Monday 23 October 2017

DVD reviews

Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

Tuesday, Sky Atlantic, 10pm

In the Flesh

Sunday, BBC3, 10pm

Boris Johnson – The Irresistible Rise

Monday, BBC2, 9pm

I've always looked on television a bit like food – some programmes, like some foods, are things you endure out of a sense of obligation rather than desire. Which is where The Following comes in. Because The Following is a big sloppy fast food mess of a show. And all the better for it, too.

James Purefoy plays a literary professor turned serial killer who uses his love for Edgar Allen Poe's work to go dispatching people in new and inventive ways.

And, this being the communications age, he has now assembled a highly motivated cult of like-minded killers who all want to cause mayhem, while their leader does his best to drive former FBI agent Kevin Bacon completely mad.

The Following has been given a good kicking Stateside and the hacks have been hunting in packs over here as they compete to slag it off.

Indeed, one of the sniffier reviewers even opined that the material was more suited to a graphic novel than a 'serious' television drama.

But here's the thing – it doesn't care.

Because behind the smoke and mirrors what makes The Following so interesting is the paranoia the producers have tapped into.

In an age of instant messaging and interconnectivity, human beings have never been so isolated and this is why the show works – is the policeman coming to rescue you or is he part of the cult? Can you really trust your partner? Your friends? Colleagues?

This time the Reds aren't hiding under the bed. Instead, it's a pretentious English (natch, all the good baddies are English these days) professor who might just slowly dissect your family in front of you.

Just because he can.

The Following knows what it is and does the job well, which is an awful lot more than can be said for some of the pretentious pap being produced this side of the pond.

Q Speaking of such stuff, the Beeb's attempt to hop on the zombie bandwagon with In The Flesh promised much but failed to deliver. Taking Romero's ultimate zombie aspiration – taking zombies and rehabilitating them back into society – the show just . . . petered out.

In fact there were times when it seemed the writer and producers were so determined to put a distinctly 'British' stamp on the show (emotionally repressed mother offering newly returned zombie son a cup of tea etc.) that they forget to add any real action or drama.

By the end of the second episode, we had a reanimated zombie who was a boring drip, another self-loathing zombie who refused to accept his fate and a girl zombie who liked freaking out the normal people.

It was a great premise but once it set out its stall, it realised it actually had nothing to sell.

Q Is he a wise man pretending to be a buffoon or buffoon pretending to be a wise man?

And that was the question that kept coming up in Boris Johnson – The Irresistible Rise – is he a phony, a genius spinmeister or just a bloke who got lucky?

He came across as his usual affable self, but there were occasions when the mask of vague, bemused bonhomie looked like slipping.

I like BoJo (left), and he is a much under-appreciated writer. But Michael Cockerill's documentary offered very little that wasn't already in the public arena.

Irish Independent

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