Tuesday, January 02, 2007

That was This Life

Just watched the 10 year reunion episode of "This Life." So, don't read on if you've videod it, or watching it on play-again or are going to bit torrent it from somewhere. Yes, "This life - ten years on" was probably the most hypertextual piece of television we've seen since Dennis Potter's swansong pieces appeared simultaneously on the Beeb and Channel 4. The soundtrack was conveniently loaded into Eg's iPod, so we got Everything but the Girl and Massive Attack for the quiet bits, and Manic Street Preachers "Design for Life" for when they were dancing. Music was always an important part of this life, mainly because it was both dashed off (i.e. it was playing incidentally at all moments) and candid (yes, they knew what they were doing.) In a sense it was a rare occasion when tele gets it right - rather than retrospectively adding window dressing (like the tele version of "The Line of Beauty.") Eg, much liked by most of my female friends, remains the most annoying man in television history - soppy, useless, like a pet dog that's none too bright - and he's STILL like that. Only thing is, he's written a bestselling novel about, yes, "This life" the first time round. God, this gets complex. Originally conceived by Amy Jenkins, about her own housesharing experience, is Eg Amy then? And what happened to Amy after that much hyped first bestseller? Never mind, everyone admits the series got better when other writers got involved, which always seemed a little unfair (and I liked the first series alot, just took everyone else a time to get back into it.) A shame that Ramon Tikaram never made the cut (he's the excuse for the get together) but he's tried to be a serious actor ever since and maybe's glad of the let off. This life was always less comfortable when it had characters outside of the main set - and so it is here, where Miles' Vietnamese bride, and Claire, the young northern film maker, are dismissed as soon as they possibly can. The reunion show was ace - because it concentrated on the verbal sparring between the 5 remaining characters. Millie, never the least bit sexy in the original, looked great, whilst Anna was looking a little worse for wear - though not as bad as Miles' long backpackers hair. (And this guy was supposed to be running a chain of hotels?) They were always a bit posh the people in This Life, and in the reunion the Beeb and the writers can't resist a bit of the Richard Curtis treatment. And its not a bad idea - arriving at the hotel, sorry, Miles' palatial home - they're like an Agatha Christie dinner party, and we're left waiting for the first body to turn up. And the body here, of course, is the past. Like a 5-person marriage, what was always so great about the show is how they're all best friends who bring out the very worst in each other. Eg gets turned into a child by sensible Millie (and she really likes that as well - smiling when her real child beats her with a toy teddy to wake her up, when Eg's been up and doing childcare for all of 5 seconds) - the book, remember, was always a bit of a laugh for him, a kind of "I'm not working, I'm an author" schtick that has never worked that well for me! Anna hates Millie's conformity but really wishes she had a proper boyfriend/baby/house etc. whilst Millie would like to be a bit more devilish. Anna's devilishness was always a little overplayed of course - she's a topdog lawyer, as always, and still smokes like a chimney. (Good job they didn't do it next year.) Whilst Warren was always the bit of grease between the other relationships, helping them all rub along together - glad to not be worrying about himself for once. In one of many clever little touches, he's replaced his old therapy sessions with, yes, being a life coach. Though its always been touch and go whether him or Little Britain's Dafydd, the only other Welsh gay in the village, perhaps?, was the least self aware. I guess, the only thing wrong with the show was the speed at which it zoomed through things - like a Noel Coward on steroids (and Amy's first novel was a Coward-filch if I remember rightly). So a good piece of nostalgia for once, and my head's spinning like the tracks on an iPod keeping up with all the subtexts, which is as it should be. Don't know where you'd come back from here? After all, getting back together, like any old group of friends, they eventually fall back to what they were - Milly girly, Eg daft, Miles still trying not to turn into his dad, Warren coming to terms with whatever he needs to come to terms with and Anna being Anna. I can see them again in another decade - yet it would be like being in aspic, their characters unchanging, just life changing around them. If anything they'd all be a bit young to be going all middle aged on us. I wrote my own state-of-the-nineties novel about my year in London in 1996-7, and yet by moving out of there, I missed out on the prosperity of the Blair years. There's a few friends, older than that lot, who'd kind of fit the cliches, but it probably takes a bit longer, and then again, quite a few of them have either not yet made it (still waiting, like Anna, for the house, the partner, the baby...) or simply fled the city for the countryside. As the Manic Street Preachers would have it, "We don't talk about love, we only want to get drunk." That song, of course, could even make the charts next week - since for the first time - ALL downloads will count, they don't need a physical reissue accompanying the song. So, anyone plugging in their iPod tonight for a bit of nostalgia might just be tempted to flash 79p!

4 comments:

Ms Baroque said...

Paragraph breaks!!!

Bournemouth Runner said...

Ah, yes, but then it wouldn't be so stream of consciousness and off the cuff.

Elizabeth Baines said...

Sorry, but I didn't like This Life + 10. Self-conscious in a bad way, I thought, self-congratulatory too (especially with that 'how we made it' programme following on), and I didn't believe any of the characters (when they had once been so believable). And I hated the difference in their looks - such a horrible reminder of time ging by - which I was going to say is another story, but if the whole thing hadn't been an exercise in re-creation rather than a serious study of the effects of time then I might not have felt the same.

Bournemouth Runner said...

Not sure why they have a "making of" show straight after the show itself - trying to destroy any mystery perhaps? I switched off after that. I'm quite easily to please re: tele, just need a bit of style, a bit of fast editing, "The Manic Street Preachers" and Millie falling off a horse, and I'm happy.