TV REVIEW: ROADKILL

Netflix, Amazon Prime and all the other subscription channels have revolutionised the way we watch TV. If you restrict yourself to what’s listed in The Radio Times or TV Guide, you’ll run the risk of missing some gems in the subscription vaults. Last week I stumbled on one such: Roadkill on Netflix.

The series is two years old now, but it could be speaking to today’s British politics. The man at the centre is a right-wing Tory MP Peter Laurence (Hugh Laurie), who in the opening scene is shown winning a High Court libel case against a newspaper.  He’s hardly got time to visit his mistress when word arrives of a daughter he never knew he had. She’s been in prison for fraud, and right now she’s part of a huge riot in the women’s prison. Meanwhile another daughter is photographed by the tabloids snorting coke at university; and a third is immersed in Greenpeace campaigns. And did I mention that Laurence is hoping for promotion to Foreign Secretary, but winds up with the lesser post of Justice minister?

The script is by David Hare, so you know it’ll be clever, with lots of political corruption and cynicism. But the stand-out is Hugh Laurie as Peter Laurence. He loves his daughters, he loves his wife, he loves his mistress; and he has an affectionate remember-me? with the mother of his hitherto unknown daughter. Yet he’s a right-wing Tory who doesn’t give quarter to anyone, including the prime minister (Helen McCrory) who appointed him.

Laurie showed us all the breadth of his acting talent as the maverick surgeon in the series House. In Roadkill  he reaches a further level of acting. Who’d have thought a  right-wing Tory with his eye on becoming prime minister could show vulnerability behind those hardened eyes of his. Or that a few minutes of dialogue could offer greater insight into the British prison system than half-a-dozen government reports?

Sometimes the plot stretches belief, with Laurie’s gofer having it off with the prime minister’s gofer and during pillow talk revealing information about Laurie and his in-prison daughter. But if Raymond Chandler could advise  “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand”, then David Hare can be forgiven the odd plot device, like gofers blabbing or the Justice minister driving into a windscreen-shattering deer.

 

If you’ve got Netflix, do yourself a favour and dig out Roadkill. Just four episodes of pure class.

 

 

 

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