This is Late
Sometimes I babble about having a cold and shopping when I mean to say something about something interesting. Note: Not saying something interesting about something interesting but saying something about something interesting. So I’m going to do that now.
This is England 88. Wowzpops. Seriously. I used to get excited about Christmas for presents and maybe a bit about Blackadder’s Christmas Carol and A Christmas Story¹ being on. This year I got excited about TIE 88 (you have to have shortened titles for stuff now – where they used to be common, they are now mandatory because of Twitter) like I did about getting a United kit when I was 6 (years old).
And my, my, my it didn’t disappoint. It really was fucking amazing. Whatever prompted Shane Meadows to think the characters from This is England had more legs and they should be allowed to run on television was a good fucking prompt. Big props to Meadows and writing partner Jack Thorne: like TIE 86 this outing was outstandingly written. It’s easy to say these characters are so well formed you could watch them do anything – and you probably could – but it’s not in the writing style of Meadows or Thorne to tread the path of least resistance. I loved how there wasn’t some simplified device to tell you exactly what had been going on in the past two years, information slowly dripped out during the course of the three episodes – which apart from being more realistic was also more effective in the narrative. It’s easy to say something is a modern day Dickensian epic on a small scale – if you are pretentious – but I won’t choose the easy path: I’ll say nothing (which is actually harder than saying something, it is).
It is a testimony to the writing that at times the performances seem so naturalistic. I mean this in terms of dialogue. In no way is it meant to detract from the actors. TIE (all versions) has a magnificent cast. They are a great ensemble and it seems a bit mean to single any people out but it is hard not to be blown away by Vicky McClure. Between the writing and her magnificent talent I truly believe in Lol they have created one of the great characters in modern fiction. There was the horrible moment you thought we had lost her in the final episode but I just knew she would twitch to life – it would have been too terrible if they had let her father – and I wont say win – cause her to lose out on her life and being there for her daughter.
Though they were re-united in the end Lol and Woody had taken the focus of the three episodes separately. Joseph Gilgun deserves massive credit for his layered performance as Woody. Throughout TIE 88 he was constantly on a knife edge. As ever though he provided me with the most laughs as I think he is a comic genius and one of the best swearers in the world.
While I am not singling people out I should give some kudos to Andrew Shim (Milky). In the past incarnations of TIE I have not been convinced by him. Not to say he has been terrible, just that he was surrounded by amazing performers on top of their game. However I thought he was truly, believably touching in Thursday’s concluding episode.
If I was going to present a quibbles, it might be matter of personal taste – I wasn’t in to the nurse preying in voice-over. And also there were some (beautiful) sequences – generally of Lol in which some of the audience may have been left wondering why were lingering so much and couldn’t we be down the pub having a laugh with Gadget or finding out if Smell was ok. Plus some people get a bit bored with periods with nothing happening. (I am not trying to sound superior by saying ‘some people’ or suggesting I didn’t think that – I DIDN’T. I found the scenes in the church/walking to prison of Lol moving. Particularly the latter. I did read things by people criticising them on Twitter. So, fuck off.)
And I didn’t even get round to the ‘lesser’ storyline of Shaun and Smell which I thought was brilliant. Sure, it didn’t have the gravitas of Lol’s turmoil or Woody’s lack of stability having separated himself from his best friends (with good reason, to be fair). It didn’t have this gravitas but it was still worthy of a bit more time – particularly Smell’s perspective. You could argue that we have tended to stay with Shaun, Woody or Lol in the world of TIE, but I would say don’t argue with me. But if you pressed me for some evidence I would remind you we have followed other characters outside the group; off the top of my head when Gadget lived with that woman for a bit in TIE 88.
In summary – heartbreaking, stomach-churning, real, hilarious (though not in the places where it was heartbreaking or stomach-churning, though it did manage that a couple of times) awesomeness.
¹Never see this on nowadays. It was definitely on telly I used to watch it. I didn’t have it on video until I was about 20 (years old). Cracking film.
This is just a quick warning: If anyone EVER asks you if you want to watch the Justin Timberlake film In Time just politely tell them to fuck off. Unless you want to watch a really fucking terrible piece of shit film. For those people who like films described in terms of another, well-known pre-existing film; In Time is Logan’s Run if it had been written and directed by a married couple – with no experience of writing or directing – who wrote (and directed) it while someone had taken their children, completely losing their focus and neutralising whatever, minimal chance they may have had have making any semblance of film that wasn’t really, really, really, really shit.