Monday, December 1, 2014

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The Fail

Having started out as a television crime drama brimming with brooding potential, The Fall has now become The Paul, with the actor Jamie Dornan, playing serial killer Paul Spector, conveying all the seriousness of Tom Green in his role as The Chad in Charley’s Angels.  The uniqueness of the drama lies only in its ability to induce a respect for the film censor. The solution is to give it a super X rating, not to be viewed by anyone under 200 years of age.

None of this is a reflection of Dornan’s screen ability. He oozes it. His misfortune is to be cast as a character now scripted by a crayon rather than the pen that initially created it. The narrative continues in its uninterrupted plummet to the depths well beneath the surface of mediocrity with a haste that gathers pace as each new episode vies to be worse than any that preceded it. This unintended comedy was by implication designed to be anything but.

It is truly the era of peace process TV. Paul Spector can carry on plotting to murder women forever and ever amen. There is no end to the PSNI investigation: as a process attuned to the times, it is condemned to exist in a state of being processed but never concluded. George Hamilton must cringe, thinking this is a devilish dissident republican plot to caricature the force he now commands. 

The first season in stark contrast to the current outing was pristine. The writing was dark, menacing and above all plausible. Now it is dull, meandering and above all pedestrian. Like John Godfrey Saxe's Six Blind Men trying to describe an elephant by feeling it separately with their hands, the final picture is a hotchpotch. 

The attempt to convey atmospheric menace is shambolic. The plot has not been merely stretched but grossly disfigured. The result is excruciating. There is as much exhilaration to be derived from watching a reading of the poem about mathematics, One Million.

What destroyed a fine idea was the willingness of its creator to succumb to excess and extend its shelf life when really there was nowhere else it could go but down. From that point on it simply ran out of creative puff. The natural dignified death that was its due was duly denied it. Rather than let the spectre of Paul be exorcised there was more profit to be extracted from allowing his haunting persona to continue pretty much as before. Love/Hate, it is most definitely not.

This is a lesson that in the arts, prolonging the life of a corpse is not to be recommended, although there might yet be something in that concept that will allow The Fall to stumble on into a third, fourth, fifth season and beyond. The producers should have wrapped it up while they were still ahead rather than allow the fresh to go stale.

In last night’s episode a woman took her own life. It just seemed so natural from where I was sitting to think that on the death certificate would be ‘death as a result of a Fall’. Having watched one episode too many the unfortunate woman was driven to run up the hills to a Spector haunt and take her own life. It is that awful. Stella Gibson the lead detective played by Gillian Anderson manages to sound as if she too has been trying to strangle herself. Initially she sounded husky but now rasps as if she is bored out of her wits. Even Katy Taylor manages to sound less grating.

That was the No Más point for me. If I want Dom Joly, I might as well go for the real thing rather than this ersatz substitute. The way this is regressing, at the end of Season 2 Paul Spector might be killed off but is likely to meet someone from The Walking Dead who will infect him with the virus that will cause him to 'turn' after death. The zombie killer of Belfast will stalk the streets of Season 3 and finally at the end Stella Gibson, about to put the bullet through his head, will discover that he has become The Invisible Man. That way the series can go on ad infinitum: an invisible zombie killing women and he can’t be caught because he can’t be seen. The Fall can last forever, just like the peace process. Television for our times.


ozzy said...

Cheer up! Sony just called Kim il Jong
some rude words so you can now watch little Orphan Annie...aka Top quality family viewing thanks to the Supreme leader of North Korea.
Suitable for all the family.
Or better still Gomorra the Tv series is pretty cool..And I watched Omar(2013) A film about a Palestianan
which was a bit low budget but a real good yarn. Well worth grabbing a hold of.

frankie said...

I'm in half agreement with you Anthony. The second series isn't as good as the first for the reasons you've out lined. I think it's because Jakob Verbruggen directed the first series while the second was directed by the writer of the show Allan Cubitt.

Some trivia, all the main characters, Gibson, Spector, Benedetto, Olson , Tyler are all named after guitars..