This is the first episode of a six episode British series based on Sid Halley, a character created by Dick Francis in the Odds Against novel. The character is a jockey who, after an injury, turns to detective work in the world of the race track. This is the only episode to adapt a Francis novel. The show’s big weapon is Mike Gwilym as Halley; he’s got an unpretentious air about him and the show is frank about the fact that he’s not a psychologically healthy guy. He’s frankly bitter and he’s only motivated to take his first case after his father-in-law humiliates him in front of the episode’s villain. With that humiliation as motivation, Halley is an angry bitter detective and I found him really bracing as a character. He’s a world away from the cultured British detectives we’re used to in these kinds of mystery series. This one has a couple of nice twists and a good supporting cast. Gerald Flood is a really despicable, sociopathic villain, slimy and repulsive. James Maxwell is great as Halley’s father-in-law; he’s a complicated figure himself –the way he manipulates and humiliates Halley just in order to get him to work for him is cold-blooded and vicious, but ultimately effective. Far better writing than I expected; there’s a mystery here, but this show is first and foremost about the characters. 4 stars.
tl;dr – great performances and sharp writing elevate this mystery series into character study territory; nothing like the typical British detective shows of yesteryear. 4 stars.