is that once she’s found the killer, we’ll have to winch her in via helicopter and float her out on a raft because if we turn off the nuclear submarines for for one second, Russia will have a field day.
We are now involved in a thorny little chess game between the cool rationality of the police and the unyielding hierarchy of the navy, between the allure of following the rules and the overwhelming pull of the truth.
There’s the pride of the second-in-command and the mindless obedience of the dead man’s cabin mates to take into account. In the water? Warhead-yelling crusaders.
It is a heady mix, the police procedural set against the backdrop of possible nuclear war, and done wrong it could be way too much, but Vigil is, top to bottom, very right.
It is written by Tom Edge, who did the expectation-defying romantic sitcom Lovesick (AKA Scrotal Recall) and the Oscar-winning Judy; it is produced by Sunday night behemoths World Productions, which brought us Bodyguard and Line of Duty; and it stars Suranne Jones, Rose Not only does it sound lovely, but it looks lovely as well.
As expected from a police procedural, there are some classic plot points: There’s a guy at work who constantly eats a single slice of pizza at midnight while standing up, and a Scottish man who says “murder” with exhilarating gravity. Every time Suranne stares wistfully out over the river, she must think about The Accident.
This is “gasping at Sunday night TV” at its finest, and if you don’t watch it live, Gogglebox will ruin it for you every week till the clocks go back.
Want that? Is it more your speed to haul your turtlenecks down from the attic and binge-watch five weeks of Suranne Jones’s elitist antics?
I am pleased to have you join us here at HMS Vigil, detective. Nothing is what it seems; someone is dead, and someone else is unhappy about that. This is autumn now. Beautiful, bloody fall.