Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Hollow Crown

The Extremely Light Crown would be a more fitting title.  From the way it's picked up one-handed, rolled around and generally bandied about, it must be made of sprayed aluminium.  Great for the actors, but not so wonderful for the kings, we would think, especially not Richard, whose girlish vanity undid him in the first of these Shakespearean history play adaptations.

We've seen them all before, but are not scholars of the texts, so the fact that they've been chopped up and about for the screen didn't bother us in the way it might, conceivably, to purists.  To us, they were outstanding.  The visuals were gorgeous, from lighting and costume to the choice of interior and exterior locations (though wouldn't the castles have been a bit less bare?).  Actors must have been fighting each other as fiercely as they do onscreen to be cast.  Accusations that the BBC is behind the times can be quashed here and now: yes, this is what they do best, but they have taken this seriously enough to trounce their own previous productions of these plays.  They are as freed from the stage as it's possible for Shakespeare to be, and the text rings out as clearly as the lyrical, metred lines allow.


Thursday, 5 July 2012

Blackout - spoilers

In the first of a three-part drama, Daniel Demoys (Christopher Eccleston) is an alcoholic, sex-addicted councillor of an unnamed city where it's always raining.  City Hall is some vast monolithic nightmare.  His daughter dances at a school performance with smudge-dark eyes and they live in a house that even Dracula might want to brighten up a bit.  You'd be forgiven for thinking this was Gotham City and that Eccleston might be wavering between donning a bat mask or a too-large painted grin.

He meets a businessman in a dark alley, at night, in the eternal rain, and it's obvious he's bent as the proverbial nine-bob.  They argue, there's violence.  Cut to Daniel waking up to find out his wife has reached the end of her patience, his kids are frightened of him and the businessman he fought with is comatose in a hospital.  He goes to his estranged sisters, who happens to be a solicitor, for help.  She's a crusader, but even she doesn't want to know what her brother's been up to.  Until, that is, he takes a bullet for a young black man who's her client, and a witness in a controversial trial.  She enlists a political fixer who pushes Daniel to stand for the mayoral elections.  Daniel says no, no again, then yes, warning his potential voters that he's a bad boy.  As if to prove it, the comatose businessman dies, leaving a daughter who thinks Daniel is a hero for his very public act of good.  The loose thread who could undo him, however, is really the prostitute he'd had in the back of a downmarket bar, who witnessed the fight with the businessman and was caught on cctv running away.  She has an ex still obsessed with her who has a career as... you've guessed it, a cop.

Could turn out to be wonderful, but probably won't.  (What's the betting that the prostitute gets killed and it could be Daniel or the ex?)  Nonetheless, we'll be tuning in for the second episode, for the performances if nothing else.  Olivia Cooke as Daniel's teenaged daughter is particularly affecting.  It's just a shame that they have to make a fairly TWNH storyline even less believable by having Daniel recover from a serious shooting in no time flat, to the point where he's wandering around the hospital - in ITU of all places - lying on his injured side and allowing his wife to lean on his injured shoulder.  Maybe he is a superhero/supervillain after all.