Still catching up on Liar series 2 episode 4? Read our review of episode 3 here.
Before the current Golden Age of Television, most TV dramas – especially those from the US – would clock in an average of 22 episodes per series (or ‘season’). Teams of writers would put their thinking caps on, put their heads together and come up with the best part of a full day’s worth of programming for every run.
These days we’re much more used to shorter efforts. Premium American imports generally clock up between 10 and 12 episodes per series, while we usually stick to around six. This leaner approach seems to have driven, or at least coincided with, a noticeable increase in quality. When it comes to television drama, bigger isn’t always better. Consumers tend to prefer quality to quantity.
The six episodes and 270-ish minutes of Liar series 1 told a very intriguing story very well. It was dramatic, effective, fresh and kept on track. Liar series 2, unfortunately, seems to have lost its way a little. The first series was a six-episode story told over six episodes. Its follow-up, unfortunately, feels slightly more like a two-parter stretched over a month and a half.
We’re past the halfway stage now and it could be said that the ITV whodunit is treading water somewhat. This fourth part did little to advance the plot and may well have left a chunk of its audience frustrated because of it. Episode 4 was less interested in finding out who killed Dr Andrew Earlham and much more concerned with the back stories of its two lead characters. If this were a Marvel movie, it’d be an Origins story.
The pasts of Andrew (Ioan Gruffudd) and Laura (Joanne Froggatt) were almost entirely the focus here. While it’s nice to round out characters’ backgrounds and flesh them out as people, it’s only really useful if it ties into the plot and pushes things forward.
With Earlham’s origin story we find out what made him a monster – or at least partly. We discover how he learned his sick ‘trade’. He had inspiration… Ollie, played by Sam Spruell. Before his days as a rapist, Earlham discovered that his pal Ollie had sexually assaulted his colleague Dillain and got away with it. His psychotic side soon emerged and he began blackmailing his ‘friend’. Soon, he would begin targeting women himself.
We also discovered much more about Laura. Those of you with good memories will recall how ill her father was in the debut series. And those more observant of you will have spotted that he doesn’t appear in this second series. What happened in between? Well, the answer – in short – was euthanasia. The question we were asked to pose ourselves was seemingly this… if Laura can face giving a lethal injection to the man she loved most in the world, could she also kill the man she hated most in it?
Your thoughts on this fourth instalment of Liar will be based almost entirely on your love for it. Superfans will no doubt have enjoyed the sharp focus on the central characters’ backgrounds. More casual viewers are likely to have found the thing a little stagnant.
Either way, next week is sure to see a ramping back up of the plot and the investigation. Could Joanna really be guilty here? Or was she, as seems increasingly likely, framed for the thing? If it’s the latter, she’s going to have to explain to Katherine Kelly’s DI Renton – missing here in this fourth part – how her necklace made it into that shipping container…
Did you tune in for Liar series 2 episode 4? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…