OldVenue, TV

Doctor Who, The Musketeers, and The Wrong Mans – 2014 in Review

Sherlock’s resurrection on New Year’s Day, the shocking death of several characters in Westeros, Martin Freeman’s despicable character in Fargo, Matthew McConaughey’s successful move from film to TV in True Detective: it’s certainly been a stellar year for TV in 2014. But amongst these gems there have been shows hyped up so much that they’ve actually fallen flat on their face and made rather an embarrassment of themselves. To name one show that was billed along with Sherlock and Ripper Street in 2014 BBC Original British Drama, greeted by 9 million viewers all eager to see the new Saturday night drama who were left ultimately disappointed was the dismal BBC adaptation of The Musketeers. The show’s drop of 4 million viewers throughout the series reflected the poor quality of a show that took the Doctor Who Saturday night slot which had been previously filled by the mediocre Merlin and Atlantis, both of which were unable to fill the big shoes of the Time Lord. A show that moves from one sword fight to another is only interesting for a few minutes and appears to have been wrongly aimed at adults in the 9pm slot whilst it is essentially a dressed-up childrens show with bland dialogue, silly plots, and boring characters.

Moving from one Peter Capaldi BBC drama (Capaldi having played menacing Cardinal Richelieu in The Musketeers) to another. Doctor Who graced our screens back in August with what Moffat claimed would be a change in format from the previous series. Upon Capaldi’s reveal as the twelfth incarnation of the Doctor, many were delighted that such an established actor was cast, hoping it would bring gravitas to the role of a darker Doctor. During Matt Smith’s tenure as the Doctor the show had become a bit over the top with his ‘Timey Wimey’ slightly childish Doctor in comparison to the criminally underrated Christopher Eccleston who back in 2005 brought the show back as a respectable BBC drama. However, Doctor Who stuck to the same formula as previous series with the only noticeable difference in Capaldi’s Doctor was him being a bit more blasé about death. He remarks of an unimportant character in the second episode “He was dead already, I was saving us.” Upon learning of Danny Pink’s death, he says “And?” Whilst there is no debate that Capaldi is a brilliant actor and can do comedy (look no further than the foul mouthed Malcolm Tucker) and can play the Time Lord, the scripts were very mixed for his debut series ranging from the horrendous In the Forest of the Night (remember that one? No I didn’t think so) to the majestic Mummy on the Orient Express. As a ‘whovian’ it pains me to ask the question: is the forgettable eighth season of Doctor Who a sign that Moffat needs to pass on the baton to another writer? Maybe the BBC should step in and attempt to save the Time Lord from a greater enemy than the Daleks: an audience that have given up on the show.

Around Christmas time it was impossible to turn on the TV without seeing a trailer for The Wrong Mans  Series 2, which was given prime place on  BBC Two in the build up to Christmas. After a quirky and unexpectedly enjoyable comedy series written by and starring James Corden and the other bloke from Gavin and Stacey (not Matthew Horne, the other one) the question arose whether this second series would be any good. The answer: mediocre at best. Whilst the change of setting from Basildon to America was brave, the two-parter appeared more concerned with satisfying itself and tying up loose ends from series one than telling an interesting and/or funny story. It did have its laugh out loud moments, Sam and Phil’s attempt to convince airport security they played the bongos and guitar in a band for instance, but they were sparse and could not stop the viewer from ultimately feeling disappointed by the anticlimactic finale. 2014 managed to prove that there is one thing worse than a bad TV show: an overrated  TV show that is just mediocre.

13/01/2015

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D.Struthers