Dancing on the Edge: Episode two
I caught up with Dancing on the Edge a couple of days after broadcast via one of the nation's marvellous catch up services and was amazed to find, after watching the first two episodes, that the nation's TV critics were calling it a clunker.
And it wasn't just one review, it was a whole hoard of them (whatever the collective term of reviews is). In fact, so one sided were they, that I felt an irresistible urge to write why I think they're nuts.
Firstly, Dancing on the Edge is written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff. Those familiar with his work will know the chap's dramas are in a world and style of their own and are a real break from the norm. On this basis, perhaps unsurprisingly, Dancing on the Edge delivers. Top acting? Unusual characters with motives and intentions you're not sure about? Both present and correct.
It takes its own sweet time to deliver the story (or plot?) and while we're more used to far shorter dramas from Poliakoff, this marked the serial out as new for me at least. So yes, there was more time to deliver the story, but when you've got unusual characters with an unusual plot then slow burn all the way. This is the bain of the beast for many of the aforementioned reviews and critics, bemoaning the slow development of the plot.
Arguably, dramas on TV really do have the opportunity to spin out their stories slowly, unlike films where everything has to be wrapped up within 120 minutes or (preferably) less, unless it is a series or franchise.
If the story is slow, but there's good actors and intrigue going spare then I'm all for it. Let's enjoy the view. There are good actors to enjoy.
Most puzzling of all for me is reading critical frustration with the serial in view of the fact it is such a break from the norm. Yes there's crime, but we're not even sure what the nature of it is yet. It's a triumph of mystery over cliche, so far at least. Reviewers are quick to complain about cliche, rightly, but Dancing on the Edge's approach has been anything but cliched, I'd argue. Unless Poliakoff's style counts as cliche.
Of course we're only in episode two, but the resistance against convention, even when ultimately it is all about a crime or two, is entertaining.
So, this has ended up as a bit of a rant against some reviews, rather than a review in itself, but suffice to say, it's worth a watch.