I've seen two dramas on the box recently, both with high profile, excellent actors, and both of which received damning reviews from the main TV critics. I found the first engrossing and memorable, and worth sitting still for over an hour to see to the end, and the second surprising in the reaction it produced and not as heavy or dark - a story made for a Sunday evening audience who like something to ponder while they wind down before the new week.
The first was a David Hare play with Uma Thurman and Jonathan Price. and Paddy Consadine. When I looked in The Guardian the following morning, I saw that Lucy Mangan had written a damning review, saying how bored she was. I felt like telling her to spend the rest of her life reading her beloved Enid Blyton.
The next play was on last night, with Gina McKee, Fiona's Story. This was a very clever play about a husband who has been looking at child pornography online, and is in line for a trial. When he tells his wife, she has to lie to social services in order to keep their family together, despite the fact that their sex life has been non existent for many years. Her disapproval, fear and lack of trust make the audience start rooting for the sad man who looks at the bodies of children in order to light some kind of a sexual reaction in his body, when all else has failed. His children also blame Mummy for being unkind to Daddy, and they want to stay overnight with him.
So, why the lack of appreciation by the Telly Critics? I think they are just young and have been seduced by the ease of obtaining entertainment. The internet is quick, and drama with only a few actors is slow and demands attention. Kathryn Flett did become engrossed in My Zinc Bed, and good for her. Michael Hann in The Guardian called Fiona's Story 'middle-class misery' and thought it was too dark to tell who Fiona had her affair with (utter bollocks, I am afraid).
The other thing that continues to perplex me, is how and where in the heavenly spheres of those who make the decisions about what gets televised and adapted for the small screen, is it decided that child pornography is suddenly OK. I have spent a good deal of this year banging my head against a brick wall trying to get people to read Feather Man. The main story in Rhyll
Mc Master's novel is about the VICTIM, Sooky, of child abuse which does not result in consumation, but is nevertheless damaging. The book is the story of her trying to stop being a victim. In Fiona's Story, we are drawn into feeling sympathy for someone who has admitted enjoying looking at naked children - surely as bad as someone who has interfered with one. Yet, one story gets broadcast to the nation with some excellent acting, and the other gets a chorus of - oh no, it's too dreadful, we cannot read on. Which leaves me completely at sea.
Maybe I should just publish Enid Blyton.....