TV on DVD: “Identity”

Written by Television, TV on DVD

Scott Malchus reviews the DVD release of the short-lived British series, “Identity.”

Identity was a short lived British series that aired in the summer of 2010. On the surface, might be mistaken for a knock-off of one of the Bruckheimer shows that populate CBS, most obviously CSI and its offspring. Following an identity unit for the British police force and the many ways that use technology to track down the bad guys, whether they be identity thieves, murderers impersonating their victim or even people in witness relocation, Identity sounds like just another cop show. However, it has some excellent writing, led by series creator Ed Whitmore, and a great cast, including Keely Hawes (Ashes to Ashes, Upstairs, Downstairs), Aidan Gillen (The Wire, Game of Thrones) and Shaun Parkes.

Hawes plays Superintendent Martha Lawson, the head of a special identity theft task force whose profile is rather large in the press and amongst the police force. Her boss still questions whether creating the identity unit was a good idea and Lawson is constantly trying to prove that her group of cops is one essential to fighting crim in the 21st Century. Her team consists of Tessa (Holly Aird), the resident computer expert; DC Rodriguez (Elyes Gabel), a street smart cop; and the cocky and straight laced DC Waering (Parkes). Waering cares deeply about Martha and the team and will not stand for rogue behavior threatening the survival of the unit.

Waering’s has reason to be concerned because Lawson has brought it DI John Bloom (Gillen), who’s spent the previous fifteen years working undercover. Bloom is the epitome of a wildcard. He comes to work whenever he pleases, is quick to dismiss the input of his fellow officers, and clearly has some withdrawal issues stemming from his most recent assignment. Waering doesn’t trust Bloom at all. Meanwhile, Lawson is constantly worried that she made a huge mistake bringing him aboard.

While the team works cases that involve some relatively standard cop show plots, it’s Bloom’s story arc that makes the show compelling television and definitely worth your time checking out on DVD. During the final minutes of the first episode, we learn that Bloom had infiltrated the Turkish mob. Although he’d completed his assignment, he hasn’t cut ties to that world because he is in love with the mob boss’ sister. Thus, Bloom keeps returning to his identity as a Dublin money launderer in order to see her. As hard as he tries to run away, Bloom keeps getting pulled into criminal underworld. As much as Identity is about the crime of identity theft, the show is also about Bloom’s tortured soul and his attempt to figure out who he is and how he can survive without his two lives colliding.

The first few episodes of Identity were compelling, with superb acting by Gillen and Parkes. These two seemed destine to face off the minute you meet them. Hawes once again makes a fine police hero, as she did is Ashes to Ashes. Luckily, she gets to wear better clothes this time around. The final three episodes have great thrills and plenty of tension; it makes you wish the show hadn’t been cancelled after just six episodes. ABC is developing an American version of the show. One can only hope that they draw from the richly drawn characters of the original.

The DVD release by Acorn Video has very limited bonus features, just cast bios and text interviews with the three leads. It’s a bit of a letdown, but beggars can’t be choosers. I’m just happy to have been introduced to this series.