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Richard Mayhew leads an ordinary life in London when one day a girl named Door falls, injured, across his path. The next thing he knows, his life is gone and he's pulled into the fantastical world of London Below. Pursued by the murderous Messrs. Croup and Vandemar, Door and Richard with the help of Hunter and the Marquis de Carabas, attempt to find the Angel Islington, who knows the secret behind the murder of Door's family, and possibly a way for Richard to go home. Written by
During filming, Neil Gaiman felt guilty about what his script was putting the actors and crew through, since most of the series was shot in the tubes of London in cold and muddy conditions. During a break in filming of the fight between Hunter and the Black Friar, when Tanya Moodie had accidentally broken her spear over the stuntman's head, Gaiman stood up in front of the cast and crew and began apologizing for putting them through such an ordeal. Laura Fraser, who plays Door told him she couldn't believe they were actually getting to make a series like Neverwhere, indicating that everyone was having much more fun than Gaiman realized. See more »
The opening credits are full of surreal, distorted images from London Below. And each episode opens with a different character narrating the events of the previous episode. The end credits uses surreal imagery as a backdrop. See more »
After seven years, Neverwhere is finally available on DVD, and can be found on major shopping sites like Amazon. I'm sure many of you heard of it, but much fewer have seen it. This fascinating 1996 BBC mini-series was created by Mr. Neil Gaiman, accomplished and acclaimed author of American Gods, Coraline and Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett) among others, and co-written by Gaiman and the wonderful British comedian Lenny Henry. Gaiman fans such as myself have waited for quite some time to see this series introduced to American audiences - and since Gaiman is now finally breaking ground in the States (American Gods actually won the Hugo award, and was an international bestseller) this seems like the perfect time. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a video of the series a couple of years back, but those are quite rare. If you love Neil's work, take the chance to finally see this lovely piece of work.
Neverwhere is a highly imaginative story of urban legend, rich with Gaiman's special brand of British black humor. The script is really wonderful, and Henry helps with his own experience in screenplay writing. Acting is terrific by everyone involved - I loved Gary Bakewell (frequent Paul McCartney impersonator on various BBC tele-biographies) as Richard Mayhew, the ordinary Englishman drawn into a strange adventure underground, and many other accomplished British actors - such as Laura Fraser, Trevor Peacock, Freddie Jones and Peter Capaldi - give a great performance. Unfortunately, the series suffers from the same problems shared by most British TV series - a budget lower than that of one episode of 'Dharma and Greg'. Therefore, the scenery, though highly inventive and original, doesn't look very impressive. Dewi Humphreys directs like he would direct a soap opera or a murder mystery, and though the directing of the dialogue is flawless, the action scenes are immensely disappointing, especially the 'Beast of England' battle, which is incredibly unconvincing.
Despite these weaknesses, though, the series is still well worth watching, especially if you're fond of the genre, and also if you're fond of British television. A word on two great artists who contributed much to the series: Dave McKean, for one, the great artist who collaborated with Gaiman in works like 'The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch', 'Black Orchid' and Coraline, created an astounding opening sequence to every episode, which is a fascinating piece of work by itself; if you enjoy his work on such graphic novels as Arkham Asylum, Cages and his covers for Neil's Sandman series, the DVD is worth it just for this one sequence. Secondly, the brilliant Mr. Brian Eno, the inventor of Ambient music and musical collaborator of the likes of David Byrne, David Bowie and Robert Fripp, supplies the wonderful score to the series, very eerie and atmospheric synthesized music. Thank god for that, because without him we'd probably have basic British TV music, which tends to be quite awful - and Eno's sound really adds a lot to the atmosphere of the story.
It's important that, if you read and enjoyed the novel Neverwhere, you won't approach this series expecting Hollywood - or even modern American television - production values, because you'll be disappointed. A movie version of this nature, in collaboration with Jim Henson co, has been in talks for some time, but it doesn't seem very likely. If fantasy films are to you special effects and big battle scenes, you probably won't be impressed by Neverwhere. If you love fantasy literature, though, and especially Gaiman's work, you'll find Neverwhere highly rewarding. It's very entertaining, and very imaginative. And in the end, imagination is what fantasy is all about. Isn't it?
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