For a few months me and the missus have languished in the world of Lovefilm, churning remorselessly through movies and TV series popped into our letter-box with the bored energy of people who have been starved of top quality drama.
That’s not to say that we don’t watch Holby and Casualty and the Bill and Waterloo Road – and Mistresses, which is on particularly fine form this series – or any of the other staples of British television. EastEnders and Corro and, yes, Emmerdale, all provide occasionally dazzling drama.
Lately, we’ve also enjoyed The Devil’s Whore and the patchy but stylistically enjoyable Red Riding, and Criminal Justice – oh, I’m sure you can name them all. I’m also a keen consumer of those two – recently, three – parter dramas that seem to motor ITV’s schedules – Unforgiven, that was terrific.
And although I personally leave my mum to keep me up to date on the New Tricks and the Lewises of the world, they’re perfectly fine specimens of the UK television programme eco-system.
I don’t want to sound like one of those tiresome blog bores who thinks UK television is inherently inferior. But although all of these provide solid, meat-and-potatoes drama, none of them seem to have any of the amazing character work or the unpredictability, subtlety or empathy of any of the US series that have recently returneed to the schedules.
I’m talking your Damages, your Losts, your Mad Men, I’m talking your Battlestar Galacticas and your Dexters and your Shields. These, for the most part, are not network shows in the US – and, of course, they’ll be hugely expensive – so perhaps we shouldn’t expect our own equivalents over here.
But I still find it incredible that, in this day and age of sophisticated storytelling we can’t seem to be able to write and commission stories featuring compelling, layered, deeply complicated characters like Vic Mackey or Patty Hewes or Don Draper.
And, of course, it ain’t going to get better. As British television struggles to apply old business models to a new media environment – what a fucking cock-up it’s been, some of these channels should really be ashamed; but that’s another story – it looks like I’m going to be stuck popping those dvds into the post-box at the end of the road for some time to come.
Anyone know when Breaking Bad is due for release?