Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Cape Wrath

It appears that there is a bit of a surge of new dramas on our television screens, the new one on More 4 with Chandler out of Friends will be starting soon, everyone's been harping on about 'Dexter' with Michael C Hall as a charming likeable serial killer (I'm hoping for an everyday television version of Chopper) and tonight (after Big Brother) began 'Cape Wrath'.
I was intrigued mainly because this has got to be one of the most interesting situations to form a drama serial around: Take a creepily fake looking town and throw in a few misfits, families and individuals unable to live their daily lives as they had before, misfits who, for some reason or another, are placed under witness protection. In amongst these misfits are families, those caught in the crossfire of horrific violent crimes, alongside them are the criminals themselves, those who dish out the violence. The resulting drama is, if it's successful a thrilling and at times squeamish sequence of events, one which I am hugely looking forward to obsessing over.
I didn't pay my full attention this evening I must admit, but I did see the climactic event on which I can only assume much of the series, or at least the next episode will be based around. It was gruesome, bite-into-your-cushion-or-nearby-friend's-shoulder terrifying, in between the rape and the blood and the bizarre psychological suffering of the young (emo) boy it's an admirable and enticing piece of programming which channel 4 have done very well to pick up. It's exciting when they bring us British drama; where the US dole out the somewhat over-the-top 'Desperate Housewives' and the frankly overrated and utterly confusing 'Lost' (I never got it and I never want to get it) it's great to see the Brits bring real monsterous bite. It's' neither cheap nor overdone, it's dark and it reminds me in part of 'Funland' which has got to be another of our home-grown masterpieces. What impresses me most is it is starkly different from anything that is currently flashing on and off our screens and as long as the characters grow and develop as well as I am hoping they do this could be the thing I come home on a Tuesday for.

Friday, 6 July 2007

short and sweet

I have to say, Big Brother is doing what it should have done long ago, yet equally doing it on just the right series. Watch the susicions, the jealousy, the arguments the chaos as they send in a bonafide MOLE. I'm cackling at the thought, every year they wonder, every year they pick a person and muse over their association with Big Brother. Now, not only are they putting in a fake housemate, it's someone they could have easily seen on tv before. She's got Balls of Steel indeed, and i wonder if anyone will notice. I can't wait to see if Charley starts questioning it, it will be beautiful.

Other important Big Brother comment of the night, Chanelle's still in (why god why?! I love Laura) and Ziggy's face was a petrified picture, what will he do now? Oh dear.

This is going to be something wonderful

Pop Politics

When you watch Eastenders have you noticed that if they're watching televsion it is almost always a nature documentary? This was certainly true a few years ago and as far as I can tell it continues this way. The characters of the soap have no interest in anything that is genuinely occuring in the real world, yet, on Monday's episode there was a political undercurrent throughout the episode.

This Monday the Queen Vic re-opened after a (so-called) refurbishment and with it was required to remove it's ashtrays and disallow indoor smoking. Obviously, it makes sense to make a point of it, as though it were reality, as though the Queen Vic had to suffer as all pubs in England have. But bizarrely, it seemed to take up the entire episode and episodes which followed, Dot's frustration, the lack of customers, and Pat's little private book club cum illegal bar where smoking is permitted.

I, unfortunately, have not watched any other English soap opera to notice a difference, I caught a few episodes of Hollyoaks this week but not attentively and usually I sat down in the middle of it feeling pretty knackered after work. However, considering all the goings on I wonder if it was something merely mentioned in passing. I can't say I've really noticed any smokers in Hollyoaks, it seems as though they're all too beautiful and care far too much for their health, I'm sure avoiding the fags keeps their skin clear and glowing.

Another thing Eastenders slipped in, also on Monday was an extremely fleeting comment on Gordon Brown's replacing of Blair. A brief mid-conversation moment along the lines of: 'we all thought it would improve with Brown'. I found it utterly bizarre, oddly placed and somewhat uncalled for. I need to rfresh myself on any rules the BBC may have on political comment in their programming. I'm not sure what that statement was intended to say or how it was supposed to be recived by the audience. It may have been specifically to demonstrate the programme is occurring in absolute real time, that episode, of that day, is very much that episode of that day. Thus, commenting on an affair as important and as date-specific as that demonstrates the attempted realism of the soap without necessarily making any genuine political comment.

Yet, really, I don't understand why it was necessary and whether subtly it may have been a comment, a quick dig at Blair slipped in, or simply the BBC speaking on behalf of the everyday people, the average individual within the nation that we're happy with Brown, we didn't need an election and we don't care that he was the only person who had been seriously considered for the post. I think it would be absolutely apalling if it was acting as this spokesperson but it's interesting that it was mentioned.

Eastenders has been attacking some slightly diffifcult debates which are very much in tune with current affairs yet I've found their attacks less attacking and much more of a stroke, a flippant and unconsidered gesture which comes to no conclusion and does little to open up any kind of discourse on a subject. Look at their poor attempt at involving an Eastern Europen immigrant recently, a co-worker to Dot, a baby, a difficult situation. She, the caring individual, playing it comfortably on the left. Jim, bowled from the right, angered and apalled and ready to get her deported, back to where she belonged regardless of her suffering, regardless of what broght her to the country. I felt that in the end the story didn't last long enough, it got thrown away and i din't really understand what was done with the woman or her baby, not enough people were involved.

Now, we've got the Polish builders, disliked by many, though a form of amusement for others, I can't figure out what exactly the intention of the writers is. Am I suffering a cynicism that emerges from some sort of insitutionalised racism? Does it make sense to have Polish builders? Maybe we should mix it up a bit, you get all sorts of builders, from all sorts of places, I know, I've been working in an environment with builders for the past week.

It's funny because on the on ehand Eastenders can tackle the issues or simply try and present an accurate reality but equally, such as with the Polish people, it can feel oddly uncomfortable. But maybe it's because in actual fact it's a utopia of majority white, mixed class people living in East London. This is hardly the case, city bankers and market traders do not live on the same square, there is not only a token Asian or Black family, there are many more and they play a bigger role in the community, their culture, if thre is a dominant community, will be hugely influential on the types of shops and trading which exists in the area and I just don't believe Eastenders has any kind of true check on reality. So, I figure that's why I find myself unsure and uncomfortable when they try to pop a few pieces of our lives in, either pretend with your little white fantasy or stir it up as far as your imagination/observations will take you. I really thing the decision ought to be made because these bizarre political infusions are removing us from the real juice, like the family love affair between Stacey and the father/son pair Max and Bradley, oooh...