There’s something about the arrival of autumn that stirs the desire within me to watch detectives push their limits to solve cases considered unsolvable. Perhaps it’s the crisp crunch of leaves underfoot, a thermos of soup in hand, or the pockets filled with conkers. It’s the sentence, “Hey, detective – my office, now!”, someone embarking on a late-night run and stumbling upon a crucial clue, or the process of unearthing CCTV footage from a shopping mall. It just clicks. So, snuggle under a cozy blanket, and let’s dissect this mystery – it’s autumn, baby!
Now, Netflix’s “Bodies” is here (available from October 19), and it comes bearing the enticing promise that “it stars Stephen Graham.” Stephen Graham, undoubtedly one of our finest actors, with an impeccable track record in selecting projects. But, it’s important to note that Graham’s presence, at least in the initial episodes, is somewhat limited. He delivers his trademark stoic performance, holding back and breathing deeply while standing tall. What truly sets “Bodies” apart is the way it unfolds its murder procedural in four distinct timelines – 1890, 1941, 2023, and even gasp, 2053. Each era boasts a unique visual tone and features a different but equally outstanding lead performance. It’s like watching multiple gears interlock and move in harmony, satisfying that deep craving for a complex narrative.
Let’s begin in 2023: DS Shahara Hasan, portrayed by Amaka Okafor, is in pursuit of a teenage boy, leading her to an alleyway where she discovers a lifeless nude body marked with a mysterious tattoo and a gunshot wound to the eye. In 1941, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd’s Karl Whiteman grapples with police corruption amidst the backdrop of falling bombs, and he, too, encounters a nude body with a cryptic tattoo and a gunshot wound to the eye. Meanwhile, in 1890, Kyle Soller’s Edmond Hillinghead, the Victorian intellectual, stumbles upon a similar nude body adorned with a mysterious tattoo and shot through the eye. I’ll leave it to your imagination to ponder what Shira Haas’s Iris Maplewood is up to in 2053 (take a guess), but her intriguing haircut makes a statement. The body remains unclothed.
One of the great strengths of “Bodies” is that it’s a limited series, which gives me optimism. Often, Netflix series start strong but later pivot based on audience data and online chatter, as seen with the course-correction in “Sex Education” season four. “Bodies,” much like the earlier Netflix limited series “Maniac,” doesn’t labor under the pressure of leaving things open-ended in the hope of a second season. With eight episodes, it has a precise story to tell, based on Si Spencer’s graphic novel.
Adaptations of graphic novels often yield riveting television, offering fresh and unique perspectives. “Bodies” excels in this regard: its central characters are distinctly defined, not mere detective archetypes repeated four times; the visual aesthetics of each era are meticulously crafted (notably the futuristic 2053, which feels genuinely tangible); the interweaving of clues from one era to another flows seamlessly, and the entire ensemble cast is destined for greater recognition. There’s a lot to appreciate here.