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Tuesday, 3 October 2006

The Outsiders, ITV1

Did we like it?
Yes the plot was so full of holes you could open it up as a tourist attraction to rival the most complex cave system in the known world, but we liked it for all it’s silly pretensions.

What was good about it?
• A very good cast. However, the two best, most experienced actors were tossed away like used train tickets as Brian Cox seemed to be barely breathing in his role as Gabriel, the commander of the shadowy agency, while Colin Salmon got punched and looked shocked when Gabriel pretended to shoot him.
• The two capable leads were Nigel Harman as Nathan, who was barely stretched by the script that demanded he look plaintive and sullen occasionally and Anna Madeley as Erica, whose cheekbones are probably visible from outer space. Really, you could have resurrected Laurence Olivier and Bette Davis and stuck them in the roles and you wouldn’t have got an improvement so industrial (in the mechanical sense) was the plot.
• If you’ve ever seen a child try to cook, then you might have some idea how the script was composed. Instead of carefully adding the correct amounts of ingredients, stirring for exactly the right time before serving it up to be relished and consumed by a grateful dinner guest, The Outsiders raided the cupboards for every conceivable plot line from espionage and sci-fi from the past decade and dumped them all in a big, black steel cauldron and left them to stew. Not that we’re complaining too much as they thieved from the most opulent exemplars.
• There was the confrontation between Gabriel and Nathan that resembled Darth Vader trying to turn Luke Skywalker to the Dark Side; the high-tech spying was mugged from Spooks; the top secret base hidden behind an unassuming wall was straight out of Harry Potter; while the Vatican secret service smacked rather to pungently of the Da Vinci Code.

What was bad about it?
• The secret organisation being named Minus 12, the least chilling name since The Man From UNCLE’s THRUSH.
• It almost seemed as though the trembling, spectral hand of the ITV1 executives had placed Nathan’s daughter into the plot, in which she was used as a device to coerce him to rejoin Minus 12, as a simplistic tool so the denser members of the ITV1 audience (such as property developers and mobile phone entrepreneurs) could identify on a primeval level with the protagonist.

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