Showtime gave us “Your Honor,” the Bryan Cranston drama about a hit-and-run death. Then, AMC featured a miniseries called “The Beast Must Die” about a hit-and-run death. Now PBS’s “Masterpiece” is premiering a miniseries called “Guilt,” Sunday at 9 p.m. on GBH 2, that’s about a hit-and-run death.
So drive carefully. And if by some awful chance you hit someone, stop and take responsibility. The alternative, as shown in these three shows, is, to quote “Mad Men,” not great Bob. Each series depicts the profound mess that comes from trying to get away with it. “Your Honor,” recently renewed, was lousy. “The Beast Must Die” was good, especially thanks to strong performances by Cush Jumbo and Jared Harris. And “Guilt,” a Scottish four-parter written by Neil Forsyth, falls somewhere in between the two. It starts off well, but becomes overly complicated to the point where the denouement doesn’t quite work.
Two very different brothers, Mark Bonnar’s Max and Jamie Sives’s Jake, are driving home from a wedding and accidentally hit and kill an elderly man. Max is a manipulative and greedy guy who insists on leaving the scene, despite the more sensitive Jake’s honest instincts. And, of course, the coverup becomes increasingly difficult; they become caught in the proverbial tangled web. They return the man’s body to a chair in his home, and assume people will think he just died there because he’s old. But you know, the bruised dead body has other things to say to the officials, and the old man’s niece is curious about what really happened.
The brothers, who bicker a lot, wind up getting close to those who knew the dead man, and the twists start coming fast and, at times, absurdly. Like Netflix’s “Clickbait,” the end does not justify the means. But still, Sives is excellent, and he grounds the at times semi-comic craziness with Jake’s noble leanings.