February 04, 2008

Drama

With Lost returning to the television screens, and its mass fans worldwide, its easy to ignore the fact that its an inconsistent program. Sometimes its plotting drags, and whilst most characters are well developed now, both Hurley and Charlie started out as joke figures in my mind. With this in mind I decided to list a few programs that I feel ought to be viewed by anyone interested in serious drama. This is by no means an exhaustive list – since I generally don’t watch much tv drama (too much crap around).

The Sopranos

Now complete family crime drama, the show juxtaposes the family and business interests of its main character, Tony Soprano. This allows for in detailed characterisation, and the opportunity to bring a variety of characters together, from his daughter’s university friends to hardened criminals. Tony is a fascinating study in and of himself – my personal favourite is the manner in which he eats, it has a very special idiom to it. He plays with his food obsessively, then eventually his takes his fork, stabs one element of it, and eats it – swallowing quickly. Often it seems as though his eating habbits are a compulsion, a comfort for a man who has difficulty expressing his emotions. The strong supporting cast and character driven nature of the show are also highlights.

Dexter

The show is set from the point of view of its serial killing title character. Fascinating insite is given to the relationship between people, through Dexter’s description of how he ‘fakes’ human emotions. The show is driven forward by his discovery of how Dexter became the way he is. Another point of interest is they way his moral code guides the way he acts and the judgements implicit and explicit within its development.

Oz

This nineties prison drama, set primarily in the experimental wing of the Oswald State penitentiary. The fast moving plot frequently focusses on the infighting between different ethnic groups within the prison. Overall narration is done in the style of classical greek theatre – with interludes where the key theme of each episode is discussed. The show deliberately chooses to offer ambiguity in response to key criminal issues – such as the debate between reforming and incarcerating prisoners.

House of Cards

Miniseries from 1990 that charts the rise of its lead character – Francis Urquhart – in a post Thatcherite conservative party. The series had the good fortune to be aired at the same time as the internal struggle surrounding Thatcher’s departure, however, it still stands the test of time. Urquhart is portrayed as a Machavellian political machine, only interested in his own political rise. The show depicts the corresponding fall of those manipulated by Urquhart’s underhand dealings. There are frequent parallels with Shakespearean work, notably Richard III. My favourite aspects are the short solliloques, and frequent glances to camera given by Urquhart that reveal his true intent and the brief shots of rats that increasingly appear at times throughout the show.


- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Keep checking BBC4 for when they start showing Mad Men this month – brilliant slowly evolving plot and beautifully portrayed sixties ad-mad New York. Just a suggestion.

    04 Feb 2008, 03:46

  2. Polar

    I have heard very good things said about The Wire.

    04 Feb 2008, 04:09

  3. Andy

    I’m a big fan of Lost, Sopranos, Dexter and Oz. I have to concur with the comment above about “The Wire”, it is seriously awesome and topped Time Magazine’s top 10 tv shows
    Also Battlestar Galactica (the new one) is a personal favorite of mine.

    04 Feb 2008, 11:34


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