Sunday, 17 October 2010

This might really tell you how old I am

I tried two weeks ago to watch the penultimate episode of The Bill. But I watched about three minutes and found it tedious. So the last episode passed without my even attempting to watch it.
It caused me to think some what about my watching of police drama over the years. My earliest memories take me back to Dixon of Dock Green on the BBC in the 50s. I am a bit surprised to find that that classic lasted until the mid 70s. It seems so essentially post-war that it is difficult to imagine it surviving quite that long. Jack Warner, who played PC Dixon was older than my grandmother. And would have been 80 in 1975, indeed he was shown as being retired in that last series.
Perhaps the great British leap forward was Z Cars, then followed by Softly Softly. The Bill really grew much more out of those traditions of the flawed policeman who didn't always get their man.
There were good Australian dramas too, Division 4 which I sort of remember, but all seemed more or less the same. They are known much more by the flashbacks you see on Awards' Shows when you laughed at the flairs and the platform shoes and the Monaros that were driven in the 70s. And everyone smoked!
In the 80s, newly married we got heavily into some American shows, I remember Hill Street Blues which was a confronting drama and seemed pretty authentic. We also loved to watched Bergerac and fell in love with the island of Jersey. Pity that John Nettles morphed into the ridiculous Inspector Barnaby who is a rather pale shadow of the zesty Channel Island sergeant. This was typical of a move away from gutsy police drama on both sides of the Atlantic and towards shallow replicas of the former age.
Anything CSI or any other American drama of the current era doesn't hold a candle to the grittiness of the British Dramas and Hill Street.
As well structured as they are they are so tendentious that the only thing you can be sure of is that you are being led off in the wrong direction and all will be revealed. Plot smattered with the occasional sexual intrigues doesn't make up for the paucity of character development.
Indeed that's when I stopped watching the Bill too. I used to joke that I lost interest when they started kissing each other!
And that was probably 5 years ago!
It's a long journey from Dixon of Dock Green!

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