The Show You Need To Binge-Watch This Week: Safe

The Show You Need To Binge-Watch This Week: Safe

A missing girl, a dead body, drugs, affairs, blackmail, troubled cops, a disgraced teacher: new Netflix series Safe has it all when it comes to plot and suspense. And with Dexter’s Michael C. Hall in the driving seat, this pacey British crime drama is one you’ll race through in days. Here’s what you need to know before pressing play…

What is it about?

Set in a gated community, Safe hones in on the intertwining lives of the families that live within its walls. We begin with a flashback to a funeral. Widower Tom Delaney grabs his daughter’s Jenny’s hand – only for her to pull away. We then fast-forward to a community barbecue, where 16-year-old Jenny appears sullen and withdrawn from her father. Later that night, she goes missing. As Tom searches for her, he discovers an ever-more tangled web of secrets that connect those that live behind the gates.

Midway through this first episode, viewers are submerged into a Skins-like atmosphere – there’s a house party, where drugs are involved and drunken teenagers abound. Yet at the very end of the episode, the camera pans on each of the adults we’ve been exposed to so far: a teacher who’s been accused of inappropriate behaviour with a student, a doctor whose daughter is missing, a detective who’s having an affair, and a local businessman who has just covered up a death on his property. Far from being a tale of teenage hedonism, Safe reveals itself to be a spotlight on the shortcomings of the traditional pillars of community who are meant to protect us.

Who stars in it?

Michael C. Hall of Dexter and Six Feet Under fame stars as widowed doctor Tom (his newly acquired British accent is seriously impressive). Amanda Abbingdon (Sherlock, Mr Selfridge) plays his neighbour Sophie, a local detective he’s having a secret affair with.

When Jenny (Amy James-Kelly, Coronation Street) goes missing, Sophie compromises other pressing cases to focus on finding Tom’s daughter. Then there’s Tom’s best friend Dr Pete Mayfield (played by Marc Warren – Band of Brothers, Mad Dog, Doctor Who), the last person to be seen with Jenny before her disappearance.

Elsewhere, Footballers’ Wives and Strictly Come Dancing star Laila Rouass, Victoria and Four Lions’s Nigel Lindsay, The Fall’s Emmett J. Scanlan and The Untouchables’ Audrey Fleurot star as the concerned and complicit parental figures across the gated estate.

Will I like it?

At just 40 minutes long with no ad breaks, these episodes are seriously binge-able – before you know it, you’ll have watched the first two back-to-back and will be more than keen to find out which direction the plot will weave next.

The series’ strength lies in the fact that as an audience, we have no idea who we can trust (right down to protagonist Tom; one of the first things we learn about him is that he’s tracks Jenny’s phone and can access all her messages). This keeps the tension rammed up, as suspicions about how and why Jenny has disappeared chop and change.

Safe’s thrilling pacing comes as no surprise when you clock that bestselling crime writer Harlen Coben is the one who created the series. For the uninitiated, Coben is one of the most successful authors in the world – best known for books like Fool Me Once, Tell No One and Don’t Let Go — otherwise known as those crime paperbacks you buy in the airport and devour in a day.

Then there’s the Britishness of it all. New Jersey-born Coben could have easily set the series in an American suburb – in fact, the presence of an affluent gated community and Hall almost poises you for this set-up. However, as a British drama, this feels grittier.

Across the board, the characters are believable and well-drawn – when a character is hungover they look it; when someone’s had a bad night’s sleep, their make-up looks rushed and their eyes appear heavy. There’s no gloss here, and it’s all the better for it.

There’s also a classic British soap-like element to proceedings, particularly when it comes to wheeler-dealer Jojo, who, while playing the Essex geezer role to a tee, sometimes drags the drama into caricature. While in any other show this over-the-top, Carry On ‘comedy’ might mar the more serious action, strangely it’s this oddness that makes the show ever-more compelling. This is one series we’ll be whipping through in no time.

Where can I watch it?

Series one of Safe is available to stream in full on Netflix now.


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