Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The State Of Drama

With Torchwood finally arriving on our screens, the BBC can drop all the annoying teasers and trailers and concentrate on promoting the hell out of The State Within. Which is a good thing.

Finally some adult drama arrives in the form of a meaty six-part conspiracy thriller. While they don’t come around that often, but when they do they’re certainly worth the wait: from Edge of Darkness and the one-off Screen One drama Frankie and Johnnie, A Very British Coup and Natural Lies, again starring the much missed Bob Peck, to State of Play.

With some ongoing dramas going on too long, it’s nice to have a defined beginning, middle and end. Maybe I’m a pessimist at heart, but I enjoy a drama where the characters get the ending they deserve and not everyone rides off into the sunset whistling a jaunty tune. Because when it comes to the state versus the individual, however much their investigations make a dent in the apparatus of government, the state always wins. They may lose a battle or two, but they’ll ultimately win the war.

The problem I had with The X-Files, once it became apparent that there was an ongoing story struggling to get out, was that a constant nuisance like Mulder would have been discredited, ridiculed, and then squished like a bug. Instead it drunkenly veered all over the place long after its sell-by date, trying to come up with an ending that would see good win out. Hopeless!

Perhaps the reason such thrillers don’t come around that often is that in creating believable characters and situations – which brings us back to verisimilitude again – the writers have to put in that extra effort to carefully research the world they immerse their characters in. With Edge of Darkness, Troy Kennedy Martin went to Walt Patterson and Lovelock. Lizzie Mickery and Daniel Percival, who wrote the 2004 drama Dirty War, certainly appear to have taken that extra step with The State Within.

It’s only recently that Work Buddy and I came up with a conspiracy drama of our own. The projects we’re currently working on cover a range of genres. As a favourite of mine, it was only when we thrashed out the initial germ of the idea that I was surprised such a drama wasn’t already on the list. Then again, we didn’t set out to purposely cover every genre.

The story always came first, irrespective of which category it fell into. While we have a powerful opening and know where the story goes, oddly enough, the actual ending only came to me after a friend texted me a joke. For some strange reason half of it was missing but I could work out the punchline. From it I figured out an equally powerful final scene of the drama.

Rest assured, a jaunty tune is not part of the equation.


At 6:58 am, Blogger wcdixon said...

I loved, I mean seriously lurved, the first 4-5 seasons of the X Files. But then it kind of showed what wasn't behind the curtain and limped home. And maybe thats the problem with conspiracy shows, they can never top the possibilities you've worked up in your head. The solution might be to do x amount of episodes and then just stop...mid sentence...and no one will be disappointed...yeah right.

And Dirty Bomb was pretty good, I remember it.

Need sleep.

At 9:19 am, Blogger Good Dog said...

The X-Files worked for me right up to the third episode of the third season.

They had found the buried railway carriage, the file cabinets in the mountainside, all the pieces started coming together, and then... next episode the little twerp was investigating a kid who could harness lightning. Huh?

After that it split into two separate shows.

At 11:46 am, Blogger Riddley Walker said...

No no no no no! All the heroes have to jolly well sort things out and make the world a better, lovelier, fluffier place in which to live, because the naughty men in charge need to be shown the error of their ways. Then they see how wrong they've been, promise to be good in future and we can all go back to sleep...

Hang on, that's all bollocks!

At 4:36 pm, Blogger English Dave said...

I think Jessica Pope is an excellent Exec producer. Not everything she does comes off, but at least she is willing to give intelligent drama a try.


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