Hi everyone! I'm starting the show Ordinary Lies for two reasons. One: it stars Con O'Neil (eventually) from Happy Valley series 2 and two: it's from Red Production Company which has done too many quality productions to name, including Happy Valley, Paranoid, The Five, just so many. Have I mentioned Happy Valley enough? I didn't think so! Let's roll Ordinary Lies S1:E1 after the break!
We open at a car dealership opening for the day, jaunty music plays as the multitudes pile in and get ready to meet transportation needs at JS Motor Group Ltd.
A family gets ready across town; dad came home late last night so he slept in and won't be able to drive his three kids to school. The mother holds a hot-water bottle against her belly resentfully as he runs off.
The mechanics at the dealership all laugh and make fun of Dad as he drives in frantically late, maybe this isn't his first time. He's crawling on his hands and knees in front of the glass so they won't see him... but they're watching him on CCTV, silly! It's England! I assume the only areas not under CCTV surveillance are your less posh washrooms.
He spies a couple looking at a Ford Focus and goes into his patter and we get his name! Marty (Jason Manford) thinks this sale is a dead cert but his boss Mike (Max Beesley) wants to see him right away, says Kathy (Sally Lindsay). She advises him to hurry, Mike's wife stayed at her sister's the weekend and hasn't yet made it home. That must have been who Mike was shouting "do you think I was born yesterday??" at on the phone while watching Marty belly-crawl in front of the window.
Marty's sales have been down for five months running, so Beth (Jo Joyner) and Mike explain to Marty, what with this lateness and all: this is Marty's final warning.
Marty's chasing after his sale; Beth's getting hangup calls from a withheld number. She looks creeped the eff oot but strangely calm.
Marty arrives home to find his wife Katrina (Erin Shanagher) on the toilet, recovering from a spending spree and his pre-teen daughter locked in her bedroom "studying" with a boy. What the hell? Marty and I would like to know what's going on there, but I don't know if driving the boy home while screaming about how useless his life will become if he gets Marty's pre-pubescent daughter pregnant is HELPFUL, exactly.
He'll be trapped! Wondering where his life went! And did it occur to you that perhaps the WIVES aren't any happier, Marty?
He kicks the young man out of his car and looking around, guess where he is? At a bar!
He wakes up all cheery-like, so well rested! Except it's 8:39 am and he's very late and he doesn't know where his car is and he makes it to work, but he knows he's on final warning. He stands outside, across the street and what will he do? He'll call in and say his wife died last night of course, what?? WHAT? They can check that kind of thing, Marty, why didn't you just say she was sick? She's sick quite a lot, right? That would buy you a day or so, right?
Is he planning to kill his wife? How can he possibly hope to get away with this? He walks home and confronts her, she did indeed not wake him up out of spite, but she isn't wrong. If he's going to stay out all hours, he should get his own hungover arse out of bed.
Kathy rounds everyone up for a staff meeting, it's important. A red-headed woman asks if they're firing people? Kathy's answer took my breath away for a second, why tell someone they aren't special and will have to find out with everyone else? That's RUDE
Mike tells the staff about poor Katrina McLean, one woman takes it poorly and is consoled by her partner, who is mocked after by Rick (Shazad Latif) who ALSO calls marriage a trap, a "man-made prison" to be exact. Who do you think benefits from these traps, oh men of this show? Miserable wives with carping husbands who only come home to drunkenly pee on the carpet? Brava, ladies, that's quite the catch you've locked down!
Beth is looking quite spooked again, Mike finding her crying in her office. She envies Marty (er), who has a body to mourn at least, which I gather she does not. The phone calls have started again, why doesn't he say anything? Her husband left over a year ago and all she has is questions, no answers. She apologizes, but Mike deflects, saying he is exactly who she should be talking to about this and why would he say that?
Marty stares at his wife all day and all night, whispering "I'm sorry" at her in the dark. The next day, flowers show up and I have received a few parcels of flowers in my time, but I've yet to have anyone reference the nature of the flowers during delivery. Kat is understandably confused at the "sorry for your loss" lilies, which Marty covers in the least-likely way.
She follows him upstairs, does he have depression? She actually seems to care about him, which is surprising but nice. He's fine, he's fine, she gives us the understatement of the century:
Marty intercepts the mailman to snag all the condolence mail, does he have an end-game in play?
Beth's on the case now, she asks to see all of Dave's work files. She takes them apart in her office, taking off her shoes and I have to tell you: I distrust any job that requires high heels. I would not take such a job. I am short and squat, just as nature and nurture intended. ANYWAY, I know that face! I know Dave (it's Shaun Dooley from Cuffs!!) and he looks happy in the family photos, as one would expect.
Marty's come into work to see Mike, stopping to get the worst condolence speech ever from Rick (I wish my missus was under a bus but I hear some people still like their partners) and a hug from the red-haired woman while everyone audibly oooohs.
I think he's come in to tell Mike what was really going on, but chokes at the last minute and says he just needs to come back to work. As soon as possible. Mike doesn't understand; Marty's salary isn't in jeopardy and he needs to be around his family, but eventually he accedes to Marty's request to start back as soon as possible.
The redhead mobilizes the troops; she bullies the two receptionists into agreeing to go 'round and see Marty after work, "it's the right thing to do."
Beth's narrowed her suspicion down to one number; a mobile that has been disconnected. Dave called it all the time, at any time of the day and now there's no way to trace it. Mike minimizes, minimizes, and minimizes, does he have something to do with Dave's disappearance? Or no, since he asks to take her out to dinner after she forgets all this silly stuff, I may have the wrong end of the stick there.
