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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A surgical approach to drama

6/10
Author: paul2001sw-1 (paul2001sw@yahoo.co.uk) from Saffron Walden, UK
20 April 2006

Tony Marchant's formula for television drama is now finely honed, with its trademark cross-cutting between a set of thematically related, loosely interlinked stories. The breadth and pace of his works ensures that one thing they are not is light on content; but the high-speed switching can only partially disguise the schematic nature of many of the individual sub-plots, and their emotional manipulativeness. Arguably, these techniques worked to best effect in 'Holding On', a somewhat melodramatic, but also rich and rewarding, portrait of life in 1990s London; but it becomes rather more wearing when the writer appears to have a particular point to prove, as he has done in subsequent work like 'Kid in the Corner', 'Swallow' and this series, which centres on the issue of infertility treatment. Trevor Eve plays a fertility specialist with a planet-sized ego, a rather peculiar personal investment in his work, and two beautiful, estranged children of his own whose role appears more symbolic than realistic; we also follow a number of his patients over the three episodes. For all the skill with which the stories are interwoven, there's a degree of predictability as Marchant covers the ground from a broad but unoriginal collection of viewpoints, as if the writer is straining for the elusive quality of definitiveness. But none of the tales are told in sufficient depth to allow the viewer to form opinions not explicitly explored, each story has a given role to play in the collage and there's something prescriptive about how one is meant to take them; Marchant never leaves much to the imagination, and where I disagree with his take, I find myself irked not challenged. For example, a key theme in 'The Family Man' is the issue of sex selection, yet the script never once mentions the best reason for opposing this: the right of children to have a reasonable chance of finding a mate, which comes at the price of denying adults the right to take action that might upset the natural ratio of the sexes. Marchant also has strange ideas about what drives the advance of science, he gives his "scientists" (or in this case, doctors) active agendas that don't really reflect the passive invasiveness of real scientific advance. This is not a truly bad series, and no-one could say that Marchant can't write, but in boiling drama down to it's essence, one ends up with a triple-distilled product; clean and sharp, but a little tasteless, and still capable of giving you a pain in the head afterwards.

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