Right, this is unusual for me… I don’t normally do reviews of TV programmes, but the programme I’ve just watched on BBC Two is so bonkers that it’s perhaps the most mind-bogglingly confusing piece of television that I’ve ever seen.
Moses Jones is about a Met police detective called… erm… Moses Jones, played by Shaun Parkes. He’s assigned to a case in what I think is some hyper-realised Peckham by a slightly racist senior police officer who thinks that because his father was Ugandan and he looks a bit dusky, he can bring some cultural knowledge to the case. Perfectly plausible–the Met is still under investigation for institutional racism allegations–but the senior police officer looked like Nicholas de Lacy Brown from last year’s Apprentice.
He’s paired up with the typical naïve young detective sergeant, DS Dan Twentyman, played by Matt “I’m Not Doctor Who Yet, Quit Digging Up Clips Of Me In The Secret Diary of a Call Girl With Billie Piper On YouTube” Smith. He’s got an overstated cockney accent carried over from his youth, and… erm… well. He seems to have some kind of early-onset schizophrenia. When we first see him taking a look at the murder victim’s body, he takes a quick look inside the briefcase with the body in it, recoils, and vomits on the barge he’s standing on. Perfectly understandable.
However, he seems profoundly unaffected by the sight of said brutally mutilated corpse later on: making jokes about Moses Jones’s name, sneaking quick looks at ladies with few clothes on and very large chests in brothels, interrupting an investigation to go to a café to get some tea and snacks, and, perhaps most bizarrely, acting in a rather laddish way towards a mentally ill patient in a lunatic asylum.
Oh, and then we come to the programme’s pièce de résistance, the utterly bizarre closing scene which sees said mental patient rushing from the detention centre’s showers, through the corridors, knocking through the ‘reinforced’ glass, and leaping to his death. He did this while screaming ‘Blessed are the Cheesemakers, for they shall inherit the earth’ from the bible. Presumably this was meant to be prophetic. It came across as almost comic.
Occasionally, we also get little vignettes (with several long vignettes at the beginning) showing life in this hyper-realised community to be an untidy mix of phonecard shops, Indian restaurants, shady taxi companies, suspiciously rude people, BNP-supporting toilet attendants, markets, and incredibly idiosyncratic bars and brothels with drunk women and one very religious prostitute. It’s like something out of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
In short, the programme feels like The Bourne Identity, filmed in Peckham, with elements from Bonekickers (the BBC’s unintentional revival of Scooby-Doo last year), Kingdom and The Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency. It’s very clichéd–and that, in my opinion, is the writer’s fault. Maybe it’s because I don’t understand it after a single episode.
However, we must not forget two things. Firstly, the actors’ calibre is undoubtable. One of them’s been case as Doctor Who, for goodness’s sake. They play their characters superbly, and even the slightly knobbish Twentyman is likeable in a weird sort of way. Secondly, the direction is spot-on. It provides the series with a wonderfully sinister feel.
My complaint–and it is a major complaint–is the ridiculous story and script. There are all sorts of gaping plot holes (why wasn’t Joseph killed? why does the introverted Jones use the word Belgium more liberally than loudmouthed Twentyman who only uses the word once?) and I find the characters to be somewhat unbelievable. Maybe that’s just me. But then again, it is a very strange programme.