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Sea of Souls review

A one-off adventure for the Scottish X-Files

Original UK airdate: Tuesday 17/Thursday 19 April 2007

Written by: David Kane

Directed by: Andy Hay

Rating:

Sea of Souls managed its welding of the paranormal and the everyday much more successfully than its ITV rival Afterlife. In this one-off two-parter - which, who knows, might be the future of the series now - Bill Paterson's likeably dour Douglas Monaghan has been shed of his tiresome colleagues at the parapsychology department of Clyde University, and is now investigating all on his lonesome.
This outing wrenches him from his urban comfort zone for a tale that’s much less embarrassed than the previous two seasons about the cliches of the supernatural genre. This literally is the haunted house episode, complete with creaky floors, echoey voices and crinolined flashbacks.
The story, by original Sea of Souls creator David Kane, crackles along and manages some genuine surprises in its two hours - though the story's close proximity, transmission-wise, to Life Line doesn't quite help either show, playing sleight of hand as they both do with the notion of soul transference. It’s a hokey and sometimes overused denouement, but Sea of Souls carries it off well. Ben Miles's character Ian O'Rourke is too much of a modern-day dick to really arouse suspicion; when he's finally unveiled as the latest vessel to house the spirit of former Glenmore House resident Robert Dunbar, it's quite a smack in the chops.
Perhaps the story's best feature comes at the very end - it's an ending that’s happy and tragic at the same time. The final moments leave you with just the right amount of shock and chills and prove that, with Afterlife seemingly seen off, Sea of Souls deserves something more than the occasional two-hour treat.

Steve O’Brien

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Available platformsTV