TV review: Collateral and Trauma are solid but unspectacular crime dramas

Jane Oliver (NICOLA WALKER), Linh Xuan Huy (KAE ALEXANDER) in Collateral (C) The Forge - Photographer: Parisa Tag
Billy Foley

Collateral, BBC 2, Monday at 9pm

TV's love affair with crime drama continued this week with new series Collateral starting on the BBC and ITV presenting Trauma, a three night special.

Collateral began with the shooting dead of a pizza delivery driver as he left a London apartment.

A man is dead and the damage spreads far and wide.

Most of the first episode is spent explaining the web of connections between the victim, his family, a witness to the murder and the last woman who spoke to him.

So much for impersonal London where a sense of community doesn't exist. In Collateral everybody is connected as if in a village in Tyrone.

Karen Mars (Billie Piper) opens the door to the pizza man and gives him a small tip despite complaining that the order is wrong. She is last to speak to the murder victim and a key witness.

She is also the ex-wife of senior Labour politician David Mars (John Simm) who comes to help but is already emotional at the break up of his most recent relationship.

We are then introduced to a minister running back up the steps of her nearby church. Initially the viewer is lead to believe that Nicola Walker (Jane Oliver) may be the killer but it turns out she's just worried about her girlfriend whose been out all night.

She is also a close friend (possibly sister) of David Mars, who as a favour, signed immigration application papers for her girlfriend. The now illegal immigrant Kae Alexander (Linh Xuan Huy) is the only witness to the murder after feeling unwell on the way home from a night out (too many party drugs) and sat down on the street near the murder scene.

The first episode was also busy ticking a lot of inclusiveness boxes.

The lead detective is pregnant. The vicar is gay. The dead man is an asylum seeker from Syria. The only witness lied about her student visa and is afraid of being deported so is hiding from the police. The well meaning Labour politicians is working on a liberal immigration bill. And the killer, it seems, is a female officer in the British army.

In the credit column, it's a well presented, creditable drama. The pace is good, the dialogue is realistic and the acting is excellent.

If you're into crime drama, no doubt you'll love it.

But boy is it safe.


Trauma, ITV, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday at 9pm

Not only did Collateral and Trauma clash with their opening episodes, they also shared the same leading man, John Simm.

In Collateral Simm is an earnest politician, in Trauma he's an emotional dad looking to blame someone when his teenage son is stabbed to death.

Trauma was certainly the most interesting of the two dramas. Dan Bower (Simm), already reeling after being told he is being made redundant, rushes to hospital after hearing his son has been injured.

After he bursts in he meet trauma consultant Jon Allerton (Adrian Lester) who has come in on a night-off after getting an emergency call.

Allerton tells Bowker that the initial scan is encouraging and he is confident all will be OK, but within 30 minutes his son is dead.

Bowker is certain that Allerton made a mistake and repeatedly confronts him. This is the tension at the centre of the drama. Is Bowker an angry man seeking to blame the establishment for his predicament? Or did Allerton, with the best of intentions, come in on a night out after having a drink and make a dreadful mistake?

It's worth a watch on catch up if you haven't seen it.

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