TV Series Review: SAFE – Netflix
The Netflix drama/thriller ‘Safe’ popped up on Netflix in mid May as part of a co-production between Netflix and the French network Canal+.
*Please note, this review is mostly spoiler free although does discuss the main premise for the show – for the best experience I recommend watching Safe before reading this review, with no idea of what happens, as it is a show that is so much better when you don’t know what is going to come – if you’re wondering if it’s worth watching, read no more and WATCH, because it is!*
Although there is a French network’s involvement, the show feels inherently like a British TV drama set in England. At the time of watching I wasn’t aware of Canal+’s involvement in the production, and so the inclusion of a French character (Audrey Fleurot) seems almost a given in retrospect. The best part is that she doesn’t feel shoehorned in by the network, she has a purpose and it completely makes sense why a French character would be on this show.
Safe is a show about a gated community living together, all with their own secrets to bear, some more shocking and devastating than others. The series explores these households and their secrets together with multiple high adrenaline over arching mysteries. Although there are only 8 episodes, you really do feel like you get to know these characters very well.
I decided to watch Safe due to the inclusion of the brilliant Michael C Hall playing the lead character Tom Delaney, as well as being part of the Executive Production team. You may know Michael C Hall from other stellar shows such as Six Feet Under or the absolute must see classic – Dexter.
Here Michael plays a father whose family has been torn apart by events preceding the show, which leads up to the events of episode 1 where his character Tom is thrown in to searching for his teenage daughter who vanishes from a party with no answers given as to why.
Michael plays Tom with an English accent which was almost an insult to my ears, not because he is bad at it, but because I am so used to hearing him in his natural American accent! Michael pulls of the English accent well, although I feel like he was still finding the right tone during filming for the first episode.
Throughout the series, Michael plays Tom magnificently, reacting as any father would whilst searching for his missing daughter, as the stakes get higher with each episode and the danger, twists and turns increase.
It is this build and weaving of the story that makes Safe absolutely must see television.
The danger playing a character like this is the possibility of overacting the emotion, but Michael plays Tom with just the right level of emotion for it not to become pantomime. Michael C Hall remains one of my all time favourite actors and he deserves more credit for his performances.
I watched the first episode with absolutely no idea what the story was, I had no idea it was about finding a missing daughter. Because of that, I found the first half of the episode a little slow, however once things kicked off I was gripped. Every episode has bombshells which leave you wanting more and they mostly end with jaw dropping, binge-worthy cliffhangers teasing you with the next episode.
The show builds its momentum over the series and the final episode payoff reveals are definitely worth the wait over its 8 episode run. It’s a true mystery show that gives you enough information to form your own theories from episode 1, then turns all the ideas you had on its head without ever feeling like you’ve been cheated. The clues are all there if you’re paying attention.
Harlan Coben, the creator of Safe, does a marvelous job of creating characters and dynamics that make you genuinely suspect that every character could be involved in the shows larger mysteries. I applaud him for this, because he has managed to take viewers on an active journey through the show and has encouraged thought, when some mystery shows can end up being a little passive.
Notable standout performances and characters come from Tom’s best friend played by Marc Warren (Hustle) and Tom’s (sort-of) girlfriend played by the glorious Amanda Abbington (Sherlock, Mr Selfridge).
I need to make special mention to Nigel Lindsay (Four Lions) who plays an extremely layered character, JoJo Marshall, with absolute perfection. JoJo is a bit of a hapless character trying his best but making all the worst mistakes and Nigel is able to play his very questionable deeds with top comic timing and expression to the point it was always a joy to see him on-screen.
The show has comparisons to Sky Atlantic’s recent drama ‘Save Me’, who also has a child go missing. Save Me was far more gritty than Safe, however the story, mysteries, characters and weaving of the plot make Safe a very good show and well worth spending 8 episodes worth of your time on.
The bottom line – Safe is easily one of the best shows to appear on Netflix in recent times. If you’re a fan of thrillers, watch it, right now!
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