A lot has already been written about Paranoid, mostly negative, and I have to add my voice to that negativity. Not that I do that lightly, because getting something onto the screen is difficult, and it takes a herculean effort from a writer, a team of actors, and a team of technicians, who all work incredibly hard, to get it there. But, saying all that, Paranoid was extremely average.
There’s something about Paranoid that just doesn’t feel quite right. We start off in shocking fashion, when a young mum is stabbed to death in a kids’ playground full of other parents with their children. It’s a scene that jolts you out of your seat, because a kids’ playground is a place of safety, a place of innocence and a place or protection. The assailant is wearing a hoodie and can’t be seen in the blur of violence.
So then we get to the investigating team, which is led by Neil Stuke’s Michael Niles who wants results AND WANTS THEM NOW (Stuke feels miscast in the stereotypical tough boss role), and populated by Robert Glenister’s nervy, anxious Bobby Day – who goes into a tailspin when he hears of the murder – and Indira Varma’s Nina Suresh, who starts the episode full of bluster and banter, and ends it a mess when her husband dumps her. Add in Lesley Sharp’s fruitcake witness, Lucy Cannonbury, and they’re an odd bunch, and characters you don’t love. They don’t feel right, and they don’t fit together somehow. The dialogue between them is forced and clichéd, especially Suresh, whose lines just irritate and sound like they’ve been lifted from a bad, blokey sitcom. I’m all for subverting gender roles, but Suresh pushed the boundaries of what it meant to be a tormented cop by stepping over that line into being purely annoying.
Another thing that bothered me was the prime suspect, who was established to be a paranoid schizophrenic. Once he had been tabbed as the suspect and the investigation into him and his life ratcheted up a notch, we saw menacing drawings festooned around his flat, while his brother explained that he might have forgotten to take his meds. Another glaring (and lazy) stereotype.
By the time the first episode was over, we had already made it past the prime suspect (who had turned up dead himself), and had moved onto lines of inquiry in Germany (Euro cool!) and established that there was a ‘ghost detective’ doing the rounds, interviewing suspects himself.
All very uneven and a bit of a mess, and even though there are fine actors on show here, their characters are making it very hard for me to care about who murdered that mother in the kids’ playground.