Diary of an old cheeser

Hi there! Like other blogs, this is my chance to wax lyrical (some might say talk utter cr*p) about a) what's happening in my life b) all of my pet obsessions in particular music, tv, movies, books and other generally connected things, quite often of the retro, old and "cheesy" variety. Hence the title of my blog. Feel free to leave a comment if the mood takes you. There's nothing like a good chinwag about one's favourite topics and besides I love to meet new people! Cheers, Simon

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Recovery

Less than 4 weeks to go until the Third Series of Doctor Who!! Yaaay!! The new season kicks off on Saturday 31st March. Not long to wait then…

In the meantime, for the David Tennant fans amongst us, there was an added bonus the weekend before last, when he starred alongside Sarah Parish in the one-off BBC drama, “Recovery”. It seems these two like doing TV together - they both appeared in the comedy-drama “Blackpool” and more recently, “The Runaway Bride”, the Dr Who Special broadcast on Christmas Day. Sarah’s role in the latter was markedly different from her usual roles - she played the evil Racnoss Queen, and was virtually unrecognisable beneath a ton of make-up and prosthetics! I confess I’d never seen her play a “human” character before and it was nice to see her looking normal and considerably more attractive (well if you’re a Racnoss I guess you might find her sexy). Ms Parish gave an excellent performance in “Recovery” as did Mr Tennant.

The story had a potentially harrowing/depressing theme, and I must confess I couldn’t stomach watching it on a Sunday night, so taped it for viewing later on. It’s enough of a downer having to contemplate going back to work on Monday without dealing with some gruelling piece of television drama as well!! However on watching it I was, for the most part, impressed.

David T and Sarah P played Alan and Tricia, a regular couple living in London with two kids. One day Alan is knocked down by a van and suffers major brain damage, the result of which he undergoes a massive personality change. The majority of the story concentrated on the couple’s attempt to carry on with their lives, which was a lot easier said than done.

David T was disturbingly convincing as Alan, exhibiting all the kind of characteristics you would expect a brain-damaged person to possess – aggression, child-like behaviour, confusion, frustration and a total lack of social skills! One of the opening scenes showed him wandering across Westminster Bridge in a daze, having wandered out of hospital of his own accord and accosting people. (Quite ironic as Westminster Bridge had been featured in the Christopher Eccleston Dr Who story “Rose”, but in a rather different context!) This prepared us for Alan’s fate. The scene when he was knocked down by the truck was horrible and unexpected, reminding me of the part in “Meet Joe Black” when Brad Pitt is suddenly hit by a vehicle and goes flying into the air or “Erin Brockovich” when Julia Robert’s car is smashed into by another vehicle – all of which made you jump out of your seat in shock! In the case of Alan though, his accident really is a reminder of how important it is to look both ways before you cross the road – something he doesn’t do. Don’t mock the Green Cross Man or the Tufty Club; they were right all along.

Anyway. There was some excellent acting from Mr Tennant. He does “manic” pretty well – in Dr Who I’ve sometimes found this aspect of him annoying but here it was a virtue. His character also had a beard, presumably to distance viewer association from his role as the Dr. And he got to use his real Scots accent as well, which must have been nice (we’d only heard snatches of it in “Tooth and Claw”). As Alan we got to see him portray a whole range of emotions and behaviour. There were moments when his actions were totally inappropriate - masturbating himself in the shower in front of a nurse, or commenting on the size of girls’ breasts. His lack of patience and frustration often came to the fore – throwing the Connect 4 set across the room during a family game and yelling, then bursting into tears. Even more upsetting was Alan’s frequent inability to connect emotionally with his wife in the way he had before the accident, having lost much of his long term memory – the song that had so much significance for him and Tricia (“You Do Something To Me” by Paul Weller!) now has little impact and he tells her “No need to get sentimental”. The part when Tricia tries to get through to him by playing the song and Alan repeats that he wants chicken and mayonnaise in his sandwich, totally cut off and oblivious to emotion and his wife’s feelings, was particularly moving. And yet whilst he failed to fully grasp the effect his changed personality was having on others, and was, at times unbearably selfish and cold, one still couldn’t help feeling sorry for Alan, especially his fear that people perceived him as “a basket case”. Trying to carry on as normal but realising that you don’t have all your faculties intact would be hard for anyone.

