Limetown, Facebook Watch
- Brian Donaldson
- 16 October 2019
A conspiracy-fuelled story about a missing community has a decent performance from Jessica Biel as its key investigator
While we may be more used to podcasts discussing true crime or daily politics or ones where comedians talk to other comedians, the fictional side of things has largely been side-lined. So when the Limetown podcast emerged in 2015, it was no doubt accompanied by listeners desperately seeking the real story behind the series. Instead, what we had was a purely made-up show that was dubbed by The Guardian as 'bridging the gap between The X-Files and Serial'.
This fictional podcast (about a small Tennessee community which literally vanished into thin air) has now been turned into a TV drama starring Jessica Biel as Lia Haddock, an investigative journalist looking into how 326 people were here one minute and gone the next. That the community was filled solely by scientists, their staff and families gave the story an extra sense of intrigue which was reported on heavily by TV networks until it dropped out of the news cycle. Despite there being no fresh evidence, Haddock fervently picks up the case a decade on to the mild irritation of her media bosses. That is until a survivor makes contact with Haddock …
Adding a personal element to Haddock's quest for truth is that her beloved uncle Emile is one of the missing. Played with typically effortless charm by Stanley Tucci, he's mainly on screen across the first four episodes in flashbacks that are the dictionary definition of avuncular: he spends time with the little Lia, who is already showing an early aptitude for sound levels, as she tape-records an interview with him. Chances are, though, Emile might not be quite as he seems given that we discover he is an executive assistant of Limetown's mysterious leader.
The series dials up its atmosphere of looming dread reasonably successfully, and everywhere Lia turns there are dire warnings: a man smashes his head off her hotel room to try and stall her investigation, while another character darkly predicts that 'if you keep telling this story, everyone you love will die'. Given that the only person in her life now seems to be a mother she continually ignores makes this less of a threat that it would for someone in, say, EastEnders. As she did in The Sinner, Biel makes for a perfectly agreeable if not overly compelling central actor, and her supporting cast do little to keep the audience captivated. Limetown's success will rely mainly on how much disbelief you can suspend in its conspiracy-fuelled story.
Episodes watched: 4 of 10
Limetown starts on Facebook Watch, Wednesday 16 October, 8pm.