Why the BBC need a Kick Up the Bum

July 25, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

rant_tv_web3.gifAs regular readers will know, I thought Bonekickers was the kind of show which deserves to have its tapes unspooled and then used to hang the writers. This isn’t because it was the worst show I’ve ever seen, just the worst waste of money on a show I’ve seen for a while.

And you know why? Let me tell you.

Because the writers/producers/showrunners were so busy going round saying hey you know what’s good? American telly. You know what we should do? Copy it.

There is no doubt that the U.S. are the one pushing the boundaries of goodness and wonder in TV, at least in drama anyway. They have bigger budgets, more leeway and generally it seems a more experimental approach. So you can see the writers room at the BBC, replete with their Marks and Spencer’s undies and a cup of tea going ‘mate, lets put some balls in this, lets make a show that’s like one of those U.S. tellybox things’.

This maybe explains why we get lines such as “Use your archeological imagination!? Not to mention a climactic scene that involves a baddie swinging like a pendulum across a gigantic, hilariously obvious blue screen of flames. That. Is. Not. British. Telly.

Now I’m all for experimentation, you know. Like- how should we kill of this week’s character in Hollyoaks… murder? Car crash? Gas explosion? Or the kind of experimentation you get on a third date- can I touch her boob? Yes/no? These are good.

What is not good is taking a bunch of stuffy English actors and forcing them to act like someone from Law and Order. I mean it had all the prerequisites of a British drama- ageing character actor, check. Something to do with stuff that’s old. Check. And a setting of marshes and countryside. Check. But then it took these elements and tried to squeeze them sausage-like into the casing that is U.S. drama. Make the lead chick ballsy. Make her like Lara Croft, but crap.

And you know what guys? Archaeology is just NOT that exciting. Indy faked us out using explosions and quests for grand things like Jesus’ coffee mug and we were too busy looking at Angie’s boobs in Tomb Raider to notice.

So what does that tell us? Archaeology requires, no, demands big boobs, loads of explosions and a never-ending quest. You know what doesn’t work? Your middle aged lead character wondering around a room full of dusty objects, awkwardly murmuring ‘give up your secrets…’ while the camera weaves and stumbles like a drunk outside your local.

This show was, in the words of my house mate, ‘relentlessly cr*p’. And it was cr*p because it tried to be something it wasn’t. It IS a British drama; it is NOT an episode of Without a Trace, the Young Indiana Jones or The Wire. If we are going to blow our budget on a big hitting exciting drama then don’t copy someone else’s gig. Look for our own inventive, experimental style and take a risk on that. It’s not really a risk if you think ‘this worked for them lets do it, but a bit worse’. That’s guaranteed failure.

So listen up, the beeb: Do it better, cos that was just embarrassing.

McGee Noble