Archives for posts with tag: Scotland

Scandi-noir has a lot to answer for, not least the plethora of pale imitations that it generates. Ditto Broadchurch, with its perfect representation of how a horrific crime can disrupt a small town. Combining these two sources is The Loch. It has the macabre deaths of Scandinavia and its dramatic but gloomy scenery with the small community of people with secrets of Broadchurch. Tartan noir mixed with McBroadchurch if you will.

We have the murder of a piano teacher, and now a local teenage tearaway, both dispatched slightly horrifically. Everyone has a reason to look suspicious, including the paedophile doctor and the ex-con living under a new name. A top DCI from the big city (Siobhan Finneran) is shipped in, upsetting local cops and bringing along with her a ‘celebrity forensic psychologist’. Oh, and there’s a man tied to the bottom of the loch that nobody has spotted yet.

It is as barking mad as it sounds. There’s the man being kept in a drugged coma by his mother, locals looking shifty at each other and random wolves popping up all over the place. It is as if the writers were given free rein to do whatever they like, but when it came to filming the budget kicked in and tripping over into the truly surreal Twin Peaks style was put on hold.

Nevertheless, despite (or maybe because of) its ludicrousness it is actually quite enjoyable. With nobody remotely acting guilt free we have a whole village of suspects, although if it is the local sergeant’s husband I will scream in despair. Once you acclimatise to it, the oddness becomes intriguing rather than distracting.

Of course, for me the making and breaking of crime drama is in how it handles the procedural stuff. This is where The Loch falls sadly short. The detectives seem to just barrel along, doing what the hell they like. If this ever makes it to court, the defence will have a field day with procedural errors. The whole case will collapse in the space of an afternoon. It didn’t have to be this way: Broadchurch, Line of Duty and even Scott & Bailey are proof you can talk procedure and keep the drama.

But maybe that’s the point – procedural dramas are already being done so well, why copy? Hang the technicals, forget the rules, and don’t even consider the paperwork. The eccentricities will be a distraction from all this.

Still, it wouldn’t hurt to hear a conversation about forms, or an interview of a suspect done with all the quiet suspense of the show’s rivals. It’s what a lot of us like. You don’t need to dial back the odd, just turn up the real.

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Earlier this year, I did a blog post about Scottish sitcom Two Doors Down. To be honest, there seemed so little fanfare about it that I honestly thought it wouldn’t be seen again. I have yet to find a single fellow viewer. And yet, we have a second series. Equally under promoted it feels but, nevertheless, it’s on.

Personally I’m delighted. It is beautifully low-key and pitched just right. You buy into the setting instantly. A perfectly normal couple with a grown-up gay son who has flown the nest contend with two nightmare neighbours but are too polite to do anything about. The fact said neighbours hate each other and contrast each other only adds to the constantly quietly brewing tension. Cathy and Colin, the snobbish nouveau-riche, are squared off against the slovenly and coarse Christine, with none of them even in the slightest bit aware of how they all put upon Beth and Eric.

One of my favourite episodes this series has been the car alarm one. A perfectly logical opening, an absent neighbour’s car alarm goes off and wakes everyone up, steadily builds as everyone invites themselves round to Beth and Eric’s for a cup of tea, which then becomes breakfast. Along the way we have Christine offering her pearls of wisdom, my favourite being why you should never live in a bungalow – “too many spiders” apparently.

It doesn’t matter that some episodes dribble into nothing, because it is more about what gets you too the end point as opposed to what it is. Not that it doesn’t sometimes build into a nice closing gag – firecrackers were part of the climax of the first episode of this series, and the writers cleverly threw some red herrings along the way, including a giant leg of Spanish ham.

There are those that argue that the show is so uneventful it disappears. That actually doesn’t bother me. If anything, I get bugged my comedies that spend their time pushing the set up to the final gag, becoming too OTT in the process. I actually feel I could encounter the characters in Two Doors Down, as well as the scenarios, which makes it all the more enjoyable.

There seems to be a fashion for cruel comedy right now, where the central character is unlovable and the aim is to pile as much humiliation as possible onto them. This show doesn’t do that – it is simply about the perils of being too nice. And if it remains a secret to so many, that’s fine.