1 9 9 1 (UK)
6 x 50 minute episodes
The third major comedy-drama series from the BBC in a few months, All Good Things was perhaps the least easy to get to grips with.
Focussed on 39-year-old Shirley Frame (Brenda Blethyn) – a self-absorbed woman who imagines she is helping people while actually causing chaos in their lives – it had neither the wit of The Sharp End nor the pace of Sleepers and demonstrated a sense of humour far closer to the cinematic work of Mike Leigh than to any of its television counterparts.
Warren Clarke was Shirley’s long-suffering husband, Phil.
Very little actually happened and the emphasis was on characterisation. This was refreshing on one level, and on another highlighted the ruts that many of Shirley’s friends and relatives seemed to have fallen into.
While Frame was granted mobility – albeit with a pram in tow – practically all of her would-be foils were stuck at home or in their working environs.
The characters came dangerously close to parody at times, although this was at least constant throughout the programme, and very much a trait found in Leigh’s work. Indeed, Blethyn’s line left her with a character reminiscent of Alison Steadman, aka Mrs Leigh.
The humour drew on the absurdity of everyday situations, which, while tending towards the gentle side, had its amusing moments. Given that comedy thrives on a dialogue between equally weighted figures, there was a need for livelier communication, particularly between Blethyn and Clarke.
The Blessing | The Suicide | Reading Lessons | The Flat | The Trip North | Marriage Guidance