TV review: The Smoke
- Brian Donaldson
- 18 February 2014
A blistering opening sequence gives way to weak non-action segments in this firefighter drama
‘Tell you what: I’d rather have Kev Allison on a bad day than anyone else on a good one.’ This is what purports to be stirring dialogue in the world of The Smoke, a brand new British drama pitched somewhere between Backdraft and London’s Burning. ‘I’m in international finance!’ yells an irritated girlfriend at her useless, firefighting bloke, meanwhile, before adding, ‘You made me look a right muppet.’
Having perhaps realised that they won’t be able to dazzle us with craft, the writers chuck in some emergency service jargon to make the viewer feel inadequate. You too might have to look up ‘RTC’, while the constant yelling about getting an ‘ALP’ on the scene as quickly as possibly slightly derails the tension of an otherwise blistering opening sequence as you reach for google instead of losing yourself in the excitement.
Still, a firefighter’s lot isn’t all a bed of scorched roses: for every teenage girl willing to flash their chest at you, there’s a dangerous-dog wielding villain with nothing better to do than torment an everyday hero going about his heroic business. And here, the valiant Kev (Jamie Bamber, a brave morass of rugged lines and third degree burns), limps back to work after that traumatic opening scene to remain marginally patient with colleagues who have names such as Little Al and Billy the Mince. Though there’s just enough to make you want to keep an eye on the next couple of episodes, it will need a serious step-up in the non-action segments for this to do anything other than meekly fizzle out.
Sky 1, Thu 20 Feb, 9pm.