In the last twelve months there has been many great dramas and many poorly constructed ones. The programmes that stood out for me, for different reasons, were Black Mirror (Channel 4) and Dirk Gently (BBC 4).
‘Black Mirror’ was given some much adverting space leading up and during the time it was shown. It boasted that it “taps into our contemporary unease about our modern world" and that Charlie Brooker, the writer of the moment, wrote it. When it finally aired and the story revealed, it felt as if it were a joke. After a member of the Royal Family is kidnapped and held hostage, The British Prime Minister is given an ultimatum, have sex with a pig on live television or she will be killed. The plot is ridiculous and not in a clever satirical way, it is just awful. The acting was fine, nothing to say about there. The production on a whole was well done but all that is overlooked because the writing and story are appalling. What is a drama without it’s story and characters.
For weeks it was advertised as a dark comedy yet there was no a single moment where it was amusing. Dark comedy comes from situations that aren’t meant to be funny but are made to be. The entire ‘National Anthem’ episode was disturbing, it felt like Charlie Brooker pulled a cheap shot; embarrass the Prime Minister but making him perform an unspeakable act for entertainment.
On the other hand, Dirk Gently, a drama programme about a self proclaimed Holistic Detective trying to solve weird and wonderful crimes was a piece of brilliant television. This detective show, adapted from the novels of the same name, was given close to no advertising and was not hyped up. It was given modest reviews and had been given a series after the success of the pilot episode that aired months before it.
Each episode was creative and original and very amusing. The casting was inspired; Stephen Mangan was fantastic as the odd detective, he was free to experiment and was at his best comic timing since Green Wing. The writing for each episode was also well thought out, each episode had a purpose and was well constructed and all had a surprising end. To describe Dirk Gently it is has a one star budget and a five star script.
The only improvement to the series would have been to make it twice as long as it was. Once the audience has grown to love the characters they are deprived of any more episodes. The drama is unique and cannot be compared to another, which is what should be on television more often, unique programmes.