Tom Parfitt - Michael Palin
Hannah Ward - Jodie Comer
Rob Fairholme - Mark Addy
OTHER GHOSTLY TALES
Bag Of Bones
Episode 1 - First broadcast 23rd November 2014
Tom Parfitt is 80-odd years old and an odd bird to say the least. After spending decades hidden away in his house, shunning the outside world, he fakes a fall and gets himself taken to a nursing home, taking with him only an empty suitcase. When Tom's social worker falls to her death from Tom's room, the police are baffled. Tom is terrified and Hannah tries to help, but learns that there might be more to his odd behaviour than simply age and senility.
The BBC has a history of ghost stories for Christmas and though this one has come a little early, it is shaping up to fit in nicely with that tradition. This opening episode is a spooky number in which an awful lot is hinted at, but nothing is shown outright. The social worker didn't fall and Tom wasn't strong enough to push her, but since he was the only person in the room what else could have happened? There are hints that the stairs are important. There's something in the attic, but what. What is significant about the shells? Much is significant, but no reasons are given. That is for future episodes.
The man at the heart of this is Tom Parfitt and Michael Palin does a fine job of the central performance, maybe once and for all convincing people that there is more to him than Monty Python and travel shows. He is by turns impish, terrified, manipulative and creepy. There is something not right, something in his history that he is trying to get away from, something that doesn't want him to go and is willing to kill people to make that clear. All of this is hinted at in Palin's performance and in the direction, which does lay on the northern grimness a bit heavy with all the cloud-laden skies shot in iron greys, but which also adds layers to the story and gives a real sense of atmosphere and creeping dread. There's not a lot of real horror here and devoted gore fans will be bored, but if psychological horror is your thing then this does the job pretty well.
Mark Addy plays a cop with personal problems that have put his career on the skids. It's a role that's not quite as well-developed as it might have been and his natural likeableness makes a lot more of it than is on the page. Jodie Comer has the task of bringing Hannah to life. A girl with family issues that have made her the head of the household too soon, the character is once again a bit thin on the writing, but she gives it a good go and almost makes her interesting.
The mystery, though, is the main thing that keeps things on an even keel here. The hints of the supernatural, the fear in Parfitt leading to an unsettling atmosphere that is transmitted to the audience quite effectively, that's what will be bringing us back to find out what happens next time around.Top
Episode 2 - First broadcast 30th November 2014
Tom Parfitt goes missing and Hannah believes that he has skipped town for Scarborough. Since her mother is incapable, Hannah takes her brother Sean and goes to the seaside resort where she fails to find the old man, but encounters something a lot more terrifying.
The story continues and the mystery both deepens and is given more form by the facts that emerge. Tom isn't 80-odd, he's over a hundred and ten and still going strong. His wife suffered a fatal fall in the house where Tom staged his own fall and the ghostly presence appears to be an indian governess that Tom knew when he was just a little boy.
The absence of Michael Palin is quite strongly felt in this episode, since his was the strongest and most interesting character in the opening episode. The focus falls mainly on Jodie Comer's Hannah and the character is given some more depth and breadth as the facts of her family life become clearer and her own personality becomes clearer. This will be important since she is having prophetic dreams about her own drowning and the ghostly woman in the water is turning her attention toward Hannah's little brother Sean. It is a credit to the increasingly engaging character of Hannah that this threat is genuinely concerning, especially since her brother is little more than irritating.
The police investigation is the weak link in the story. It provides the framework leading to the one mysterious death in this episode, but the reasoning behind the ghost's killing of this victim remains obscure to say the least. There are also more of the grey northern sky and sea shots than are good for the show as well.
The effectiveness of the show, however, is displayed in the final moments when Hannah comes face to face with the elusive Tom and with her watery nemesis. This is a scene redolent with danger and dread and is one of the creepiest scenes on television this year.Top
Episode 3 - First broadcast 7th December 2014
With the mysterious water woman setting her sights on Hannah's brother Sean, the hunt for Tom becomes more urgent and his family secrets may hold the key to saving them all.
It's the final episode and so matters must come to a head, but there are some surprises along the way, mostly from what we know of Tom Parfitt as the family closet gives up its skeletons. That matters all hinge on the last verse of a folk song, might stretch credibility a little and a side trip to see Tom's previous sister-in-law proves to be unsatisfying, but rarely has a swing been creepier than the one on the clifftop caravan site and the interaction between the characters becomes ever more believable, making the oncoming storm all the more dangerous and scary. There is genuine fear for the audience as the characters come together for the final act. Yes, the denouement might be just a little bit obvious, but it plays out well and remains in doubt to the point where the audience thinks it might not go the way that they expect before losing its nerve and taking the obvious route out.
Michael Palin's Tom Parfitt remains a fascinating character and Mark Addy's policeman does just enough to get by on, but the show's final episode is anchored on Jodie Comer as Hannah and she is equal to the task, the character coming into her own and giving the actress the scenes to make her real and rounded.
Though it wimps out slightly at the end, REMEMBER ME takes us right up to the very edge of the cliff before finally deciding not to make us jump. Though there have been flaws, they have not been enough to derail the story, the atmospheric creepiness or the nice performances of the actors making the characters much more likeable and three dimensional than the script might deserve. In the final analysis, REMEMBER ME deserves a place amongst the other seasonal ghost stories that the BBC has served up for this time of year.Top
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