Reviews

April 9, 2018

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Killing Eve”

 

KILLING EVE:  Sunday 8PM on BBCAmerica – DVR Alert

Transposing an artistic concern to a familiar pop culture genre can make the artist’s work much more accessible.  When John Krasinski made The Hollars, a sensitive story about a strained family, no one bought any tickets, but when he added monsters to the mix, the result was this weekend’s blockbuster A Quiet Place.  The same is true on TV:  Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Amazon series Fleabag, a progressively darker dramedy about a deeply troubled woman, is a dazzler but likely to appeal to a niche audience (her funny, very British sitcom Crashing, available on Netflix, is even more limited), and while the female characters in her new BBCAmerica series KILLING EVE are similarly complex, she’s made the leap to thrillers, surrounding her protagonists with glossy action-flick fun.

Based on a series of novels by Luke Jennings, Killing Eve has a time-tested framework, the one about the ruthless contract assassin and the dogged, rumpled detective on the killer’s trail.  Here, though, both the villain, who goes by the name Villanelle (Jodie Comer, the kidnapping victim on Thirteen), and the investigator Eve (Sandra Oh), are women.  In Waller-Bridge’s hands, there are plenty of murderous set-pieces, but also a pair of character studies about protagonists who are thrilled by the hunt.  Eve, in particular, has a comfortable but boring job as a glorified assistant in the British equivalent of the FBI, and she’s energized by being the only one to realize that the assassin they’re seeking is a woman, and then when MI6’s (female) representative (the great Fiona Shaw) recognizes her insight and brings her in on that unit’s investigation.

A cat-and-mouse tale will follow, and while we’ve all seen plenty of those (a recent high-quality one was Luther), Waller-Bridge has also made Killing Eve laugh out loud funny, largely stemming from Vilanelle and Eve’s inappropriate attitudes toward authority and violence.  Oh, in her first series role since Grey’s Anatomy, is a hugely likable audience stand-in, with a character who for all her heroism has some kinks of her own, and Comer is a fascinating socipath.  Director Harry Bradbeer capably delivers the genre sequences in the opening hour, including an excruciating killing at the victim’s anniversary party.

On BBCAmerica, of course, “hit” is a relative term (Orphan Black ran for years without ever becoming mainstream, even after winning a major Emmy), but Killing Eve has already been renewed for a second season, and it seems likely to win a new level of audience for its creator.  It’s a smart, enjoyable ride in a more luxury vehicle than Waller-Bridge has provided to date.

 

 



About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on screened.com and the-burg.com. In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."




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