Show name: The Missing
Release date: 2014, 2016
Genre: Detective/Crime Drama
Starring: James Nesbitt, Frances O’Connor, Keeley Hawes, David Morrissey
Script: Jack Williams, Harry Williams
The Missing is a British TV series that ran for two seasons and featured two distinct plots (one for each season) surrounding a missing child and the police investigation.
Season 1 starred Frances O’Connor and James Nesbitt as Emily and Tony Hughes. Their five-year-old son Olly goes missing during a holiday in France.
Years later, there is no suspect, no body and no closure. The action alternates between when Olly was taken and years later when new clues come to light.
Tony turns his back for mere moments while trying to get Olly something to drink after they finish swimming in a local pool.
When he turns back, the boy has disappeared completely.
The couple are assisted by a British family liaison officer Mark Walsh (Jason Flemyng of Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Layer Cake fame).
In the later years, the French detective Julien Baptiste (Tcheky Karyo) who helped the family is retired but he is still prepared to help Tony in his quest.
The initial police investigation focuses on a local paedophile, and almost the entire emphasis of the show is on the assumption that Olly was snatched by someone planning to abuse him.
Tony is determined not to give up and always believes that Olly is still alive. The part is played marvellously by James Nesbitt. I personally believed in Tony throughout, but he is one of those characters where viewers form strong opinions for or against.
Accordingly, season 1’s ending is ambiguous.
Given that the story is loosely based on the Madeleine McCann disappearance, it is possible that the writers wanted to focus on the uncertainty surrounding a very young child who has been missing for so long.
By comparison, season 2 has a definite resolution.
Season 2 features a different family and is set in Germany on and around a British army base. The first episode sees a young woman seek emergency treatment for a burst appendix. She identifies herself as Alice Webster, but she also mentions Sophie Giroux.
Both young women have been missing for a long period after being snatched by an unknown assailant.
Alice is reunited with her parents Sam and Gemma (David Morrissey and Keeley Hawes).
When Julien Baptiste meets the girl, he identifies her as Sophie not Alice. What is accepted is that the young women were held for many years by the same man and that they have come to know each other very well.
Several days after her return, Alice sets fire to the family shed and a dead body is found inside the charred remains. A DNA test comes back with a match to the Webster family.
Baptiste remains certain that the dead girl was actually Sophie, which brings suspicion home to roost at the army base. A local business man (Filip Peeters) has been arrested and Alice had identified him as her captor. However, Baptiste is unsure.
The resolution is surprising in some elements but credible. Like the case of Natascha Kampusch, on which the story is loosely based, the identity of her captor is established at the end.
Both seasons of The Missing were superb.
I loved seeing Frances O’Connor again. I haven’t seen Keeley Hawes and David Morrissey acting together since Our Mutual Friend back in 1998, so that was a real treat.
The ensemble cast, especially in season 2, were fantastic. And the glue that held it all together and never stopped believing that an answer would emerge was Baptiste, excellently portrayed by Tcheky Karyo.
The frequent use of multiple European languages and in season 2 Arabic made this a truly international piece of TV even though the predominant language was English. I loved it.
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