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The Deep


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#1 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 07:29 AM

Oh god. Arrgh. The pain.

Now I know why the BBC rarely makes drama - because when they do, they end up turning out unmitigated bilge like this. Geddit, submarines, bilge, eheh, oh, go back to sleep...

I'm suspecting either F35 or Genesis. Although the BBC seems to have adopted the lowest-common-denominator cliché that if you are making a sci-fi action thriller you need to have your cast aim powerful LED flashlights into the lens, they haven't quite cottoned on to what happens when you do this to that particular sensor. I suspect the show may also have been attacked by the BBC Department of Quite Shit Photography, because it has that slightly "glowy" sort of look that you get when you get a British DP, who works two days a year on film, and give him a digital camera - he'll hate it, and whine about it, and fail to ensure that the post path is handled properly and put a massive diffusion filter on it - and what you get is The Deep. OK, I might possibly have just made all that up, but much as with Torchwood, I can't believe it was shot like this on purpose.

The BBC also seems to have exactly the opposite problem to the big American dramas, in that instead of passing the script around for comments until it is bland and inoffensive, they seem to have pretty much pulled the pages directly out of the writer's first draft and filmed them. And the writer is, ahem, not terribly good, so we have corkers like:

- Captain Minnie Driver (yes, Captain Minnie Driver) refuses to allow cuckolded wife of crewmember That Guy from ER to speak to him, on the basis that it'll psychologically screw him up, then
- She gives crewmember That Other Guy, You Know, He Was In That Thing a recording of his dead wife's last moments, which will apparently not psychologically screw him up.

But it does. And everyone almost dies as a direct result. I could go on; Minnie Driver is such an ineffective, feeble commanding officer it's a positive boon that the quality of the dialogue serves as an almost constant reminder that she's fictional. Insubordination, stupidity, and wandering off alone through the labyrinthine corridors of the spooky place abound. You'd be quite happy to see most of the characters dead by the end of Ep 1, which does rather dissipate the tension. Technical dialogue is used with the tact and subtlety of a robust thermonuclear device - they might as well have used some sort of on-screen caption: "viewers are informed that there will be a break in the story for some poorly-researched drivel". Conversely, the writing also has that strange habit of insisting upon absolute technical accuracy for certain plot points, complete with pages of expository talking to the audience so that the writer can show off how much research he's done. With these islands of congruity standing out in a sea of vacuous blithering, the script oscillates wildly between sub-Star-Trek button pushing and the sort of Open University lecture delivered in about 1975 by a bearded man in brown corduroy trousers.

Needless to say, because the BBC is the most generously funded media organisation in the world and has responsibility for most of the drama produced in a G8 country, The Deep looks a bit cheap and feeble, but that's not really the problem: the problem is the writing, which is in my view the sort of thing a teenager would come up with in an English lesson (well, I don't know, it's the sort of stuff I used to come up with in English lessons, when I was 15). As such it is, as we say on the internet, a subject of even more epic fail than the recent Star Treks, because at least they looked good.

P
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#2 Kieran Scannell

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 12:55 PM

Phil, you must post this on the BBC site!
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