15 August 2010 | mattbg
Outstanding... until the end
For three out of four episodes, this is outstanding TV that packs so much into one episode without feeling rushed that you've thoroughly enjoyed something in a short amount of time while perceiving it to have been much longer. To me, this is a feature of great writing.
But all the way through the fourth episode, it falls apart. The tight storytelling is gone from the very beginning of the final part. It meanders along without seeming to know where it's going and, to be honest, gets rather boring. It really does come across as if they ran out of money or the writer quit and walked off the project after part 3 and they decided to give the ending a go anyway and eventually just gave up.
I am tired of reading pretentious comments about the ending. It is not a misunderstood ending or an anti-Hollywood ending -- there simply is no ending and the story is terminated prematurely. This isn't a clever but unsettling ending that in the end makes you smile like the one in Sean Penn's "The Pledge". It simply stops before it finishes, which is why so many people are wondering about a fifth part or a 2nd series (which the BBC have said will not occur).
Even with all of that said, I still want to give it a high rating because the first three parts are so good. If I get the chance, I may go back and rewatch the final part to see if it gets better with age. But I don't think it will -- as I said, the problem isn't that the ending is unconventional or ambiguous but that the ending simply isn't there.
With a better ending, I would have given this a 10.