“This schtick can work, but it needs a lot of charm to compensate for the absence of glamour.”


The Outlaws, BBC1

“Even Christopher Walken’s roguish fresh-out-of-prison grandad Frank was strangely two-dimensional and not nearly as charismatic (or believable) as he could have been. Some of the jokes seemed strangely childlike too. Tomlinson’s character was handed a “hoe” and thought she was being insulted. The daftness also clanged the dramatic registers with a parallel county lines drug story and it was hard to imagine what kind of show we were meant to be watching. It promised much, but could have done with a lot more script weeding.”
Ben Dowell, The Times

“Merchant plays up to our expectations, only to ever so gently tug at the carpet beneath them. I watched ahead, and after working to establish itself in this opening episode, it settles in quickly. Its early moments may feel like broad brushstrokes, but Merchant has a knack for humanising his characters, no matter how crass they seem on the surface, and he hints at a deeper pain and embarrassment that gives this more heart and warmth than first appears.”
Rebecca Nicholson, The Guardian 

“The others ­– Walken aside – are dull, with poor Myrna only present so she can act as a woke counterpoint to John’s diatribes about transgender vegans. For every good line, there’s one to make you wince because it feels out of place, as when Walken tells his supervisor: “We’re working, boss, harder than a prostitute with two mattresses.” And a child being coaxed to refer to her grandfather as “a lying, thieving, selfish old bastard” just isn’t as funny as the writers think it is. But this show’s heart is in the right place”
Anita Singh, The Telegraph

“The first episode is bookended with action sequences, but they are pedestrian in both senses. In general the aesthetic is classic Merchant, that sub-Edgar Wright suburban banality where everyone converses mostly in dad jokes and everything looks a bit naff. There are one or two laughs, mostly from Merchant, but the overall effect is very BBC comedy, and not entirely in a good way. This schtick can work, but it needs a lot of charm to compensate for the complete absence of glamour.”
Ed Cumming, The Independent 

“There’s the basis of a really good serial here, an ensemble drama with criss-crossing storylines like The Syndicate or The Split. But Merchant’s script suggests he feels that would be beneath him.”
Christopher Stevens, Daily Mail

“At the end, two twists – both perfectly designed to hook your eager mind and pull it along to tomorrow night’s instalment, and allow you the joy of nodding at your spouse again (despite the fact they’re now fully asleep) and saying: “I told you they’d not cast him for no reason! Didn’t I say?” In short, it’s exactly what you’d hope for on a late October school night. A good story, with its plot parcelled out at just the right rate. A whodunnit with the promise of whydunnit too.”
Lucy Mangan, The Guardian 

“As well as looking a bit like Broadchurch, it had that show’s main-suspect-per-episode structure that felt reassuring if slightly stolid. Some of the characters were nicely drawn, though”
Ben Dowell, The Times

“The story is ticking along nicely (and continues all week), but I couldn’t help being distracted by the look of the thing. It’s like watching a long Habitat advert with a murder thrown in. Never mind the gay kiss, how long did it take Venn and his husband to decorate their house so perfectly? Even the police station looks like a double-page spread in the John Lewis catalogue.”
Anita Singh, The Telegraph

“Unlike the well-signposted, charming and compact resort of Ilfracombe itself, this new detective series is just a bit too big and sprawling to get around in about an hour without getting lost.”
Sean O’Grady, The Independent

“The opening chapter may not have quite set the world ablaze, yet it was taut and efficiently-assembled, and whisked viewers off on an arresting journey through Devon and hell.”
Ed Power, The i

“It was Martin Shaw who stole the first episode — menacing, wheedling, devious and controlling as the church elder Dennis.”
Christopher Stevens, Daily Mail