Safe (Netflix, 2018)

2 out of 5

Created by: Harlan Coben

And here in the Coben-verse, where childhood friends who were part of the kind of nickname-laden troupes that I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anywhere aside from books and movies tend to reconvene in locations haunted by the past and “discover” “secrets” that they actually all knew except for our point of view character who was innocent but not wholly innocent because affairs and something something adults don’t trust kids, doctor Tom Delaney (Michael C. Hall) is raising his two daughters and missing his cancer-taken wife, grousing off guilt that involves something his gay friend Pete (Marc Warren) and cop friend Sophie (Amanda Abbington) may or may not know about, but got dammit none of this matters because now his eldest daughter has gone missing and every single person withholds a crucial *cough red herring* detail that makes them suspect numero uno, if only these damned cops – including upstart detective Emma Castle (Hannah Arterton), who un-fucking-doubtedly has a secret agenda, hinted at by over-the-shoulder camera angles when she’s spying on random people – if only the police would do their job, Tom wouldn’t have to keep inserting himself into the investigation with convenient and over-used cellphone trackers and flash-my-doctor-badge-to-lookit-these-files fidgerteridoo!

Series’ main contributing writer Danny Brocklehurst, familiar with the Coben-verse, knows how to juggle characters and drop episode-ending hints like a binge-TV-encouraging motherfucker, with TV drama / mystery-lite chops up the wazoo besides, and our trio of directors (Daniel Nettheim, Julia Ford, Daniel O’Hara) keep our game cast and vignettes on target, no moment allowed to over-indulge in too much drama or danger, because we know that’s not the forte, here: it’s momentum.

And it works.  Safe is well acted, well paced, and smartly directed, in that it knows its place as a popcorn thriller and doesn’t pull any too obvious “hidden in shadows” nonsense, rolling out its reveals in due time with Tom’s investigation.  Of course, it’s not good or necessarily convincing when you stop to think about it, and there certainly wasn’t a moment of immersion where skipping to episode eight to hear it all ‘splained would have ruined my day, so let the rating reflect that: the series’ title is fitting in how it plays things, lacking that extra nudge some shows get where they delve deeper into an emotion or concept.

Oh, fitting except in its actual intention, to highlight the non-‘safe’ness of a gated community, which really has fuck-all to do with the plot.  Momentum!