“Second Sight, Series 1.” (1999-2001) is a British-made television series, a police procedural/ British mystery/thriller. It was made jointly by the British Broadcasting Corporation, and WGBH, Boston flagship station of the American public broadcasting network. This first series concerns just the one murder; the episodes have been cut so as to give the viewer a continuous narrative. In it, British detective DCI Ross Tanner must change his approach to investigating crimes in the middle of a murder case when he finds he has developed an obscure eye disorder (AZOOR) that causes spells of blindness and hallucinations. He chooses to try to hide the problem from his colleagues, as it is grounds for dismissal from the job. He therefore strikes a deal with his beautiful blond second in command DCI Catherine Tully. If she will cover his back, he will share any eventual glory with her. Tanner, whom we understand lives for his work, desperately tries to continue his investigations; he eventually realizes that solving crimes is as much about what's not visible as what is. A young, charismatic, rough-hewn Clive Owen (CHILDREN OF MEN, INSIDE MAN) plays Tanner. Claire Skinner (A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME) who doesn’t look much like a copper, and must then have been beautiful blond of the week, plays Tully. The case involves the brutal murder of a young man, son of Judith Bendrix (Phoebe Nicholls, BRIDESHEAD REVISITED) and Adam Bendrix, (Stuart Wilson, FASCINATION ) who also plays Adam’s identical twin, Jack Kenworthy. Owen, who can project tough vulnerability, does not make Tanner a loveable man. He’s a drunk, a womanizer, neglectful of his family, and a tough boss – but he gets the job done. The crime drama is interesting in its portrayal of Tanner’s impaired vision, with flashes of light, and other graphic effects onscreen. It is dark, thoughtful and suspenseful: the ambiance of London, and of the cop shop, is well-portrayed. It’s intense, and gripping – would have to be with Owen on hand. The series was created by Paula Milne, one of Britain’s leading screenwriters, who left school just before her fifteenth birthday, without academic qualifications, and pretty much began her TV career as the tea girl. She broke in as a script writer at CORONATION STREET, did some RUTH RENDELL MYSTERIES, also penned I DREAMED OF AFRICA, and THE VIRGIN QUEEN. I can remember loving and looking forward to this series as it was broadcast in the United States on BBCAmerica: I’m always a sucker for intensity and ambiance. Of course, in those days, BBCAmerica broadcast many fine British mysteries; now they broadcast supernatural crap. More critically, I could hear it back then; make out what people were saying, whereas now, although I could follow the basic plot, the dialog of the blond, and the cockneys in the cop shop, went right by me. So far as I know, neither the BBC nor WGBH is short of finance, so I don’t know why they would have chosen to limit the audience that can enjoy this fine, cerebral film in this pennywise, pound-foolish way. A very good film, if you can follow it.
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