The Fall: Gillian Anderson And Jamie Dornan at Their Best [review]

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Written by Viki Reed

Before season three comes out, catch up on “The Fall,” a UK mini-series starring Gillian Anderson as a sexy cop and Jaime Dornan as a brilliant serial killer. It sure takes the detective trope to new levels, says Viki Reed. And it’s tight! [review]

aNewDomain viki-reed-meet-viki-reed-anewdomain — No, Mr. Gray will not see you now. But Paul Spector will. Spector (Jaime Dornan), the super hot serial killer who looks just like Gray, is a fetishist murderer in Northern Ireland in “The Fall,” a BBC/RTE co-production.

If you didn’t catch the first two seasons — a third is on its way soon — it’s time to catch up. You’ll be glad you did once you see Gillian Anderson in the best return to episodic TV ever. The former “X-Files” star not only hasn’t aged in the 20 years since “The X-Files,” but she is hotter now, too. And she spends a lot of time in compromising positions. Just sayin’.

Don’t walk — I mean fall — away

jaime dornan "the fall"In”The Fall,” Spector lives a double life: He’s a serial killer who also happens to be a grief counselor working for the government. Insanely handsome and fit, he’s a maniac adept at manipulating every system and even manages to play doting father and happy husband to a dowdy wife.

Stella Anderson (Gillian Anderson) is a female cop who’s not afraid to screw who she wants. The men around her can’t deal with a lady who treats men the way men treat women.

It’s interesting to see sexuality translate into actual power in the hands of a female lead for once.

There are only five episodes in each series, which means every hour is laden with scare-inducing moments, intense action sequences, deep dish character development, cops and robbers investigation, regional atmosphere and titillation.

The story is credible. And the whodunit routine cleverly utilizes modern technology and realistic cop legwork — i.e., you won’t see instant DNA matches or CSI-like conjuring for this crime show. The first finale won’t leave you feeling used, either. It’s the key to the next door you open when season two picks up.

Think of this show as being a bit like “Dexter.” Well, Spector would be just like Dexter if the authorities were on to him much sooner, or if everyone around him saw all the red flags and each lie he told begat another excuse until, finally, everything exploded in a very real way. But you get the idea.

This series is tight. Vaccum tight.

Like many UK limited-run series, the construction, direction and writing in “The Fall” are vacuum tight. This isn’t committee writing, and it’s obvious no one is trying to “break the story” just because they know they have four more episodes to shoot and they have to project into the next series.

“The Fall” could’ve ended at season one, you know. But the show’s runner/writer Allan Cubitt struck a ten point landing, which only makes  you want to see more. Season two was like the steaming chili fries you get after your hot fudge sundae. Unnecessary, maybe, but perfect.

Gillian_Anderson_2013_(cropped)“The Fall” plays with your need to pick a protagonist because you’ll like everyone. Yet despite all the charisma they exhibit, each character is still pretty despicable and pathetic.

You’ll find yourself at once wincing and cheering from within. If you wanted to watch a TV show that’s the intellectual equivalent of the greeting on a grocery store cake, that’s easy to find all the time, everywhere.

But moody, addictive, character-driven mysteries like “The Fall” only come around once in a while.

Season three of “The Fall” is in production. Be sure to catch the first two, available on Netflix and Amazon.

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Images in order: “The Fall” screenshot courtesy Netflix, All Rights Reserved; Jamie Dornan: by Ibsan73 via Flickr; Gillian Anderson: via Wikimedia Commons