Attempting to add a "twist" to the tried and true police procedural genre, Britain's "Identity" assembles all core components of the genre and paints it with a coat of gimmick, in the form of identity theft as a plot device. Running for a merciful, six-episode run last summer, "Identity" is a series that just exists. It's neither horrible nor stellar, instead it languishes in that middle ground of disposable television that momentarily gets you fixed to the screen, but mostly is just as effective as background noise, much in the way "Law and Order" exists in perpetual rerun status on a number of US networks.
The Identity Unit, our heroes consist of a quirky band of professionals, led by the earnest and professional DS Martha Lawson (Keeley Hawes), the straight-laced and abrasive DS Wareing (Shaun Parkes), and the series' draw, DI John Bloom, played by Aidan Gillen, most recognizable from his stint on "The Wire." Bloom is your generic outsider, coming in off the street after 15-years of deep cover work inside the worlds of organized crime and terrorism. A man of mystery, his methods are frequently questioned by superiors, but almost always prove effective in solving the case. Gillen is the only actor in the series that attempts to interject a personality into his character and his back-story, which threatens his new, more "low-key" life exists as the sole spark to keep the series going, yet sadly, it never gets a chance to develop as the series is over as fast as it starts.
On the other hand, "Identity" doesn't have much else to offer. Every episode takes a case of identity theft and expands it into an action-packed mystery that stretches the boundaries of credibility, weaving a Hitchockian level of complexity and mystery that is terribly out-of-place and poorly resolved. The slow-as-molasses premiere episode could easily turn off viewers, as the plot is so absurd, that the series' dead serious approach to things doesn't mesh well. The following episodes are a little better and the absurdity is backed up with more exposition, but as the series creeps towards its best episode, connecting the present with Bloom's past, some episodes begin to shamelessly borrow elements from the "Bourne" films, only "Identity's" take is uninspired and sloppy.
Genre fans will find "Identity" to be a decent diversion. It's far from an engaging series, with more value coming from staggering your viewings. Mild fans of procedurals and mysteries may find Bloom's story enough to keep going, but now, realizing it has no conclusion and never will, will probably want to skip the series outright. "n a world where British TV is often held as the high-water mark, "Identity" reminds us, that even the best get things wrong every so often and mediocrity isn't unique to a country where two procedural franchises sport multiple spin-offs. Don't let "Identity's" misrepresented gimmick fool you, it's something we've all seen before and there are a number of series' that do it better.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is above-average, featuring middle of the road detail, colors on the lighter side of natural, and slightly iffy contrast. No signs of digital tinkering or glaring technical faults are present.
The Dolby Digital English 2.0 audio is adequate, rendering dialogue clearly and properly balanced, while the incredibly generic score a background nuisance. Effects are not quite as effective, with brief, loud action moments lacking the kick a more fleshed-out track could provide. English subtitles for the hearing impaired are included.
A short text-based bonus section provides a few interviews and cast filmographies.
As quickly as "Identity" entered my life, it was forgotten. It tries to gussy up an overused concept, and only succeeds at being competent, but consistently average. Had the series been a little tighter and pulled Bloom's past into the midst sooner, it might have saw a second outing. Instead, it's relegated to TV history as yet another procedural that made no impact, positive or negative. Rent It.