The set-up in Paranoid is not an unfamiliar one: a team of coppers conduct an investigation into the relatively simple murder of a female GP. All the police stereotypes are present; there’s the firm commanding one, the sarcastic no-nonsense one, the sparky youthful one and the jittery suspicious one. The twist? The case might not be as simple as they first thought.
A children’s playground is the setting for the horrifying opening sequence in which an unremarkable hooded figure approaches a woman playing with her child. The figure stabs the woman brutally and continually in her son’s presence. Lesley Sharp’s unrelated character happens to be in the same park at the same time and so manages to remove the child quickly. She later helps Robert Glenister’s nervy detective with the finer details (a relationship that will no doubt flourish in the remaining seven episodes). Indira Varma plays the principal detective who spends less time furthering leads than she does furthering personal dramas. One such personal drama involves Dino Fetscher’s copper who could, despite his apparently junior role, be the one to solve the case. This all takes place against the backdrop of Glenister’s intense paranoia about the murder and its cause.
Paranoid gripped me from the start, lost me somewhere in the middle, and found me again towards the end. Excluding its abundance of crime drama clichés, it has a lot going for it in the way of plot. The characters, however, are so uninteresting that eight entire episodes might overwhelm the positive traits of the series. ITV has quite a mixed bag when it comes to procedurals of this sort; at the higher end there’s Broadchurch and The Secret, at the lower end Marcella and The Guilty. Paranoid, for me, falls somewhere in between.
Paranoid continues next Thursday (29/09/16) at 9pm on ITV.