Grace! The redhead's name is Grace! (Rebecca Callard) which we learn when she introduces herself to Joe when she and the receptionists come to the door. Marty rushes them away from the door but there she is: Katrina taking out the garbage (while he was playing video games: RAGE)
Oh that's his wife's sister, yes, she's taking the death to heart and I guess it's going to be easier to pull this off than I thought, what with people no having met his wife previously. Grace's heartfelt talk about understanding that he might not want to be alone and passing on her number draws Katrina's attention.
Marty's off to the pub to meet so-understand Grace for a drink while Katrina helps the kiddos with their homework, sure! Drinks and drinks, then shooting some stick, if this doesn't end up sexual, I'll eat Katrina's hat. She's always liked Marty and ohh. I can see the appeal of unencumbered Grace with her only focus being Marty.
I think Marty's adorable and I admire her wanting to buck him up, but it's not really the time, izzit Grace? Poor form.
Marty's going into far too much detail about the upcoming funeral at work, I bet Kathy's made careful note and will be organizing a giant wreath shortly. Mike's worried that Marty hasn't properly grieved, but Kathy knows from furbabies that have passed: sometimes it takes a while for it to sink in.
Marty is back in his element, slinging cheesy sales pitches and hey, Grace made lunch for them! They could eat together? They munch her foodie grub and get to know each other while Emma (Cat Simmons) sideeyes. She was the one really upset when hearing of Katrina's death, so she's at least understanding how things work when a spouse dies. She thinks it's the sympathy aphrodisiac. Emma makes Jez (Kris Mochrie) promise to not shag anyone from work after she dies and he for sure won't, he'll be with her sister.
Marty and Grace really like each other. Of course, it's all based on a lie and her interest cloaked in compassion, but still.
Marty's in a great mood when he gets home, kissing his wife hard and playing with the kids, he sold five cars this morning! 5! Amazing what a little bit of renewed love life can do for you! As an aside: treating a marriage that has gone wrong with infidelity is like trying to cure cancer with ice cream. It's delicious and great in the short term! Does nothing to help and makes things worse because you aren't actually getting treatment.
Beth's at the police station reviewing Dave's disappearance with detective George (Jeff Alexander), he's great, really great. You just don't see them show compassion like that typically. She hands over the information about the odd number that stuck out to her, let's see where that leads.
Marty's a new man! He's up at 7, singing on the way to work and there's a spring in his step until he remembers he's supposed to be mourning his wife. He calls Grace to watch her smile, they're going to have lunch at the Hawthorne and she's very happy until Emma comes over and poops on her parade. Nothing like a little shaming to take the joy out of somefing.
She's brought her own sandwiches to the pub and yes, she's always this good. She's worried about her tiny little life, though. What's the point? He reminds her: she's a beautiful person and she deserves to be happy.
He's off to the funeral, sitting in the back and oh, of course Kathy sent flowers and now she's getting a call about them. This is hard to watch because it is ALL coming down now: Kathy is on the internet
He doesn't know that yet, so he calls Grace for a drink, he came back early to see her. He starts to mess up almost immediately; there isn't any good way to explain why you are at someone's apartment trying to get in where you fit in when you just buried your wife and have three children to comfort. He had a chat with them, though, his children just want him to be happy. She wants him to go home, it's not the right time. Maybe afterwards.
He pretends to accept her refusal, just a hug goodbye, yes? Then some light kissing on the ears and it is ON!
It's 3:43 and he feels BAD. He comes home to picture after picture of his family, he is so very sorry. He cries in bed with Katrina, how can he undo this? What a tangled web we weave...
Kathy is on the case, though, she waits until Marty drives away to approach the house. She has some paperwork for him to sign... and that's it, the cat is fully out of the bag. She and Katrina introduce themselves and what will Kathy do?
It's a bit awkward between Grace and Marty at work, nobody knows quite where to look. Just wait until Kathy gets back, then EVERYONE will know where to glare! He's not even looking at her, which isn't her fault of course, but she doesn't know that.
Oh no and Mike's in an even worse mood; his wife and kids are STILL in the country and he's put the house on the market and thrown away her clothing. He strides into Beth's office and drags her into a backroom for a makeout session. So now we know why his wife is in the country!
He cajoles "he's gone, Beth. By choice or not, he's gone" and this might not be the time, Mike. She pushes back; "says the man in an unhappy marriage." She doesn't want to give up yet, she's got kids and it would be like telling them their dad is as much as dead.
Kathy tries to talk to Mike but the rejection in the closet has turned him even more sour; she's off after Marty. Marty tries to explain; she understands about telling lies for family, but this is different, Marty. This is sick. She gives him an ultimatum: either he tells everyone or he leaves NOW and never comes back. Ziggy (Fisayo Akinade) and Grace watch him drive away.
He drives home to call his wife, telling her the truth from the driveway. He couldn't handle the increasing pressure from work and the pressure he put on himself to carry this family along, so they would want for nothing and that's it: he did something unforgiveable. They're talking face to face by this point, she looks horrified and he looks DONE.
Beth gets another silent call, this time she's angry and hangs up, to get another call on her cell from George. They're tracked down that number on Dave's call list, it was registered to Marianne Morton (Manjinder Virk), who Beth is staring at right now. That call is cut short by the sight of Marty walking in hand-in-hand with Katrina.
So. I don't know if I'll go a whole lot further, this show didn't really grab me in a way I like to be grabbed (not Trumped, consensual-like). I got the themes and understood the characters, I just don't know if it's....gripping enough, if you know what I mean? Perhaps one more, see if the peeps can draw me in. Until then, cheers!