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  • Writer's picturePaul Gainey

Grace

Grace is an odd series. Based on Peter James' best-selling series of novels, and starring John Simm as the titular detective Roy Grace, it never quite seems sure of what it wants to be.


This first episode,finds Grace and his partner DS Glenn Branson (Richie Campbell) investigating the sudden death of a former schoolteacher, which seems to be linked to the discovery of human remains in a field.


It's a gripping story which is at times grimly dark, exploring grisly crimes which wouldn't be out of place in an episode of Luther. Yet with this series set against the sunny backdrop of Brighton, rather than the murky streets of nighttime London, something feels tonally off.


Grace has all the trappings of a conventional ITV detective drama, and is at times visually indistinguishable from a DCI Banks or an Unforgotten. Yet its subject matter ping pongs from the macabre to the ridiculous.


The central mystery itself is gripping and well-paced, doling out bits of information at just the right time to keep things engaging, while Simm and Campbell make for a strong on-screen pairing. Simm in particular is naturally charismatic in the role, making Grace at once unknowable yet also deeply empathetic at the same time.


Of the supporting cast, Amit Shah gets the most to do as Zack Bryce, a train passenger who stumbles upon video footage he wasn't supposed to and gets wrapped up in the central mystery. It's a nervy, emotionally heightened role which could be hard to pull off and easy to get wrong, but Shah lends the character humanity and an authenticity.


Action sequences are thrillingly executed, and the overall story resolution is satisfying, while leaving enough character threads hanging to allow for development across the rest of the season.



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