When ITV get it right, they get it so right with their crime drama. As we've seen with the phenomenon that was 'Broadchurch' earlier in the year, so with the far more compact, but no less gripping 'The Guilty', whose first episode aired last night.
Similarities are present between the two series, to be sure. It's about the loss of a small child, and the effect of that on the surrounding community. It has the same high production values - the same company behind both, even though this one was actually commissioned before 'Broadchurch' went to air.
Darren Boyd and Katherine Kelly are the parents of little Callum, whose disappearance changed everything
'The Guilty' stands alone, though, with at least three aspects that made it extremely enjoyable and striking in its own right.
The story is shared between two time lines, 2008 when five-year-old Callum went missing from a community BBQ, and 2013, when his body is finally found very near his home. These flashbacks make us fully invest in the character of Callum, and feel his loss in real terms, not abstract. It's heartbreaking watching him carefully climb on the kitchen counter in his bright scarlet wellies, knowing what is to come.
The community is an extremely tightknit one, sharing a foliaged, suburban close, normally reserved for Neighbours or sitcoms, but here claustrophobic and full of simmering tension, even with all the jollity of the idyllic-looking party where everything started to go wrong five years ago.
And while 'Broadchurch' had its own comedienne turned serious actress in Olivia Colman, here we have Tamsin Greig, full of family love, but fear and clipped determination too, as she struggles with the joint efforts of looking after her own son, born the same time as Callum's disappearance, and going back into a case she had to let go.
Tamsin Greig is a haunted DCI Maggie Brand, tasked with raking over the coals of an old case
And the final bonus - we won't have to wait eight long weeks to find out who done it, only three this time.
'The Guilty' continues on ITV next Thursday at 9pm, Episode 1 now on ITV Player. Pictures below...
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