Thursday, May 21, 2009

Working for the Yankee dollar

Have you seen Lie To Me, Sky 1's bright new hope for Thursday nights?

It's perfectly watchable n onsense about a man who can solve crimes just by reading people's body language. Preposterous I know, but hey, that's America! What's interesting about it though is that it stars that mighty giant of stage and screen, Tim Roth.

Now, imagine if ITV had gone to Tim Roth and said: 'We've got this new series about a man who solves crimes simply by interpreting other people's body language and we want you to star in it.'

He'd tell them to fuck off.

Same goes for Damien Lewis, now playing (though recently cancelled) a framed cop whose shtick is constantly eating lots of fruit. He'd have laughed in the face of any British production company proffering that suggestion. Oh, and Anna Friel, we've got this new vehicle where you're the dead girlfriend of a pie maker who brings people back to life just by touch. Don't be daft.

But they're quite prepared to sell their soul to America. Think of the money, think of the profile, think of the Oscars! Dollar signs flash in their eyes. And now they're all at it. Rupert Penry-Jones is playing a detective that identifies unidentifiable people (which actually sounds quite good on the face of it), and there are countless others plying their trade Stateside.

They might argue that's where the work is. It's certainly where the money is. They're like shoppers at the Harrod's sale. They'll charge all over everyone else to get what they want. The MediaGuardian applauds this, as they wank non-stop over US shows. But if these same shows were to be made by British companies, they'd be incredulous and find them utterly ludicrous. I liked Law & Order: UK. Inevitably, it was rubbished.

But with the parlous state our television's in at the moment, who can blame the actors? It's good to be in work after all, and the money would set you up for life. But might they just pick their projects a bit more carefully? Don't bang on endlessly about your art and then settle for playing a fruit-eating detective. We're watching. We know.


wil said...

I think they all just want a piece of Hugh Laurie House action. Roth's character in Lie To Me seems very much like that.

Simon said...

And then there's Robert Carlyle coming soon in Stargate Universe.

Never seems to work very well in reverse does it? Who remembers David Soul in Holby City?

Five-Centres said...

Or Maxwell Caulfied in Emmerdale?

Dan W said...

How does Lie To Me last an hour? Surely he just looks at them and says 'not guilty' or 'guilty' and that's it? How is the drama become sustained? Does it involve hours of the suspect hiding their face and he trying to catch them when they least suspect it (showering etc)? What if it the person was wearing a burqa? What then? Or would that inflame hatred?

Never even heard of that fruit-obessesed one. Weird.

You could just make these up in a 'random detective generator'.

Ability - do any sum instantly.
Weakness - cats
sidekick - cat lover (a ha, there's the twist...)

and so on...

Five-Centres said...

Yes Dan, everyone's got to have a quirk. You can't just be a detective anymore it seems. But fruit is pushing it.

Lie To Me is stretched tightly over what is probably more like 45 mins once you've taken the ad breaks out.

Dan W said...

I studied crime fiction once and it's interesting how names usually have meaning


Herculus Poirot (could be less like a Herculus)

Morse (code)

Frost (his nature, frosty)

Creek (up the creek without a paddle - he solves seemingly unsolveable etc)

Cal Lightman...shines a Light on people?

Ishouldbeworking said...

I have an uncanny, almost suernatural ability to tell when a TV series is utter bollocks, and this one is.