Partly Animals

TV Apparently the viewing figures for BBC Two's Party Animals have dropped to the unmagic million which means that it's not really likely to be recommissioned. Which is a shame because it's actually really quite good. I've often been a champion of these unloved series, thrown onto television to much hype only to find a small audience, the likes of Fish, North Square, Rescue Me and NY-LON and actually it's got to the stage were I wonder if I'm jinxing these things -- many is the show I haven't watched which has gone on to great success -- see Teachers and Shameless.

Granted this isn't the British The West Wing it could have been but neither is it the This Life clone it was reputed to be. Yes, it can be superficial in places and I wish it would introduce some of the more biting wit of The Think Of It but generally it's scorchingly written and still very funny and despite some fuckwittery, most of the characters are really likable, helped by some excellent performances from the likes of Raquel Cassidy, Andrew Buchan, Shelley Conn and the brilliantly named Clemency Burton-Hill.

Perhaps that's the problem -- there's no demarcation across party lines. Politics can define people and because the creators are desperate to create empathy within the viewer for all the characters it puts them in the position of having to cheer for someone on the opposite side of their political belief system. So you're really pleased that Jo Porter MP is able to deal with the angry leader of a pressure group and then you realise she's new Labour and you tend to despise them.

I had much the same problem with final season of The West Wing during the Vynick heavy episodes -- why should I care if he wins or loses if he's a Republican? This is the kind of thing that can confuse people and perhaps because I'm generally disaffected with the main parties, despising them equally, I can sit back and just treat the characters as people rather than types, buzzing around the political arena. That said, why no Lib Dems or Greens in the ensemble? Under proportional representation, that kind of thing simply wouldn't happen.

Of course it's distracting that Matt Smith reminds me of Adric from Doctor Who and that sometimes some of the characters deliver lines of dialogue that don't have any place in a drama set in the apparent real world ("It's fuck-a-Tory week" being fairly high on the list). And you could argue that because all of the characters are from within the walls of Westminster there's no one to give some much needed perspective. But it's a shame that in the cut and thrust of the ratings war shows like this aren't given a few weeks to bed in by the discerning viewer if there's a kernel of something good there.

I mean for goodness sake, if Torchwood, a show summed up by SFX Magazine this month as being afflicted with 'clunking dialogue, awkward shifts in mood and confusion over what it's exactly supposed to be' can get recommissioned and Party Animals with its clear mission statement, great characters, own fictional blog and coherent storytelling can't, what's the point of television anyway? Seriously people, give it another try and if you think I'm wrong, just blame it on my passion as the champion of lost causes.

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