One of the great dividends of the streaming video gold rush is the swift posting of BBC series that otherwise would take months to reach the states. “The Fall,” a five-episode arc from “Prime Suspect 2” writer Allan Cubitt, made its U.S. debut on Netflix less than two weeks after premiering on BBC 2, where it became the highest-rated series debut in eight years. At first glance, the premise for “The Fall” seems all too familiar: an eminently skilled detective investigates serial killings in Belfast. But Cubitt and stars Gillian Anderson (“The X Files”) and Jamie Dornan (“Once Upon a Time”) create a tense, nerve-wracking drama that far exceeds the typical standards of police procedurals.
Dornan plays Paul Spector, a grief counselor and married father who exudes an air of quiet normalcy — a little dark on the surface, but an outward character expected from someone dealing constantly with other people's losses. But in the late hours, after his two kids are in bed, Spector methodically kills young women who all fit a specific physical type — dark-haired beauties. After the high-profile murders of two of these women, Alice Monroe and Sarah Kay, Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson (Anderson) is brought in from London to set up a tireless investigation of the crimes. And as Gibson warns the detectives in her team, the murders become increasingly frequent and harrowing as Spector becomes more numbed to the acts. Thanks to its critical and ratings success, “The Fall” received an order for a second season.
— George Lang