I was lucky enough to get a quick freelance gig with BAFTA Cymru to help out with a preview of Episode One of the BBC’s new horror drama Requiem. In addition to the advanced screening of the first episode I was also treated to a Q&A session with the head writer, director, producers, and star of the show. One of the main points that I took away from the session after the screening was that, in addition to this being a female lead drama, about 80% of the crew (Including director and main producers) were female. A wonderful revelation after what was a very good opening to a limited series.
I’m not going to spoil the plot because, for this show to have a maximum impact, I believe going into it almost blind helps it immeasurably. I did not know what was going to happen and I think my enjoyment was much bigger because of it.
Episode One of the series is a slow build, but for good reason. This is setting up a creepy world that draws the viewer in with the atmosphere created in the sleepy Welsh town, the location where the latter half of the episode takes place. If it went in with guns blazing from the very start then the drama would be lessoned considerably. By taking its time it also allows for the characters motivations and reactions to certain events to seem a lot more realistic. Despite the somewhat supernatural elements throughout I did not question a single characters choices, they did everything I would have done in the situation.
Even with this methodical time taking the hour long episode does not drag in any way, either through timing or plot, in fact we are treated to quite a major revelation within the episode that is bound to impact the series as a whole.
However this is not a perfect show. Conforming to the standard horror tropes the episode begins with an inciting incident that goes on to explain a plot point later on, I felt that it was unneeded at such an early stage. The opening minutes feel more like an episode of Doctor Who with its ‘monster of the week’ philosophy than the starting of a new supernatural drama. Also the inclusion of this event leads to the introduction of a character who feels rather out of place, I understand why he was included but it was rather jarring when compared to the rest of the show. Also certain plot elements could be seen coming a mile off, especially the big revelation that we are treated to in the episode. I’m just happy that it wasn’t dragged throughout the series but still, for it to be revealed as the cliffhanger to the episode left me going “Well, wasn’t that obviously the case?”.
As a reaction to the ongoing debate between Live Television and Streamed Content, the first episode of Requiem is going to be shown on the BBC, with the rest of the series appearing on the iPlayer the second it is over. Whether this is a good idea or not I will leave up to another article, but at least it means I will get to binge the rest of the show over the weekend.
During the aforementioned Q&A session, the writer stated that this is a standalone series. Despite there being small plot points that he could later expand what is being released is a single complete entity. Something I am rather pleased about. The BBC, and especially BBC Wales, have been producing some wonderful content over the last few years and I think this is going to be no different.