Currently – On Netflix (UK)
Starring – Michael C. Hall, Amanda Abbington, Audrey Fleurot, Marc Warren
Genre – Drama. Thriller
Writer – Harlan Coben
Premièred – 10th May 2018
Widowed surgeon Tom has struggled to raise his two daughters alone following his wife’s death a year ago. Things seem to be on the right track for the family, who live in a gated community, because they have close friends nearby and Tom is in the early stages of a new relationship. But the situation takes a turn for the worse when Jenny, Tom’s oldest daughter, goes missing along with her boyfriend.
So here’s an interesting collaboration – American crime writer; Harlan Coben, American lead; Michael C. Hall. British locations; Liverpool, Manchester, Cheshire. Primarily English cast; Amanda Abbington, Marc Warren, etc. French ‘suspect’; Audrey Fleurot. Networks,English, French, International.
I have a number of issues with this show:
Problem #1 – England: Tom Delaney and his children; and the rest of the cast; apart from Pete (Marc Warren) and ‘Bobby’ (Milo Twomey), live in a gated community – so far so good. However, the reason we are given that it is a gated community is an event that occurred many years earlier – when the current adults were teenagers – at the local school, resulting in the deaths of a number of children. So to ‘protect’ themselves from outside danger, they walled themselves off – this suggests that the school itself is within the gated community. I do not know if such communities even exist in the UK, sure, there are small gated estates, but that’s just residential. Smacks of America.
Problem #2 – Idiot family: So you’re having a party for your mates whilst the parents are away for the night. You discover someone either unconscious or dead aaaaand… you don’t call an ambulance! REALLY?! You have to be kidding. Then dad decides not to get help and ‘hides’ the body! REALLY?! You are fucking joking. Mum colludes (‘cos basically she’s an airhead). They then send texts to the ‘missing’ boy’s family thus ensuring they think he is still alive! WTF?! The reason given for their sorry excuse for not alerting the authorities is… their reputation!!!
Problem #3 – No-one works: Tom; the lead dad, is a surgeon, but spends more time running around the estate and all the haunts he thinks his daughter may be. Pete; also a doctor (anaesthetist?) also doesn’t go to work much. Mr and Mrs Chahal seem to live a luxurious life with no mention of how a teacher (she) and her hubby; who never seems to go to work, can afford it. Helen Crowthorne lives in another large house; albeit extremely neglected, and she doesn’t even seem to have a job. At least the police are doing their jobs properly…or are they?!
Problem #4 – “I did it.” What, you hate your wife so much that you would implicate her as a paedophile?! Wow, this family needs some counselling.
Problem #5 – Same school: Most of the main characters/suspects seem to have attended the same school, then remained in the area; apparently able to afford to stay. And now the kids go to the same school. I don’t know about you, but I do not know a single person who’s children have attended the same school as their parents; especially when you live in a suburb or town where there are many to choose from.
Problem #5 – Archetypes? Check: Smacks of formulaic to me.
The Hero – that would be Tom, the dad.
The Mentor – most definitely Pete, he guides Tom through the lumps and bumps of how to behave; like he’s a grown man and still doesn’t know, in pubs, with neighbours etc. etc. And rolls his eyes at his friends impulsivity.
The Ally – well this can be Pete too, he’s the one who causes distractions to aid The Hero and accompanies him on his journey.
The Herald – Isn’t a character here – it’s an empty bed, time for a life-changing event Tom Delaney.
The Trickster – Jojo Marshall, provides a light break from the gloom of Tom’s storyline. Maybe this archetype fits him very loosely as he’s more of a fool.
The Shapeshifter – Detective Emma Castle. Why is she spying on one of the others. She’s a cop, so she’s a good guy isn’t she? Seems to hover on the borderline – until all is made clear of course.
The Guardian – ‘Bobby’, the owner of the Heaven Lounge. He tries to block Tom, practically telling him to go home and leave off his search. A big flag also waves over this character saying ‘this way lies danger’.
The Shadow – Also Bobby, as he creates a threat and further conflict for Tom.
Problem #6 – Teenage angst. Jenny Delaney can’t confront her father about a tracker he’s had installed on her phone. She has a secret from her mother – that she can’t share with her father. So, instead of having a hissy fit (like most teens), and going mardy in her bedroom because she can’t talk to dad – she ups and disappears!!!!
BUT, despite the spiralling lack of believability in this show, I watched it all. All the way through and, well, I kind of enjoyed it. How does that work?
I know many people have gone on about Michael C. Hall’s accent, but there isn’t anything wrong with it. Americans are notorious for getting British accents so very wrong, but if you aren’t London-centric, then it sounds okay to my Northerner ears.
The acting is superb; especially, I have to say, Marc Warren( who for my money is not seen on TV or in films enough). “People are entitled to their secrets,” he says, thus ensuring the viewer wonders, what kind of secret is Pete keeping? Hall is excellent in a constant state of high alert, panic and fear. Audrey Fleurot is also worth the money with her edgy, slightly neurotic, wide-eyed teacher accused of something teacher’s don’t ever want to be accused of.
The intro theme music is ‘Glitter and Gold’ by Barnes Courtney, love it. An English singer/songwriter, however, the song sounds American to me – imagine opening credits with some sweaty blokes harvesting in the ‘Deep South’, a lovely lass wiping the sweat from her brow as she peers; in her flimsy floral frock, yonder across the fields to a lone tree against a bleeding sunset. Well it’s not that. ‘Safe’, is all big houses, red brick, mock Tudor, green and ‘not so pleasant England’. So a little at odds with the theme.
It feels as though the producers were trying to appeal to as many cross-continent viewers as possible. The story moves at speed, but that’s because there are side stories, red herrings, so many individual secrets that it makes Pretty Little Liars look like a primary school squabble.
It was a great idea, and despite kind of enjoying it, I can’t help but feel that Mr. Coben should have edited his story before submitting it. It didn’t ring true. Hubby and I kept looking at each other and going, “What the…? Really? C’mon.”
I’m giving Safe 3 stars
3 thoughts on “Review: Safe (Netflix UK)”
Spot on. I’m a little more than halfway through and I have this love/hate relationship with this series. Despite all the obvious discrepancies, it is holding my interest. I’m not a fan of Harlan Coben’s books because the few I’ve read are kind of over the top like this.
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Hi Mara G, Thanks for reading my blog, and commenting. Strange how we stick with things that aren’t truly well written isn’t it? I read a Harlan Coben book years ago, I can’t even remember what it was like!