1. It will grab you from the get-go
You know how some shows are slow burners and require you to watch three episodes before you can “get into it”? The Five isn’t one of those shows. This is a drama which gets its hooks into you right from the start. Or rather, its hook, singular, because it’s all focused on one incredibly strong set-up. Think of a group of five kids playing in wooded area, as kids do. Now imagine them sort of casually bullying the younger one, as kids do. He gets upset and walks off home… and is never seen again. Now imagine what would happen if, two decades later, the blood of the long-vanished child is discovered at the scene of another murder, drawing the four remaining members of the group – now all guilt-stricken adults – together again. Yep, that is what is known in the industry as “a really awesome way to start a TV show”.
2. It’s from a big, big writer
The Five is no ordinary mystery drama. It happens to have sprung from the imagination of one of the biggest crime writers on the planet: Harlan Coben. Chances are you’ll have spied his name embossed on acres of glossy covers in bookshops across the land – he has around 60 million novels in print in more than 40 languages, and is basically incredibly renowned and influential when it comes to crafting stories that linger in the mind and make you stay up to unsociable hours for. The Five isn’t an adaptation of a pre-existing novel, though – it’s the first time Coben has conceived a tale specifically for television, and his plan was always to create an engrossing long-form saga rather than a predictable case-of-the-week type show. And thus we have The Five, a show that’s about as far from an episode of Midsomer as you can get.
3. It's about the big questions
These days, we tend to want more from our crime dramas than basic procedural work, dastardly suspects and bantering detectives. We want depth, complexity, and themes that hit us as hard as the crime itself. The Five is a show which doesn’t shy away from any of these things. It’s as much about the poignant loss of childhood and innocence as anything else – our four main characters must search through their long suppressed memories, and almost inhabit their past selves all over again. Guilt, remorse, bittersweet nostalgia are all ingredients in this heady tale, as they are forced to consider the basic paths they’ve taken in life, the compromises they’ve made, and the possible paths to moral redemption (not forgetting that’s it’s a cracking crime drama as well).
4. It's made by people who make good things
The Five is the latest drama to come from Red, a production company which specialises in doing stuff which gets huge acclaim from critics and audiences alike. They’re the people behind the likes of Happy Valley (one of the best British long-form crime sagas of recent years), Scott & Bailey (the coolest cop duo on telly at the moment), and Last Tango in Halifax (a perfectly pitched love story we actually wanted to get behind, rather than groan at). So we’re definitely in safe hands here. Plus, they’ve made the bold move of having all the episodes of The Five directed by one person, so we’re getting a singular stylistic vision – like we would with a movie – rather than something that chops and changes all the time.
5. It’s got a cast of rising stars
The people in The Five are among the most exciting actors around at the moment. The one you probably know the best is Sarah Solemani, who was in The Wrong Mans and, most brilliantly, in Him & Her, the sitcom about a couple who do nothing but slob around their flat: an achingly accurate depiction of what being young and in love is REALLY about. She’ll certainly be out of her PJs and into her work gear for The Five, while her co-stars include Tom Cullen – who starred in critically worshipped indie romance flick Weekend – and Lee Ingleby from the recent landmark drama about autism, The A Word. Look out as well for a star who looks a bit like Gemma Arterton. That’ll be her sister, Hannah Arterton.
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