Trouble Upriver

Three reasons why I hardly ever review TV drama: 1) the length, 2) the politics, 3) sheer bloody laziness. I suppose the last one is the main reason but the others aren’t just excuses. It really is too depressing when, three hours into one of those Sunday and Monday two-part dramas, you suddenly realise that you’ve already wasted one evening and you’re about to waste another, but that you can’t bail out now because you’re in too deep — and what if something good and exciting suddenly happens?

Almost all TV drama is too long and the reason for this is that the more screen hours you fill the bigger your commissioning budget. So any ambitious director who wants to make a halfway decent-looking drama has to pad it out till it’s as bloated as a foie gras goose. This, of course, builds up expectations which the dénouement cannot possibly hope to fulfil. Especially not when — as is invariably the case, given the political sympathies of 99.99 per cent of people in TV — the twist turns out to be that the baddie wasn’t after all the innocent black crack dealer or the misunderstood Islamist or the fundamentalist eco-loon but, yes, yet another of those secretly evil, white middle-class males who make our world such a terrifyingly dangerous place.

Anyway, I’ve only seen part one of Blood and Oil (BBC2, Monday) and, though all of the above may yet hold true with part two, I’m enjoying it immensely so far.

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