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That was a very thoughtful review of the series by BlunderGuts. It
should help people to decide whether to watch it.
I totally agree with the opinion that Jane Horrocks' episode was excellent; you could really feel for her situation. Likewise episode 5 with David Morissey caught in an awkward situation with an obsessive girl.
I didn't find the shortness of the episodes a problem. What I did feel was that the acting was excellent including Lacy Turner from Eastenders. There wasn't a great deal of story but I like that as you can concentrate on the characters, and to me it looked so real and not melodramatic at all.
So when you can feel for the characters and picture the position they are in, it's impressive. If I hadn't been told I would not have been able to tell that it was improvised.
If you like Mike Leigh, watch these episodes. I was not impressed by several critics who were so rather negative.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched all five episodes of this series and there were good and bad
elements to all.
Episode one was Nick (David Tennant). Just as things in his marriage seem to be on a long simmer, along comes an old flame from 17 years ago, and out of the blue, tries to resurrect their past relationship. This first episode really was a casualty of the time limitation (each episode ran for approx. 25 minutes). David Tennant, Joanne Froggatt and Vicky McClure are all exceptional actors but it just didn't feel like they had room to breathe. Perhaps none took well to the unscripted format? Some actors need more direction and that's not a judgement on their acting skills. The story felt unbelievable and rushed and what little dialogue there was just filled with hollow words not delivered with any real conviction. Disappointing.
As was episode two. Now Paul (Ashley Walters) really DOES find himself in a broken down marriage. So what does he do? Pick up a girl he's been eyeing off at the bus stop. Wha...? He does kind of get his comeuppance though (I felt anyway). I thought Ashley Walters and Lacey Turner's acting in particular really floundered in the improv environs. The slight saving grace was Jaime Winstone? Again, disappointed but stuck with the series for hope of improvement.
Episode three was the first episode I actually quite enjoyed. Billie Piper in the role of Holly was wonderful. She took to the improv like a duck to water! Holly is a teacher who becomes the object of desire to one of her female students. She's already involved in a doormat affair with a married man. The relationship with student Karen sees not a little controversy for Holly. Kaya Scodelario is a real find for me. I've not seen her in anything before (although she has a body of work behind her already). She is definitely a young actress to watch! A much improved story and one a little less affected by the time constraint.
Episode four was Sandra. A knockout performance by Jane Horrocks as the world-weary Sandra whose life is altered by a chance encounter with Ismail (Alexander Siddig). Siddig was also wonderful as the slightly enigmatic Ismail (I'd not seen Siddig act in anything since Deep Space Nine when he played Dr Bashir). I got a bit confused when seeing a character from a previous episode in this. I felt I had his back story, but that didn't weave into the plot of this one, so I ended up perplexed by that. An episode that didn't really seem to suffer the time restraint though.
The final episode saw David Morrissey in the role of Adrian, a man who has found love via online dating but gets embroiled in a scandal with his daughter's friend. This one had a real sense of peril for me. I felt EVERY emotion that Adrian was going through. Wonderfully played out by Morrissey and Jo Woodcock as Lorraine. Perhaps another victim of the time restraint as the resolution in the plot resolved itself a little too quickly.
Some of the episodes really could have done with some more time. I think an extra 10 minutes could have made a difference to some. I'd say forget the first two but the final three are definitely worth a watch.
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