“People who put their noses where they’re not wanted sometimes lose them.”
You may remember that recently I reviewed Neil Gaiman’s novel Neverwhere. Well, that novel actually started life as a television series, back in 1996. Now, I know I said that Neverwhere wasn’t the best thing I’d ever read, but it sort of stayed in my mind, so I bought the series on DVD for £3.75 in HMV’s Blue Cross sale, and…well, here is the first episode, Door.
The fact that Neverwhere is a BBC production on a limited budget in 1996 really shows. We have mobile phones that look like bricks with aerials. And computers quite literally from the Stone Age. And the Underside sets are lit with garish colours and so really don’t look all that convincing.
Possibly the most hateful thing about the series, though, is the titles, which are sinfully bad and feature, among other things, a painting coming alive and a shadowy figure in a doorway. And the music, although I’m sure it sounded avant-garde in 1996, is just annoying. All in all, the titles look like the ones for a very bad horror film, which isn’t, of course, what Neverwhere is at all.
On to specific problems with Door. It is a first episode, and thus inevitably follows the English Student’s First Episode Rule: it will be bad. Because of setting up characters and situation, etc. There is some incredibly unbelievable dialogue, and Door talking to a pigeon is possibly the least convincing piece of acting I’ve seen in my life. (You’ll notice that none of the actors became well-known off the back of this.)
Obviously, I’m not going to stop watching here (£3.75 is £3.75, after all, and the story is still gripping if the characters aren’t). But, disappointing as the novel was, it’s much better than this.