Last Night’s TV – Above Suspicion: The Red Dahlia

This latest La Plante offering is far superior to her last, in which we were introduced to the – at the time – intensely gullible and wet-behind-the-ears DC Anna Travis.

Back then, she was unconvincing and her storylines were somewhat ridiculous; and if they weren’t ridiculous, they were based on a form of reality which would be horrifyingly scary were it to be based on a real copper’s persona.

That said though, she’s still stupid enough to go to dinner with dodgy – and possible suspects – blokes. In this case, a Telegraph journalist; silly girl.

However, though Anna’s grown-up a bit, aside from being led by the ovaries it would seem, she’s not yet jaded and worn by The Job, unlike her boss and would-be lover DCI Langton. But at least she’s stopped ralphing up when she sees a corpse. And last night’s corpse, as is expected from La Plante adaptations, was a gruesome pièce de résistance for the special effects and make-up bods.

Louise Pennell, the victim, had been sawn very neatly in half and had been drained of blood. There were several other gory details but if you saw it, you don’t need me to fill in that diagram, and if you didn’t, you can watch it on ITV player.

The acting from all concerned was good if not brilliant, but for me, Ciaran Hinds stands out in the Above Suspicion series’ in that though he plays a cliché – grizzled, harassed, bothered by The Brass into arresting someone and generally a bad tempered git – he manages to make those clichés convincing. No mean feat I suspect.

And Kelly Reilly seems to be growing into the shoes that were brand new and a bit too big for her on her first outing. Her confidence in her role was clear to see and she seemed rather less stilted in last night’s episode. She’s no Helen Mirren as Tennison, but there, nobody could be.

As to the story itself, the premise of the plot is of course that the killer is copycatting the infamous Black Dahlia murder that shocked a then naïve Los Angeles in 1947, and I’ve noticed that La Plante has come in for a bit of flack for supposedly copycatting herself. However, I would argue that copycat murders do of course happen, so why not write a book about it and then have it adapted for telly?

Zillions of others have done it, so why have a pop at La Plante for doing so? Some reviewers accused her of simply rehashing the Black Dahlia story, but again, the originality is in the adaptation of a premise, and if we were to slate every writer who did that – for paper or screen – we’d all go nuclear every time a period drama of the bodice ripping variety was on-screen.

So in short, to those naysayers who’ve pointed the I’m-Telling finger at La Plante for the above, I’d say, you try writing something of the quality she does, and until you can, shut up.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.