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Temple (Mark Strong/Daniel Mays) - First episode review

Temple

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

THERE’S stretching credibility and then there’s Temple, Sky One’s new Friday night drama starring Mark Strong.

A remake of Valkyrien, a 2017 Norwegian series that Strong admired so much that he was moved to turn producer to bring it to UK screens, the first episode zipped along on a tidal wave of absurdity.

Yet while the presence of Strong, Daniel Mays and Carice van Houten undoubtedly leant it acting pedigree, thus far the story fails to grip no matter how much is being thrown at it.

The premise finds Strong playing grieving surgeon Daniel Milton, who has set up an underground surgery beneath Temple Tube Station to offer respite and care for those who don’t want to use the NHS.

Milton has done this in response to the death of his wife (Catherine McCormack), so that he can continue her work on finding a cure for the disease that ultimately took her.

But he hasn’t reckoned on best friend Lee (Mays) using his skills to save the life of another friend: a getaway driver named Jamie (Tobi King Bakare), who has been shot by police while driving off with £2 million in cash.

By the end of the opener, Milton and Lee had a dilemma: whether to use the cash to further their venture despite the ramifications of doing so.

And that’s not counting the last scene ‘twist’, which revealed that Milton’s wife wasn’t dead after all, but on life support at Temple.

Playwright Mark O’Rowe certainly packs plenty of intrigue into the script for Temple, also nodding to an affair that Milton had with family friend and fellow medical colleague Anna (van Houten), but there’s nothing he can do to compensate for the gaping lapses in logic that cripple proceedings.

Questions abound: why quibble about keeping stolen cash when everything in Temple has been stolen? Just how did Milton and Lee smuggle everything down below unseen? And in a CCTV heavy city such as London, how can they keep coming and going as they please?

How, too, does Milton plan to explain his wife’s return to friends and family (including his daughter) if he can save her?

At this point, such questions are too diverting, especially as the emotional element has thus far underwhelmed. There’s no sense of loss from the principals, and no real feeling of love. Luke Snellin’s direction, while pacy, is too interested in setting up the next twist or outrageous scenario to let the drama settle. His tone is all over the place: blackly comic (but not that funny) in the present, supposedly complex and compassionate in the past. But there’s no sense of tragedy and no real peril as yet.

The main players are too thinly sketched and, so far, not that easy to care about.

Strong lends it class, while Mays is content to opt for loud and comic. They work overtime to keep things watchable.

But unless improvements fall into place soon, Temple could quickly derail itself by placing violent absurdity over emotional complexity. It’s trash TV on life support of its own.

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