TV Three weeks into NY-LON and I still can't decide whether I'm enjoying the show because its very good or because its utterly different to anything else out there and I'm reveling in the shock of the new. Certainly the appearance of Emily Corrie this week was a shot in the arm and I hope they find something else for her to do other than stand around and be sarcastic (although that was OK). It's not really the premise which is at fault here, I think it's the execution. I would have started the show with the long distance relationship already in place and then it could have been about the stresses and strains of keeping a relationship like that together when both parties are apart.
For me, in that first episode Michael didn't seem to have enough motivation to fly half way across the world to date Edie. Yes she's lovely and different to anyone else he's ever met but because we don't know anything about him we can't really follow why he would plunge into such a desperate act. Imagine how much more redolent it would have been if he had to sit down and relate the story to another character at some other time. Screenwriter William Goldman bangs on about this stuff - you have to earn the moments.
Part of the problem is that it wants desperately to be Cold Feet. You can see that in the way that it forever shifts time about. We'll see an action, a clock appears, drifts backwards and then we see everything leading up to that action from another character's point of view. It adds a kind of false tension and feels vaguely out of step with the stories being told. Cold Feet frequently had a dramatic moment leading into a break, then after the ads you'd see one of the characters in a bar telling his friends what happened after that, perhaps intercutting it with a different perspective. It felt real there. Here, it pulls the viewer out of the action at crucial moments and also seems to be a shorthand so that we don't have to see the difficult scenes which could cripple the tone (that's providing drug overdoses, accidental pregnancies and potential financial desolation don't do it for you instead).
But I don't come to bury the show. It looks excellent - it's a real shock to see New York in so-called British style photography which doesn't emphasis the enormity of everything. And the playing from everyone is uniformally great (apart from in Michael's workplace were everyone seems to be auditioning for the Eighties film Dealers). I just think it could have been a breezy romance but at the same time say a lot about the isolation of relationships and coping with the love of your life being a big sea away which leads me to the one oddity which hasn't fully been explained. Given that last minute tickets to New York are upwards to three hundred pounds, who in the real world has a salary to cover that kind of commitment?