If purgatory is a place, then it would definitely be a British railway station. The never-ending delayed trains. The endless flow of commuters. The carefully bland décor: shudder.
It’s a sad and soulless place, so as the setting for a murder mystery – or even a paranormal thriller – ITV’s new show Platform 7 is right on the money. Sadly, the show ends up chugging along slower than the Avanti service to London Euston.
Lisa is condemned to an afterlife of wandering Platform 7 of Peterborough Station, the place she supposedly died by suicide. As a place for people watching, it’s surely top notch – and that’s how she spends her days, until a man jumps in front of a train and she has company.
The problem is the show struggles to get out of the sidings. The first episode drowns the audience in exposition, where Jobson is condemned to uttering hokey-sounding lines – “I have no memory, you see” – that make the entire thing sound more like a stage production than a TV drama.
Beyond that, there’s the issue of Lisa herself, who can’t actually talk to anybody on account of being, you know, dead. Who knows why there aren’t more lost souls lurking around Peterborough – or indeed, the rest of the UK – but beyond her new friend, we never bump into any others, so she is condemned to wander alone for most of the series.
Jobson is an excellent actor, but try standing in the corner of a room and emoting Being Sad while everybody else acts like you don’t exist, like some kind of sentient potted plant.
Worse is to come when she’s freed from the station to roam on the streets of Peterborough (freed after, er, touching the tear of a crying woman incidentally). Rather than, you know, enjoying her freedom, she ends up following her milquetoast ex-boyfriend home and lovingly watching him sleep like an Edward Cullen ripoff.
This is a shame, because once the show moves beyond this weird ghost limbo, the actual storyline has potential. Did Lisa kill herself? Of course, the answer is probably not – and Lisa suspects this too.
The rest of the show splits its time between intentionally vague flashbacks of her last year alive, Lisa’s investigation of her fellow passenger, Edward (Phil Davies), and following dogged Transport Police Officer Akash around (Yaamin Chowdhury) as he looks into her death – despite the fact it’s almost certainly out of his remit. Oh well: at least it’s a chance for Lisa to meet up with all her old friends and family and vet them for ulterior motives (or indeed, watch them cover their tracks).
Sadly, all the intended emotional punches fail to land. There’s just no time to get invested in anybody beyond Lisa, and even she remains an enigma for most of the series: a Loving Girlfriend, Wonderful Daughter and Great Friend.
It’s a shame, because there’s the bones of a good murder mystery here – but sadly the show goes off the rails long before it has reached its destination.
Streaming now on ITVX