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.
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.
“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!