Wednesday, January 03, 2007

That life

Never go back. Ouch that was painful and wrong in so many ways.

'This Life +10' brought the characters back after a decade away from our screens and, although many of us wanted to see how life had worked out for them, it turns out that really we'd rather wished we hadn't. Its like old girlfriends always a total disaster.

It started with a funeral, creative writing 101, for Ferdy who starred in much of the second series of the show to fill the shoes vacated by Warren who left to go travelling. And you really wished he hadn't come back. His character of psychobabble and endless self-analysis was the absolute pits.

The characters then came together in a country house owned by Miles, which turned it into some horrible sort of 'Peter's Friends' -- all bloated and over written. Creative writing 101 was really getting into full swing.

We then proceeded to run through the 30 something checklist.

Kids: Miles and Milly check.
Ticking biological clock: Anna, check.
Breakdown: Warren, check.
Divorce: Miles, check.
Loose touch with culture: check (the Kaiser who?)
Get bad hair cuts: Miles, check.

Oh there was much more... there was the trite post-modern touch of Egg having made it as a novelist and being followed around during the weekend by some 20something documentary film-maker, who Miles and Egg each chase after with their tongues hanging out, but get nowhere with before she leaves with some line about “metrosexuals”.

We strayed into politics with a discussion at one moment flaring into political bile as Egg laid into Miles for:

1. Being a Tory
2. Having a Chelsea tractor
3. The Iraq war.

'This Life' never previously strayed into politics: it was always a subject matter left out of their 20something lives and it was the better for it.

Writer Amy Jenkins just ranted away and it only added to the spiralling gloom, which all ended predictably with Egg and Milly arguing and seeming on the edge of breaking up, which was funny because last time we saw them, they had broken up over her affair with her bald boring boss.

That wasn't even glossed over, it was more ignored, as was much else. Actually nothing made sense. Don't even mention the fact that the last episode finished with Miles marrying Francesca and this opens with him married to a Vietnamese model Me-Linh who quickly exits stage left leaving our "friends" to argue and bicker and dance to the Manic Street Preachers.

Then in the space of minutes we have Miles go bankrupt, Egg give up novel writing, happy clappy Warren pill popping and snorting coke and the documentary was chucked in the lake. It was all too confusing only underscoring the fact that really it was great first time around, but second time sucked.


At 10:02 AM, Anonymous The Online Pixie said...

Totally agree with you Gordie, this was the worst TV 'event' I've ever had to witness. So much was wrong with it I don't know where to begin. How about we start with:

The total lack of character development throughout the episode-even ten years ago when 'nothing happened' in an episode, people still responded to it. Now, huge life altering events sprung up and no one really said, did or thought anything about it. Having a baby? Whatever. Think your friend has tried to kill himself? Hey ho. The wife leaves? Go horse riding. Nothing happened beneath the surface, there were no nuances.

The characters were mouth pieces for Amy Jenkins rather than actual characters- frankly do we need to hear anyone argue about 'The War' again? I didn't need to hear that, I needed to hear how and why Egg forgave Milly for allowing herself to be knobbed by their old boss.

Random pointless scenes- Anna in court bantering with a judge? Who cares? Swiftly followed by not showing us the scenes we wanted to see- did Egg not confront the former housemates after the Mark Lawson interview?

Random mentioning of things that were trendy a couple of years ago- Kaiser Chiefs, metrosexuals etc etc- is this supposed to show that the characters are suddenly out of touch or simply that the writer is out of touch?

The most remarkable thing about this was that all the affection I felt for these characters, all the love I felt for the show, was somehow totally eradicated over the course of the 90 minutes. That's some achievement by Jenkins.

The fact is she may have come up with the characters but she has no idea what to do with them. The best episodes ten years ago weren't usually written by her. Having seen this I can understand why. The woman can't write. No structure, no depth to the writing, no awares of character- this was like something written by a 15 year old.

Here's hoping the BBC doesn't let her near any other fondly remembered projects. Was Russell T Davies not available to work the script into something more watchable?!?

At 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps Amy had sour grapes at not being part of the second series, as much of its plotlines were totally ignored. Most of the characters had become unbelievable. Would Egg have ever got off his arse and written a book? Miles a hotelier? Only Milly's transformation from career woman to 'supermum' rang remotely true. It was lazy, it was boring and it was better left unsaid.

At 10:52 AM, Blogger Gordon said...

Didn't egg end life running the restaurant place?

The only person who failed to write a second novel was Amy Jenkins. Big advance for a two book dea, first crap novel read by no one and...oh that was it.

The horse riding was hilarious. These random women appearing for Miles (girl on horse/personal trainer) and that hair.

At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Beth said...

I have to completely agree with you. It was all a bit trite, a bit obvious. At the end, they all denied all that they had supposedly worked so hard for in the past 10 years... Miles off to Timbukto ("im going travelling.. right so I better put on my special travelling embroiderd shirt and these sandals depite still being in Sussex"), Anna wanting a baby, Milly wanting a career, Egg just giving up on his next book ("there is no book! hooray!"- what about your advance to pay back? who is going to support the family with you unemployed and Milly a 'supermum'?) and Warren underscoring his natural remedies with prescription drugs. I suppose that what really rankled was that the ending seemed to imply that all we need is the support of friends- and yet the characters came across as selfish, superficial and uncaring. And the soundtrack??? UNBELIEVABLE!! So concerned with the period touches (cut to a picture of an ipod),the music choices were almost funny- Anna talking about her desire for a child to the background of Portishead: "Nobody loves me, its true...". Personally, I was gutted.

At 2:31 PM, Anonymous Old and tired like Gordie said...

i didnt think that this lide was a total travesty, its just not as good or comparable in anyway to the originals. The fact that it was less edgy, more boring and not as cool is kind of a reflection of what happens when you grow up. Surely you know that Gordie...

The TV highlight last night was The Thick of It on BBC4. Truely awesome, hilarious, witty, biting and cutting edge. Brazo to the writers and all involved. True TV Gold, shame its hidden away on BBC4

At 2:45 PM, Blogger Gordon said...

The music was quite funny. Portishead, Massive Attack and the Manics among other stuff.

And give the guys a zimmer every twit on the planet has heard of the bloody Kaisers you can't escape them.

At 4:27 PM, Anonymous The Online Pixie said...

I couldn't believe the Portishead! Surely someone involved in this production has bought some new music in the last ten years?!?!

I predict a riot if they try to do something like this again!

Getting old doesn't mean you lose your coolness- anyone who's seen my new shoes will verify that the older you get the suaver you become. For real.

The Thick Of It though was fucking top notch. Does your girlfriend not mind you being gay Gordie? ;-)

At 11:01 AM, Blogger Gordon said...

Gay? HuH? I missed that, what are you suggesting.

At 10:07 AM, Anonymous the pixie said...

it was a line from the thick of it you fool!

At 10:09 AM, Blogger Gordon said...

Never saw it. That'll explain that one.

At 10:05 AM, Anonymous bob said...

totally agree. talk about cramming in anything to tick as many boxes as possible? Why?


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