In the UK: Available on Netflix
Sometimes, you really can get the wrong end of the stick with these international productions. When I first heard about Safe, it was via an article in Le Figaro. Audrey Fleurot from Engrenages (Spiral), Michael C Hall from Dexter, in a Netflix drama written by US thriller writer Harlan Coben and set inside a gated community? Brilliant! It’ll be like Sky Atlantic’s Riviera – except good.
Sure, it was also going to feature the likes of Marc Warren (Mad Dogs) and Amanda Abbington (Sherlock), and at least some of it was going to be filmed in Britain, but I mentally glossed over that. Audrey, Michael, Harlan, all that talk by Le Figaro of Harlan’s obsession with French actresses – it was going to be exotic, wasn’t it? Maybe a bit in the UK, but mostly it would be in France, right? Or maybe 50/50? Why else cast Fleurot?
Then I saw the trailer.
Wait. That was all Britain. Nothing but Britain. No sunshine, no France, no French. Just Britain. Not even a good bit of Britain at that, but Manchester.
And what was that accent, Michael? Why haven’t they allowed you to be American? And have you been watching The Only Way is Essex with Chris Pratt?
Then I remembered – Harlan Coben had co-written that Sky1 show The Five with Danny Brocklehurst, hadn’t he? And Brocklehurst was one of the writers for Safe, too.
Oh dear God. This was actually a British show. It was basically a Sky1 show with a slightly more international cast than usual, but on Netflix. Oh the horror!
So that was the stick I incorrectly grasped with Safe. Although we in the UK obviously associate Netflix with bringing us both their own programmes made overseas and other country’s programmes that they’ve bought up, that’s something they do for everyone else, too, and this was going to be like The Crown – another entry in the ‘international TV that we made in the UK for everyone else’ category. We would be the rest of the world’s ‘exotic’.
However, there was a second stick. My assumption was that because it was UK TV made in the UK by a UK production company and written by UK writers, it was going to be unwatchable rubbish. Just dreadful, I thought.
Surprise! It’s not. Indeed, Safe isn’t half bad. A bit silly and even comedic in places – and not just Hall’s accent – with episode endings that push the boundaries of plausibility to their limits, but actually halfway decent. I even watched it all the way through to the end. That’s a first for me and a British TV drama in rather a long time…