Over the past few years, the BBC has gotten into a habit of creating exciting, gripping TV shows that I instantly become an addict to, only to hit a cliff-hanger of an ending on their first season’s finale and then reveal that the show has been cancelled. The Fades, In the Flesh, and Cuffs are all prime examples- shows with interesting characters, new concepts and ideas, good pacing and enough reality to make sure you don’t end up becoming distant from the situations you’re seeing on the screen.
The Fades met its fate after a single season; In the Flesh managed two before being canned, and Cuffs was another one-season wonder. And now the BBC has come out with yet another show I actually like- so I’m dreading the announcement that they’ve decided to bin it before its gotten started.
When a friend told me about New Blood, a new BBC drama the other day I was adamant not to start watching another show I’d inevitably get mad about being cancelled- until she mentioned Anthony Horowitz, a name I can never resist. And so I opened up my browser and made my way to BBC Iplayer- a place I haven’t been to in a while. And I’m glad I did.
New Blood’s first ‘case’ focuses in on the pharmaceutical industry; opening in India, we see a group of young people on holiday meeting through a mysterious drug trial- each receiving a leaflet from an unseen individual telling them that they could earn a decent chunk of cash if they took part. Drawn in by the money, we see them injected and put to sleep, and then we see the drug take a terrible effect on one of the participants.
The show then explodes into London six years later, with two leading pharmaceutical companies battling for the NHS’ spending. Our two leading characters haven’t met yet, their cases seemingly unrelated. We have bike-riding, flat-mate-hating Stefan working undercover for the Department of Fraud. Then we have PO Rash- extremely clever and quick thinking, dreaming of detective work; but his ‘smart-arse’ (not my words!) attitude keeps holding him back when he rubs his superiors up the wrong way. When Rash gets his lucky break and gets a probationary role as a detective in a murder case, he ends up in way over his head- with a murder case quickly evolving into a conspiracy concerning one of the biggest drug-production companies in the UK.
I’ve read a few reviews of the show so far- and I can agree with many critics on several points. Many parts of the show are cliché- corrupt companies, only one person being able to find a not-so-difficult to spot link between cases, and the buddy-cop banter going on between Stefan and Rash. However- I would argue that these aren’t necessarily faults in the show, and even if so, I think we can overlook those few faults when faced with the sheer entertainment of the show. Buddy cop humour is cliché but that’s because it works- who doesn’t love a good bromance?
The characters make the show because Horowitz made them real to us. I doubt anyone old enough to watch the show hasn’t experienced the issues Stefan and Rash face- financial problems (especially the rent, as I myself know all too well), struggling to make a move up the ladder at work- the shows inclusion of these day-to-day struggles makes it more fun to watch as we become more empathetic with the characters.
If, like me, you’ve read your fair share of Horowitz’s books, you’ll enjoy the parts of the show that are reminiscent of his stories- the creepy effects of the drug on Stefan reminds me of some of the eerie passages in his ‘Power of Five books’, and there’s a particular sense of Bond-like action in the third part of the first case. I especially liked those parts- I’ve always been a fan of mixing up detective stories with a bit of horror and action.
So, will this series end up in the bin as well? With another four episodes coming out in ‘Case Two’, released on BBC iPlayer later this month, I sincerely hope not. The show is well-written, making good use of the occasional cliché (and I say that with affection), with great casting and acting. The characters are real and endearing, and I can’t wait for the second part to come out. I just pray that there’s a third.