New! Update on The Tunnel and Final Review-PART TWO-Warning: some minor spoilers Nb. Series 2 of The Bridge starting 4th January 2014 BBC4 or Channel# 107 on Virgin Media TV @ 9pm in the UK-

The Tunnel-
Update and Final Review

See this Blog for review of first three episodes posted 6th November 2013.

Yes, I know I said I was only going to write about the first three episodes.  However I just cannot resist an update now The Tunnel has ended.

As mentioned in Notes to Readers of some New Series and some i have seen ( posted 19th December 2013) before I saw the last episode, I felt The Tunnel had turned out to be really rather good.

When i had judged The Tunnel on the first three episodes as pretty much a washout.  As in an anaemic and insipid colour palette throughout and an oddly gloopy feel of disconnection between character, dialogue and action.

As time went on and the pace picked up dramatically I forgot about my original recriminations.

Yet the final episode brought them all back.   What should have been a tense, nail biting suspenseful finale reverted to bleak, halting and visually and aurally: just plain daft.

The problem seemed to lie mostly with our eponymous hero or anti-hero Detective.  Who really right from the beginning was clearly a bit of a plonker. In the UK there is a term for this that is rather rude and rhymes with banker.

Yes, the Detective Karl was curiously unsympathetic as a character. So was his equally annoying and just as deplorable wife, Laura.  The trouble was that we just didn’t care or sympathise enough with either character to care what happened to them.

It didn’t help that Laura was the cardboard cut out stereotype of Interior Designer wife who works from home with a giant G3 Mac and a perfect perfect house.  The list of occupations held by wives in dramas being woefully short:
 Interior designer: tick.  Teacher, but only of very small cute children:tick.  Oh wait-flower shop owner: tick.  Wedding planner:tick.  Occasionally: sex worker.

Unless you are in a Scandinavian drama and then the list of occupations is endless.
Although we did have the officially ballsy and equally stereotyped Police Boss.

Laura, throughout wore the same pudding faced look of mild surprise .  Except in one scene where we were forced instead to gaze in unwelcome microscopic detail on Laura’s inexplicably hideous wooden high heel sandals and her accompanying heels.

In a close up so severe we can see the skin striae layered in slightly squished lines.

As the tension is supposedly ratcheted up to the nth degree we are treated to the slightly doleful expression of Karl and his dishabille’ unbuttoned top.  He has, after several surreal but seriously flat escapades, fallen asleep in his car.  Clutching the ever important bright pink bilious phone.

Out of nowhere, Elise appears, clad as ever in her faithful and never fastened stylish black leather jacket.  De rigeur for left-field Detectives as we all know.

“What are you doing?”
Elise asks Karl.  Although one would have thought that to be apparent.
“I fell asleep in the car” says Karl.
“I wanted to be ready”
He glances down at the fluorescent pink phone in his hand.

“You know, when I visit my house” muses Elise in the quiet shadowy dawn,
“my house in Bordeaux, I can see the long-tailed birds”
“they come and go”
(OK i might have added come and go just for some interest and a rhyme)

“You mean Swallows?” asks Karl.
“yes”..replies Elise.
so Elise has a house in Bordeaux, well at least this is a bit interesting, more than watching Karl essay looking increasingly rumpled.  Whilst developing a few worry lines on his mildly furrowed brow.

Elise continues:
“I go from room to room, checking things are still there”
“and then I sleep in the attic,”
“Where we used to sleep..”

OK it’s back to Elise’s imaginary mental house, not a real house at all, although apparently based on a real one.  However we have heard about this imaginary room business already to the point of tedium.  This is supposed to be a deep and meaningful moment.  When really it is just dull and plodding.  It over done and over thought as a scene.

Throughout The Tunnel all the main characters,whatever dark, disturbing or deranged happening was currently occurring: wore a perpetual expression of slightly to mildly perturbed.

