Saturday, 23 October 2010

Shattered 1.1 'The Sins of Fathers'

“So, initial thoughts…?” – Psychologist

My initial thoughts on Shattered? Not good I’m afraid.

Normally this sort of show would have completely slipped under my radar but given that I love Callum Keith Rennie it has made its way into my life.

I’d read an article about Canada starting to throw a bit of money at TV drama in a bid to catch up with their American brethren, the article cited Shattered and the Missy Peregrym starring Rookie Blue as two of their first efforts; if this first episode of Shattered is anything to go by though they still have a long way to go.

The show had the look of a made for TV movie and instantly felt small time – if I hadn’t known this was a Canadian show I could’ve easily guessed this wasn’t made by one of the big US networks with its grainy camera work and poor actors.

Of course the show’s one saving grace is Rennie; brilliant last year as Lew Ashby in Californication and then cementing himself as one of my favourite actors with scenery-chewing performances on the likes of 24 and FlashForward.

Also on exec-producing duty for Shattered, I’m surprised to see him associated with such a low budget effort; if anyone deserves a starring vehicle it’s Rennie but he deserves much better than this.

Surrounded by a bunch of relative unknowns who make him look like Olivier by comparison (although I did recognise Camille Sullivan from gash TV movie Ice Twisters, which I did actually sit through some of as it starred Mark ‘Duck from Mad Men’ Moses) Rennie plays homicide detective Ben Sullivan, who suffers from multiple personality disorder; although we actually only see one other personality manifest itself during this opening episode – ‘Sam’.

Sam is essentially the bad cop to Ben’s good cop – assaulting suspects, tampering with crime scenes and using his badge to get out of being caught in a drug deal.

I had been hoping that the multiple personality twist the show had would give Rennie plenty to sink his teeth into but the difference between Sam and Ben wasn’t really as exciting as I expected; Rennie was definitely more fun as the out-of-control Sam though.

We weren’t given too much exposition in this episode, which was refreshing; instead we had already seen Sam cause problems for everyone around him before the opening credits – telling Ben’s new partner Amy (Sullivan) to shoot a suspect, even though he was unarmed.

We learnt very little about why Ben suffers from this disorder, what causes it and why it has suddenly come back. His wife seems to know about his condition and former partner and friend Terry definitely implied he knows that Ben blacks out, whether he knows the full extent of which though, remains to be seen, hopefully we’ll find out more as the series progresses.

No one on the force, with the possible exception of Terry, appear to know Ben’s secret, although Amy has seen first hand what he is capable of when an alter ego manifests, but by the episode’s end she seemed more at ease with Ben again after questioning him early on and is yet to uncover his secret.

The first episode, which was actually not the original pilot – which is always a worry, revolved around ‘The Metro Strangler’, whom Ben thought Amy had killed at the start of the episode.

When another body turned up it appeared they’d got the wrong man but it eventually turned out that Ben’s theory was right and it was in fact a copycat.

This part of the show was pretty forgettable really, the real intrigue lying in what Ben would do next. If the cases take a back seat to exploring what is going on in Ben’s head and putting the focus purely on Rennie then I can definitely work with that. If the case of the week is going to take precedence though and Ben’s tortured life is merely a way of putting a different slant on a police procedural then Shattered really needs to come up with some better case of the week plots.

All in all, not the best vehicle for Rennie’s considerable acting talents, but if we can see him switching between several personalities in the future then that could change. If it wasn’t for Rennie’s presence I have to say I probably wouldn’t be back for a second episode but I will so in that sense the show still has a chance to turn me around.

From what I’ve read though the show was beset by problems behind the scenes and if that translates on to the screen then my hopes aren’t exactly high for a drastic improvement as the season progresses.

Bullet Points:

- When Sam manifests himself, that little smile that creeps across Rennie’s face has echoes of Lew Ashby and his cheeky persona, which is a very good thing.

That said, the devices used to show us that Sam was a loose cannon were pretty cliché: smoking inside, drinking, scoring pot off a tramp…

- Kyle Labine, who played the episode’s protagonist Blake Johnson, is the brother of Tyler Labine, best known for playing the brilliant ‘Sock’ on Reaper.

Shattered continues Mondays @ 10pm on the newly rebranded Universal Channel.


  1. Rennie's Protrayal is spot on - As a fellow D.I.D sufferer with a husband who lives with and witnesses my various "alters", I can confirm that a lot of the changes are subtle and sorry to be boring but must of our changes and "alter characters" aren't "exciting"!!! All "alters" are still part of the core person but more extreme (to shorten the explaination of a very complex condition). Ben's was obviously retriggered by the site of the dead child as we found out later that his own son had been kidnapped. KUDOS to Rennie for his brilliant and sensitive protrayal of Ben (Sam, Harry and others we may yet meet) and also to the writers for not being so over the top with the condition of D.I.D. as so many others are.

  2. I'm glad that they have depicted the condition with accuracy rather than over-exaggerating it; that is a refreshing change.

    That said, I'm finding the show a little slow and by maybe taking some artistic licence with the condition and having Rennie play a couple of over the top 'alters' it could have made for much more interesting viewing.

    I am completely ignorant to the condition though so it is easy for me to say that, someone who knows how it actually affects you like yourself would obviously find that completely devoid of realism.

    Either way, i could honestly watch a show that just featured Callum Keith Rennie reciting Mein Kampf and still enjoy it, he's that good.


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