Sunday, 10 October 2010

Thorne: Sleepyhead - review


Thorne: Sleepyhead is a three-part crime show introducing Mark Billingham's cop Tom Thorne to the small screen. This was Billingham's first book, and it's a striking start to a TV series, just as it was a striking fictional debut.

David Morrisey, whom I best remember as the dodgy politician in State of Play (TV version, not the film) plays Thorne. He's confronted with a serial killer, who specialises in giving his luckless victims strokes. One young woman who succumbs does not die, though, and as she lies helplessly in hospital, Thorne tries to communicate with her. But is he playing the killer's game?

The episode ended in dramatic fashion, and I'll certainly be tuning in next week. Mark Billingham has not had as long to wait for TV success as Peter Robinson, but there are some similarities with DCI Banks. A tall, moody cop with a troubled private life, falling for a glamorous blonde professional. A series of savage murders. And so on. It really is quite hard to do something new in television crime, but Thorne made a good stab at it.

I first met Mark Billingham about ten years ago, at a crime convention in Manchester, when we sat next to each other at a gala dinner. He was charming and witty and very keen on the genre - I recall he collected Ian Rankin first editions. At that time, he was still unpublished, but he struck me as someone determined, and likely, to succeed. He's certainly done that, and I am sure he must be delighted to see Thorne on the box.

9 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - Thanks for this review. It sounds like there is some good television on this fall, and that's great. It'll be interesting to see whether the series is able to hold up...

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Great review! I'll keep an eye out to see this series.

Maxine said...

I also remember David Morrisey as Colonel Brandon in a fairly recent TV version of Sense and Sensibility. He turned in a credible performance (though all I can really recall is a heavy-handed scene involving him and a falcon, symbolising Marianne Dashwood). Doomed, though, as nobody could ever match the perfection of Alan Rickman in the same role (in the Emma Thompson film version).

I did read Sleepyhead and another Thorne book but I refuse to read any more because of the horrible "sadism porn" aspects (eg the paralysing in Sleepyhead). I'd rather read a proper book ;-)

Mark Billingham said...

Martin, thanks for a nice review. I well remember that evening at Dead On Deansgate and hope I wasn't too much of a twittering idiot. I was SO excited to be there and to be seated next to a published crime writer! Amazed you can remember about my being such an avid collector!

See you soon. Are you going to Bouchercon?

Mark

Alistair Macfarlane said...

I'm a huge fan of Mark. Also glad to see he's made it on the tele.
I'll have to ask my Dad to record it for me.

Dorte H said...

How great for him! I liked his first novels quite a lot, but I must admit that he has grown a bit too graphic for me.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for these comments. The first episode augurs well for the rest of the series.
Maxine, I haven't seen S and S, but really ought to find time to do so sometime soon.
And Mark, welcome to the blog! I'm sorry to say that work commitments prevent me from going to Bcon - hope to remedy that next year.

Janet O'Kane said...

I've just watched the first episode of Sleepyhead and I'm not sure what I made of it. It's filmed wonderfully, the 'voice' of the not-quite-dead girl is well done, and Aiden Thingy who's playing Hendricks isn't as disappointing as I'd feared (though he's a bit too pretty). I'm a big fan of Billingham's early books, but perhaps even my demand for TV crime has been sated already and it's too late in the day for a series like this to be met with anything but weariness.
I shall, though, be watching the next episode. I didn't get that far with the recent Banks drama.

Animesh said...

With a seamless blending of past and present Thorne:Sleepyhead tv series matches the intensity of Billingham's first Thorne novel...I am looking forward to Scaredy Cat and other stories.....