Elise, who was meant to be stereotypically frozen faced due to her Aspergers, was actually more emotive than Karl.  Although this mainly involved Elise getting more starey eyed.  Adam, as Karl’s son, actually acted Karl off the screen.

Yes, this was Karl’s character.  Sarcastic, sardonic and supposedly jaded.  Quite why, in the back story was never really explained.

Thus Karl’s downfall and the piercing of his elephant hide skin and superficial smugness was supposed to be the tragic denouement of piercing clarity.  With full dramatic effect.

But in the end it was all a most unsatisfactory damp squib. We just didn’t are enough to care about the character of Karl.

The secondary characters:
Chuks, the delicate faced Stephen, the French Detectives who barely made it out of the back room,the Columbian lady and Stephen’s sister.  The effervescently present old lady in the care home.  The ballsy hard boiled silver haired lady boss.  The bus driver of the kids.

They were all, in their short and sporadic appearances more interesting, human and real as characters than Karl was.

Perhaps that was the whole point.

Plus as viewers apart from the usual gore, we are subject to the depiction of someone being shot in the head, albeit on a  screen in slow motion.  Great.

On reflection perhaps the telescopic tension of the last episode of the original series of The Bridge which dispersed so completely in The Tunnel was due to The Tunnel’s visual widening into bigger and ever open spaces instead.

As fascinating as the surrounding were the final scene of The Tunnel blew away any necessary constricting of spaces attached to the accompanying tension.  As did the unseen and consequentially fizzled out reveal elsewhere.

Strangely for a drama, I actually found myself having a niggling amount of sympathy for the murderer: instead of the Detective/ hero.

Somehow Martin in The Bridge, whilst being a plonker, was sympathetic as a character and therfore we fully sympathised with him.

Perhaps I came to The Tunnel, having watched The Bridge, already predisposed towards the latter.  At least in The Bridge, amongst the dizzying array of story-lines and illogical plot, we had the deeply stunning visuals to distract.

***

Nb. For Spiral fans- there is an appearance of Berthauld in The Tunnel when she appears as a worried French wife in a frightful wig!

New! Update on The Tunnel and Final Review-PART TWO-Warning: some minor spoilers Nb. Series 2 of The Bridge starting 4th January 2014 BBC4 or Channel# 107 on Virgin Media TV @ 9pm in the UK-

The Tunnel-
Update and Final Review

See this Blog for review of first three episodes posted 6th November 2013.

Yes, I know I said I was only going to write about the first three episodes.  However I just cannot resist an update now The Tunnel has ended.

As mentioned in Notes to Readers of some New Series and some i have seen ( posted 19th December 2013) before I saw the last episode, I felt The Tunnel had turned out to be really rather good.

When i had judged The Tunnel on the first three episodes as pretty much a washout.  As in an anaemic and insipid colour palette throughout and an oddly gloopy feel of disconnection between character, dialogue and action.

As time went on and the pace picked up dramatically I forgot about my original recriminations.

Yet the final episode brought them all back.   What should have been a tense, nail biting suspenseful finale reverted to bleak, halting and visually and aurally: just plain daft.

The problem seemed to lie mostly with our eponymous hero or anti-hero Detective.  Who really right from the beginning was clearly a bit of a plonker. In the UK there is a term for this that is rather rude and rhymes with banker.

Yes, the Detective Karl was curiously unsympathetic as a character. So was his equally annoying and just as deplorable wife, Laura.  The trouble was that we just didn’t care or sympathise enough with either character to care what happened to them.

It didn’t help that Laura was the cardboard cut out stereotype of Interior Designer wife who works from home with a giant G3 Mac and a perfect perfect house.  The list of occupations held by wives in dramas being woefully short:
 Interior designer: tick.  Teacher, but only of very small cute children:tick.  Oh wait-flower shop owner: tick.  Wedding planner:tick.  Occasionally: sex worker.

Unless you are in a Scandinavian drama and then the list of occupations is endless.
Although we did have the officially ballsy and equally stereotyped Police Boss.

