Talk To Me, ITV1

by | Jun 10, 2007 | All, Reviews

Sunday 10 June 2007

Did we like it?

It appears to be an intelligent, enjoyable drama about how once you: get past 30/ get over the hill/ attend a Snow Patrol gig and bellow at the top of your smoker’s lungs at the first bars of Run, a state of contemplation kicks in that provokes you to take stock of your life as you realise that you don’t talk to your partner and that your hopes and ambitions for life are slipping away down the plughole like that glass of sickly wine you half-drank last night on auto-pilot. But we won’t know this until at the earliest the next episode.

What was good about it?

• Max Beesley has a tough job making the misanthropic Mitch even as charming and likeable as a convicted murderer but manages to achieve this by underplaying the role thus repressing his indelible odiousness while flagging up his charisma (but in fairness to Beesley he did stalk Chris Moyles to prepare for the role, a man who is far less likeable than most convicted murderers).

• While the central love triangle between Mitch, his best friend Woody and his betrothed Claire is a little wet (and we don’t just mean the torrential downpour that looked as if the whole of the Arctic ice sheet was on a liquidised break in west London), the intrigue of Mitch’s teacher sister Kelly and her attraction to the roguish Aaron, a pupil in her class, is far more captivating. Kate Ashfield captures Kelly’s desolation and despair with a geeky husband (Adrian Bower), who designs equally geeky websites, and her desperate longing for children – but seems confused as whether she wants to mother them or screw them.

• The central theme seems to be that many relationships suffer as the people involved don’t talk; or rather they only talk when they blow their tops like a hormonal volcano and what spews out is verbal molten lava that drives them apart. This is seen when Claire moans at Woody for not proposing before she gave birth to their son Jack, but he argues that they were swept along on a tide of joy and so didn’t feel the need to marry – and by implication talk about their relationship.

• The presence of Mitch as a cocky late night agony uncle DJ, dishing out advice to broken-hearted listeners, also serves a purpose as he is defined as a heartless Lothario who is more likely from priapism than a broken-heart acting as an agent provocateur to callers to serve up the juiciest details of their relationships to titillate listeners rather then solve problems. While any solutions he does offer are one-dimensional in the mould of “act like me, I get plenty and I’m happy so I must be doing something right”.

• It’s a pretty gloomy script, and the only light relief comes with Ally (Emma Pierson), whose sporadic forays on screen act as a kind of Falstaff-esque comical intrusion onto the despondent lives of Mitch and her best friend Claire. Yet with Ally, much of the levity is fuelled by her own disastrous love life but instead of moping like a Bergmann heroine, she takes vengeance on Mitch by drawing a Hitler moustache on a spanking new billboard advert for his show. While after an ill-advised abortive dalliance with a pizza delivery bloke, she tries to take an overdose but fails as they are herbal stress-relief tablets. The only problem is that Ally’s world is so out of step with the rest of the characters, and that each mess she gets herself into is handled more in the vein of a sitcom than a drama.

What was bad about it?

• The artificial manner in which the characters are apportioned their particular malaise that seems a cynical effort to exemplify the whole of young-ish adulthood in the bodies of five or six individuals who rather than living, breathing people appear to instead be moral perspectives. This is most keenly felt with Woody, who at times seems to be more a page torn from a women’s magazine advice column and magicked into flesh and bones.

• Talk To Me has the worst soundtrack of any production since Spice World. Moments after we’ve been introduced to Mitch’s pessimistic view of the world on his radio show we’re then re-introduced to the mediocrity of Snow Patrol (the small mercy was that it wasn’t Chasing Cars).

• If the inclusion of Snow Patrol, The Fratellis and any other number of bands who don’t aim at your heart but at your credit-card-stuffed wallet/purse is meant to be emblematic to illustrate a generation of people who are at a point in their loves and lives where they will be emotionally-flatlining for all eternity then it’s a stroke of auditory genius.

• But even if it is, and we’re very sceptical, there needs to be some consideration that people not so afflicted have got to watch this drama without the compulsion to drain their reproductive organs of every last sperm or egg stuff them in a used wine bottle (or champagne if you’re truly posh) and toss it into the nearest ocean.

• This was most sharply felt in the protracted sex scene between Mitch and Claire, in which they humped to the sounds of some plastic plaintive crooner that sucked the scene dry of all eroticism, all passion and all emotion. And while this may have been bad news for Talk To Me’s emotional punch, such a tactic could be used by puritans in the Catholic Church to erase sinful thoughts sparked by TV and film to the point where you could broadcast Last Tango In Paris on CBBC so long as you had Chasing Cars blaring out to cool the adolescent ardour.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles

10/06/2007

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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