Thursday, April 25, 2013

New TV series

For the past two weeks, I've been following two new (to me) television series broadcast on BBC Entertainment.

The first is 'Rev': a rather irreverent series following a country vicar who is transferred to an inner city parish. I should point out that so far (after three episodes), no mention has been made as to why the vicar moved from remote Suffolk to East London. The titular vicar is played by Tom Hollander, who also helps produce the show; I last saw him playing Guy Burgess in 'Cambridge Spies', but he hasn't been out of work since. His wife is played by Olivia Colman, a more familiar face on television, but unfortunately she doesn't get much screen time. I also recognised Ellen Thomas, who to me will forever be Liz, the school secretary in 'Teachers'.

There are three other characters who each get more screen time than either of those two ladies: the vicar's assistant, the vicar's "boss" (an arch Deacon) and Colin, a congregant. These are the characters who invest the programme with its sly humour.

This is not one of those inane comedy shows with which the BBC seems to fill its schedules; there are very rarely any belly laughs. This show shares with Gavin and Stacey the formula by which the lead character/s are the straight men, whereas the comedy is provided by the supporting cast. Whilst this show is witty, it lacks the lunacy and off the wall nature of G&S. 

The nature of the show's subject matter - Christian community life - it somewhat foreign to an Israeli audience, but my wife didn't have too much difficult in understanding what was going on.

The second series also inhabits a world which doesn't really exist in Israel: Silk is about a barrister who wishes to become a Queen's Counsel (aka 'silk'). In Israel, any lawyer can appear in court, whereas in Britain only  barristers can do this. Lawyers in Israel generally work in partnerships whereas barristers are forbidden to form partnerships but work in 'chambers'; frequently two barristers from the same chambers may appear against each other. My familiarity with barristers stems not from Wikipedia and not from this show, but from John Mortimore's autobiography, which I read years ago.

This series features two familiar faces: the star is Maxine Peake, who I first saw in that iconoclastic Mancunian comedy, "Shameless" (where she played the part of Veronica, the Gallagher's next door neighbour), supported by Rupert Penry-Jones, aka Adam from "Spooks". A third barrister is played by Nina Sosanya (ex-"Teachers"), whose part in the story seems very vague. As far as I can figure out, she is not favoured by the chamber's head clerk and so gets very little work to do.

This is a high level British drama and as such is very welcome.

I have discovered that I suffer regret after having watched certain television shows but keeping no memory of them. In recognition of this fact, I have been recording to DVD both these series (as well as G&S), even though I may never watch them again. It's worth preventing regret if it only costs me a few shekels.

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