Did we like it?
This must have soaked up a huge amount of the ITV drama budget but it was a damp squib throughout, never credible, hardly ever dramatic, ultra gimmicky and very stupid. This was a disaster movie – but only for the wrong reasons.
What was good about it?
• The computerised maps showing a tide of blue wrecking London had allegorical merit after the disastrous election of Boris Johnson as mayor on Thursday.
• The computer-generated aerial scenes of London succumbing to a surge tide were a big success, although they did underline the nonsense of the plot by showing the flood racing through the streets while the people in power acted as if they had plenty of time to indulge in ponderous decision making and lots of horrified stares.
• Tom Hardy and his big lips looked good in London Underground overalls.
What was bad about it?
• Met police commander Nash (an unimpressive Joanne Whalley) with her wishy washy leadership (“Give me updates every ten minutes.”) and preoccupation with the fate of her horrible Sloaney daughters. One policewoman, who reminded us of Pat Butcher from EastEnders, seemed to be assigned to just one task – finding these educated but stupid brats and offering reassuring words each time she failed.
• Incompetent meteorologist Nigel Planer (the least impressive performer in a fiercely fought race) somehow to and froed between London and his Exeter HQ (which looked like CTU but he was no Jack Bauer) as if he had a supersonic craft to ferry him about. We were probably supposed to be sad when he killed himself. We couldn’t have cared less.
• Tom Courtenay doesn’t appear very often on screen and we suspect his judgement for choosing this dud when he must turn down a lot. He was the engineering genius and the character we were supposed to warm to. We didn’t. It was his job to save the day – but he didn’t quite manage it until the water was well on the way to wiping out the Docklands Light Railway, 68 underground stations, 30 mainline stations, three world heritage sites, eight power stations, dozens of museums and art galleries and Whitehall.
• Robert Carlysle speaking in a faux Cockney accent that suggested he’d received elocution lessons from Todd Carty. His worst moments (of so, so many) came when he jumped into the roaring Thames (a river you’d be lucky to survive at the best of times) and managed to swim around for ages, hardly drawing a breath. Are we supposed to believe that this rather ordinary marine engineer leads a double life as the Man From Atlantis?
• David Suchet as the deputy prime minister lacked charisma, leadership and political nous, rendering his character null and void.
• The flood defence game seems to be very incestuous. Everyone had links to each other, so that Carlyle could indulge in overwrought emotional moments during reunions with his estranged father (they fell out over tidal behaviour theories) and ex-wife Sam (Jessalyn Gilsig).
• The women from Wick in northern Scotland (who survived the opening deluge that killed her sweet mother) somehow got to London within hours, even though the city in the midst of an evacuation emergency.
• The head of the US Federal Reserve spoke as if he was from some weird east European country.
• Dramatic music, gimmicky graphics, caption madness and TV news channel footage intruded throughout so it never properly felt like a drama. And the script was generally appalling. “How do we stand?” “We’re up against it?” (The City and much of south London were deep under water at that point).