Director – Suri Krishnamma, Teleplay – Tom Needham, Producer – Ian White, Photography – Tony Coldwell, Music – Colin Towns, Special Effects Supervisor – Colin Gorry, Makeup Designer – Samantha Marshall, Production Design – Grant Montgomery. Production Company – Granada Television/ITV Productions
Jemma Redgrave (DI Eve Granger), John Hannah (Jake Osbourne), Steve John Shepherd (Lieutenant Howard Stubbs), Pauline Quirke (DCI Hazel Norton), Ace Bhatti (DCI Ajay Roychowdury), Bill Ward (Paul Attwell), Cyril Nri (Colonel Harrington Smith), Tony Slattery (Dr Callum Malloy), Andrew-Lee Potts (Jed Cooper), Jane Lowe (Mary Osbourne), Olwen May (Yvonne Weir)
Eve Granger, Ajay Roychowdury and Hazel Norton are sent to the Brentfield Barracks military training grounds to investigate after Corporal Mark Weir is killed by an explosive device in the middle of a field while on an outdoor exercise. They puzzle over what caused the explosion when no live ammunition was meant to be into use. In digging into Weir’s background, they find that he had told nobody that he was gay. While trying to piece together the fragments of Weir’s body, they find a woman’s body parts mixed with his and realize that a murdered body had been left buried in the middle of the field with an explosive device implanted in its mouth. Hazel insists that Eve bring Jake Osbourne in to offer advice, which Eve does reluctantly because of their strained relationship after the attack by Jake’s stalker. Eve is certain that the killer of the girl is one of the soldiers – self-assured ladies’ man Howard Stubbs, who claims that no woman ever turns him down. Solving the crime may involve her learning dark things that Jake prefers to keep hidden.
Dead and Buried was the fourth of the Cold Blood tv movies. The first two of these, both entitled simply Cold Blood (2005-6), featured Jemma Redgrave as a detective interrogating serial killer Matthew Kelly. The popularity of these led Granada/ITV to produce three follow-ups – Cold Blood: Interference (2007), followed by Cold Blood: Dead and Buried here and Cold Blood: The Last Hurrah (2007). All five stories are written by Tom Needham and feature Jemma Redgrave, John Hannah and Ace Bhatti.
The disappointment about Parts III-V is that they lacked the things that made Cold Blood‘s I and II so effective. In the original two Cold Blood films, Tom Needham more than effectively drew from the basics of The Silence of the Lambs (1991) with a female interrogator going to talk to a genius serial killer (Matthew Kelly) who develops an obsession and plays cruel psychological games with her. Disappointingly, Cold Blood‘s III and IV sideline the conversations with a serial killer and instead substitute other crime stories – the investigation into a wronged conviction in Interference, a death at a military training academy here in Dead and Buried, before finally bringing Matthew Kelly back to centre stage in The Last Hurrah. While these other stories have varying degrees of interest, there are a major comedown from the razor sharp psychological games that we had in the first two parts. They seem like works that have been spun out to coast by on the popularity of the first two films without replicating any of the things that worked so well – Matthew Kelly’s Brian Wicklow doesn’t even feature in Dead and Buried. In fact, by this point the Cold Blood series has become no more than a routine variant on any of a dozen other British tv detective dramas.
That said, even though it sidelines Matthew Kelly, Dead and Buried is the best of Cold Blood parts III-V. The film has an interesting set-up – a death at the academy caused by a mysterious explosion, the revelation that the dead officer was secretly gay, the discovery of a second female body buried beneath the area and left with an explosive device in her mouth. There is also the plot following John Hannah where we unexpectedly see the violence that he is supposed to have repudiated suddenly come out as he attacks a nurse aide he sees slapping his geriatric mother. That said, the story starts well but starts to lag by the middle and never holds one gripped through its twists and turns at least up until its last third. Again John Hannah’s Jake is used as an expert profiler but Tom Needham crucially never gives us insight into some of the deductions he makes. While Needham delivered well on Cold Blood‘s I and II, when it comes to these follow-ups he gives impression of their having been hastily put together to exploit the success of the originals without having taken the time to fine-tune the story.
Dead and Buried does pick up when it comes to the tension between Jemma Redgrave and lead suspect Steve John Shepherd. There is a fascinating ambiguity to the scenes where Jemma is attacked by muggers and he appears to save her, she takes him to hospital to have his wounds tended where it becomes apparent that he is trying to seduce her, something that is never communicated in words, only he standing close and looking at her or whispering in her ear, which she walks away from only for him to emerge moments later from the cubicle with the nurse’s number. The script also starts to peel the Jake/Eve relationship open and delve into her fears of confronting the horror that might be there, which Interference circled around in its better moments. Dead and Buried reaches an excellent climax where Steve John Shepherd stirs up his fellow soldiers who surround and push Jemma Redgrave into the men’s bathroom where they give the impression of wanting to gang rape her, just at the same time as she receives vital breakthrough information from John Hannah on her cellphone.