Square Eyes #7: Marchlands is actually excellent!

ITV and drama have gone hand in hand for a while now, but ITV and good quality drama, that was quite a different story! It always seemed to me that the network would spew out as much drama as it possibly could and hope that some of it would hit the spot. Well at last one finally has, Marchlands.

Through all the tiresome ‘Wild at Heart’ and countless drama’s about people being kidnapped, ITV have presented a ghost story of sorts. Marchlands (Thursday’s at 9) tells the story of a house of the same name, but through three different times – The 60’s the 80’s and the present day.

In the 60’s we meet Ruth and Paul Bowen, a young couple who are just starting out in Marchlands. The 80’s feel a little bit like a sci-fi convention as the couple here are played by Alex Kingston (Doctor Who) and Dean Andrews (Life On Mars/Ashes To Ashes). But the reality is that they are the parents in what is becoming a bit of a dysfunctional family. And in the present day we meet Nisha and Mark who have just moved into the Marchlands house to have their first baby.

But this isn’t any old house, mysterious happenings are afoot.

In the 1960’s, the couple who lived there lost their little girl Alice who sadly drowned. But it seems Alice never truly left. She appears in person to another child in the 1980’s and causes unexplained happenings in the present day version of the house.

It’s an intriguing tale which has gripped me throughout and there have been some very well thought out themes emerging. For example, Alice drowned, so she often causes havoc involving water – a bath flooding, taps turning on, that sort of thing.

But much better than this simple ghost tale, is the way the story is told. We’re constantly jumping between the three different times, seeing the story progress… as it is still progressing. It gives the writers a great way of introducing parts of the story to us in a non-linear format and I love that.

It also allows us to see what most shows will never show – how the same characters are many years later. For example, Ruth – the mother of Alice – turns up again in the present day scenes, still clearly scarred by the events which happened during her time at Marchlands. There’s also a ‘love plot’ developing simultaneously in the 1980’s and being rekindled in the present day.

All three timezones are completely different, but have the same key themes running underneath. And of course regular ‘visits’ from Alice!

It’s great storytelling and it really helps the show along, keeping it fresh and interesting every week.

The only problem I have with this show is, where does it end? You may have been reading this and noticing the obvious similarities to ‘Lost’. I noticed them too, it’s part of the reason I love the show, but I also fear for it’s ending. I can’t see how it will end in a satisfactory way, so will it disappoint.

I severely hope it wont as this has to be one of the best shows I have seen ITV produce in a long time. There’s not much longer to find out either, there’s two episodes left of the show and if you haven’t watched yet, I would highly recommend it (you can always catch up on ITV Player).

I just hope that this will be the start of a turning point for ITV. It had Downton Abbey last year, now Marchlands, maybe there is still quality left in it… or perhaps they’ll commission a new series of Celebrity Love Island next week. Oh my!

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