Laura, throughout wore the same pudding faced look of mild surprise .  Except in one scene where we were forced instead to gaze in unwelcome microscopic detail on Laura’s inexplicably hideous wooden high heel sandals and her accompanying heels.

In a close up so severe we can see the skin striae layered in slightly squished lines.

As the tension is supposedly ratcheted up to the nth degree we are treated to the slightly doleful expression of Karl and his dishabille’ unbuttoned top.  He has, after several surreal but seriously flat escapades, fallen asleep in his car.  Clutching the ever important bright pink bilious phone.

Out of nowhere, Elise appears, clad as ever in her faithful and never fastened stylish black leather jacket.  De rigeur for left-field Detectives as we all know.

“What are you doing?”
Elise asks Karl.  Although one would have thought that to be apparent.
“I fell asleep in the car” says Karl.
“I wanted to be ready”
He glances down at the fluorescent pink phone in his hand.

“You know, when I visit my house” muses Elise in the quiet shadowy dawn,
“my house in Bordeaux, I can see the long-tailed birds”
“they come and go”
(OK i might have added come and go just for some interest and a rhyme)

“You mean Swallows?” asks Karl.
“yes”..replies Elise.
so Elise has a house in Bordeaux, well at least this is a bit interesting, more than watching Karl essay looking increasingly rumpled.  Whilst developing a few worry lines on his mildly furrowed brow.

Elise continues:
“I go from room to room, checking things are still there”
“and then I sleep in the attic,”
“Where we used to sleep..”

OK it’s back to Elise’s imaginary mental house, not a real house at all, although apparently based on a real one.  However we have heard about this imaginary room business already to the point of tedium.  This is supposed to be a deep and meaningful moment.  When really it is just dull and plodding.  It over done and over thought as a scene.

Throughout The Tunnel all the main characters,whatever dark, disturbing or deranged happening was currently occurring: wore a perpetual expression of slightly to mildly perturbed.

Elise, who was meant to be stereotypically frozen faced due to her Aspergers, was actually more emotive than Karl.  Although this mainly involved Elise getting more starey eyed.  Adam, as Karl’s son, actually acted Karl off the screen.

Yes, this was Karl’s character.  Sarcastic, sardonic and supposedly jaded.  Quite why, in the back story was never really explained.

Thus Karl’s downfall and the piercing of his elephant hide skin and superficial smugness was supposed to be the tragic denouement of piercing clarity.  With full dramatic effect.

But in the end it was all a most unsatisfactory damp squib. We just didn’t are enough to care about the character of Karl.

The secondary characters:
Chuks, the delicate faced Stephen, the French Detectives who barely made it out of the back room,the Columbian lady and Stephen’s sister.  The effervescently present old lady in the care home.  The ballsy hard boiled silver haired lady boss.  The bus driver of the kids.

They were all, in their short and sporadic appearances more interesting, human and real as characters than Karl was.

Perhaps that was the whole point.

Plus as viewers apart from the usual gore, we are subject to the depiction of someone being shot in the head, albeit on a  screen in slow motion.  Great.

On reflection perhaps the telescopic tension of the last episode of the original series of The Bridge which dispersed so completely in The Tunnel was due to The Tunnel’s visual widening into bigger and ever open spaces instead.

As fascinating as the surrounding were the final scene of The Tunnel blew away any necessary constricting of spaces attached to the accompanying tension.  As did the unseen and consequentially fizzled out reveal elsewhere.

Strangely for a drama, I actually found myself having a niggling amount of sympathy for the murderer: instead of the Detective/ hero.

Somehow Martin in The Bridge, whilst being a plonker, was sympathetic as a character and therfore we fully sympathised with him.

Perhaps I came to The Tunnel, having watched The Bridge, already predisposed towards the latter.  At least in The Bridge, amongst the dizzying array of story-lines and illogical plot, we had the deeply stunning visuals to distract.

