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More Suspense and Mystery from Acorn with 'Deadwater Fell'
April 6, 2020  | By David Hinckley

If David Tennant (top) moves into your town, here's a tip: Move out immediately.

Tennant is a wonderful actor, but every time he shows up these days, it seems that a grisly fate befalls some local innocent.

Don't say you weren't warned.

Tennant's latest whereabouts are chronicled in Deadwater Fell, a four-part U.K. series that becomes available Monday on Acorn.

Total non-spoiler: It will remind viewers of Broadchurch, which also starred David Tennant.

Here Tennant plays Dr. Thomas Kendrick, a well-liked and jovial father of three young daughters. He is married to Kate (Anna Madeley), a popular grade-school teacher who seems as happy with Tom as he is with her.

Then one night, a fire breaks out in the Kendrick home, and only Tom survives. It seems like your basic unthinkable tragic accident until a coroner notes that all five of the Kendricks had been injected with some sort of drug, apparently before the fire.

This makes it no less tragic, but much less likely an accident. So Deadwater Fell quickly becomes a whodunit in which, naturally, almost everyone's life is dissected and found to be something other than what it appeared.

Those closest to the center of all this probing, in terms of what they are hunting and/or what they may be hiding, include Tom's mother, Carol (Maureen Beattie), a rather unpleasant woman who didn't get along with Kate, and Police Sgt. Steve Campbell (Matthew McNulty), who takes the most interest in the case.

Also out in front is Jess Milner (Cush Jumbo), whose own young boys were good friends with the Kendrick children. She was Kate's best friend and closest confidante, as well as a fellow teacher at Kate's grade school.

The first façade to begin crumbling, as often happens in these cases, is that of the victims and their seemingly idyllic home life.

Kate, it turns out, had much more serious and lingering postpartum issues than anyone seemed to know, and Tom did not always exercise maximum patience.

Those revelations open more doors, some of them leading to rooms with dark and ominous secrets that invite a fair amount of misdirection while viewers, as well as characters, try to deduce who might have wanted the Kendricks dead and why.

Tom, not surprisingly, becomes, in many townspeople's minds, the primary suspect.

Deadwater Fell was a big hit in the U.K., and it's easy to see why. It moves along at a brisk clip, putting pieces into a complex puzzle that raises the larger question of how any of us would withstand intense scrutiny into our secret lives.

The opening scene of Deadwater Fell has Kate and Jess leading their pupils out onto the sidewalk so they can join the rest of the town in cheering for the contestants in a Tour de France style bicycle race that's coming down Main Street.

The racers come into sight, everyone cheers and the racers flash by in a blur. In two minutes or less, they're gone, and it's over.

In some of its darkest reflective moments, Deadwater Fell suggests that it could be a metaphor for human life.

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