"Oh, the 80s. Or rather THE 80s!" -- Sam Wollaston

TV Lord knows I'm not one to criticise the work of people who write reviews, particularly if they're making a living from it (as opposed to me thinking I could make a living at it) but I sat boggle eyed this morning at Sam Wollaston's fundamentally incorrect review of Ashes to Ashes in The Guardian. I've often quite liked Wollaston's writing in the past although the best column he ever wrote was on a documentary about people who take duvet days in which he decided to take one himself and the rest of the past was filled with a blank space so didn't actually feature much writing. That was clever.

This just seems mean spirited, and in some respects as though he decided he wasn't going to enjoy the programme from the beginning. I'll not dwell on this too much (as if I haven't already) but he does break one of the rules people writing review of film and television in particular have to be careful of, erm, breaking:
"And Keeley Hawes, as DI Alex Drake, is awful. She may be totally shagworthy and have a cracking pair of puppies (those are one of Hunt's sidekick's words, not mine, before you start complaining), but, as a copper, even a psychologist copper, she's very unconvincing. She's neurotic and unpredictable, moody and constantly out of breath, and just really irritating. She lies on the bonnet of the Audi, to compare curves, and again on the sofa to give Hunt a private show. I'm sorry, that's not a senior police officer (except perhaps in her male colleagues' fantasies), that's, well, an actor. She should tear a leaf out of Dame Helen's police notebook."
I mean I'll happily disagree on whether Hawes is a good actress -- I thought she was a pleasure actually and a welcome contrast to Sam Tyler -- but what Wollaston seems to do here is criticize the actress for the choices of the writer and director. Does he mean Hawes or Drake is unconvincing as a copper, neurotic and unpredictable, moody and constantly out of breath?

You can find her irritating if you like, but you have to be clear as to whether you think the character or the actress is irritating and everything else seems to be related to the character. In other words, it doesn't look as though he'd be happy with any actress in that role and actually throwing Mirren into the mix is just misjudged because the two have different functions within their respective dramas. Just saying.

[To be fair, here are several links to my own reviews, here, here and here and I'm sure I've made a similar mistake in the past but for some reason this one really hit a nerve, presumably because I enjoyed the programme so much. And I probably fancy Keeley a bit.]

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