Murder on the Homefront Series 1 Episode 1 (ITV) Review

British crime dramas seem to be getting shorter and shorter, with ITV’s newest, Murder on the Homefront, coming in at just two hours. The first was shown last night, and proved itself a perfectly passable distraction that may have done rather well had it been blessed with six or so weeks to tell its story. As it stands, this is the setup to next week’s resolution, and the mystery is nicely intriguing.

Based on the memoirs of real-life assistant to famed pathologist Keith Simpson, Molly Lefebure, we’re introduced to brilliant pathologist Dr Lennox Collins (Patrick Kennedy) and plucky journalist-turned-assistant Molly Cooper as they begin to investigate a string of gruesome murders in London during the Blitz. Three women have been strangled and each is found to have a Swastika etched into their tongue. A loner of German descent is implicated (framed?) and eventually arrested, but further evidence uncovered by Collins suggests that he wasn’t to blame after all.

Wartime period dramas are often too preoccupied with the clichés of the genre to actually tell a good story, but Murder on the Homefront manages to get both right for the most part. The costumes and period detail are second to none, and probably the highlight of the hour, but the story manages to fight its way to our attention despite all the sumptuous visuals there are to feast upon. Crime fans will also appreciate a look into early forensics and DNA profiling, with all of the believers and doubters that come with such brave new methods.

The two leads both impress in this first installment, even if some of the guest stars are less than stellar, and the Sherlock Holmes comparisons will surely not hurt Patrick Kennedy’s career after next week’s finale. I enjoyed this first hour so much that I’m a little disappointed there isn’t more to look forward to, but it’s still worth a look if you’re after some gritty, well thought out drama without the big commitment of a long series.

What did you think of the episode? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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