Thursday, June 21, 2012

True Love - Five Stories In Margate

And for the last four days, BBC1 in some god awful scheduling decided to air this five part series, written and directed by Dominic Savage but when it came to True Love, don't expect your cockles to be warmed anytime soon. Here's a rundown of the five episodes we had on offer ...

Episode 1 - Nick: In which David Tennant played a happily married man, Nick who decided to cheat on his lovely wife Ruth (Joanne Froggatt) when his first love Serena (Vicky McClure) briefly returned to Margate from Canada. The format seemed simple enough with Nick and Serena even considering running away together before going their seperate ways and Nick returning to his wife, who seemed to be aware that he had strayed but decided not to confront him on it. Solid performances  from the main three but it felt a little lacking in parts.

Episode 2 - Paul: Easily the weakest edition of the bunch and while I hate to criticise actors unless I have to, I found Ashley Walters incredibly wooden as Paul. His discontentment with wife Michelle (an excellent Lacey Turner, who should've been the viewpoint character in this episode instead of Paul) really felt hollow and I found myself pretty unsympathetic towards him when the mysterious Stella (Jamie Winstone being rather underutilised) managed to scam him out of £5000. It didn't help either that Michelle learned of his adultery and still stuck with him in the end. Perhaps it was realistic, given how madly in love the episode depicted her to be with Paul but it still left a nasty taste in the end.

Episode 3 - Holly: I knew when this series would air that Billie Piper would get the most interesting edition and I was right. Okay, so seeing Holly going from an affair with a married David (Charlie Creed-Miles) to starting one with her student, Karen (Kaya Scodelario) might have raised a lot of ethical debate (the Daily Mail had a field day with this one) but the chemistry between Piper and Scodelario was definitely there and while the ending was somewhat dubious, it was definitely the least depressing of the first three instalments and the better written one too.

Episode 4 - Sandra: A solid episode focusing on Sandra (Jane Horrocks) dealing with her youngest child leaving home, her marriage to David (Charlie Creed-Miles) falling apart and her growing attraction to a newcomer to Margate named Ismali (Alexander Siddig). The ending for this one was a little different, with Sandra ultimately choosing herself and taking her leave from her marital home. Also, much as I disliked David in the previous episode, I felt a bit bad for him in this one.

Episode 5 - Adrian: Now this isn't something you see everyday - lonely single dad, Adrian (David Morrissey on utterly fine form) using the internet to strike up a relationship with the younger Kathy (Gemma Chan) and for it to be an actual, real relationship with both parties genuinely in love with the other. Of course, there's the hiccup of Karen's friend, Lorraine (Jo Woodcock) trying to get her claws into Adrian but ultimately love actually won out with Adrian and Kathy making a proper go of things.

An overall analysis of this and I have to admit, it's something of a mixed bag to be honest. The stories are decent but mostly unoriginal and uninspiring when it came to matters of the heart (bar Holly and Adrian's, the series strongest ones too) and with the wealth of talent that the five episodes had, it would've been nice if the episodes had been an hour long, ditched some of the more intrusive music and had aired in a primetime slot (the fact it aired after 10.30pm showed a lack of confidence in it from the BBC) but as an improvisation experiment went, True Love isn't entirely without it's merits, though I'm still not sure if it lived up to the title either. I did however like the interweaving of a lot of the characters throughout the five episodes, though that format was done years ago in The Street but it still worked well here.

True Love will be available on DVD from June 25th and can be watched again on BBCiPlayer.

No comments: