Here’s a good one: Alibi. Three fantastic actors, two of them playing very much against characters for which they’re so well known as to be typecast. A fairly quotidian case of marital infidelity takes an unexpected turn that turns into a web of lies, followed by a roller coaster of lies being caught, followed by other lies. The story is told in three episodes, without leaving an opening for a second series with these characters, which is kind of refreshing. (NB: The trailer up top makes the story seem more darkly criminal than it is. A guy is dead and his business partner tries to cover it up, no biggie for us Masterpiece Mystery mavens, we’ve seen worse.)
The actors are Michael Kitchen of Foyle’s War; Phyllis Logan, Downton Abbey’s Mrs. Hughes; and Sophie Okonedo, whose face transmits emotions, realizations, and impulses at the speed of light. Okonedo plays Marcey Burgess, one of the most original characters ever written, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing her half so well. Marcey has hypersensitive emotional intelligence; she also doesn’t behave quite normally. Her unpredictability is what makes the whole unlikely story—which is sordid, funny, sad, and riveting—possible at all.
It’s not a mystery. It’s not a police procedural. It’s not a romantic comedy, despite what the PBS synopsis claims. It’s not a lot of things. It’s just a whopper of a story, well told. It made me feel better about people, oddly. Things are not what they seem. We all contain multitudes. Connections are possible if we are open to them.
Alibi is a British production currently streaming on PBS Passport, and hopefully can be found elsewhere!