A human rights lawyer with a reputation for defending lost causes sets out to prove the innocence of a man accused of murdering a 14-year-old girl.
When Emma Banville (Helen McCrory) is asked to look into the conviction of Kevin Russell by his partner, she agrees to take on the case due to the huge miscarriage of justice she feels has taken place. As she begins to root around, she not only ruffles the feathers of Detective Olivia Greenwood (Wunmi Mosaku), but she also discovers that Russell’s conviction was part of something far greater. Determined to prove his innocence, Emma goes to every length imaginable, putting a huge strain on her personal life, but also potentially putting herself in danger.
So, the latest big drama offered to us by ITV came in the form of Fearless. The show, starring Helen McCrory as the lead, had a mixed response initially, and to start with looked set to be another in a series of shows that promised the world yet failed to deliver it. Thankfully though, I can tell you now that, at least from where I’m standing, this actually turned out to be one of the better shows the station have produced in a while.
While there were a number of high profile British stars in this show, and one face from slightly further afield, there is no denying that this was McCrory’s time to shine. She owned every scene as Emma, and it was always when she was on-screen that this drama was at its best. She just had such a presence, and she provided Emma with an air of determination that couldn’t be ignored by the audience or those she was pitted against in the show. Wunmi Mosaku had the same sort of vibe about her in her role, as did Robyn Weigert (also known as Jane from Deadwood). In fact, this was a very female-centric cast and storyline, which we seem to be seeing more and more of. The character of Emma Banville was an excellent part, and the other two were pretty good as well. It’s good to see mainstream British TV making this transition at long last!
As I’ve already mentioned, this seems to be a show that divided viewers. Personally, I wasn’t sold on the first episode at all, but stuck with it anyway. I have to say that I’m glad I did persevere because Fearless really picked up in the second episode. After this point, the story didn’t suffer as many pacing issues, although some did still crop up from time to time, mainly when McCrory was not on-screen. There were a lot of intricacies woven in, and you got a snapshot of Emma’s personal life without it becoming another huge subplot. I think the problem a lot of people had was it was set out much more like an American-made TV show, and so was more slow-burning than other shows you usually get here. Again, British TV is gradually introducing more shows of this nature, but I think it’s going to take audiences a while to get used to it.
One thing that did cause me some issues, however, was some of the camera work. It was most noticeable during that first episode that already had its issues, but at points, later on, it reared its head again. It was really unsteady in some shots and was very off-putting. As the show went on, I didn’t take issue with it as much – whether this was because I got used to it or because the story improved, I don’t know. What I do know is to me that didn’t feel like the style of filming that worked for the program.
On the face of it, Fearless was a bit of a mixed bag. It certainly had its share of good and bad points, but I thought that, in the end, it did okay. There have been better shows, but there has also definitely been a hell of a lot worse. The thing to take from this is how it differed from what is generally shown – how it opted for a narrative over its six episode run as opposed to a more formulaic plot, and how it gave most of its time to female lead characters. There’s plenty to be improved upon, but Fearless definitely took its first step in the right direction. Will it return? Who knows? But I wouldn’t be too disappointed if a second season did come my way.
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