Funland, BBC3

by | Oct 24, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

Like falling through a trap door from the quaint reality of Blackpool into a twilight world of debauchery, manipulation and dread.

What to say if you didn’t like it

In much the same way as Liam Gallagher’s voice has declined from piercing ache to mechanical drudgery, so this is yet another tedious drama that is weird for the sake of weird, where the weird masks the witless script with all kinds of freaky, distracting colours.

What was good about it?

• The manner in which Blackpool was deceptively presented as a typically moribund northern town full of hen parties, drunken louts, inflatable penises, candy penises and Pats (unpunctuated) Bingo before allowing the viewer to peer into its stained soul.

• Some of the music such as Happy Mondays’ Wrote For Luck, from a halcyon time when Sean Ryder could talk, and Rock And Roll Star by Oasis from an era when Liam Gallagher could sing.

• While we would normally frown on deriving many of the characters and situations from a previously successful venture, but when it’s something as wonderfully warped as the League Of Gentlemen (co-writer Jeremy Dyson also part-wrote that), then we’ll make an exception.

• There were many references we spotted to the LOG (although some may have been illusory, and provoked by our undying adulation for that great series). Bumbling, short-sighted journalist Ken Cryer (Simon Greenall) was redolent of hapless magician Dean Tavalouris; the familial hatred between Shirley (Ian Puleston-Davies) and Mercy (Judy Parfitt), coupled with him calling her by her first name, recalled Judee and Iris’s spiteful bickering; intrusive, manipulative B&B owner Leo Finch (Philip Jackson) who bursts in on Lola while she’s on the toilet and spies on the couple having sex resembled the odious Pop; the cat being impaled on Connie’s receipt spike brought back memories of Mr Chinnery’s catastrophic ineptitude; and the two old ladies behind the counter babble senselessly like Reenie and Vinnie.

• The painstakingly observed relationship between loveless married couple Dudley and Lola (Kris Marshall and Sarah Smart). On a weekend break, the pair try to act in the way all miserable people believe happy people enjoy themselves by indulging their sexual fantasies, eating sweets and ice cream with a youthful abandon; yet are myopically oblivious that such people are merely distracting themselves from a pitiable mediocrity, and are often several evolutionary steps behind amoeba; a failing made worse by their wilful inability to improve their lot instead of wallowing in the immutable persona of a school bully.

• When Leo is guiding Dudley and Lola about his guesthouse, he extols the delights of each room with that typically low-rent deception of awarding each chamber with ludicrously exaggerated titles; the cramped American Bar, a dusty, rotting dining area called The Emperor’s Room; and the Seaview Suite, an undeserved appellation justified by the room overlooking the neighbouring seedy Seaview Guesthouse. Also, in episode two the seedy photographer took Lola and Dudley to Elegance Studios, his creepy hovel.

• Lola initially following Dudley’s advice to perform the moves to Black Lace’s largely forgotten musical atrocity Superman during her pole dance.

• The exorbitant pride on Shirley’s face when his daughter reveals Carter made her “come three times”.

What was bad about it?

• Very little of anything of a plot has emerged yet. The central narrative of Carter Krantz (Daniel Mays) tracking down his mother’s murderers is as yet peripheral and served merely to introduce lurid caricatures such as licentious but lonely taxidermist Ambrose Chapfel (Mark Gatiss).

• While some of the music was good, some of it was quite appalling which was exemplified by the nadir of Spice Girls’ Wannabe. Even nightmares need parameters of taste.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles

24/10/2005

Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!

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