With a team of writers led by Tony Jordan (Hustle, Life on Mars), 'By Any Means' was initially a show full of promise. Labelled as an original crime drama, the show's premise was an intriguing one, it was to follow "a clandestine unit living on the edge of playing the criminal elite at their own game, existing in the grey area between the letter of the law and true justice."
Pitted against ITV's juggernaut, 'Downton Abbey', the ensemble drama never really stood a chance of dominating the Sunday night ratings but the show's main appeal was its impressive cast of popular actors and actresses.
Established TV faces Warren Brown (Luther, Good Cop), Shelly Conn (Mistresses, Marchlands) and Andrew Lee Potts (Primeval, Ideal) headed up the cast as the crew who sometimes had to play deviant to bring down the previously acquitted bad guys.
Whilst all three did well in their roles, their characters all seemed familiar and were riddled with clichés that belittled what could have been a good concept. It's unfortunate that the script didn't adhere to the "some things are better seen not heard" truism, as we repeatedly heard the characters explaining "we go after bad guys" and talking about the "grey area" their actions land them in.
Another pitfall of the show was that Andrew Lee Potts' character Thomas Tomkins and Warren Brown's Jack Quinn were reminiscent of some of their past roles. Brown in particular seems to be becoming typecast as the tough guy protagonist - you know things are bad when you think back to an actor's role on 'Hollyoaks' and wish they could repeat some of that depth and depravity in their new endeavours.
Hopefully, as the series continues, we'll see more characterisation of the series leads. It would be nice to find out about their backgrounds and how they came to be working in this "grey area" they so frequently mention.
You can't mention the clichés that were in the show without acknowledging the casting of Keith Allen as the episode's bad guy. Whilst Allen's appearance might have drawn in audiences, his previous work made his role border on predictable. With an established cast taking on the lead roles, it would perhaps have been nice to have a lesser known actor playing the villain so that the audience didn't know whether they were coming or going.
Despite the cliché ridden script and stereotypical characters, the show's biggest downfall was its lack of direction. At times, it felt like it was trying too hard to be a hybrid of some of television's recent successes. Stylistically, it was very similar to 'Hustle', although some may argue this was always going to be the case with Tony Jordan leading the writing team, and the group's tactics seemed very reminiscent to 'Sherlock', just without the spark.
Whilst the show undoubtedly has potential, if the following episodes don't avoid the overwhelming clichés and predictable plots, viewers aren't likely to be tempted to stay - especially with 'Downton Abbey' looming over the viewing slot.
More articles by Rachel: