Monday, 6 January 2014

"My turn to Google..." - Whither The Last Witch?

I realized recently that I've done several posts about upcoming and interesting tv shows /movies but not many reviews or follow-ups. In some cases it's because I wasn't able to watch the show, in other cases...I guess I just like teasers. And cliff hangers.

Speaking of cliff hangers remember my post about The Last Witch? Well, I did manage to see that one. And it was really promising! From the creepy credits and disjointed barely seen montage flashbacks to the well written (Sally Wainwright) and engaging characters there was lots to like. Only one problem. There's only the one episode...and it ends on a huge cliffhanger!

The story is essentially about a rivalry between two sisters. There are hints throughout the show that the bad feelings between the two have something to do with a man...who may have been hanged in the woods. These two sisters, Anne (Katherine Kelly) and Jane Lister, of Shibden Hall, were born in the 15th C but through the magic of witchcraft they've met up again in our time.

Both sisters are, of course, witches. Anne has been cursed by the more powerful Jane to walk the Earth forever murdering any man she falls in love with. Jane manages her return to the living when her bones are disturbed during some local spelunking down an old mine.

The man unlucky enough to touch those bones ends up being the first to host Jane's spirit. From him she transits through to a crow, a dog, and then to the charming elderly lady, Matilda, who Anne has found sanctuary with. However, Jane's final destination ends up being the body of Kate Greenwood (Maimie McCoy), a young but comatose, Mom, wife and journalist. One look at her resurrected mother though and Kate's little girl knows "That's not my mummy." And with that the stage is set for the sisters' confrontation...and the episode ends.

There was loads of atmosphere and quirky ideas here that made me anxious to see more. I loved how Anne's magic entailed writing spells on her wrist and then pressing these spells to the skin of those she means to bewitch. And how Jane, while inhabiting Matilda (Anne Reid), discovers the 21st C magic of computers and Google.

Sure there were some plot holes and discrepancies -- like why is Jane's speech so contemporary instead of like Shakespeare or Chaucer? -- or why she sometimes needs a stolen dagger to move from body to body and sometimes not --  but there's just so much potential here that it doesn't matter.

The Last Witch is thoroughly gripping stuff, with outstanding performances from all involved. Particularly enjoyable is the interplay between an achingly vulnerable Kelly and Reid at her most sinister and magisterial, which is pure heaven to watch. (- It's on the telly, Stupid).

And, get this, Shibden Hall is a real place with it's own strange history! This I discovered when I did my own googling. But my googling also uncovered that, according to the Radiotimes, this was a one off - part of something called Drama Matters.

Are you kidding me? NO! Can't be true!

So I waited. And today, despite more furious googling, I have yet to discover whether there will be any more episodes of The Last Witch.

And so, here again, I've left you dangling from a cliff. Only this time, I'm right there with you.