Multiple timelines. Dead children. A small town with secrets. ITV’s latest whodunit is rather jumping on its own bandwagon. ‘Broadchurch’ comparisons are as inevitable as they are unfair, although ‘The Guilty’ does feature a predominantly comedic actress (Tamsin Greig) ‘doing an Olivia Colman’ as the investigating officer.
Still, it’s a reasonably intriguing opener which could yet blossom into something special in its next two episodes. The focus is four-year-old Callum, who goes missing on a bank holiday weekend and whose body is only discovered five years later, only yards from where he disappeared. Both periods are intercut, sometimes a little clumsily (2008: sun-dappled, hazy; 2013: grey, bleak), as we perceive the troubles and tensions bubbling beneath the suburban bonhomie.
Darren Boyd and Katherine Kelly are superb as the loved-up/grieving parents, and there’s a certain grimy appeal to digging below the surface of a middle-class paradise. But there’s also the feeling that we’ve been here many, many times before.