Friday, 31 October 2008

Bad, bad TV shows

As a Nathan Barley fan, this pains me to write this but the zombie in big brother house serial Dead Set in truly awful. For a start its not scary. I'm a total coward when it comes to zombies (in a truly embarrassing way, they freak me the f**k out) and this one didn't spook me. Now that's bad. That's a sign of complete lack of craft visually and with pace. In about three hours it had five minutes of atmosphere (a bit with a lone guy travelling up a river in a boat).

Worse is the fact the Charlie Brooker, a man behind man terrific Guardian articles, screenwipe and the aforementioned Nathan Barlay, couldn't be arsed writing a script or characters. The basic idea is that people are trapped inside the big brother house during a zombie outbreak. Yet this is standard zombie material. I find it difficult to write about this as everything is so basic, the acting so dull. It's difficult to find an angle without sounding utterly despondent as this filth is so cliched. Angry boss who gets ripped apart by zombie hordes- check. Feisty female lead oppressed by sexist louts- check. Social commentary- check (but done as a blatant Romero steal, the ultimate zombie gesture). Doomed geeky oppressed boyfriend of leading lady- check. There's just nothing there. Worse is that Brooker sets them up simply to murder every character and can't be bothered hiding that fact so the plot is deadly. Any reality TV jokes implied by this boring by the first episode. Yet it goes on for another four atrocious half-hour slots where time slowly dies. Any moment of possible interest, such as a guy ripping apart a dead zombie as meat to others zombies would seem fresh only if you haven't seen Day Of the Dead. And there it was done better. The idea of a doomed compound in the UK was done two years ago in 28 weeks later, and much better, with clearer social points and actual character motivations (and a proper dark ending, and a better bit on a boat amidst zombies). I'm going to stop now as it will simply be a list on how Brooker failed on every possible level. To wrap it up, its the most boring zombie fiction ever (and there's a lot of competition).

From zombies to heroes. This is a really stupid show that I mention as I watch it because its so utterly moronic in every possible respect but is weirdly addictive in a car crash type of way. You have terrible dialogue and almost catatonic sense of framing and light, vying with either bad young acting or slumming older acting by people who should know better (take a bow Malcolm McDowell and Robert Forster). The show would be far better if the slumming actors got all the lines as at least they are fun to watch. But the young leads. Jesus. Vacant reactions that are always off. You know those comments by actors that its hard to act against someone who is not reacting and simply waiting for their next line. These kids show what that comment means. You have a perky idiot blond who can't die (but god please let her, she's woeful), an idiot fat cop who does nothing, ever, an idiot fat Japanese guy who talks about heroes (he's gotta be learning disabled), a guy who's the son to those in power and seems to be interacting with a future version of himself a lot (He's the best actor of the bunch. I don't know about his acting abilities because his character is so dumb. But he's pretty painless so I'm not awestruck by awfulness). The so bad he's downright surreal acting performance is by a guy playing this scientist looking for a cure (but who's now turning into the fly). This guy is so awful, so incapable of any emotion that I'm amazed he's not starving in the streets. He's incapable of saying simple lines without causing utter embarrassment to himself. The only young actor who does well is one playing this villain called Sylar. This guy is fun and seems to have watched the hamming, slumming older actors and figured out how to get the hell out of this show with some dignity. (This dumb show also has pulled in two good actors from The Wire, Jamie Hector and Andre Royo. They have nothing to do while being above it all).

The plots make no sense and I think given time we can see some Ed wood style speeches, if you give this cast and these writers enough time at it. That's what's keeping me going. So will we see Malcolm McDowell say "Pull the string! Pull the string!"

Now there are some tacky shows that I genuinely like. I am not so high and mighty. I have seen every season of 24. I saw the Colin Baker Dr Who's. I'm waiting for someone in the new terminator show to go mad at the twelfth time someone says yeah in three minutes. I have seen the entirety of Blade The Series.

And to a specific English friend reading this, Lost really is atrocious.

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