Noel Clarke anchors ITV’s new five-part thriller Viewpoint, which lacks the expertise of its most obvious inspiration but feels novel enough to get by.
This recap of Viewpoint episode 1 contains spoilers.
Any piece of media that involves anyone looking through a pane of glass can’t help but be compared to Rear Window, but ITV’s new five-part thriller Viewpoint earns the comparisons and then some. The ever-underappreciated Noel Clarke stars in it as DC Martin Young, a surveillance expert tasked by CID with installing himself in the flat of Zoe (Alexandra Roach) in order to keep an eye on the suspicious partner of a missing schoolteacher who lives across the road.
So, there are some twists on the usual formula, obviously. Martin has a legitimate reason for his snooping, even if the same can’t be said of Zoe, who has some fascination with the neighbors herself but keeps it relatively quiet. Either way, she can’t resist sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong at the first opportunity, such as when the obviously put-upon Martin has to respond to a family emergency and leave the flat unattended.
Viewpoint episode 1 has no shortage of potential suspects, perhaps especially Martin’s “target”, Greg (Fehinti Balogun), the missing woman’s controlling, possibly abusive partner. It almost certainly wasn’t him, of course, since that isn’t how these things work, but he’ll do for a start. The couple next door also makes their presence felt, but any potential motives are a bit thin on the ground for now, which is to be expected.
It’s Clarke, who has been quietly emerging as one of Britain’s better performers, who shoulders the weight of the scaled-back drama, most of which occurs in the ambit of a camera lens or a laptop screen. That remove can make it difficult to really buy into the tension, but the opener does a decent job of putting Martin in increasingly fraught predicaments, and it ends with Zoe entering the residence of the suspect, giving the whole thing a more personal, immediate danger.
Martin also has a dodgy past with CID, where very brief flashbacks reveal some kind of botched job that led to a colleague ending up wheelchair-bound, and she doesn’t seem to have forgotten it, to say the least. Between this and problems with his son and separating from the lad’s mother, Martin has his work cut out even without Zoe’s determination to constantly interfere in the operation.
The detached focus on surveillance gives Viewpoint episode 1 a sense of novelty, and it’s different enough from Rear Window in execution not to feel like a complete rip-off. It’s airing every night until Friday, so we won’t have to wait long to see what happens next. Whatever that might be, I trust Clarke to sell it to us.