Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Holby Blew

Look, I know they try and drill into us “If you haven’t got anything nice to say –“, but Holby Blue? What the fuck?

Holby Blue – or Holby/Blue as the on-screen titles call it, putting in the same twattishly irritating category as Face/Off – was just the dullest, bog-standard police procedural ever. Actually, instead of a forward slash it was more a massive backward dump.

I mean it was about as exciting as watching an egg boil, on a low heat – but then given that it was a deathly spin-off from the terminally sleep-inducing Casualty and Holby City what else could anyone expect?

The fact that Holby Blue was created by Tony Jordan perhaps makes it all the more disappointing. Especially since that before Hustle and Life on Mars, Jordan created City Central. Broadcast in 1998, it was the first police precinct drama series to be commissioned by BBC television since Troy Kennedy Martin’s Z Cars in 1962.

At the time people thought City Central was a response to The Bill, which went to ITV after the BBC showed no interest in creator Geoff McQueen’s initial pitch about life in a London police station. While The Bill was set at Sun Hill police station, City Central centred around the rozzers plodding the beat at Christmas Street station in an unnamed Northern city.

Obviously attempting a UK version of Hill Street Blues, while The Bill evolved into a soap, City Central simply petered out. Supposed, with Blue in the title, Holby Blue is an attempt at NYPD Blue. If that’s the case it fails spectacularly. Riddled with every flipping cliché in the TV Plod handbook, the first episode of Holby Blue was like a school play version of NYPD Blue put on by special-needs kids.

The only show that came close to having the same verve and energetic style as Steven Bochco and David Milch’s Emmy Award-winning drama was World Productions’ The Cops, which won the BAFTA for Best Drama Series two years on the trot. Broadcast the same year as City Central, The Cops courted controversy in its depiction of the modern police force to such an extent that any technical advice was quickly withdrawn.

Maybe we’re too simply parochial in our police procedurals. Perhaps the English tradition of amateur sleuths and gentleman detectives is too ingrained in our DNA. The only current drama that manages to get it right is Waking the Dead, which takes the elements of deductive reasoning and mixes it with the modern forensic sciences.

After all, investigating old crimes allows them to rattle a few skeletons in the cupboard and dig up people’s dirty little secrets is what it’s all about in this country. Trying to come across all hard and fast simply results in slow and stupid. I’d prefer to have my feet set in a block of concrete then have barbed wire threaded through my arsehole and out the end of my knob with the two ends handed to tug-of-war teams than watch any more of it. Holby Blue? More Holby Bleugh.

Anyway, English Dave has a far more reasoned post about the show over on his blog.


At 5:49 pm, Blogger Jason Arnopp said...

Oh yes, I love Waking The Dead. Great characters, dense plots, dark atmosphere. I like Rebus, too - Ken Stott is a legend.

At 7:11 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

I only managed to catch one of the Rebus adaptations. Stott is a great actor, I mean The Vice and the Messiah series of dramas were absolutely terrific and both dominated by his presence. He was far better at playing Rebus than John Hannah.

At 5:30 pm, Blogger Lara said...

Guess you didn't like HB, then, GD?!

Ken Stott is indeed a legend! Hail King Ken!

At 10:52 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Lara, you think?

For a start the series is hobbled by having to conform to the “Holby” house style, set in stone by the 21-year-old Casualty, which is very much a case of “walk don’t run - in fact stand, don't walk”.

I mean there was a scene where the female inspector tells two uniforms that the drivers of an RTA are getting into a barney and the officers already at the scene would need assistance. She said in such an ordinary, non-urgent conversational way that I was surprised she didn’t tell them to get a cup of tea and a bun from the cafeteria first.

If the BBC really wanted to broadcast a useless pre-watershed cop show they might as well have put up repeats of Dixon of Dock Green.

At 10:57 pm, Blogger Lara said...

Mate, I missed it so can't comment but I feel I definitely have to either catch it on demand or watch it next week!

At 12:14 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Lara, please don't. Spend the time more profitably, like watching Bleak House. Anything but...


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