We’ve said before that it’s hard to stand out in the world of foreign TV shows. In particular, British mysteries and thrillers are a dime a dozen. Picking a catchy title like Paranoid helps. A complex plot that spans borders and includes murder, corporate wrongdoing, and an unusual cast of characters helps too. While in this case, the title may not be a perfect match, we found Paranoid, the TV series, to be highly entertaining, even as it occasionally lapses into TV thriller cliches.
Paranoid opens with the seemingly random murder of a woman at a playground. Of course, it is not random, even though the case is solved in fairly short order to the satisfaction of DI Niles from the fictional town of Woodmere. Fortunately, the three detectives actually working the case are harder to convince than their boss. There is also a mystery helper – or is it the killer? – sending messages to the team. The case is reopened; the investigation continues as a series of connections broadens and complicates the hunt.
Our detectives are Nina Suresh (Indira Varma, recognizable from Game of Thrones), Bobby Day (Robert Glenister), and Alec Wayfield (Dino Fetscher). They each have issues that hold them back from being as successful as they could be. Some of this adds interest to the story, but, at times, it’s not quite believable. When they have to connect with the police in Germany as part of the investigation, the quirkiness continues, but in a good way.
There are several more characters central to the story: earth mother Lucy (Lesley Sharp from Scott & Bailey), a creepy psychiatrist (Michael Maloney), Alec’s mom (Polly Walker), and an amateur detective played by Kevin Doyle (Happy Valley and Downton Abbey). Each of them is hiding something or has a secret relevant to the case.
Between the cops, suspects, and witnesses it’s quite an odd lot.
The Paranoid TV show tries to establish a mood appropriate for its name. Outdoor scenes are often filmed from a distance, peering around vegetation. There are nighttime scenes with shadowy figures and, of course, cops that uphold the television tradition of going into deserted buildings unaccompanied, without calling for backup.
There is also levity in Paranoid. It works effectively, but makes us less, well, paranoid, despite the presence of a pharmaceutical company that may not have everyone’s best interest in mind.
Paranoid has eight episodes, 45 minutes each, on Netflix. Though we have found fault, overall it’s one of the better foreign TV shows we’ve seen lately. It was created and written by Bill Gallagher and produced by Red Production Company, the team behind Happy Valley and Scott & Bailey. It premiered on Britain’s ITV in September, 2016. The only question left is whether there will be a Paranoid season 2.
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Paranoid TV Series Trailer