||[Oct. 2nd, 2006|10:47 am]
A new episode of Cracker is an event. Well, that's what the Radio Times said, anyway. It looked more like a throw-back to me. Earnest, incoherent, late 20th century political drama. With the old boy puffing up a storm in the no-smoking areas- Jeez, how radical! |
But there's always a problem when you try to use detective fiction to make political points. Because detective fiction takes place in a never-never-land where people commit crimes for reasons totally unconnected to normal or abnormal human psychology. Last night this former squaddie (spoiler coming- if you care) was knocking off random Americans because George W Bush's foreign policy had relegated the Irish troubles (in which he'd had mates killed) to history's back burner and because Americans had funded the IRA- which made them the moral equivalents of Bin Laden. OK, there's a political argument in there somewhere, but a motive for murder? I don't think so.
So you've got this silly plot and it's playing out against real life footage of the twin towers and suicide bombings in Iraq and coffins draped in the Union flag being shipped home and Bush speechifying. There were times when it felt like connections were being made and other times when it felt like real atrocity was being exploited to big up the sort of story that called for David Suchet in an immaculately pressed white suit. Cut from footage of smoke billowing into the New York sky to a close-up of Robbie Coltrane's fat face wearing an accusatory look. No, no, no no!
It was set in Manchester. That's one big reason why I kept watching. Oh, but they made my home town look mean and grey and grungey. And it's not. Really it's not. You could feel that the film makers were pretty pissed that the city has had a make over since they were last here in the 90s. So where's all the stained, post-war concrete gone? Ooh look, there's some; stick Robbie in front of it, will ya?
I'll give it a "D".
"D" for dumb, "D" for dishonest, "D" for dated.
I just can't watch Cracker. There are lots of things that I don't care to watch, but I'll happily read in front of the TV while G watches. But I can't even be in the same room as Cracker. Largely because Manchester is my home city. It's not the grunginess. It was pretty grungy in the 60s during the slum clearances, but it's the unrelenting nastiness of the stories. And I just find Fitz gross, disgusting, rude and arrogant. He treats witnesses as though they're criminals. As far as I know, that's a totally inaccurate representation of the real situation. I hope to goodness it is, anyway.
"Gross, rude and arrogant" just about sums it up.
I went to a talk given by the guy who wrote Cracker. It was a university talk for aspiring screenwriters. He spoke very passionately about his reasons for doing more Cracker. He also had a lot to say about the representation of the English north on television.
I've never actually seen anything he wrote, but he was a very interesting speaker...
He's an interesting writer. But I think he's stuck in a time-warp.
The Manchester in last night's show was the Manchester of 15-20 years ago.
I don't know what he had to say about the representation of the north of England on TV, but it seems to me he's as guilty as anyone of perpetuating the myth that "it's grim oop north".