The Fall is a slow-burn British crime drama about a cat-and-mouse game between a member of law enforcement and a serial killer. That sentence accurately describes the series, but it also accurately describes a number of other shows as well. What is unique about The Fall is the wonderful style of the production, tone of the action, and gripping authenticity of the performances. If you haven’t had a chance to experience it yet, both series that have aired thus far are be available on Blu-ray and DVD this week from Acorn Media.
The Fall stars Gillian Anderson (The X-Files, Hannibal) as Stella Gibson, an intelligent investigator sent to Belfast to solve a murder. Much to her boss Jim Burns’ (John Lynch, Sliding Doors), chagrin, Stella sees a pattern in recent deaths, and petitions to run a task force to track the presumed serial killer. Working alongside young, eager Danielle Ferrington (Niamh McGrady, Holby City) and forensic analyst Reed Smith (Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife), and others, Stella manages to be a part of the team while still serving her lone-wolf persona. Seeing how smart she is, there is no doubt Stella can solve the case.
Except, Stella’s quarry, Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan, Fifty Shades of Grey, Once Upon a Time), is equally clever. Paul has a nice suburban life with his wife, Sally Ann (Bronagh Waugh, Hollyoaks), and two children. Not what you’d expect from a psychopath, right? But Paul is a master manipulator, and one is never sure if he cares all that much about his spouse or the teenage babysitter, Katie (Aisling Franciosi, Legends), who is as easy to influence as she is taken in by Paul. And so, despite his patterns and mistakes, Paul proves quite tough to catch.
When I say The Fall is slow-burn, I only sort of mean it. It does take a bit of time to get started, but it picks up speed fairly early on, and only gets faster in later installments, even if it doesn’t get to the end quickly. Series one consists of five episodes. The six-episode Series two, which picks up only a few days later, is where things get crazy and tense, and begin to really take off. With a cliffhanger ending, Series three, which recently filmed and has yet to air, will continue the same story, even when it’s hard to see where else there is to go. The show constantly reinvents itself, telling one connected tale, but frequently upping the stakes and the rules of the game.
The only complaint I really have about The Fall is the awkward transition from series one to two. Of course, there’s an issue with the kids aging more than the time passed would allow, but it seems like nearly every actor in the show changed hairstyle or color, at least a little. One person, maybe two, I’d believe, but when it’s everyone, the break feels a lot longer than it was.
That is only cosmetic, though. The writing itself doesn’t let up and remains compelling, even when the leaps may look big on paper. With the excellent performances of Anderson and Dornan, it’s hard to stop watching, even if it is emotionally draining to binge more than two episodes at a time.
The extras in the included in the sets are a bit weak, not unexpected from Acorn. Series one contains only a single 12-minute featurette that goes behind the scenes, too brief to get much out of it. Series two barely steps it up, with another quick peek behind the camera, as well as some deleted scenes and a photo gallery. Personally, I don’t find a photo gallery a beneficial inclusion, and deleted scenes are pretty much expected at this point. So I the extras certainly aren’t a selling point for these Blu-ray and DVD sets. But that doesn’t really matter since The Fall itself is good enough to recommend, bare bones and all.
You have your choice of Blu-ray and DVD, and, honestly, I can’t say there’s a compelling case for one over the other. The Fall is dark and gritty, and doesn’t make much use of any high definition advantage. But I am a bit of a quality snob, so even if the only difference is an image and soundtrack that’s a bit crisper, I’d still get Blu-ray for the best viewing experience.
The Fall Series One and Two are now available on Blu-ray and DVD.