Sky Atlantic have been putting serious money into producing new dramas, and they’ll be hoping that this autumn’s offering, Tin Star, meets with a slightly more enthusiastic reception than this summer’s Riviera.
Set in the sleepy Canadian town of Little Big Bear, Tin Star tells the story of the new Police Chief Jim Worth, who has moved from London with his family, hoping to escape “the wreckage” (as his wife puts it) they left behind. Jim Worth is a troubled man with a drinking problem and more than a few hints at a violent past.
Their new home might seem like paradise, but there are more bad guys and secrets in Little Big Bear than any small town should rightfully have. The opening scenes show the Worth family being viciously attacked by a masked assailant, and the masked man is not the only person the Worth family should fear.
Exactly who is the villain of the piece remains to be seen.
Is the bad guy North Stream Oil, with their huge new oil refinery and their strange and intimidating head of security, Gagnon? With his Québécois accent and obsessively meticulous habits, he is slightly reminiscent of a Bond villain. The company is in the process of building a big refinery in the town, and their Vice President of Stakeholder Relations, Elizabeth Bradshaw (played by Christina Hendricks), tows the company line while she assures the residents that the influx of workers will not cause a rise in crime. But quite how much she believes what she is saying is unclear.
But as the community fears, when the oil refinery opens the town soon sees a spike in the crime rate, with mysterious deaths and trouble with biker gangs, all of which proves to be a bit too much for the three-strong police force, who are more used to fishing and playing video games while on duty.
It is immediately obvious that the Worth family need to watch out for a motley band of British thugs, who seem determined to get revenge on Jim Worth for something connected with his shady past life in London. Jim Worth’s daughter, Anna, becomes involved with a member of this gang, Whitey, unaware that he is clearly disturbed, and only in Little Big Bear to get revenge on her father.
Unlike Riviera’s sumptuous villas and luxury yachts, Tin Star has a cold, bleak atmosphere, which is not unlike Sky Atlantic’s previous snowy small-town crime series, Fortitude. And, like most of Sky’s expensive new dramas, it features the obligatory big Hollywood name, in the form of Tim Roth. Roth has a quiet, unassuming presence, which makes you warm to the character of Jim Worth, even though it is clear right from the start that he is a deeply flawed character. He cares little about rubbing up the residents of his new home town the wrong way and making enemies for himself. Roth’s understated performance is what gives rise to the few humorous moments in the show, which come as a welcome relief from the almost relentless tension and conflict.
As the situation in Little Big Bear becomes ever more murky, and Jim worth finds himself at odds with his family, the community, and North Stream Oil, it is obvious that he needs to delve into his shady past in order to have any kind of hope for a future with his family.