With distinct echoes of other dystopian thrillers such as Blade Runner,
Above and Below is set in Midnight City, a world of isolated buildings, lonely people and with menace lurking just
around the corner. Marcus Reachman (Daniel Macnaughton) struggles to make a living there as a private detective, looking
for the kind of cases that might help to alleviate his precarious finances. In this pilot episode, he encounters his
sidekick Aliss (Lisa Ronaghan), apparently a vagrant with nowhere to go, who isn't all that she appears to be. Her only
saving grace is an apparent desire to work with Marcus; perhaps out of love, or perhaps about of loyalty.
In this pilot episode, Marcus encounters the rich, beautiful Melissa Valeheart (Rei
Haycraft), with sufficient power and influence to be able to dictate the lives of those around her. Marcus is apparently taken
in by her outward seductiveness, but this turns out to be one of his ploys in order to solve the case.
Throughout the episode Marcus is aided and abetted by the local police force, led
by Det. Ryan Connors (Mike Dent), who always seems to be just that one step behind the action, despite his obvious attenpts
to cut out crime.
Although set in the future, Above and Below has distinct links to the past
- especially the hardboiled crime thrillers of the 1930s and 1940s. Mr. Grin (Sean P. Guzman) bears a strong vocal resemblance
to Sidney Greenstreet; I kept wondering where the modern-day descendant of Peter Lorre was. Marcus cuts a convincingly
tough figure; he only needs the grubby raincoat and shapeless trilby to become a suitably Marlowesque figure. I liked
Lisa Ronaghan's Aliss a lot; although she never quite discloses her true motives, she retains a basic decency of character
that contrasts starkly with the immorality pervading the world of Midnight City.
I consider Above and Below a worthy venture, on the basis of the pilot;
with any luck it will become a regular series, hopefully sooner rather than later.