Review by C.J. Bunce
You’ve probably seen the ads on your streaming platform and social media. We had too, so when Britbox announced a second season of The Bay we decided to give it a try. It’s a British police procedural, with a twist. Star Morven Christie (Death in Paradise, Doctor Who) plays detective Lisa Armstrong, a family liaison officer (“FLO”) with the Morcambe police. Morcambe is the eponymous Bay, a seaside town on England’s northwest coast, nearish to Manchester (setting of several great British crime dramas, like Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes, and Cracker), and while the show’s cinematography makes great use of picturesque vistas of the local scenery and landmarks, including some spectacular sunsets, the city doesn’t really feel like a character here. Instead, the focus of the series is families: DI Armstrong’s, and those affected by crime.
Make no mistake—it’s still a mystery. And like most British procedurals, each brief, six-episode season tracks one case. In Season One, teenage twins go missing after a night out at a youth club. In Season Two, a solicitor at a family law firm (in both senses of the word) is murdered at his father-in-law’s retirement party. As the gritty details of the cases unravel, so too, it seems, does DI Armstrong’s personal life. Her kids are living secret and dangerous double lives. An ex unexpectedly re-enters the picture. She can’t seem to decide how involved she wants her mom to be in her life. Oh, and she might have shagged a murder suspect in the first ten minutes of Episode One (and things only get wilder from there).
Slow pacing bogs down Season One, but gripping performances from all involved will keep viewers glued to the screen, especially as the web tightens around the suspects, and secrets spill out from every corner. Season Two picks up with more intrigue and an entirely new case, new secrets, and even more family drama, with a quicker pace and tighter writing. While Shetland’s Marc Bonnar was busy winning a Bafta for Unforgotten, keep an eye out for his co-stars John Cosmo and Steven Robertson playing father and son in Season Two.
It looks like Morven Christie won’t return for Season Three, which is set to begin filming this summer. Taking her place is fan favorite Marsha Thomason (White Collar’s Agent Diana Barrigan). But the Armstrong kids, Abbie (Imogen King) and Rob (Art Parkinson), are such a big part of the story, it will be interesting to see what direction the show takes with so many major cast members replaced. We’re especially hoping for a bigger role for Erin Shanaghan′s (The Five) DS Karen “Kaz” Hobson.
Recommended viewing, Seasons One and Two of The Bay are streaming now on Britbox, available via Amazon Prime.