WAKING THE DEAD

Starring: Trevor Eve, Sue Johnston, Holly Aird, Claire Goose, Wil Johnson

Format: BBCAmerica (cable TV) - 2-hour (movie) format **Check program listings (or website) for air dates/times.

Genre: Mystery/drama

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

Cold case files. The idea of re-opening an unsolved murder case years after the crime was committed appeals to many viewers. Nowadays, we hear about such cases almost weekly, if not more often, on our evening news broadcasts. On U.S. television there are several popular fictional programs offering the latest in forensic evidence and criminal investigations. There are also several "real" or non-fiction TV shows offering actual cases. And of course, on the Discovery channels we get all kinds of insights into cold cases and solutions to the mystery of murder even back to the days of the Egyptian Pharaohs, the Romans, and beyond. We're way past the Quincy, M.E. television series now...

Waking the Dead is the British entry into this fascinating sub-genre. To my mind, it's one of the best on the tube. Waking the Dead brings together a team of investigators, each having their own specialty, which usually enhances the investigation but can, on occasion, cause tension between the staff and add to the difficulty in solving the case. Psychological profiling, police work, and forensics combine to root out the tiniest detail or clue that will lead to the arrest of a perpetrator or to the solution of the crime.

Murderers, mobsters, cover-ups at the highest government level, serial killers, all come to the attention of the Cold Case Squad. Detective Chief Inspector Peter Boyd (Trevor Eve) is in charge of the squad and often at odds with his superiors over how to run the investigation. Dr. Grace Foley (Sue Johnston) is the psychological profiler, Dr. Frankie Wharton (Holly Aird) the forensic expert. Mel Silver (Claire Goose) and Spencer Jordan (Wil Johnson) are the two police detectives assigned to the squad.

So far, two series have been shown on BBCAmerica. For those of you unfamiliar with British television, a "season" or "series" as they call it, lasts for only 6-8 episodes, not the traditional 13-24 episodes filmed in U. S. television programs. So don't expect the "series" to last for a long time. You'll get somewhere between four and six episodes, if you're lucky. But the time and money spent to produce those fewer episodes is well worth the effort once you see the final product.

If you check the website for BBCAmerica, you can locate the section devoted to the Waking the Dead series. Now might be a good time to watch the re-runs in preparation for the new season that will be starting soon. As with the other popular BBCAmerica mysteries you can find out more about the characters, the schedule of shows, the discussion forums, and episode guides on the website devoted to each series.

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