Suspicion is a strange show from Apple TV+ in that, like 'Tehran' before it, it's been produced outside of Apple and is not overseen by the streaming service. The signs are immediately apparent - the lack of Apple devices. While some do appear, they're few and far between.
While this doesn't matter - of course, Apple devices do not improve a show - another way it is immediately apparent is the style and general feel of the show. It feels like it's come straight from a TV network, maybe something like ITV in the UK or NBC in America. It lacks any natural flair, and the shooting style is quite functional. This was my immediate feeling of the show, but an intriguing setup still pulled me in.
Suspicion centres on a group of young Brits arrested in London after it is discovered they were at the same New York hotel the previous week when a young boy was bundled into a suitcase and abducted. In a visually amusing trick, the abductors are all wearing rubber masks of the British Royal Family. Not since Point Break has a heist been pulled off with such visually arresting disguises. The boy is also the son of a famous US media mogul Katherine Newman (Uma Thurman), who is also about to be confirmed as a US ambassador. After security footage of the kidnap goes viral, the kidnappers declare they want Newman to 'Tell The Truth'.
What follows is a cat and mouse game between the suspects, the police, the kidnappers and a contract killer. All the while, the 'Truth' of Katherine Newman threatens to be uncovered.
Except it doesn't. In a truly bizarre case of plotting, Uma Thurman barely features. She has approximately 3 minutes of screen time in the first two episodes and scarcely any lines. While one side of the plot (the UK side) does a decent job investigating these suspects and why they might be involved, the other side (set in New York) barely registers. It's bizarre if you're trying to find out whether someone did something when you don't know why it was done. In other stories, the 'why' would be teased out gradually, but given the amount of airtime devoted to NY, you start to care less.
That affects the UK side of the storyline the more the show goes on. While the suspects home lives are a bit annoying at times, when they get together to try and solve the mystery and clear their names, the show picks up the pace to an enjoyable zip. On top of that, the addition of a contract killer as a suspect adds a blunt brutality to some of the proceedings. Played by Elyes Gabel, and despite owning a terrible Northern Irish accent, his violent efficiency and determination to find out what happened are refreshing alongside the civilians who sometimes get a bit melodramatic.
Of the four other suspects, Georgina Campbell and Tom Rhys Harries stand out with good performances. However, Georgina Cambell's character sometimes gets fed ridiculous over-emotional scenes and logic that threatens to spoil that.
On the police side, being a big fan of The Americans, I expected a lot from Noah Emmerich, but his character gets very minimal work to do (it's a theme on this show). Both he and the FBI come across as being quite stupid. Of course, the show features a classic clash of jurisdictions between the US and UK.
His opposite number is probably the stand out of the show, however. Angel Coulby plays a determined and intelligent detective that goes against some of the female detective stereotypes that are too often trotted out. She's smart and strong-headed, but that doesn't mean she's some sort of robot. She's good at her job, but she carries on through when she makes a mistake rather than becoming frantic and letting the man take over. It's a refreshing character, and Coulby plays it to a tee, giving her plenty of personality and grounding the character in the real world.
The first half or so of the series is enjoyable enough fodder with a couple of top-class twists thrown in too. It's when we get to the back end of the series that everything starts to fall apart. There are massive coincidences and leaps of logic. Characters make choices that make no sense for them based on previous behaviour, and the result of the 'truth' is somehow as silly as it is preachy. Either way, I'd stopped caring.
It being a modern thriller, it also has its fair share of high-tech nonsense: hacking is done like characters are playing the piano. A group of hackers can somehow take over every screen in a city, including ones that don't seem to have an outside source. The list goes on.
But the biggest misfire of all is the usage of Uma Thurman, who, let's remind ourselves, is an Oscar-nominated actress. She is used so sparingly in this series it makes you wonder why they bothered hiring her in the first place.
In the end, it's emblematic of the larger problem: the show takes on something big, but after the initial thrills, it doesn't know what to do with itself and lands relatively flat—a disappointment.
This review originally appeared on Screen Times.