Saturday, October 28, 2006

"Lie back or cross the great divide"


I've got the blues. I'm not going to go into the whys and wherefores, but I am feeling a bit sorry for myself at the moment. Even United winning 4-0 today, away to Bolton hasn't really shaken my current funk. I went out last night and that didn't help (I think it even made it worse, actually) and even though I had a bit of a chuckle at QI earlier (especially at Sean Lock's Beachy Head story), the 'D' topics that they covered included death and depression, so it wasn't the usual laughfest it normally is.

Saturday night TV doesn't help either. All Star Family Fortunes' double-whammy of annoyance in the form of Vernon Kay and Chris Fucking Moyles made me want to pour turps into my eyes, while the usual X Factor bollocks made me lose faith in the human race, as it does everytime I catch it. Ten contestants and not a single ounce of personality between them. Why watch then, I hear you cry. Well I guess it comes from my instinct to wallow, to not even try to cheer myself up. I guess this is the point where you stop feeling sorry for me, if indeed you even started.

I'm not looking for sympathy here (although it would be nice, I guess), I'm only really mentioning it because it's affecting my writing. I don't write good when I'm down, so if you've noticed that the posts are few and far-between, given my usual output and that the writing isn't up to the usual standard (which, I'll admit, ain't that great anyway), this is the reason why. That and the fact that I'm getting a cold as well.

Anyway, enough boo-hooing, I'm going to at least try to write a bit.

One television series that I am really enjoying at the moment is Brotherhood (currently showing in the UK on FX on Monday nights). It's the story of two Providence, Rhode Island-dwelling brothers, Tommy and Michael Caffee (played respectively by Jason Clarke and Jason Isaacs) who have taken very different career paths. Tommy is a respected politician and Michael is a career criminal. Brotherhood then goes onto show the similarities between the siblings in highlighting the contrasts.

It really is intelligent, gripping television, the likes of which we're starting to expect from the US cable network, Showtime, which has often been HBO's poor relation but has grown in stature in recent years thanks to programmes like this, Huff, Sleeper Cell and Weeds. Okay, so it still kind of pales in comparison to the HBO behemoth, but in Brotherhood, it looks like Showtime have finally got their own The Wire.

The similarities between the two shows are stark. For instance, they're both set in underused, but fascinating locales, which are characters in themselves. Both Providence and Baltimore are multiracial communities that are distinctly unharmonious. Both shows are also underappreciated but have both been given backing by their networks, despite getting disastrously low ratings.

While Brotherhood isn't quite in the same realm as The Wire (officially the greatest series in the history of television) yet, it's still early doors and the signs are extremely encouraging. Despite being decidedly humourless, Brotherhood is uniformly expertly acted. Isaacs displays the kind of powder-keg intensity that he rarely gets to show in his Hollywood roles as the token British villain. His character spends half the time lying to his family about being a changed man since his seven-year exile and the other half cutting off people's ears and generally being a total fucking hardarse.

Annabeth Gish impresses too as Tommy's wife, Eileen, who leads a double life. One moment she's your typical bored, repressed housewife, a slave to their children and to Tommy's ambitions, while the next she's getting stoned and having loveless sex with the local postman. Gish plays her like she's playing two parts; one buttoned-down and frigid, the other free-spirited and vampish. It's to her credit that they occasionally bleed together in unexpected, subtle ways, like the scene in episode three after she's accompanied Tommy to a stalwart politician's house who is trying to persuade him to run for congress. Eileen gets loaded on Margaritas and throws up in the car on the way home, with Tommy looking on in bewilderment, obviously never having seen his wife act in this way before.

The acting laurels, however, go to Jason Clarke. An Australian who has previously appeared in the likes of Home And Away and Heartbreak High (which just makes his performance all the more impressive) he imbues Tommy Caffee with an almost scary drive and unwavering devotion to his job. So unwavering in fact that he often greases the wheels and bends the rules to get what he wants. His relationships with his family don't differ from those with his colleagues, his relationship with his wife being particularly businesslike and sexless. While his brother is all animal magnetism and simmering violence, Clarke makes Tommy just as dead-eyed and cold, yet somehow even more morally ambiguous. He's clearly a star in the making.

Make sure you catch Brotherhood, because if you don't, you'll be missing out on the most deliciously brutal and intense programmes on tv right now. Just to show that Yer Mam! hasn't mysteriously changed into a television blog overnight, if Brotherhood was a song, it would be this one...

Parts & Labor - A Great Divide (mp3)

There was some other stuff I was going to write about but this has took me so long (I kept getting distracted), I've canned it until another time. Mixtape tomorrow, I promise.



Anonymous c h i c k e n said...

James your writings doing just fine :)

*hands over a big cup of sympathy*

Chris moyles comment made me laugh saliva all over my screen :D

Did you get the Luomo album? The first track on it really is something :)*reads rest of posts*

2:19 pm  
Blogger James said...

Aw cheers, Chick! Didn't think much of the latest Luomo album to be honest. Do you have 'Vocalcity' though? Worth it if only for 'Tessio'. That's my jam!

1:54 am  
Anonymous ch ch ch. ick said...

I dont have that one nooop but maybe willl do next week if I see it floating about

I must say im finding this a bit "la america" ish since my last posting :D

10:21 pm  

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