Understanding what type of series you want to produce is half the job of a series' creative team. Getting the direction, interpretation, photography or interpretations to row in the same direction, understanding the tone, the aims and limitations of the work. And, in this sense, you cannot criticize The Couple Next Door, which Movistar Plus premieres this Thursday: it perfectly understands that it is a telefilm thriller with its fair doses of morbidity and an object of desire, Sam Heughan, with a parish of fans more than established after leading the romantic and fiery Outlander.
The story begins when Evie (Eleanor Tomlinson) and Pete (Alfred Enoch) move to a housing estate with well-cut grass. They have a healthy relationship, they want to expand their family but they have problems conceiving. From the moment they arrive with the moving boxes, they come into contact with Becka (Jessica De Gouw) and Danny (Sam Heughan), a couple who live on the same street. They are a similar age, seem eager to make new friends, and, as Evie admits to Pete, are extremely attractive.
It doesn't take a second interaction (or confirmation that Becka and Danny are in an open relationship) to understand that the neighbors are a sexual earthquake that will shake the foundations of Evie and Pete's conservative, monogamous relationship. The couple next door, just in case, is even presented with a scene of the alleged outcome: the four characters in the forest, Evie running in lingerie and Pete deranged and with a gun.
In the background, there are also three subplots. Danny, who is a police officer, accepts a job as a security agent for a corrupt businessman whom Pete is investigating as a journalist. Becka is harassed by a neighbor (Hugh Dennis), who even sneaks into her house to sniff underwear or look at her camera files, which include videos of her partner swapping. And, to complete the portrait of Evie, her family dynamics are explored: how an ultra-religious father affected the way she relates to men.
The Couple Next Door, written by David Allison and directed by Dries Vos based on the Dutch series New Neighbors, has its share of spicy scenes although with a camera that is too modest. Sam Heughan's body cannot be shown so many times in an obsessive way and, when he has to take action, opt for such a conventional direction.
It is appreciated that, despite the naive outlook of Evie and Pete, the series is less traditional in focusing on the different natures of marital relationships. And the different plots move predictably towards the dramatic climax, partly helped by a somewhat forced psychological optics. But, as I said, this is what happens when the reference is the Saturday afternoon TV movie.
If this description seduces you as much as the idea of Sam Heughan showing off his arms and pecs, The Couple Next Door is the six-episode miniseries you need, less luxurious than the recent Dangerous Paths but more entertaining.