Slumberous Fetlock Louts Frenziedly

As you may have guessed by the peculiar title, I am still attempting to create blogs out of totally random words. It’s fun. Apparently.

When I was first given this selection of words, I was quietly pleased, mainly because I actually know what a fetlock is. However, and as is often the case, I think that we can turn to the words of the late, great Mark Twain.

“Familiarity breeds contempt (and children).”

Now, setting the children aside (the best thing to do in my experience), because I could talk about my horse and her lazy fetlocks, I cannot see past this and develop a more complex narrative.  During this period of writers block, I will turn once more to Mark Twain. After all, he is the man behind one of my favourite quotations.

“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”

Every time I go to write one of these blogs, I can hear these words echoing around me. I use the words that I am told to use each week, but I distort them shamelessly to turn it into a flowing story. Perhaps I would have a career working for the Daily Mail after all?

As a matter of course, I tend to look up the dictionary definitions before I start writing. I always hope that something may have a definition that I was unaware of, which might give me a nugget of inspiration. This week’s shock was “lout”. I thought of it in terms of slang and not as a verb, which describes it as “to bow or curtsy” or “to bend or stoop.” For those who are not versed in equine biology, the fetlock is the joint between a horse’s cannon bone and the short pastern. In human terms, it is essentially their ankle. So if I put this sentence back together I can finally see something! Please sit back, make yourself comfortable and fall into my world of nonsensical sense. Oh, and remember the words of Mark Twain; I have collected my facts, now it is time to distort them for my own means.

Looking at my dvd collection, which is vast and may take several days, I could probably name the programmes that I have enjoyed from start to finish on one hand. And I would still have enough fingers left to do some basic arithmetic. It seems to be incredibly rare to find a series that maintains a high quality throughout. Two prime examples, for me, are Spaced and Fawlty Towers. I would love to add The Thick of It to this list, but as it is, as yet, incomplete, this would seem a little unfair. However, it deserves a spot among the best; The Thick of It combines an excellent ensemble cast, incredibly sharp writing and worryingly, it has provided a basis for my views of political workings and procedure. Having watched The Thick of It, I’m hardly surprised by political antics. Harriet Harman was driving, whilst using her mobile,  had a car accident and simply drove off.

Anyway, I digress. Spaced is a subliminal masterpiece, which was lovingly crafted by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes (nee Stevenson). When I watch it, I am always struck by the sheer amount of time, effort and ultimately passion that has gone into its creation; it employs just one single camera, so everything has been painstakingly filmed from every angle and every shot, sequence and effect has been placed there for good reason. The story itself is fairly innocuous; two strangers want to change their lives and after building up a friendship move into a flat together. But it is this simplicity that I think allows the programme to continue so successfully to the end – the story was never so complicated that it could not be adapted for any situation or storyline. Each episode was a mini adventure and never managed to disappoint. This was their first project where they were given the reins and yet they could still create something that remained consistent and fresh. Even the ending was perfect; the second series builds to a climactic arc and just before the end, Tim and Daisy realise their wrongdoings and manage to restore the peace without resorting to cheesy clichés and a predictable ending. Then, just to give a little bit extra to their viewers, they created a documentary, with a quick twist at the end, so that we could see our favourite characters briefly once more. Excuse the fanatic ramblings (it’s hard to stop once I get going), but it is clearly their enjoyment of the process and passion for their creation that means that they could put 150% into their project and then decide to quit whilst they were ahead. It takes a brave person to stop on a high before everyone finds new projects and has less time and enthusiasm to commit to it. I’m sure that all three of the brains behind Spaced must have gotten so tired of people asking if they would do a third series, but I am so much happier that it is a perfect, complete package. Admittedly, we are much better at doing this than the Americans who just let things run and run, almost like a racehorse running frantically almost to breaking point? (Bare with me, I’m not rambling completely off topic for no reason.)

There are so many programmes that I loved and awaited the next installment eagerly, only to be disappointed at the last minute. Coupling, Teachers and Green Wing are perfect examples of this. I will never understand why Coupling carried on when one of the main cast members left and likewise, Teachers, when every single member of the original cast departed. Green Wing was the most upsetting; the first series captured me in the summer break from uni and I was so excited about the second series. Until it broadcast that is. It was as though a group of writers watched the first series and attempted to imitate it; it still had the same quirky characters and sketch style episodes, but the everyone started acting hugely out of character and it all seemed a little tired. If series one of Green Wing was a stand alone thing, it would be the pride of my DVD collection. I would think it was one of the best things since, well, sliced bread. But despite it being one of the most watched DVDs on my shelf, it is now tainted by its older brothers sat next to it. Series two tries very hard to recapture what made the first series so groundbreaking; but it is so obvious that they are trying hard – the visual gags, fast forwards and fast editing style are all still there, the jokes are as thick and fast as before. Some scenes are so much funnier than any in the first series, but it doesn’t work this time, there is a real feeling that it is contrived and forced. What really switched me off was the constant ups and downs between Caroline and Mac; it was a lovely storyline, but will-they won’t-they was fairly tired at the end of the first series, but here, no episode is complete without an absurd twist in their tale. The writers seemed to keep wanting to push the tired joints of Green Wing to keep it bending and turning mad until it was near exhaustion.

I said that the creators of Spaced were incredibly passionate about their project and therefore, did not want it to fail. If this is the case, then can we suppose that the team behind Green Wing were not as passionate or caring? Now, I cannot say that as it is entirely unfair on the team behind any programme, but it does lead me to think about the never ending contradiction between creativity and money. Presumably a lot of programmes get dragged on past their death because they bring money in, and without wanting to sound like a hippy, I wish we could see these comedic masterpieces as art and not kill them by overplaying them. It’s a fine line between success and overkill, but I just wish people would respect it a little more. Of course, some programmes are knackered before they get dragged up to the start line; Big Top and the Life of Riley spring to mind and the writer inside me (let’s not go there) is crying, wanting to know what they have done to deserve a BBC1 primetime spot when they are quite clearly, absolute drivel of the highest order. However, I can’t talk about these monstrosities because they never started with any promise or frienzied excitement, not like Spaced or Green Wing, they just started as they mean to go on. What can I take away from all this? Well, I suppose I can be happy in the knowledge that I can put Spaced on and not have to dread watching the final episodes or just pretend that only one series was made. I’m pretty sure this will have come across throughout this blog, but yes, I am a bit of a geek and I take these things far too seriously. (I’m just saying what you are all thinking!)

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