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w/e 2021-05-03

Because it’s a bank holiday Monday that means this eight-day week is ending on a Monday. It’s just the rules.

§ After I spent a week of doing little but sitting on comfy chairs reading, about 80% of the pain from my self-inflicted injury had eased. Aside from my back hurting whenever I moved, it felt more like a holiday than the week when I tried to have an actual holiday at home a while back. So, if you ever need a good holiday at home incapacitate yourself first. The final 20% of back pain is lingering but I’m on the mend.

§ While doing a lot of sitting I caught up on most of the issues of Sight & Sound from last year, all sprinkled with uncertainty and unwarranted optimism about the level of disruption the virus would cause. Many of the films covered are only starting to be released a year later.

I do like that the magazine has started reviewing TV shows. I’m sure plenty of its cinematic purist readers dislike any coverage of TV but I’m always pleased to see reasonably in-depth and thoughtful coverage, given how superficial most TV reviewing is. Obviously, they’re reviewing “quality dramas” rather than Cash in the Attic or The Great British Sewing Bee although I’m sure we’d all like to see those compared to the ouevre of Abbas Kiarostami.

§ To replace the old headphones I broke recently I bought some £30 Koss Porta-Pros which sound amazingly good for the price. The headband’s a bit annoying – always wanting to spring down to collapsed size, and eager to trap the few hairs I have left on top of my head – but otherwise they’re surprisingly comfy.

Launched in 1984, they do look very of their time which, if you’re as young and cool as the people in Koss’s promotional photos, means they look excitingly retro. But, if you’re middle-aged they give the impression you bought them with your pocket money as a teenager and have been wearing them ever since, which is rather less cool. It’s possibly even cheugy which, of course, I only mention in a desperate attempt to sound with-it, which is hopelessly cheugy itself, isn’t it fellow kids.

§ Early last/this week we finished watching The People v. O. J. Simpson which was good, although we decided we should have saved the O.J.: Made in America documentary to watch after this drama series, rather than seeing it a while back. I think that would’ve been the more interesting order.

At first I wasn’t sure what the point was of the drama, always being wary of drama-docs and being unsure how much they’re having to make up. But after a while it was interesting to see some of the behind the scenes activity that was necessarily missing from the documentary, like the white members of the prosecution team (i.e. almost all of them) being oblivious to the racial issues.

But, again, how much of that was true? How much exaggerated? How much entirely made up? Who knows, but now I believe it happened just like that. I wanted some kind of on-screen indication of the source, or how “truthy” the current dialogue is.

§ Thankfully season six of Line of Duty has ground to an end. It was nice to watch something that millions of other people were also watching, from week to week, given how rarely that happens now. And it did have a few good tense moments. But, unfortunately, all too often it was frustratingly clunky and poorly-written.

Maybe sometimes the stilted, over-clear dialogue is, like the occasionally unexplained use of jargon, authentic and part of an official process. But otherwise there’s so much clunky talk, and people explaining something to someone who would obviously know it already: plot points, history, investigation progress… even explaining to a competent Superintendent what “cuckooing” meant.

I think one of the reasons the characters seem so wooden and one-dimensional is that there’s no humour. None. Sure, they’re doing serious work but people make jokes and use black humour all the time, between friends, to lighten the mood. But there’s zero chat that isn’t devoted to driving the plot forward (or explaining it). I might have imagined it but I think I saw Steve Arnott smile, briefly, right near the end. Amazing. It was almost as if he was a human rather than a device for explaining plot points!

It’s a shame the BBC’s mainstream, high profile thrillers are so often a bit like this, given how good so much TV is these days. And yet if they do have another season I’ll be watching it. I don’t know.

§ Have a good, maybe short, week.

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