Monday, January 27, 2014

January Blues

It's been a month since my last post.  It's not indolence or apathy, simply that culture is pretty much a dead duck round here at the moment and the media, having exhausted itself with the bilge-fest that was Christmas, has been downright bloody awful.  So here's a resume.

Sherlock came and went on BBC1.  It was controversial, not in itself a bad thing, and divided viewers into two camps: Loved It and Hated It.  I typically hedged my bets.  I violently disliked the first two of three but thought the third (which I had pledged not to watch) was captivating. 

The difference between the first two and the third was the writer.  Mark Gatiss wrote The Empty Hearse and The Sign of Three; Steven Moffatt wrote His Last Vow.  I am a huge admirer of Gatiss in pretty much everything he does - except, sadly, his scriptwriting.  He did a beautiful documentary about M R James over Christmas but his dramatization of The Tractate Middoth was clumsy, tricksy and, frankly, pants.  I often find cause to criticise Moffatt, especially his handling of Dr Who, but His Last Vow had all the glitzy signatures of Sherlock whilst maintaining a strong storyline and creating compelling new characters - specifically the evil press baron Charles Augustus Magnusson, played with clinical glee by Lars Mikkelson, star of the first and best Killing.

Speaking of drama Nordic, the final Borgen trundled to a close over the New Year.  I had long since given up.  I simply didn't care about a Coalition Government tearing itself apart.  I wish ours would get on with doing just that.  But then came The Bridge II, the highlight of my January, not only as good as its predecessor but to my mind marginally better.  We seem to have delved deeper into the character of Martin, and now he balances Saga more comfortably - in short, they are equally damaged.  Sadly The Bridge ends this coming weekend.  Replacing it will Salamander from Belgium (below).  We keep our fingers well and truly crossed.

Finally, for now, we have Hostages on C4, America's latest attempt to do a Homeland by ripping off an Israeli original.  Toni Collette plays a surgeon about to operate on the President.  Then Dylan McDermott takes her family hostage and threatens to kill them if she doesn't do the right thing and kill the President.  It's OK - better than Homeland seasons 2 & 3 - but it falls kind of flat because nobody outside America really cares what happens to George W Bush or, unfortunately, Lame Duck Obama.  You have to think that plotline had a lot more resonance in the Israeli original.  We'll find out later in the year, as I believe the original is coming in BBC4's foreign crime drama slot.