Tony Hughes (played by the ever reliable James Nesbitt) sits in a pub in Charlons du Bois, in France, watching a happy family opposite him. It’s raining hard outside and Tony looks melancholy. He returns to his hotel, after stumbling through the pouring rain, and then upstairs to his slightly run down hotel room. He phones a woman and tells her that he’s returned back to the same hotel as before; the same room, in fact. He says: “I’ve found something!” And thus starts the BBC’s eight part television series, The Missing.
Alternating between the present day and a family holiday in 2006, The Missing unwinds with aplomb, revealing its secrets bit by bit, piece by piece. Back in 2006 the Hughes family breakdown enroute to their planned holiday destination and have to stay over in the small town of Charlons du Bois while their car is being fixed. Unfortunately their son, Oliver, disappears into a rowdy football supporter crowd and is not re-found. The police and locals do their best to try and find him, but to no avail.
In the fullness of time Tony’s wife moves on with her life, shacking up, in fact, with the police liaison officer and his son, while Tony is plagued with guilt since his son was lost ‘on his watch’, so to speak. He can’t let the boy’s disappearance go and is determined to find his lost son, no matter what the cost is, to himself or to those around him.
The Missing is the sort of drama that ‘the Beeb’ do extremely well. It’s thought-provoking, well-acted and draws you in from the very first episode. And being set in France there feels like there is greater value for money with slightly exotic locations and a European vibe about it that’s really rather alluring.
Personally, I didn’t used to watch much in the way of TV series until recently. Most seemed to be rather too soap-opera-ish for me and consequently all rather tame, but I think in recent years TV producers are taking more risks again and it’s certainly paying off. Dramas are becoming more cinematic and have also become less predictable.
I enjoyed The Missing, although like many others I had conflicting feelings about the way it ended. However, as TV dramas go you could do a whole lot worse than this rather depressing BBC drama.
RLJ Entertainment has just released The Missing on DVD. There were no extras on the disc I was sent, but there might be some on the retail version.