Recent BBC 1 drama True Love, a series of 5 improvised interconnected stories with a stellar cast that included David Tennant and Lacey Turner, highlighted one issue for me – that writers matter. A lot. And what I noticed most of all in this series was the absence of a writer. The lack of a coherent and intelligent script really showed and resulted in a disappointing viewing experience. What it especially lacked was depth and pacing. It takes more than good acting to make a drama convincing.
I also feel it made for lazy television, a trend that has been accelerating for many years now. A kind of reality TV hybrid. One aspect of this is the way the lyrics and music of popular songs are utilised to convey the emotions of the characters, functioning like operatic arias; the difference being that an aria is specially composed whereas the current method is to choose an off the peg song and shoehorn it into the drama. Maybe I’m being harsh. Sometimes this can work very successfully, but it’s a device that can be overused and intrusive, as it was in this series. (Soap dramas Holby and Waterloo Road are both culprits, programmes I enjoy watching, but the ubiquitous pop song, used unsubtly, often grates….)
I wondered why True Love didn’t work for me, when I find Mike Leigh’s dramas, which also employ improvisation, so brilliant. Answers on a postcard please…..