Viewer’s Discretion: ‘Hidden’ and ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor’

‘HIDDEN’ (ACORN TV)

The genre of European crime shows has been perfected to a science, usually combining a few of several possible elements into a narrative formula and then fleshing them out with some character particulars that often rely on the chosen actors to give them life. Among the elements are a moody setting, an investigator that has some kind of conflict alongside the work, a private life for the investigator that ekes at their attention but is also thematically related to the crime, cohorts that add flavor and depth to the investigator’s life and a perpetrator who somehow transgresses the agreed-upon norms of human society, often in secret and usually putting the investigator in the role of doctor trying to prescribe and cure a disease at the heart of humanity. Standard elements, yes, but these probably lend more possibilities of sophistication than the equal circumstances in any given Marvel Universe movie.

“Hidden,” or “Craith” as it is called in its native Welsh language, grabs all these factors in a particularly entertaining manner. A body of a girl is found, solving an old missing person case, but aligning with some new crimes, including an assault and another missing person. There to investigate is DI Cadi John (Sian Reese-William), ex-military who has returned home to work for her local police and take care of her dying father, himself former police. Cadi is not finessed at all, but disheveled by the emotional juggling she has to do between the personal and professional. She’s professional and capable, though, embracing the focus of crime-solving almost as a form of meditation.

What makes the show particularly alluring though, is the care it takes with the surrounding characters involved in the crime. Former victims’ families and current victims, as well as previously convicted suspects, are portrayed in three-dimensional terms that add meat to the mystery. And the series hovers around the perpetrator’s life as well, exploring the psychology in a calm manner and offering at least one very sympathetic character living among the monsters. But even as it portrays the monsters, it offers them up as fully formed characters.

To cap it off, “Hidden” does well with its moody location in Northern Wales, adding just the right amount of spooky fairyland foreboding with its forests, but never so overdone that it doesn’t operate well as a subtle psychological game board for the players.

‘WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR’ (AMAZON, APPLE, GOOGLE PLAY, VUDU, YOUTUBE)

You wouldn’t typically expect a documentary tracing the career of Fred Rogers, better known as Mr. Rogers, to prove itself so prescient and philosophical as “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” but a single viewing makes a compelling argument that you should’ve expected it. There are biographies that tell a person’s stories, but there are also those who examine what a person means and then applies that meaning to the world around the person. In that way, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” might be one of the most profound documentaries I’ve ever had the pleasure of viewing.

Filled with great footage of Rogers both during broadcasts and off-hours, as well as some emotional, revealing interviews with his family and people in his cast and crew, the film does a superb job at capturing the creative and cultural importance of Rogers’ television work. But more importantly, the film takes a deep dive into Rogers’ philosophy of life and asks important questions about what that philosophy really means, and is it something Americans actually apply to their lives.

The answers aren’t always cheerful, but they are enlightening. The film reveals that Fred Rogers’ battle for gentleness and respect has always been an uphill one. We live in the kind of world where that message is considered radical, and that should tell you something. The analysis of how far we’ve veered from that path actually gets pretty depressing, but it’s also an eye-opener. What are you, the viewer, doing to make the world a place of gentleness and respect?

And through this dark world, Rogers becomes a different kind of prophet, a one-of-a-kind eccentric with an emotional innocence that is powerful and infectious, even as the world around him continues along. It’s a fitting, enjoyable and extremely insightful tribute to one of the unassuming heroes of our time, as well as a siren calling for you to do your small bit, make your tiny change.


Originally published at www.berkshireeagle.com.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s