IIt is possible that now is not the right time to start a new series of entertainment centered around the investigation into the murder of a young woman. The outrage over the conviction of an incumbent Metropolitan Police officer for the rape and murder of Sarah Everard, and the associated visibility of endemic violence against women, is a hurdle to overcome. Channel 4 Murder Island’s six-part offering also has another connection point to the case and context. One of the participants is former Chief Superintendent Parm Sandhu, who last week interviewed Radio 4’s World at One about her experience at the Met. Talking about female officers unwilling to report sexist and misogynistic behavior for fear that the men would band together, she said, “Most female police officers are afraid that if you call for help, they will push the button press the radio, they will not show up and you will be kicked in the street ”.
On the other hand, the vulnerability of women to rapists and murderers is not exactly new information, and so far it has not curbed the appetite for their exploitation for entertainment. So maybe that’s by the way. Plus, Murder Island’s USP is that it’s a new genre – a hybrid drama / reality show that keeps police involvement to a minimum. Instead, four amateur detectives compete against each other to solve a murder puzzle written by Ian Rankin about the stabbing of Charly Hendricks in a cottage on a remote Scottish island by one or more unknown people. One team will be eliminated at each stage of the investigation – the winners will receive £ 50,000 in prize money.
That said, I’m even less sure that this is more for rather than against the new company.
Context aside, how is the new format doing? The reality show element sings its usual siren song and gives us competitors who cover the full range of services. At one end of the spectrum are Andrew and Nick, ambitious, articulate, and with the lean, hungry eyes of leopards on the hunt. Andrew’s father and grandfather were detectives and he hopes the genetics will come out. Although, like everyone else, they need to be warned not to make assumptions rather than gather evidence and see what they tell them, they seem to have a basic understanding of procedure and logic when it comes to assessing schedules and comparing them Testimonials goes. If you had money and taken care of it enough, you’d bet on it to win.
At the other end are Dot and Rox, who have to be told not to stand in the pool of blood at the crime scene. They became friends working in the same pub and think they know how to read people. This will be very useful as we move to a purely intuitive criminal justice system, but the way things are, it’s just extremely fun to watch. When Simon Harding, one of the former detectives who oversees and evaluates the teams, tells that he took more photos of the crime scene than he would take on vacation, they wonder aloud how boring his vacation must be.
While we cut between the reality show scenes, “full” drama scenes with the fictional characters play out. While the competitors travel through the village and interview Charly’s friends, acquaintances and other interesting people, who are played by actors, a story emerges about a planned development on the island that divides the community, Charly’s activism for those who are against the system , and a possible love triangle between her, Jean, the shopkeeper, and especially the grumpy Hamish. There’s pregnancy too, mysterious events in far-off Glasgow that have yet to be fully revealed, and the pub’s owner, Toby, looks devious to all of us.
The goal of all hybrid genres is to double the value of watching. However, in most cases it is simply cut in half because none of the posts are fully developed and each undermines the other’s dynamics. Murder Island, judged in the first episode, falls into the latter camp. Things can improve when teams are eliminated, making the hour tighter. It will also help if the interactions between the detectives and the actors become less staged and awkward as they relax on the situation and its strange demands.
How important the context is is of course up to us.