***

Nb. For Spiral fans- there is an appearance of Berthauld in The Tunnel when she appears as a worried French wife in a frightful wig!

Never Wipe Away Tears Without Glove-BBC 4-a Three Part Mini Series in Swedish with English Subtitles

Never Wipe Away tears Without Gloves

BBC4-a three part mini-series:
 Episodes entitled: Love,  Disease  & Death

This is a Documentary/ Drama about the lives of a group of gay friends in 1980’s Stockholm: The main characters being Rasmus, Benjamin & Paul. It is narrated in the first person by Benjamin.

The story is told from the current day and flashbacks to how Rasmus came to be in hospital.  There are flashbacks to Rasmus and Benjamin’s childhood and also future flash-forwards in time.

In Swedish with subtitles-actually i am not sure!  I didn’t really notice.

Nb. There is a warning on the first episode that it contains a depiction of graphic sex however there isn’t really much to see of moving parts so to speak.  But it did show me that it can happen in a position that i was unaware of.  The good old fashioned missionary position in fact.

The series is not for the medically faint-hearted as it’s opening and recurring flash forward scene is narrated by Rasmus. Who is shown to be dying slowly, painfully and horribly of AIDS.
 (Nb. or more correctly, an infection sustained whilst being HIV positive with a compromised immune system)

Rasmus is being tended to by two nurses in full infection control regalia who are washing his suppurating bed sores.  Or a bed sore on top of his Kaposi’s Sarcoma plaque on his back. (a sore scaly patch of skin)  The nurse seemed a little less than gentle about it to me.

Rasmus, turned over onto his back again and wearing nothing but white loincloth type underwear, weeps in pain and the second nurse, having de-gloved, wipes away his tear.  The stern reprimand that follows for this action from the not as gentle as she could have been nurse is what forms the title of the Series.

We see Rasmus in flashbacks to his early childhood in idyllic Varmmeland, brought up by two adoring  parents. But Rasmus is bullied at school.  Beaten up in the playground and later called “homo” as a teenager by “layabouts who never finished school”.

This happens as Rasmus trundles along on the back of a truck on a strapped down chair festooned with balloons, by his adoring family on the way to his graduation party celebration.

The two main characters Benjamin and Rasmus are both very handsome and sweet young men.  The actor who plays Benjamin in particular has a face that the screen loves: huge, doe-like saucer brown eyes and a face like a young and innocent elf lost in the forest.

Confusingly, for a while, both young men’s childhoods are interspersed as flashbacks with the present day.

Confusing as it took me a while to discern whose parents belonged to which child.  As the mothers looked quite alike.  Mostly we see flashbacks of Rasmus’s childhood and the beautiful forests and lakes of his village.

 It maybe that these scenes of light and sunshine and mostly happy childhood memories are there mainly for the viewer.  To provide light relief from the current day story progressing in inexorable time.

Some of these repeated flashback scenes in Rasmus’s life become tiresome after a while.  Since their message or point became laboured with repetition.  Leading the viewer to regard the other flashbacks and dialogue as being potentially message laden.

As in the fixed theme of Rasmus writing, rather rebelliously for his ordered parents, his name on the window pane on the sunny balcony at home. Rasmus’s Father is shown tut tutting and declaring that he had:
“only just washed that window!”.  Then  he sprays and rubs Rasmus’s name away.

Rasmus writes his name in the misty window of the train too, as he journeys away from his village to Stockholm, age 18.

Yes, we get it, Rasmus is dying now, his life will be wiped out.

This pointed visual message led me to wonder if another scene from Rasmus’s childhood where he goes blackberry picking in the forest with his parents was also making a point.

As in when Rasmus complains that his wellies (Wellington boots) are too hot.  His father replies that:
 “you have to protect your feet from the adders that might bite you”.
A condom related theme?  Considering that we know from the beginning of the story that Rasmus is dying of AIDs: i felt that this was a possibility.

