With a Bodyguard-shaped void in our Sunday night television schedules, BBC One’s The Cry had rather big shoes to fill.
Jenna Coleman stars in a chilling, plot-twisting drama about a new mother, whose world collapses after the disappearance of her baby.
Repeating the success of the Jed Mercurio drama that got the nation talking was always going to be a tall order, but with an audience of 5.7 million according to initial overnight figures, it hasn’t fallen far short of Bodyguard’s opening gambit of 6.7 million.
So what did the critics make of the BBC’s latest offering?
Many praised the drama for its unflinching, unromanticised look at new motherhood.
The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan, giving the drama four stars, wrote: “All the post-partum pain points are hit: the claustrophobic desperation caused by a screaming baby; the supportive partner who nevertheless manages to sleep through all of the worst bits; the best but child-free friend with whom you suddenly have nothing in common… it’s all beautifully, brutally done.”
Carol Midgley, writing in The Times, also gave the thriller four stars and called it “a very stressful watch – but Jenna Coleman is superb and this drama is exquisitely done.
“Subtle, nuanced, a psychological thriller that built suspense while tapping in to the worst parental nightmare.”
The programme skilfully casts suspicion on to all of its main characters – the new mum suffering from postnatal depression, Joanna (Coleman), with her mid-flight outburst and mysterious medicinal tonics; father Alistair (Ewen Leslie) – a smug and patronising, earplug-wearing government spin doctor, who likes to “get away” with things; the resentful and embattled ex, Alexandra (Asher Keddie), fighting her own demons with alcoholism and a pricey custody battle – and then there’s Alistair and Alexandra’s teenage daughter, Chloe, who doesn’t want to live in Scotland and has been hitting her teachers.
As Mangan wrote, “the first of many seeds of ambiguity [are] sown”.
Following the disappearance of baby Noah, Midgley says future episodes hold the promise of taking the plot into the interesting territory of the media circus, surrounding the parents of missing children: “There were terrible echoes of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance: the laser-like judgment of the agonised parents, the scrutiny of Kate McCann’s face and mothering skills.”
Louisa Mellor at Den of Geek, wrote that the child-abduction aspect of the thriller “doesn’t feel like the main point.
“Moreover, it’s an exploration of taboos that questions the expectations placed on new mothers, a challenge to inequalities in the division of childcare that so often pass unchallenged, and a prompt to think about the many ways in which women are forced to stand trial without even coming near a courthouse.”
Some critics, however, were less keen on the show’s timeline – riddled with more flash-forwards and flashbacks than Coleman likely encountered in her Doctor Who days.
Eleanor Bley Griffiths, writing in the Radio Times, called it “infuriatingly disjointed”.
“It jolts you out of the drama and makes it really hard to connect with the characters, because every time we are finally getting into a scene we are suddenly taken on a trip across time and space.”
Similarly many people watching took to Twitter to complain about the fragmented nature of the drama.
The Independent‘s Alexandra Pollard also gave four stars to the three-parter, and wrote: “The abduction – told through a flashback/forward structure that is sometimes effective, sometimes confusing – is compelling enough fare.”
But the standout for her is Coleman’s performance: “She is brilliant as a woman quietly unravelling, disassociating, begging her bawling baby to ‘please stop, please stop’. It is thanks to her that The Cry is such bruising, engaging viewing.”
The Cry continues on BBC One on Sunday at 21:00 BST.
Source BBC News