Reviewed By: thisoldcan
Review Date: 1/31/17 1:03 pm
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The opening story of Graceless, Series 04 opens with a man (Adam Newington) coming to visit a sleepy little village on the brink of destruction. Looking for two mysterious women of legend, Abby and Zara, instead the man finds two older women who seem to know more than they're letting on. Long ago, Abby and Zara saved the world; now it may be time for them to save it again. The opening story of this set is a surprisingly strong opener; playing off the strengths of stars Annie Firbank and, in particular, Siân Phillips, with an enjoyable script from Guerrier, The Bomb works well as an opening, even if it is a bit safe at times.
Starting off as I usually do, the Graceless Sisters are back... sort of. Annie Firbank, playing Amy (Abby) is delightful here. I quite liked the one-liners that Guerrier gave to her character, and I thought Firbank sounded like she was having a delightful time throughout the entire story. But Siân Phillips is the real star here, mostly due to her getting the most screentime of the two special guest stars. But Phillips is really a delight here; she brings a sort of quiet, almost tortured aspect to the character that fits in extremely well with the character. But then she can turn on a dime, and make a joke that will leave you in stitches. It's a delightful performance, and it's my personal favorite performance thus far.
The other two members of this cast were Hugh Ross as Dodyk, the general leading the evacuation of the area from its impending destruction, and Adam Newington as Pool, the man who comes searching for Abby and Zara. Ross is a very distinctive actor, and is usually a delight in everything he was in; yet here, he didn't really stand out too much. It was most likely because of his smaller role (he was really only in the latter half of the story), or maybe because of the strong actors he was working with, but he didn't quite stand out for me. There was nothing particularly wrong with his performance; just nothing of note. Newington started off similarly, almost as a foil to Ross' character (occupying the first half), and almost didn't stand out. But his final scene, confronting Dodyk at the hospital is a wonderful little scene, and genuinely surprised me. Newington did a great job blending in with the scenery here, which made his reveal as a similar being to Abby and Zara at the end all the more surprising.
Guerrier's script was rather strong, if a bit too safe at times. I quite liked the plot of the impending nuclear explosion, as it obviously draws parallels with previous Graceless box sets. It was an interesting story, and one I didn't really find dragging at any point. The opening scenes with Amy's "illness" are a strong point for the opening, and the scenes towards the end as Amy and Joy try to save the world from nuclear destruction are also excellent, with Firbank and Phillips bringing Guerrier's script to life here. However, I did feel that the ending played out a bit too safe; I had no doubts that Janson and Doddington would be back by the end of the first story, in some way, shape, or form, but I was hoping for something a bit more inspired than the deus ex machina that we got. It was an ever so slight disappointment, and it made for a bit of a messy ending.
But overall, I did quite enjoy the opening story. Annie Firbank and, in particular, Siân Phillips delivered two strong performances, and Guerrier's script, barring the ending, was a perfectly enjoyable affair. I was skeptical when the set was first announced that Annie Firbank and Siân Phillips wouldn't be able to replace Ciara Janson and Laura Doddington, but now that I've heard them, I want more from them.