Back to the Box

I’ve been watching a lot of TV this last week. When the news came through about Lynne dying I couldn’t focus on anything so in the end I just sat in front of the telly and worked my way through series 3 of Broadchurch. I don’t think I took in much but sometimes it’s good to watch something mindlessly while the brain figures things out in the background. This theme continued over the weekend, though I did get to Quaker meeting on Sunday where the silence was punctuated by Daniel doing some excellent strimming in the garden. I don’t honestly remember what I watched at the weekend but I know it helped.

Then just as I was feeling better we heard the news about Stuart. This time I was in the middle of Roadkill, a much trailed and slightly disappointing political drama. I’m never quite sure what I think about Hugh Laurie as a serious actor; he’s obviously a comic genius, but thats not to say he can’t do serious roles – after all Rowan Atkinson makes a very good fist of Maigret and Lenny Henry has popped up in various places including, incidentally, series 3 of Broadchurch. Roadkill features Laurie as an up-and-coming politician, someone who’s risen from a working-class background to become a government minister. At the start of the series he’s in the Department of Transport and has high hopes of being promoted to Foreign Secretary, but these are dashed when an investigative journalist outs him as a member of a transatlantic organisation dedicated to privatising the NHS. Unwisely, he sues – and wins – but it’s a pyrrhic victory as it just adds fuel to the fire and he’s shunted sideways into the Department of Justice.

There’s a great cast and plenty of sub-plots to enjoy in this. Helen McRory plays a PM closely modelled on Theresa May, Patricia Hodge is head of the Justice Dept and the plot keeps you guessing throughout. But I wish they’d spent less time on smart, one-upmanship dialogues and more on developing character and action. And it’s only four episodes; six would have been better as there are a lot of loose ends not tied up.

I’ve never been quite convinced by Hugh Laurie as a serious actor; everyone raved about House but it didn’t grab me, and in this he seems muted and lacking in passion. Incidentally his wife is played by Saskia Reeves and is more or less indistinguishable from the wife she played in Us. The main character could have been developed so much more if they’d gone for it; as it is he’s merely disappointing. So two cheers for this one.

2 thoughts on “Back to the Box

  1. I recorded episode 1 and watched it yesterday evening, but it’s too soon to make a judgment on how I feel about it as a whole; I thought there was a hint of Thatcher in Helen McRory’s characterisation, although I doubt if Thatcher had the sort of impish humour the prime minister displayed after giving Laurie’s character the ‘good’ news. I’m not sure if Pip Torrens’s mockney accent works, but he might develop it as the narrative progresses [always assuming it was shot sequentially, of course]. Cheers, Jon.

    1. True, she was a little Thatcherish too. Is Pip Torrens the radio presenter? I liked those bits, gave an extra dimension to the character

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