Thursday, May 31, 2012

TV Drama Update

Earlier this year I blogged about the bumper crop of international drama series hitting our TV screens here in the UK.  Luck (HBO/Sky Atlantic) has been and gone and died.  Homeland (Showtime/C4), which began so stunningly, fizzled out at the end, though Claire Dane's performance as Carrie Mathison may well be the best performance by an actress ever on mainstream TV.  When you compare it with the original, Gideon Raff's Hatufim, now showing here on Sky Arts 1 as Prisoners of War, you realise the extent to which the Americans soaped it up.  Of course in Israel the stakes are somewhat higher - these prisoners were held for seventeen years - but the dramaturgy is so much better: the sister of the one who died interacts with him as a 'ghost', the wife who caused a scandal by remarrying married the prisoner's brother and is now living with the returnee as man and wife.  Really, this is very superior material.  I am hooked.

The Bridge on BBC4 maintained its quality to the very end.  Sofia Helin was superb as the ADHD Saga - it has been a good spring for actresses - and Kim Bodnia was pretty damn good as Martin.  Currenly filling the Scandinavian slot on Saturday night is Sebastian Bergman with one of the Swedish Wallanders, Rolf Lassgard, as a criminal profiler with what may be an Oedipus Complex and a penchant for the younger ladies.  Bergman's breakdown on returning to his dead mother's house was an acting tour de force.  The revelation for me, though, was Tomas Laustiola as CID chief Torkel Hoglund (the one with the gun in the image below).  The hardest copper since Jim Taggart.

Meanwhile, Mad Men plods away on Sky Atlantic without me, I'm afraid.  I tried, I really did, but I no longer care.

On the home front, the second series of ITV's Scott & Bailey was a lot better than the first, mainly because Amelia Bullmore's DCI Murray stepped forward to fill the void that is Lesley Sharp.  The standout British drama has to be Paul Abbot's awkwardly-name Hit & Miss for Sky 1.  Essentially the Gallagher kids from Shameless are bequeathed to gender-transitioning hit-person Mia.  Chloe Sevigny's nude scenes are extraordinary - a very brave performance.

Madeline Miller wins Orange Prize for Fiction

American author Madeline Miller last night won the final Orange Prize for fiction for The Song of Achilles.  She says this debut novel took ten years to write, in which case it is either horribly overwritten, which I doubt, or a work of genius, which I strongly suspect it might be.  It is defintely on my want list.  This is the synopsis:

  • Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to Phthia to live in the shadow of King Peleus and his strong, beautiful son, Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper — despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.
The Orange Prize was founded in 1996 to promote fiction written by women in English.  It is a fine and honorable institution, but now, apparently, Orange would rather associate itself with movies.  Hopefully the prize will continue under a new sponsor.  Contemporary literature will be poorer without it.

Tom Mallin (1927-1977)

I've just been writing about Tom Mallin over on my bibiloblog (Best Radio Plays of 1978).  The first half of Mallin's career was as an artist and sculptor, before breaking into drama at the age of 43 with the stage play Curtains.  I found the above linocut image on his memorial website and really liked it.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Rugs from Omega Workshop

The Courtauld Gallery is following up its Mondrian/Nicholson exhibition with a show of rugs from the Omega Workshop 1913-1916.

This one is attributed to Vanessa Bell and has been reproduced by Christopher Farr in an extremely limited edition of only 15.

The exhibition runs from tomorrow (May 3) to June 24.  I hope to catch it.