Friday, 19 February 2021

The Enigma Files: False-Hearted Lover


Goodness, it isn't often you get two programmes featured here with the same star, but Tom Adams illustrated the last post and is the star of this series, which I have wanted to see forever. Now fortunately the guy who runs the Archive TV Musings blog (if you haven't seen it, rush over there now, because it's much better than this one, he posts regularly and stays on subject better than me) has put the whole series on his YouTube channel. The channel has other good things like episodes of Freewheelers.

The show is described by Wikipedia as a police procedural, but I'm not convinced it is as such. It is set in a sort of hard shoulder of police work so naturally does show police procedure but DCI Lewis, whom Adams plays, is a bit of a maverick and so it is more of an anti-procedural. Given that it was broadcast in 1980, I feel it was a deliberate contrast from the big name detective series of the time, The Sweeney, Target, The Professionals. The Enigma Files feels radically different - more studio-bound, urbane, not so violent, and yet still with the 1970s sludge colour scheme. I would think of it more as a proto-Morse. The accent really isn't on the procedure, it's like the other series I named but reframed for thinking kids.

In this episode an unsolved murder is reopened. This brings up old conflict and there is a slight problem of where the victim's fortune has vanished to. I love the character of the victim's sister, who is obviously a real tartar just like her brother. She thinks the nurse is after the money and is the murderer, which would be a classic solution to the situation. The chauffeur is well set up as a red herring.

Of the cast I think the star is Tommy who has a learning disability and is non-verbal, convincingly played by Colin Fay. Spoiler after the break -

Lewis lets his professional boundaries go out of the window with the dead man's nurse and in that context Tommy tries to drown Lewis, so all sorts of difficult matters are dealt with at once. The nurse thinks of Tommy as a child (how much chest hair can a child have?) But kills him to stop him drowning Lewis. You don't expect this based on what has come before. The questioning of the guy with the learning disability is very dodgy indeed and nowadays would need an appropriate adult present. I'm not letting the final secret out, you'll have to watch it and find out.

What I love best about this series is the cars, since it features the stable of Fords usually seen in shows of this age. The only slight inaccuracy is at one point you see a Ford Capri driving down the street, which you rarely saw unless they were being towed to the garage.

I don't really have any criticism. If you come to this expecting the pace and attitude of other shows of the time you would be disappointed, but now you've been warned haven't you.

If you want to watch this episode you can do so here.

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