Monday, 9 March 2009

RED RIDING - "1974"

Monday, 9 March 2009

I have real world pressures baring down on me recently, so I can't review the first part of Red Riding in any great detail. If you saw the two-hour episode "1974" last Thursday night, what did you think? A decent but unremarkable 2 million people tuned in. A few comments from me:

  • I thought the acting was top notch, particularly from Andrew Garfield as the plucky, young investigator, Warren Clarke, Eddie Marsan, Rebecca Hall, David Morrissey and Sean Bean. Lots of background faces that rang a bell, too -- the man from those Post Office adverts, the armed lunatic from Survivors, the possessed dad from Apparitions, etc. Great cast.
  • The sense of 1970s reality was palpable. This was Life On Mars taken to the next level; rain soaked, dingy, dirty, decaying, dull, dusty, misty, overcast, cold, and downbeat in every respect. The period details were spot-on, too -- from obvious things like the old-fashioned cars, to little touches like Garfield's ugly brown Y-fronts. Music choices were inevitably strong, too.
  • There were several great scenes; the aftermath of a gypsy camp attack, a hooded Garfield being frightened by gangsters in the back of a van, any scene with Sean Bean. A real Wild West Yorkshire feel. Goodfellas meets Life On Mars, you could say.
  • But, I have to say, I felt that two-hours was too much to bare. I've never been a fan of TV shows with pretensions of being movies. As good as Red Riding was, I'd have preferred a faster, slicker 80 minutes. There were times when the show crawled (little had happened in the first 40 mins) and my attention wandered. I'm also not entirely sold on the fantasy that the West Yorkshire police had "death squads" -- David Peace's source novels like to blur reality and fiction, but I'd have preferred something more honest. It was also a case of being so unrelentingly grim that it became something of an endurance test. For that reason, I just found it more gruelling than entertaining, which knocked off a star in my rating.
  • To be frank, this Thursday's second part (with its Yorkshire Ripper backdrop, set in 1980) is a more enticing prospect than part 1's missing child and gangster storyline.

5 March 2009
Channel 4, 9pm

Writer: Tony Grisoni (based on the novel by David Peace)
Director: Julian Jarrold

Cast: Andrew Garfield (Eddie Dunford), Sean Bean (John Dawson), Warren Clarke (Bill Molloy), Shaun Dooley (Dick Alderman), Anthony Flanagan (Barry Gannon), Rebecca Hall (Paula Garland), Sean Harris (Bob Craven), John Henshaw (Bill Hadley), Gerard Kearns (Leonard Cole), Eddie Marsan (Jack Whitehead), Daniel Mays (Michael Myshkin), Tony Mooney (Tommy Douglas), David Morrissey (Maurice Jobson), Peter Mullan (Martin Laws), Mary Jo Randle (Eddie's Mum), Steven Robertson (Bob Fraser) & Cara Seymour (Mary Cole)