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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

More on Television Drama

There seems to be a great deal of really good television drama on at the moment. It's odd how such things come in such quantities. It's the same in the world of literature. There seem to also be quite a lot of excellent written literature, novels in particular. You only have to go into a branch of Waterstone's and look at the tables piled high with the latest offerings to find this (I've a particular penchant for reading and try and keep me out of a book shop, particularly a branch of Waterstone's, and it's quite a difficult job for me to resist. Also, Waterstone's often has a 'Buy one, get one half price' or 'buy two and get one free' or similar enticements, so it's not difficult to stock up on the latest releases.) As regards television drama, we have new series of 'Grantchester,' 'The Durrells', as well as 
endless American imports on Sky.

'The Durrells' is part-way through the second series. It's based loosely on Gerald Durrell's memoirs of life on the Greek island of Corfu during the 1930's. I read the first of his 'Corfu Trilogy,' 'My Family and Other Animals' when I was in my teens. I managed to buy a second-hand copy at Cardington Church Fetë and enjoyed it immensely. As a result I went on to read many of his other books, 'Bafut Beagles,' 'Three Singles To Adventure,' 'Catch Me A Colobus,' 'The Overloaded Art' and 'Fillets of Plaice.' The first Corfu book, 'My Family and Other Animals' has been adapted twice before, the first time on BBC1 and had Hannah Gordon as Mrs Durrell and Brian Blessed as Spiro. Having been on I.M.D.B., I have discovered that an actor I worked with when I was D.S.M. at Ipswich Theatre in the 1970's, Christopher Godwin, played Theo, who attempted to tutor the young Gerry. I don't recall watching this series as I believe at the time I was working on a Saturday and wouldn't have been able to see it and it was well before the advent of video recording. They seemed to have opened the narrative out a good deal, which I suppose they would need to if they were going to develop into more than one series. No doubt I.T.V. will want it to run for far more than two series. I believe that they've already commissioned a third series, so it's no doubt going to run for at least four or five series. The books are 'fictionalised' according to what I've been discovering on the internet. I imagine it would be, if Gerald Durrell was writing from the perspective of around 20-30 years after the events of the 1930's so you would think he'd be writing from memory, that is, if he didn't have a diary which he kept at the time. That book is therefore written from the view-point of a child of about 9-10 so certain things would not be included because he would't understand or not be aware of some incidents. So, we also get more on his other family members, such as Margo, Leslie and Lawrence. It's very well done and has a certain charm and makes a change from police procedurals, hospitals and soap-opera. Not too demanding and it has some amusing moments. If I have a gripe, it's that Keeley Hawkes, who plays Mrs Durrell, seems far too young to have had three children who seem far too grown up. She's supposed to be over 50, but doesn't look much more than in her mid 30's or 40's. I'm not sure how old Larry is supposed to be, but he looks about thirty himself. In reality I suppose he would be 23-24. I may be wrong, but it's an odd bit of casting.

I have been watching the current series of 'Doctor Who.' (I have written extensively on the subject of this show in an earlier blog post.) But, from what I've been seeing, the episodes have been a vast improvement on previous series. They seem to have returned to the original format in some ways and gone for far better plots with more action and less playing about with the audience. A good amount of scares, but most of all, not really children's material. Some of it would definitely give children of a 'certain age' nightmares. A lot to think about and having more of a deeper meaning, a subtext if you like. I do like Peter Capaldi as he has given his doctor an edge. The character always had a darker side to him, particularly the original version as played by William Hartnell. He could shift between light and then become dark at a moment's notice. Almost as if he had a split personality. It's a shame that Capaldi is leaving the show as he has really bedded in well. So, who is going to take over? Why are they leaving it so late to announce who has been cast? I suspect it's to keep the audience guessing, to keep things alive until the last minute. I do rather object to having so much revealed about future episodes. Why do they insist on giving us so many details about monsters, stories and other bits and pieces? It just spoils things if you know in advance what's going to happen. I must say, a lot of the 'Doctor Who' stories can be a bit similar, but I suppose that's to be expected. It just annoys me when the 'monster' turns out to be not as nasty as it first appears. Just doesn't make sense. Making the Daleks or the Cybermen, who've been appearing in the series since it's beginning in 1963, would be so incredibly pointless. No sort of reason to make them appear they have a 'nice' side, no reason to have them defeated. Just goes against the grain.
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