Top of the Lake: Critically acclaimed and revered by it’s advocates – but it may have passed you by. Appearing on BBC Two last month, this six part thriller didn’t make as big a splash as it did at places like Sundance (where it was shown in it’s entirety), or the Emmys (where it won 8 awards), which is a real shame, as it’s one of the best we’ve seen in ages.
It’s also impossibly difficult to describe, but we’ll do our best. The story focuses on police inspector Robin Griffin, who returns from Sydney to her fictional New Zealand hometown, visiting her dying mother and becoming engaged in a case investigating a pregnant twelve year old, who we first meet trying to drown herself in the expansive lake the town centres around. Throw in half a dozen subplots including revisiting past childhood traumas, a female hippy convent and an affair or two you’re almost there. Complicated? Just a bit. But it’s a sprawling story line that rolls out at a slow pace. The characters are mysterious, dangerous and unpredictable, and the bleak visuals are both stunning and haunting in equal measure.
A cross between Twin Peaks and a really, really good detective story, the series draws you in incredibly quickly. It’s obsessive viewing, with the stunted dialogue and often murmured performances literally leaving you leaning in to the screen. It’s been a long time since we’ve experienced such all-encompassing drama. Whilst we didn’t watch it in one sitting (and we feel for those who did), we did binge watch over a week or so. Our advice – take your time. Watch one a week, like we did in the good old days (two years ago) – it’s a programme you need to take the time to digest and come back to. And also because you might creep yourself out a bit watching them back to back. We checked the windows a couple of times.