TV Highlights

What was on Tuesday 20th January

The Eichmann Show

BBC Two - 9pm

Who's in it?

Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman were the intrepid filmmakers chronicling the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in this at times bland, at times unbearably powerful drama.

In a nutshell

Slickly shot in cinematic half-shadows, and boasting a cast on top form (Martin Freeman so inhabited the role of a dogged TV broadcaster that you clean forgot you were watching the hobbit in civilian clothes), The Eichmann Show was prestige TV filmmaking at its most impeccable. And that was part of the problem – it was so stately, so tasteful, so “just so”, that it lacked any real narrative momentum. Apart from a passing sub-plot involving vile Nazi sympathisers sending death threats, the characters didn’t really have much to do besides watch the trial unfold, and gawp.

But, ultimately, that didn’t matter. Because the best bits of The Eichmann Show – namely, the real footage from the real trial – were so powerful that it made the whole thing compulsory viewing. The wrenching, horrific testimonies, expertly edited together with dramatized re-enactments, brought home the truths of the Holocaust in a way no historian ever can. As time goes on, and the events become ever more distant, such reminders are more essential than ever.

What's the verdict?

This would have left many viewers wanting to see much more of the monumental trial itself, and less of the rather lucklustre story involving the broadcasters, which was a sideshow to the Eichmann Show.

Star rating: 3/5

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07-07-2011