If David Tennant was convincing then Sarah Parish was even better. I’m sure wives and girlfriends, in fact anyone with a partner, must have fully sympathised with Tricia’s plight and all that she had to put up with. At first she’s remarkably strong, assertive and patient with Alan, helping him to dress, feeding him and reminding him of the basic social niceties, even keeping her cool when the fire brigade are called after Alan accidentally sets fire to the kitchen. She’s the mediator and the one who calms everyone down in the midst of a crisis but it’s clear she has a lot on her plate. On top of that, the realisation that her husband is a radically changed man kicks in more and more. The pain and hurt on Tricia’s face as Alan brutally f*cks her (contrasted with their tender lovemaking of before) is horrible to behold. Gradually her patience and stamina are stripped away, leaving her to confess: “I’m just living with someone who looks like my husband”. She tells Alan “I don’t know you any more…I feel like a f*cking widow anyway…I’m supposed to be someone you love not who just looks after you.” In the end, worn out with her constant exertions and the lack of affection and attention from her psychologically crippled husband, Tricia goes to a bar and starts chatting up as many men as she can. The irony is that telling a bunch of strangers what happened to her and Alan repulses most potential admirers, until she finds one guy for an anonymous f*ck – which ends up being even less satisfying than what she has with Alan. What she really seeks is intimacy (she says to the stranger “I’m Tricia. Who are you?”) but gets much less than that. Throughout all of her ups and downs, Sarah Parish was never less than brilliant in her portrayal of Tricia and is clearly a very gifted actress.

If you’re thinking this all sounds like wrist-slashing material, there is actually light at the end of the tunnel. At the end of her tether, Tricia decides that she and the kids must leave Alan (much to the disgust of Alan’s parents) but in the eleventh hour something clicks with Alan and (and to some degree) he realises the effect he is having on his wife and children. He makes amends with Tricia and the family move to a new home to start afresh.

The ending was pretty realistic and although reasonably uplifting, didn’t try to make out that life would be a bed of roses thereon. It was good to see Alan and Tricia re-evaluating their relationship and giving things another go, whilst acknowledging that there may still be problems ahead.

An extra mention should go to the young actors who played Alan and Tricia’s sons. Both were excellent and particularly good at conveying the confusion and upset children would undoubtedly feel in seeing their father transform into a totally different person, the youngest pre-pubescent son in particular.

All in all an excellent and involving piece of drama and proof that there is life outside the realms of the Whoniverse.

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6 Comments:

  • At 2:24 am , Blogger TimeWarden said...

    I can’t comment on the production in any detail, not having seen it, but my brother tells me it was excellent. Having been fans of “Morse”, we were watching “Lewis”! I should’ve recorded it but have been a little inactive on that front recently. Have to get my finger out before the end of the month though!

    I hear on the grapevine that IMC are trying to buy the rights to “Recovery” for future DVD release. They were successful in securing the rights for “The Canterbury Tales”, Billie’s earlier acting outing. Speaking of our Bill, she’s also worked with Sarah Parish on “Much Ado About Nothing”. Billie was the weathergirl, while Sarah was the co-host on a fictional breakfast show.

    And, talking of “Blackpool”, somewhere on my Blog is a screen cap from that serial of David Tennant crossing the road in front of the “Doctor Who” exhibition, shot before he’d been offered the job!

     
  • At 6:59 am , Blogger Steve said...

    Excellent review: wish I'd had the guts to watch it now. Like you I was put of by the harrowing storyline and in the end opted for something lighter... now feel like I missed out hugely!

     
  • At 2:16 am , Blogger matty said...

    I really, really need to see some Dr. Who --- I feel so left out!

    ...sigh.

    This film sounds excellent but so sad.

     
  • At 9:17 pm , Blogger Old Cheeser said...

    Timewarden - yes it was a good production and I wouldn't be surprised if it came out on DVD!

    And that's rather prophetic about DT being in front of the Dr Who Exhibition - the Gods must have been smiling down him on that day...

    Steve - oh well, it will probably get repeated or something. I was a wimp on the night it was shown and opted for Bridget Jones' Diary instead - how rom com/softcore can you get?

    Matty - Yesssss!! And how many times have we had this conversation, young man?? And have you got your hands on your mate's DVDs yet??! If not, tell him to get a bloody move on!!

     
  • At 9:54 pm , Blogger Salty Sailor said...

    Who's that old slag with the Gorgeous Doctor?

    Where's Billie Piper? Or have I missed something?

     
  • At 11:00 pm , Blogger Old Cheeser said...

    Oh, didn't you know? It's the Queen of the Racnoss WITHOUT her make-up on.

    Billie Piper? Yesterday's news now...Viva La Freema!! (Well, as long as she turns out to be a decent actress).

     

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