DONOVAN. Granada TV, UK, 2004. 2 x 90 minute episodes. Samantha Bond, Ryan Cartwright, Tom Conti, Kara Wilson, Rhea Bailey, Jonathan Beswick, Anthony Edridge, Martin Scoles, David Fleeshman.

   Donovan was a one-off story with Tom Conti as the titular forensic scientist. Ten years ago he had a breakdown and resigned after a convicted murderer was acquitted on appeal after Donovan had been fond to have suppressed some evidence.

   Now a body is found with an identical method to the original crime. Donovan is pursuing a successful career writing about crimes he has investigated, but because of this connection is called in to do some forensics alongside the new scientist.

   (I would have thought that because of this connection he would have been the last person called in to do the work — but this is typical of the way that the obvious is simply glossed over to allow the situation to develop.)

   Some DNA is found at the scene and it turns out to be Donvan’s: he claims it is planted, but at first it is thought that he has carelessly left it while investigating.

   Later, when the victim turns out to be one of his wife’s lovers, it is used as evidence of Donvan’s guilt. Worse, he is suffering memory losses, especially of items that are important to the plot. Could he have committed the murder and forgotten about it?

   This had a strong cast, though Conti chose to play his part without any discernible emotions, and in truth I quite enjoyed it, but it just wasn’t plausible. It was done in all seriousness and presumably we were meant to take it seriously.

Editorial Comment:   This two-parter story has been packaged with three additional episodes from 2005 and is available on DVD in the US as DNA. See the image above.