For those who prefer their British entertainment imports to be more Prime Suspect and less Downton Abbey, two new specials on Encore should be to their liking.
Based on the popular mystery series by Mark Billingham, Thorne: Sleepyhead and Thorne: Scaredy Cat offer a pair of chilling whodunits where the blood from the crime scenes runs as thick as the Londoner accents. David Morrissey plays Tom Thorne, a mercurial detective whose unconventional methods get results but also often put him at odds with his colleagues.
In Sleepyhead — which premieres tonight at 9 — Thorne tracks a killer of young women whose very particular method of attack leaves one survivor wishing she were dead. It’s a heartbreaking, relentlessly grim case where the twists lead further into Thorne’s own shady past. I’m not the first to consider Morrissey somewhat of a poor man’s Liam Neeson, but he’s superb as Thorne, towering over everyone else around him and always fighting to keep some pent-up rage in check.
He gets to display a softer side in Scaredy Cat — premiering at 9pm Wednesday — as he looks after the young son of a murder victim, but the case itself is just as nasty. Thorne hunts two serial killers who seem to be working together but committing their crimes separately. It’s a more conventional story than Sleepyhead, and doesn’t pack nearly the emotional punch, but manages to be a solid, compelling thriller nonetheless.
Familiar faces pop up in each chapter, including Natascha McElhone (Californication), Aidan Gillen (The Wire) and Sandra Oh, in a much different role than her Grey’s Anatomy fans are used to seeing her.
Photo: © Liam Daniel/Sky1