The appearance and re-appearance at rare intervals of an unusual white elk in the village also seemed to be
message laden.  As Rasmus’s loving Father explained that these elks were “different” but still valued by ancient villagers as magic and forbidden to hunt.

The story centres around how Rasmus comes to Stockholm to live with his aunt and slowly, with trepidation at first, joins a gay club. Where there is a worryingly thin man dancing on his own downstairs to disco music.

From there Rasmus meets the charismatic and diva-like Paul who likes to party and hold soiree’s for all his friends.  & Rasmus meets and falls in love with Benjamin.

Then one by one nearly all of the group of friends get ill and die.  It’s not ice cream tub TV.

The reactions of Rasmus and Benjamin’s parents are both expected and unexpected.  There is some small hope at the end. However bitter-sweet tinged that is.

I did like the dramatic tease by which the story was working backwards in time from an apparent end point with other disparate stories brought together at the end.  We are shown glimpses of this future time interspersed with the current day and the past.

This series could be described as the dark side or the sequel to the background of Armistead Maupin’s series of books: Tales Of the City.

***

Nb. There were several small touches referencing cross infection risks taken by the group of friends whether
knowingly or unknowingly.

Such as when the men go clubbing and are shown trying to keep track of whose drink is whose. When one of them has AIDS. The sarcastic, brave and sardonic Paul seems to deliberately drink from either the dying man’s glass or a random glass? as a show of bravado.

The camera focuses in close up on a glass of champagne on the make-up table of a young actress in a play with one of the group who has just been told he is HIV positive.  He picks up her glass and drinks from it.  Later we see the actress rubbing lip balm on her lips.

We are voyeurs to the possible encounter in which young Rasmus  may have become infected.  Since his companion has a large Kaposi’s Sarcoma on his back.  When  Rasmus asks:
“what is that on your back?”
(careful Rasmus as his parents keep soothing their worry by telling themselves as the News stories about AIDS appear) the man replies that it is an allergy.

& The rumours of what happens to the dead bodies of AIDS patients turns out to be disturbingly and horrifically true.

Never Wipe Away Tears Without Glove-BBC 4-a Three Part Mini Series in Swedish with English Subtitles

Never Wipe Away tears Without Gloves

BBC4-a three part mini-series:
 Episodes entitled: Love,  Disease  & Death

This is a Documentary/ Drama about the lives of a group of gay friends in 1980’s Stockholm: The main characters being Rasmus, Benjamin & Paul. It is narrated in the first person by Benjamin.

The story is told from the current day and flashbacks to how Rasmus came to be in hospital.  There are flashbacks to Rasmus and Benjamin’s childhood and also future flash-forwards in time.

In Swedish with subtitles-actually i am not sure!  I didn’t really notice.

Nb. There is a warning on the first episode that it contains a depiction of graphic sex however there isn’t really much to see of moving parts so to speak.  But it did show me that it can happen in a position that i was unaware of.  The good old fashioned missionary position in fact.

The series is not for the medically faint-hearted as it’s opening and recurring flash forward scene is narrated by Rasmus. Who is shown to be dying slowly, painfully and horribly of AIDS.
 (Nb. or more correctly, an infection sustained whilst being HIV positive with a compromised immune system)

Rasmus is being tended to by two nurses in full infection control regalia who are washing his suppurating bed sores.  Or a bed sore on top of his Kaposi’s Sarcoma plaque on his back. (a sore scaly patch of skin)  The nurse seemed a little less than gentle about it to me.

Rasmus, turned over onto his back again and wearing nothing but white loincloth type underwear, weeps in pain and the second nurse, having de-gloved, wipes away his tear.  The stern reprimand that follows for this action from the not as gentle as she could have been nurse is what forms the title of the Series.

We see Rasmus in flashbacks to his early childhood in idyllic Varmmeland, brought up by two adoring  parents. But Rasmus is bullied at school.  Beaten up in the playground and later called “homo” as a teenager by “layabouts who never finished school”.

