Sunday, 8 March 2009


Like the American Series The Wire (just can't stop mentioning it!), the new British television drama series, Red Riding, has received a lot of publicity. For example, the Guardian television critic has been waxing lyrical about it. Here are just a few quotes:-

"Grown up noir, there's unlikely to be a better British TV drama all year"

"...utterly mesmerising..."

So, on that basis, I watched the first two hour episode of the trilogy. Apparently, it's based on the four novels written by David Pearce, set in Yorkshire during the seventies and eighties, highlighting widespread corruption in all walks of life, particularly the police. I have never read these novels and, having seen this first episode, have no intention of doing so, my reasons being as follows:-

1. It is slow and tedious with a large splattering of gratuitous sex and violence.

2. It's one dimensional. Shot in brownish colours to give a sense of history and decay, it stereotypifies the police, the baddies and the corruption. It's like a scruffy cardboard cutout.

3. There's nothing subtle or three dimensional. No character development, which is essential for good drama. Plus, no particularly likable characters so I didn't care one way or another what happened to them. And Sean Bean was so hammy as a corrupt murderous businessman that it was cringe-making.

4. The ending is so improbable and with so many anomalies that it's just not credible. Any dramatic impact is totally lost.

I don't blame the actors, many of whom are seasoned thespians, including Sean Bean, David Morrissey and Warren Clarke. I blame the script writers and the director and, probably David Pearce's original novels. Given my enthusiasms for The Wire, which is as brutal and hard-hitting as they come, I'm not adverse to such dramas. What I am adverse to is unrelenting bleakness that does not show or explain or provide any kind of balance.

Am I going to watch the next two episodes? As far as I'm concerned, life is too short. It's good in a way because it confirms my praise for The Wire, where there is just as bleak a scenario, probably even more so, but presented in such a thoroughly rounded way that you have sympathy for the drug-dealers and killers and understand why they are as they are. There is also much humour in The Wire and a sense of a shared humanity which is totally absent in Red Riding.

So, despite the fact that I have a degree in English and Education and all, the most appropriate way I can think of to describe this drama and my contempt for it is that it's a TOTAL LOAD OF HORSE MANURE.


P.S.Am totally chuffed because Amazon asked me to write a commentary about The Wire Season Four on their website, which I did with great gusto. It should be up soon. I'm sure this is just standard procedure but I'm chuffed all the same. They probably had no idea what enthusiasm they had tapped into!

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