3 December 2014 | FlagSteward
Skins meets Dick Francis
Glue is an 8-episode whodunnit set in the rural community of the Berkshire Downs in southern England. It concentrates on a group of friends aged ~19 who have discovered sex, drugs and rock n'roll but are only just working out the consequences.
Since some of the group are Roma, the series plays on themes of inclusion/exclusion between the Roma and the "gadjo" (non-Roma) community, and Roma who leave the travelling life to become gadjos. Themes of life and death are also explored through animals, one character works as a vet and two others at a racing stable. But really it's about the dark things that lie beneath a superficially lovely environment, and how things that have happened to families in the past mess things up for the present. In that respect it feels like someone's watched a lot of Stephen Poliakoff and has tried to create a canvas that goes in that direction whilst having rather more action. Unfortunately they're not that good.
A key requirement of a whodunnit is to leave you guessing, and the basic structure of Glue's plot works well in that respect - there's lots of red herrings to keep you on your toes. The cast do a great job too - you can imagine this is the sort of young ensemble piece that will spawn a number of stars of big-budget films in years to come. Charlotte Spencer steals it for me (but I'm a sucker for the ginger freckly look), I can see Callum Turner brooding as the romantic lead in a Hardy or Austen adaptation in 2020, and Jordan Stephens is surprisingly good, he's got a future in acting if the Rizzle Kicks thing doesn't work out. I find Yasmin Paige less compelling in the Miss Marple role as a trainee policewoman, I think it's partly her and partly a character which is trying to present several different faces to the world and ends up falling in the gaps between worlds. I know it's the intention for her to be adrift like that, but I think it needed a better actress to convey such complexity.
It's a shame that a good cast and good plot aren't quite enough to make a fully satisfying show. There's at least one stupid irritating goof in each episode - for instance you are only allowed to shoot pheasants in winter, but a shoot is depicted among bluebell flowers (ie May), and other scenes happen in a field that's close to harvest (July?) or at 8pm in daylight. Older viewers may be put off by the gratuitous yobbishness of the first two episodes - I'd urge such viewers to stick with it, that stuff largely disappears after Glue has shown how down with the kids it is and it becomes a lot more serious. It's fair to say that none of the characters are particularly likable, so if you're looking for heroes to cheer then this isn't really your thing.
And otherwise - it just doesn't quite come together, partly because all those red herrings make for quite a crowded cast list and you get a bit lost between them all (a few blond(e) wigs would have helped distinguish them) - but they have scope to be developed in a second series, the attempts at epic cinematography amount to a GoPro on a drone and the soundtrack is surprisingly sparse.
But I don't want to sound too down on Glue - overall it should satisfy anyone looking for a good whodunnit which tries to ask some questions about society and family, although it may help if you're young enough to have heard of Rizzle Kicks!