This happens as Rasmus trundles along on the back of a truck on a strapped down chair festooned with balloons, by his adoring family on the way to his graduation party celebration.

The two main characters Benjamin and Rasmus are both very handsome and sweet young men.  The actor who plays Benjamin in particular has a face that the screen loves: huge, doe-like saucer brown eyes and a face like a young and innocent elf lost in the forest.

Confusingly, for a while, both young men’s childhoods are interspersed as flashbacks with the present day.

Confusing as it took me a while to discern whose parents belonged to which child.  As the mothers looked quite alike.  Mostly we see flashbacks of Rasmus’s childhood and the beautiful forests and lakes of his village.

 It maybe that these scenes of light and sunshine and mostly happy childhood memories are there mainly for the viewer.  To provide light relief from the current day story progressing in inexorable time.

Some of these repeated flashback scenes in Rasmus’s life become tiresome after a while.  Since their message or point became laboured with repetition.  Leading the viewer to regard the other flashbacks and dialogue as being potentially message laden.

As in the fixed theme of Rasmus writing, rather rebelliously for his ordered parents, his name on the window pane on the sunny balcony at home. Rasmus’s Father is shown tut tutting and declaring that he had:
“only just washed that window!”.  Then  he sprays and rubs Rasmus’s name away.

Rasmus writes his name in the misty window of the train too, as he journeys away from his village to Stockholm, age 18.

Yes, we get it, Rasmus is dying now, his life will be wiped out.

This pointed visual message led me to wonder if another scene from Rasmus’s childhood where he goes blackberry picking in the forest with his parents was also making a point.

As in when Rasmus complains that his wellies (Wellington boots) are too hot.  His father replies that:
 “you have to protect your feet from the adders that might bite you”.
A condom related theme?  Considering that we know from the beginning of the story that Rasmus is dying of AIDs: i felt that this was a possibility.

The appearance and re-appearance at rare intervals of an unusual white elk in the village also seemed to be
message laden.  As Rasmus’s loving Father explained that these elks were “different” but still valued by ancient villagers as magic and forbidden to hunt.

The story centres around how Rasmus comes to Stockholm to live with his aunt and slowly, with trepidation at first, joins a gay club. Where there is a worryingly thin man dancing on his own downstairs to disco music.

From there Rasmus meets the charismatic and diva-like Paul who likes to party and hold soiree’s for all his friends.  & Rasmus meets and falls in love with Benjamin.

Then one by one nearly all of the group of friends get ill and die.  It’s not ice cream tub TV.

The reactions of Rasmus and Benjamin’s parents are both expected and unexpected.  There is some small hope at the end. However bitter-sweet tinged that is.

I did like the dramatic tease by which the story was working backwards in time from an apparent end point with other disparate stories brought together at the end.  We are shown glimpses of this future time interspersed with the current day and the past.

This series could be described as the dark side or the sequel to the background of Armistead Maupin’s series of books: Tales Of the City.

***

Nb. There were several small touches referencing cross infection risks taken by the group of friends whether
knowingly or unknowingly.

Such as when the men go clubbing and are shown trying to keep track of whose drink is whose. When one of them has AIDS. The sarcastic, brave and sardonic Paul seems to deliberately drink from either the dying man’s glass or a random glass? as a show of bravado.

The camera focuses in close up on a glass of champagne on the make-up table of a young actress in a play with one of the group who has just been told he is HIV positive.  He picks up her glass and drinks from it.  Later we see the actress rubbing lip balm on her lips.

We are voyeurs to the possible encounter in which young Rasmus  may have become infected.  Since his companion has a large Kaposi’s Sarcoma on his back.  When  Rasmus asks:
“what is that on your back?”
(careful Rasmus as his parents keep soothing their worry by telling themselves as the News stories about AIDS appear) the man replies that it is an allergy.

& The rumours of what happens to the dead bodies of AIDS patients turns out to be disturbingly and horrifically true.