Dubplate Drama Review: Grange ‘Street’

June 25, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

DUBPLATE DRAMA: Friday 26th June, Channel 4, 00:35am Alert Me

Urban music based Dubplate Drama was the first show where you the viewer get to decide what happens next time – it’s a kind of TV interactive “choose your own adventure?, viewers voting at the end of each episode for what they want to happen next.

But gimmicks aside, is the latest in the series any good?

In a word, no. We’re introduced to the show by a narrator, slowly walking the streets at night, informing us that life is full of hard choices. It’s supposed to establish a grim mood but it just feels like the beginning of Crime Watch or some ropey reality TV skit like Britain’s Hardest.

It doesn’t get any better when the show gets going: it’s populated by hoodie-clad, baseball-cap wearing walking clichés and the young cast do nothing but make this a “street? version of Grange Hill.

Not only is the acting a bit ropey, but the show has little awareness of how the music business works in the first place. “We’re number 1, we’re about to sign our album deal?, spouts off gold-chain-wearing loudmouth Mikey to a room of fans at one point.

How does “The Fam? (the So Solid Crew-a-like grime merchants of the series) have a number one album before even signing anything? And for a number one selling group, the room’s less populated than a school disco.

And we have to be constantly remind what a “dangerous and edgy? world they live in, so public sex on the beach, smoking, violence and drug-taking are all rammed in our faces at every possible opportunity, not to mention more swearing than you’d find in an average Guy Ritchie film.

The overall effect is make it seems scummy and nasty, not gritty and realistic. That’s not to say that these things don’t go on – they’re part of a real social problem, but “adult? in this case is going to mean bludgeoning us over the head with risqué material.

What would have been more convincing would be a decent storyline. But instead we’ve got some mess about the label stealing their money and Mikey starting a solo project, set against a background of swearing and violence. Meanwhile, their cookie-cutter scumbag manager is trying to hold the group together with threats of violence or at the very least channelling a short Phil Mitchell as hard as he can. It’s tired and lazy writing.

Dubplate Drama raises some issues which should be addressed in a series, especially one that appeals to its core demographic of teenagers. But it does so in such a ham-fisted way, that it ends up saying nothing about these problems and it’s written so poorly that it’s barely entertaining, let alone informative.

If this was “choose your own adventure?, I would have closed the book a long time ago.

“You decide to watch something else and…Your adventure ends here.?

Jez Sands