Review: The Body Farm episode two

In which we discover a fresh use for compost, and everyone forgets about Mike

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I’ve never been a fan of narration that spoon-feeds that week’s moral message. Mary Alice Young on Desperate Housewives – she’s got an awful lot to say for someone who shot herself in the pilot episode. Meredith Grey on Grey’s Anatomy – please spare us those winsome observations about life and surgery.

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And now we have Eve Lockhart with her “release – that’s what we’re longing for, an end to our craving” rubbish. I’m not sold on the craving bit, but I’d like to be released from her tidy, pat truisms. They’re threatening to spoil what could end up being a pretty decent crime drama.

If you can get past Eve’s overly sincere musings, then there’s plenty to be learned while watching The Body Farm. Who knew that a compost heap was an ideal place to hide a dead body? Something to do with it generating heat and accelerating decay, apparently. Monty Don’s certainly never got around to telling us that on Gardeners’ World. I’m also now fully genned up on the five stages of cadaver decomposition – fresh, bloat, active decay, advanced decay and dry remains, in case you were wondering.

But the biggest revelation was finding out that Gail’s dad from Coronation Street (missing in action in Weatherfield for well over a year) is actually holed up in a bedroom at Arley Hall with a breathing mask over his face, looking for all the world like Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet.

There he was at this most sinister of locations – well, sinister in my eyes because (fact fans) it was also the setting for underrated 1990s quiz show Cluedo. Gail’s dad went on to give a saliva sample in the most disgusting way imaginable, honking and snorting like a stuck pig as Eve inserted her spatula.

He was, of course, a red herring, his creepiness too pronounced to ever be seriously suspicious. No, the culprit turned out to be that old standby – the seemingly helpful doctor. Aficionados of thrillers know to never put their trust in a medic because they’re often guilty. Agatha Christie, especially, liked to point the finger at those who’d taken the Hippocratic oath, probably because they held the keys to well-stocked medicine cabinets.

No need for overdoses here, though, as the poor junkie rent boy victim was revealed to have died of pneumonia – and the slimy GP would have got away with his nefarious activities if it hadn’t been for Eve’s courtroom grandstanding.

So, case closed, but there are still a few mysteries outstanding. The biggest is why DI Hale has to spend all his time with these forensics techs who constantly tread on his toes? Has he no colleagues, no sergeant to take notes, no superintendent breathing down his neck? And second – what exactly does Mike do?

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I understand that Eve is the expert, Rosa acts as confidante to the suspects and Oggy provides comic relief, but Mike seems completely redundant. One hint at a past relationship with Eve and then nothing. Let’s hope they find a role for him next week or he’ll end up calcifying in the corner like one of the team’s case studies.