Any series that boasts it has a touch of Rear Window about it is surely worth a look.
One of my favourite movies, it’s one of Hitchcock’s finest and has a wonderful, iconic cast that was at the top of its game in 1954. And it was so much more than just a thriller about voyeurism – a treatise on relationships, for a start.
So on the one hand I was looking forward to ITV’s new, five-part thriller Viewpoint, and on the other I was slightly dreading it.
It stars Noel Clarke as DC Martin King – a surveillance expert who has escaped a past in CID because Something Bad Happened©. He and his partner are called to work a case involving a primary school teacher who has gone missing. Gemma Hillman (Amy Wren) seems to be the salt of the earth, but we soon learn a couple of things in the set-up – there’s some rivalry between the parents at the school, her boss and head teacher has made numerous passes at her, and her boyfriend Greg (Fehinti Balogun) is an angry, controlling man.
So when she goes missing, we’re already thinking and speculating.
DC King is seconded to a house opposite Gemma’s apartment to watch Greg’s every move. Living in the house is single mum Zoe Sterling, and even though this invasion of her home is a huge inconvenience for Zoe, she soon views King and his partner with fascination.
And this is one of the admirable layers in Viewpoint – Greg’s apartment and the people in the street are being watched, but so is King himself.
Soon, the two begin to get on and Zoe begins to take more than a fascination in the case. Just like Grace Kelly’s Lisa Fremont in Rear Window, she’s keen to get involved.
It’s an interesting modern take on the voyeurism theme, but again there are layers. We see King visit his old CID office and find out the trauma part of his back story – his partner was injured in an incident on his watch and she’s now in a wheelchair (another nod to Rear Window?). Perhaps, just perhaps, King uses his new-found position as a surveillance expert to distance himself from real-world interaction because of the anxiety and guilt he still feels about that incident. Being behind a lens makes him feel safe.
Another benefit of seeing things through the lens of a fancy mini telescope is that everything is confined in a small area. The street becomes a locked-room, and the locked-room becomes a mystery.
And, as we see the comings and goings of the residence and neighbours, all is not what it seems.
And throughout, writers Harry Bradbeer and Ed Whitmore drop little bombs of jeopardy into proceedings.
During one all-night surveillance shift, King is called by his ex-wife who informs him his son is in hospital. He can’t leave his post, but he has to, and unbeknown to him Zoe witnesses something happening in Gemma and Greg’s apartment. She’s only too pleased to get involved.
In the closing scenes, Zoe takes matters into her own hands once again – against King’s pleas, she actually enters Greg’s place after a street vigil.
What do we have with Viewpoint? It’s a whodunit and race against time that has promise and will no doubt get more tense as the nights go by. As for the comp with Rear Window, there are plenty of similarities – the real test will come later when you hope that the characters and the setting are strong enough to elevate it from a mere homage.
Viewpoint can be seen on ITV and ITV Hub in the UK