Hidden (UK - DVD R2)
Our Marcus watches the latest paint by numbers BBC TV drama to hit DVD...
It is a time of social unrest in modern day Britain. A man with little interest in the present political climate, Harry Venn (Philip Glenister) is a small-time solicitor with a brief criminal past he wants to forget. When Harry is approached for assistance by Gina Hawkes (Thekla Reuten), connections are made between Harry's past and Gina's case and Harry begins uncovering the hidden truth about what really happened all those years ago.
Despite the confident opening scenes of the first episode that throws us into a series of seemingly unrelated events, Hidden falls into pretty routine BBC drama territory pretty quickly. With a very familiar central role that Glenister seems to be on auto pilot for, there's nothing all that fresh about this new TV drama.
Hidden is full of elements we've all seem time and time again on British TV. Relatively well written dialogue that isn't delivered as sharply as it could be, characters with dramatic turmoil and family issues that feel run of the mill. Oh and that weird trait that UK TV suffers from, where the shows persist in having unconvincing fake news reports not so subtly trying to generate a sub plot that builds in importance as the episodes pass.
I'm probably in a minority but I'm not a big fan of the UK TV crime thriller. It's all just the same stepping stones. Any popular actor who makes it big (usually via an actual good show or a stronger than usual plot in a soap) is going to end up doing their own one off or mini series just like Hidden at some point. It's a good project to take a lead in and to make them a name outside of the show they were made popular in but this sort of stuff bores me and sadly these stepping stones for UK actors seem to bring in audiences so the chances of BBC dramas ever mixing it up a bit and developing projects that don't just serve up the same style of show over and over again seems slight.
As for Hidden specifically, the plot wasn't for me, mainly as it plays out pretty much as was expected with dodgy politics, shady media types and criminal pasts (yawn). Glenister is an okay guy in interviews and such and he has a great voice but his presence here isn't strong enough for my liking. I can feel the guy acting all the time, especially with his smart mouthed responses to other characters. As for everyone else supporting him, it's all pretty lifeless. In fact I zoned out for a while when Thelka Reuten came into the show as the hints at her mysterious boss were very much like 'The Economist' episode of Lost for a while and I took a lot of fun from that.
To be fair to Hidden, I'm a tough audience for it. It's rare a British TV show keeps hold of me long enough to stick around for further episodes, even if the lead actor sparks my interest. Watching four episodes of a show here was hard to stick to but nothing about it was bad. I'm simply not a BBC drama guy and Hidden hasn't turned me around.
There's nothing all that exciting here visuals wise as Hidden is a pretty typical looking BBC drama. It has a washed out appearance with strong blues and reds but a hazy look with a grainy feel to the real world locations. Close ups fare better and have that BBC HD look despite the standard definition presentation. The real killer here is that the lighting feels dull on this DVD. Occasionally it brings the image to life, especially in a few external scenes where it highlights the colour a bit more but it never really does much to lift itself out of the obvious TV looks and its small scale.
Night scenes look murkier and again not all that interesting. Blacks are nice and deep and the colouring of the scenes feel a little more stylish but there's not much else going for it. Details are flat, textures only hinted at and really this winds up being a pretty routine DVD presentation.
Well there's even less going on in this department. The stereo track is super simple. There's a slight ambience to most scenes but usually it's the straight forward combination of the mysterious or pace setting score and dialogue that thinks it's sharper than it is. There are a few thumpier moments and louder elements of dialogue but nothing too out of the norm so this makes for a pretty dull audio presentation.
All the extras are housed on discs two and by all, I mean a few small bits and pieces. The interviews with Philip Glenister (07:03), Thelka Reuten (08:47) and David Suchet (07:27) all go down the same route of bigging up the writing, the characters they play and the story, with Suchet the only one making it feel personal.
The director, Niall Maccormick talks about his career and his approach to this project in his interview segment (12:28) and then we get the 'Making of Hidden' (15:46) which is interviews, clips from the show as well as on set footage. All very straight forward really.
Hidden is a typical British drama. It has all the same beats, all the same character arcs and quirks and everything I find pretty uninspiring about British productions. There's nothing all that wrong with the slowly unravelling story or the actors going through the motions in it, but everything is oh so typical and for me the BBC need to start taking some more chances to make me at all interested in watching any of their future miniseries because Hidden just makes me feel like nothing changed since I stopped watching. The disc is underwhelming in both video and audio departments and the extras aren't all that thorough either.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 16th January 2012
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Stereo 2.0 English
Extras: Interviews, Making of
Easter Egg: No
Director: Niall Maccormick
Cast: Philip Glenister, Thelka Reuten, David Suchet
Genre: Drama and Mystery
Length: 240 minutes
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