Case Sensitive returns with Olivia Williams & Darren Boyd in The Other Half Lives: Episode One Reviewed

by Matt D

If there’s one thing that ITV is known for, other than their talent shows, it’s crime drama with some repeats of Midsomer Murders trouncing BBC competition in the ratings while Vera, Lewis and Scott & Bailey have all been well-recieved in the last few months.

The channel is hoping to continue this success with Case Sensitive, a murder mystery based on the novels of Sophie Hannah, which returns after an opening two-parter last year. Entitled The Other Half Lives, the first episode reintroduces us to Olivia Williams’ Charlie Zailer and Darren Boyd’s Simon Waterhouse whose personal feelings for each other occasionally result in unprofessional behaviour however the never let it get in the way of their case.

The case in question involves Eva Birthistle’s Ruth, whose new boyfriend Aidan proposes to her before promptly revealing that he once hurt a woman. Luckily Ruth and Charlie attend a boxercise class together, so she shares her fears but the latter gets the wrong end of the stick and believes her ex-husband Jason is being abusive to her. After enrolling Simon on the case the two go round to Jason’s house only to discover that he’s been finished off with Aiden being the prime suspect.

The police suspicion of Aiden is mainly based on the fact that he and Jason had a massive argument a couple of days before the murder, which was so loud that the neighbours called the police. The reason for Jason’s rage comes from the fact that Ruth became completely besotted with Aiden the moment he came to tune her piano, not a euphemism, at the school where she and her husband both worked.

When she finally left him he sunk into a depression, started drinking and ultimately lost his job which made him even more angry however he was the one that ended up dead. At the same time distrust starts to haunt Ruth as Aiden journeys down to London for an audition at a prestigious school of music, where he was once a student but dropped out for a mysterious reason which will obviously relate to the case, where she spies him with another woman – the scoundrel!

What’s most interesting about Case Sensitive is the fact that it has a mixed sex couple as the lead detectives,and while this does happen in other shows, it’s generally an older lady paired with a younger man, but here Waterhouse and Zailer could feasibly be a couple.

Boyd and Williams both demonstrate the obvious attraction between the two which is at its most blatant when we see her deliver jealous looks towards him anytime he flirts with the younger female DC Amber Williams. Waterhouse’s flirtation with Williams makes her eat a lot of chocolate, take her frustration out in the aforementioned exercise class before verbally insulting her female colleague during a debrief. It’s the relationship between the two central female police officers which really annoyed me, especially after the wonderful job Scott & Bailey did portraying women in a positive light, as after the incident Charlie is called into her boss’ office where he voice his regrets over employing two women claiming that it’s always the time of the month for one of them before telling her to ‘leave the handbags at home.’

It’s not that the men are any different as Waterhouse later seems visibly upset when the landlord at Jason’s local pub starts flirting with Charlie while later the two discuss workplace relationships and though the conversation is focused on the Blacksmiths it’s pretty obvious they are talking about the chemistry that they share. If the women are portrayed as vindictive and bitchy then the men are on the whole sexist and arrogant represented by the ubiquitous Peter Wight as DI Proust as well as by Ralph Ineson’s DC Sellers who refers to Charlie as ‘vinegar tits’ and wonders when Charlie and Amber will start shagging.

It’s a shame that Case Sensitive isn’t around more often as I feel a whole series would help to really get to know the characters but as it’s been over a year since we last saw Zailer and Waterhouse on our screens I’m struggling to remember how healthy their relationship was previously. There’s no denying that both Boyd and Williams do a good job playing convincing police officers as well as two colleagues who would readily have a fling together if the other was willing this is thanks to the excellent chemistry the two share.

In fact the relationship does overshadow the central storyline at times, which is bolstered by a superior performance by the under-rated Birthistle as the increasingly suspicious Ruth. The fact that Aidan is a piano tuner means that occasional moments of revelation are accompanied by a slightly sinister note or two played on the instrument which almost felt like a comical touch.

Though the central mystery was interesting enough, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before on an ITV1 crime drama which does pose the question is there anything the genre can produce that we haven’t seen before in another of these shows? But perhaps people watch these new crime dramas because they know exactly what they’re getting and if you are a fanatic of this time of drama then I would say that Case Sensitive will be right up your street.

Did you Watch Case Sensitive? If so what did you think? Leave Your Comments Below.