Alas, the new Atlantic Channel has been slightly more 'miss' than 'hit'. Boardwalk Empire seems to me to be an example of over-emphasis on costumes and sets to the detriment of character - and there is a complete lack of humour. My new Sky+ Box-thingie is recording every episode but if the series fails to improve then the 'obliterate button' will have to be pressed - if I can find it! Also, Blue Bloods is hopeless. The premise that the NYPD has a Commissioner, Tom Selleck, whose entire family seems to be employed by it in one respect or another is hard to swallow but when one of his sons seems to get every juicy case that crops up, and when his girlfriend is the reporter, one of hundreds in 'Noo Yawk', to whom a suspect confesses, then my credulity is well and truly stretched. Selleck appears to possess only two expressions; he pulls down the corners of his mouth under his massive moustache, frowns, and attempts to look either stern or magisterial - and that's it!
Both of these shows sink without trace in comparison to BBC4's superb Danish murder story, The Killing. This is a police procedural combined with complex personal story lines made to the very highest standards. It has already entered my Top Ten TV programmes ever seen - and I'm only on episode 6, I think it is! If you have missed the beginning then do yourself a favour and buy the DVD because, although BBC4 seems to be producing a steady stream of excellent television films, one cannot be absolutely sure they will be reshown on BBC1 or BBC2 - and this particular film must be seen. It's up there with Tinker, Tailor - than which one can praise no higher.
Now to explain my 10 year tardiness. Has anyone heard of The Sopranos? Alright, alright, no need to shout, take that as a YES, shall I? Well, of course, even I had heard of them but as I missed the opening series, mostly because they were broadcast long past my cocoa time and, as I told you in an earlier post, I could not master the intricacies of getting my old multi-zillion pound recorder-thingie to actually record. It may have had something to do with me stamping on it in a rage, I cannot be sure! Anyway, they are repeating the entire series on Atlantic and my all-new, all-singing, all-dancing Sky+ box-thingie which is idiot-proof (thanks, 'Rupe'!) is recording them all. I almost applauded James Gandolfini in his very first entrance before he had even spoken a word. It's the scene when he enters the psychiatrist's office for the first time. Just the slightest of swaggers as he crosses the room, the equally slight but uneasy smile, the way he sits in the chair as though he owns it, and immediately rests the ankle of one leg on the knee of the other as though, again, to state his proprietorial rights - not that he owns any of it but he knows that he can steal all of it anytime he cares to snap his fingers. But he is a man, a gangster-man, aware of inner weaknesses and Gandolfini, in just those brief few seconds of movement only, sums up the situation and his character by just using body language with great subtlety. They should show that sequence to every student of acting. Also, and unlike the heavy-handed Boardwalk Empire, the show has a streak of bleak humour. Tremendous!