Mini reviews of Television seasons old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional bunnies.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Family (1994)

A four-episode miniseries set in Dublin, Ireland, written by author Roddy Doyle and directed by filmmaker Michael Winterbottom. I've read a couple of Roddy's novels and watched the films based on The Barrytown Trilogy. I enjoyed them all. None of the films were big budget ventures, so I had no reason to suspect that a TV production would be any less engaging or personal. Sure enough, it wasn't, the working class Spencer family were just as well-written and presented as Roddy's movie characters. In fact, it was an exceptional TV drama.

Four of the six Spencers have an episode named after them, within which they're the main focus even though, with the exception of the two youngest, all members play an important role each time. Episodes in the order presented:

Charlo: The father. A typical day involves reaching for a cigarette before he's even opened his eyes in the morning, followed by afternoon petty theft, boozing and being condescending to his wife and kids at meal times. It may sound like he's one-note, but there's more to Charlo than I've room to say, almost all of it selfish.

John Paul: A thirteen-year-old son who worships his shit-bag father despite often witnessing the terrible things he does. School is a chore, if he even goes. Loves football, drinking and smoking. In short, a portrait of a troubled youth.

Nicola: A daughter, the eldest of the four kids. She hates her father and has difficulty respecting her mother Paula because of the shit she takes from Charlo.

Paula: The mother. Paula's situation is the most complex. She's guilty of many sins, the majority of which are actions not taken as opposed to ones that are, but she's a mother and she's the best hope the family has of ever finding peace, if only she can pull herself together in time and stay strong thereafter.

It's primarily a hard-hitting drama but makes room for comedy too, oftentimes triggered by brash actions and/or relatable embarrassment.

With regards the principal cast, I don't know enough of their work to judge if they can be as convincing across a wider spectrum, but they were all excellent here.

4 episodes, approx 45 minutes each.

4 vodkas before breakfast out of 5