Picks and Pans Review: Edge of Darkness

updated 07/21/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/21/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Syndicated (Check local listings)


A show more sophisticated than Hill Street Blues, more inventive than Miami Vice and more satisfying than a thick steak. That's Edge of Darkness, a three-night, six-hour BBC mystery about deceit, spying, nuclear waste, terrorism, a lot of evil and a little good. The plot is never what it seems to be. The story starts with the murder of a young liberal scientist. Her murder, it seems, was a mistake and the target was supposed to be her father, a cop investigating union corruption. But remember: Nothing is what it seems. The father, played by British actor Bob Peck, takes on the case and discovers that his daughter had broken into a nuclear waste plant, where she found plutonium, the Silly Putty of nuclear terrorism, being illegally manufactured. Peck takes a Geiger counter to a lock of her hair and the machine clicks like a convention of crickets. So now it seems that somebody tried to kill her with radioactivity and then did kill her with bullets; maybe she was the target. And now Peck is a target. He gets tied up with spies, businessmen, politicians, thugs and one apparently good guy, an outrageous CIA agent—Joe Don (Walking Tall) Baker—who has a white Stetson, a white Rolls and a personal credo that begins, "I really believe that God's a golfer." Darkness is a bottomless mystery, the kind that deepens with every clue. It is a story with a moral—power corrupts and corporate power corrupts messily—but that never interferes with the intrigue. There is not a cheap or lazy trick in the plot. There are wonderfully scuzzy bad guys, subtle gags and neat songs by Eric Clapton. And there is spectacular acting from Peck, Baker and a cast borrowed mainly from the English stage. The first 15 minutes or so are confusing, but that's because Darkness doesn't coddle you like most of our minis do. You know the Brits; they make those "intelligent" shows. But prove you're smarter: Find Darkness on your TV schedule—it's airing at different times all over the country—and watch the best show of the summer

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