New US drama Clarice is yet another of those occasions when a top-notch film suffers the indignity of a pretty pale television spin-off.
Based on the book The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris, this centres around FBI profiler Clarice Starling (Rebecca Breeds) in 1993, a year after the events of the famed crime tale. Whilst she worked with Hannibal Lecter in that crime, he was assisting her to track down serial killer ‘Buffalo Bill.’ Having managed to save only his last victim, Clarice still has pangs of regret.
But Attorney-General Ruth Martin (Jayne Atkinson) -who just happens to be the mother of said victim- summons her for another task: a new serial killer at work.
“You saved my little girl,” she is told. “It’s time you owned that reputation.”
But FBI boss Paul Krendler (Michael Cudlitz) isn’t ready to embrace the famed young agent just yet.
“Starling’s not quite 100%,” he tells his team. Misogyny is alive and well in the field, along with some pretty ordinary dialogue.
Later he will tell her, “You might genuinely flip out…. I’m protecting you, from yourself.”
Even Clarice gets some clunky lines: “This guy’s as cold as hell and he wants us to think he’s on fire,” she will reveal of their mystery killer.
The FX department have also been working overtime to impose annoying ‘dramatic’ sounds with every snapped photo. It had all the subtlety of the Cadbury gorilla on a drum kit. BAM!
The directing lacks genuine tension and the script needs more jeopardy for our heroine in what amounts as just another crime of the week inferior to Criminal Minds or The Blacklist. There’s also too much telling not enough showing as characters try to endow our lead with an ominous backstory.
This is despite Aussie Rebecca Breeds putting in a gallant performance for a role in the shadow of Jodie Foster (Julianne Moore also portrayed Clarice in Hannibal).
In episode two the action swings to a Waco-like crisis and a stand-off she will seek to resolve.
It’s a shame this has been diluted into a crime-of-the-week for network television. Streaming dramas lend themselves to long-form storytelling that explore the layers of character and how subplots can ricochet on their journey.
Clarice is plot driven and inadequate on that front.
Clarice begins Friday on Stan.