Did we like it?
If the human race had evolved with only the emotional depth of a rapidly desiccating puddle, this drama would be a modern Bible on impulsive, shallow behaviour that would have to push its way through a throng of “hosanna-ing” buck-toothed stockbrokers; but as that’s not the case Sinchronicity is instead a stylish drama that is bereft, as yet, of any compelling characterisation or plot.
What was good about it?
• The cast managed to act above the threadbare, compromised script. Paul Chequer as (anti)hero Nathan managed to inject some lovable charisma in to a character who was a charmless, selfish boor. Jemima Rooper flourished in the role of Fi, easily the most likeable person, being at one moment compassionate, the next flirty and jovial, while also conveying contrite anguish over her tryst with Nathan. Meanwhile, Daniel Percival employs dynamite and heavy drilling tools to blast away the solemn, impassive granite to let viewers peek into the inner-workings of the sketchily drawn Jason, the cuckold who is going out with Fi and “best mates” with Nathan (we know this as he repeated it at regular intervals as though he was beholden to such a ritual in the same way as the numbers have to be entered into the computer in Lost).
• While the fast-cutting, jumbled chronology style is now a little dated, it still managed to give Sinchronicity a great deal of momentum, making it watchable and ensuring that you didn’t dwell on how obnoxious Nathan was for too long. It was most effective when revealing how Fi and Jason met, as it gradually seeped out that it was only with Nathan’s encouragement that Jason followed Fi across the road (after bumping his wing mirror into her forehead while reversing his van) to ask her out. Meanwhile, Nathan looked on, obviously enraptured by Fi but too shy to act on his lustful whim.
• While there are a number of reasons to presume Sinchronicity will just be another formless, anonymous BBC drama, it will be worth watching largely because in the scenes between Nathan and Fi there was enough repressed tenderness to suggest that their relationship, and their efforts to keep it secret from Jason, will be thrilling and involving. And as Nathan is the central character, such a journey may also go some way to explaining why he is such an idiot in this episode and as he fully realises the consequences of his lust he becomes more sympathetic. And if Jason is properly fleshed-out instead of being an emotional puppet, his confrontation with his homosexuality may also offer some insightful sparks.
What was bad about it?
• It’s set in Manchester. So why does only one person (Fi’s boss at the restaurant) have Mancunian accent while the rest speak as though Croydon was torn from London’s suburbs like a still-beating heart and dumped lock, stock and barrel in the north-west?
• It’s very difficult to have any sympathy with Nathan, who also serves as the narrator and central character, as he is such an unpleasant young man with almost no redeeming, endearing virtues. He mocks the audience’s assumed jealousy of his “dream job” of working on a porn magazine (which is fine if Sinchronicity is aimed exclusively at 19-year-old booze-sodden yobs); he derides a woman who turns down his advances as “a dyke”; and tries to lead Jason away from the scent of his and Fi’s misdemeanour by attributing her moodiness down to it “being the time of the month”. It’s only As If old boy Paul Chequer who makes Nathan at all likeable.
• Jason is a wispy cipher who is seemingly only present to act as a catalyst to instil remorse into Fi and Nathan over their affair rather than being an intriguing character in his own right. At the very beginning, Jason thrusts a cheque for £2,000 into the impoverished Nathan’s hands, a cheque that later falls out of Nathan’s pocket as he forcibly removes the drunken Jason from his flat while Fi is hiding in the bathroom, all of which rather hammers a nail clumsily into the viewer’s memory in order to force them to feel sympathy for Jason just in case they’ve forgotten what a “good mate” Jason is to Nathan. And even before Nathan throws him out, Jason is vomiting in Nathan’s bathroom wailing how much he loves Fi while she curls up in a ball of her own guilt just a few feet away from him; once more demanding that the viewer feel sympathy for Jason and shame on Fi’s behalf.
• Because of the well-trodden nature of the principle dramatic tension (bloke has affair with best mate’s girlfriend), the unique twist of Sinchronicity is supplied by the overt debauchery of Nathan’s job – working on a pornographic magazine. But, sadly, this has the same duplicitous stench of all those Channel 4 documentaries about the inner-workings of the porn industry under the false flag of serious study when all they really want to show is a woman tossing off a horse to suck the viewing figures in. Nathan’s job really had little relevance to the main interaction (we’re not even sure his best friends even know what he does for a living) but did propel the plot, however limply, as Nathan tried to chat up a woman with two vaginas only for her boyfriend, whose chest resembled something used to transport flagons of rum from Spain, to chase the trio out of the bar they were in.
• The music seemed to have been selected by someone who suffers from a permanent dislocation from “hipness”, and while this is often an admirable trait of modesty, when such a person does attempt to become “hip” the only pulse they can hope to put their finger on is a dead one six feet under the ground. Gorillaz are great, but their inclusion brands Sinchronicity with an amorphous laziness. Much, much worse was Toploader’s Dancin’ In The Moonlight that was played as Nathan remembered happier times for the trio, but anyone who soundtracks their ecstasy and joy with such a sterile spawn of music deserves a life of enduring misery.
• Jason and Naz snorting cocaine in the toilets at the party. There are few sights duller in TV these days than characters snorting up a white line to show that they have broken a personal taboo.