False or Fortune? is the art world’s response to Line of Duty

Eight sets of False or Fortune? (BBC One) and the presenters obviously realized what viewers understood a long time ago: This is not an art award show, it is the most gripping crime drama on television. How else to explain Fiona Bruce’s repeated exclamations in last night’s episode: “We need a body!”

I’m not sure what she meant in the context of the art world, but it gave me some insight into how Fake or Fortune? is heading. Soon Bruce will prove to be a hell of a good art sleuth but a hell of a bad mother, as she is married at work and some past trauma has left her with permanent scars.

Philip Mold, the art dealer who is currently Bruce’s willing sidekick, will have his own spinoff show in the seedy world of high-value phone auctions – Mold to the Highest Bidder. They will both have a declaration vehicle to get around.

Not that False or Fortune? really needs to move forward or change a lot at all. It’s gotten to this point that some TV series do when the presenters, producers, and the format they’ve cooked up reach a pinnacle of sophistication and it all works out.

Last night’s investigation into a possible Edwin Landseer, one of the finest Victorian animal artists whose lion sculptures adorn Trafalgar Square, could hardly have been better scripted. Like with Who do you think you are? the simple act of pulling and pulling a wire, following clues and archival sources to the truth, was fascinating

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