Too Complicated And Contains A Very Distressing Scene
I can remember CHILDREN OF THE NORTH from its one and only transmission on BBC 2 in 1991 and being totally frustrated by the plot . The first episode revolves around an attempted assassination of MI5 agent Colonel Mailer in which his chauffuer is killed by the provisional IRA but then the story slips and slides into umpteen different subplots as more characters are introduced and the plot loses all focus . One subplot features an undercover army officer trying to infiltrate an IRA cell while posing as a double agent and another subplot features a split in the IRA which leads to the provisionals liquidating the dissidents before it leads to a destructive feud in the republican movement and by the time these plot strands reach fruition I'd lost track what any of this had to do with the opening episode . I guess that the scriptwriter John Hale could claim he's mirroring the deeply complex politics of Northern Ireland by writing such a hard to follow story but I've a feeling the problem is more likely flawed plotting . It should be pointed out that most of Mr Hale's previous work is historical drama and he's had little experience of political thrillers which is an entirely different genre
There's also a large amount of callousness in the characterisation . Colonel Mailer sees his chauffeur killed by a terrorist sniper and in his next scene he nonchalantly discusses it like his driver has just retired , Mailer doesn't come across as a sympathetic character therefore he's difficult to empathise with . But there is a deeply disturbing scene where the undercover army officer has to prove to the IRA splinter group that he's on their side by carrying out a test of faith . He's taken to a deserted garage and told to shoot someone the terrorist group has captured - One of his own men who is seen begging for his life . Normally in this type of scene ( Several movies feature something similar where an under cover cop faces the same dilemma ) the audience are on the edge of their seats and they breath a sigh of relief when it turns out that the gun isn't loaded . The audience will let out a gasp watching this but it'll be a gasp of shock
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