Series Review: Informer

Mention the word ‘Informer’ to me three weeks ago, and I would have broken out into a rendition that ended ‘licky boom boom down’.

After two months and 134 episodes of Suits, we found ourselves wanting yet another series to watch. Usually of an evening, Fe and I sit down and watch a couple of episodes of something, and it can be anything at all. In the last year we have watched How to Get Away With Murder, Sherlock, The Crown, White Collar, Ozark, Reckoning, The Fall, Unforgotten, After Life, Ashes to Ashes, Top Boy, Marcella, Whitechapel, Wanted, Paranoid, Safe, The Stranger, Happy Valley and Collateral. That’s our full series list for one year.

It’s a lot, right?

How To Get Away With Murder

All too often, I see people looking for recommendations and the like on social media, so I thought I’d start reviewing the series we watch so you know whether to bother or not. In those we have watched, some were utter turkeys (The Reckoning and Whitechapel spring to mind), others were bangers that people may have missed (Unforgotten and White Collar). Hopefully, these short reviews will help you a little.

On Friday, after completing Suits, we were hunting for something new on Netflix. I’m a fan of UK series because they tend to be punchier, straight to the point and take little getting into with far fewer episodes. They act as a nice filler before contemplating an American behemoth with 16 episodes per series and a massive time commitment. I hadn’t heard of Informer, but one actor got me completely hooked without knowing what it was about: Paddy Considine.

I watched Dead Man’s Shoes for the first time a couple of weeks ago, but loved him in Peaky Blinders too. He’s perfectly menacing, but with a relatability that I was sure would make this programme a hit, whatever the themes. As it turns out, whilst he is a highlight, there is plenty more to like.

Paddy Considine

The basic premise is Considine is a counter terrorism officer named Gabriel Waters and as you would expect with a Considine character, he is a layered and complex individual with a past that harks a little back to his previous roles in Shane Meadows’ work. You’ll understand what I mean by episode two, and one scene in episode five reflects everything I love about Considine’s ability to surprise on screen. Of course, much of it is clever writing too, but he is believable in the roles he plays and that sets a good series up.

Away from the main man, there is a strong if not inconsistent character in Holly Morten, played by Bel Powley. She is the Robin to Considine’s rather tarnished Batman, and although some of her actions are, at time, stretching the realms of believability, the character is well developed enough to keep the show watchable.

The other star of the show was, to me, the previously unknown Nabhaan Rizwan, who plays Raza Shar, the character after which the show is named. He is a second-generation British Pakistani who winds up in the rather enforced employ of Waters. Their relationship develops as Waters chases a terror cell thought to have an attack planned in London.

Nabhaan Rizwan, left

In terms of suspense, each episode starts in the present day with a short clip, then rewinds a couple of months to tell the proceeding story. From the get-go, you know someone has been shot at the Eldon Branch of Café 66 (heaven knows, you’re told that enough times), but the details only become clear each episode, before the next adds another layer of modern-day fact to be peeled away for the following 55 minutes or so.

The plot does, at times, get a little convoluted, but it manages to remain on the right side of plausible for the duration. Each episode ends with you wanting more and last night, despite each one being one hour long, we blasted through five just to see what happened next. As you’d expect with a BBC production depicting inner-city London, it aims for gritty, dark and urban and just about pulls it off nicely.

I have to save a word for Roger Nsengiyumva as Dadir Hassan, a third generation Somali befriended by Shar in the first episode and a regular throughout the series. He isn’t a main character as such, but he brings a slight comedy element at times, which can switch on a sixpence to intimidating too. Considine, Powley and Rizwan will doubtless take any plaudits that you feel you wish to bestow upon the show, but Nsengiyumva was an unsung hero as the series develops.

Roger Nsengiyumva

Perhaps, at times, there is a little too much going on, with Waters’ complex history coming back to haunt him, as well as a couple of storylines seemingly winding together and then splitting, but it isn’t one of these ‘hard to follow’ series where you’ll be scratching your head later on.

There might be a few too many characters too, certainly for such a short burst of episodes. Over ten or fifteen shows, a character can develop and you have time to learn them and love them, and maybe even five or six as with shows such as Ozark. These short English efforts often either rely on fewer characters, or very clear lines defining protagonist and antagonist. In Informer, you might be forgiven for failing to understand exactly which character you want to come out on top by the sixth episode.

I was pleasantly surprised by Informer though, it seems to have originally dropped onto our screens back in 2018, concluding the day before my 40th birthday, so I am a little late to the party, but if you are stuck for a series and want something that won’t take a huge commitment in terms of time, then this is definitely worth looking into.

You can also read about the games I’m playing elsewhere on the site, which currently would see you looking at stuff about Fallout 76.

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