Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Village: Too glum for Sunday night TV?



Apparently, because we're so used to feel good Sunday night dramas like er, Call the Midwife (you know, the one dealing with abject poverty, racism, backstreet abortions and other similar feel good topics) and er, Mr Selfridges (adultery, paternal beatings, etc) it turns out that BBC One's new Sunday night drama The Village was too downbeat to provide classic Sunday night feel good (that term again) drama.

The Village, recounting life in a (you're ahead of me here) village, is set in 1914 and deals with the outbreak of war, a terrifying father figure, crop failure, sexism, alcoholism…OK, there aren't too many chuckles to be had from the episode.

But how do some dramas manage to tackle undoubtedly tough subjects and still be called feel good dramas when the likes of The Village do not?

You'd have to put it down to the oft not mentioned considerable style that a drama like Call the Midwife shows in pulling off discussing awful subjects but still leaving you feeling all warm inside - or Sunday night drama-y, if you will.

That is not to say The Village is charmless or lacks panache, far from it.  It is another well acted and put together bit of drama. Compelling and intriguing but, admittedly, lacking a feel good factor.

But when did this become a bad thing? Is whether a drama leaves us feeling warm and cuddly really a standard which we use to measure drama by now? Was State of Play, to use another John Simm starring drama, not feel good enough? No. It was widely liked. And it was originally broadcast on Sundays…

So what's changed? Why do we now need Sunday night drama that will leave us warm and fuzzy inside? Are we now an inconsolable nation that can't face going back to work on Monday? Has the grim economic reality of the nation changed our TV viewing need?

The Village has yet to show all its cards. We've only had episode one to judge it by. But I wouldn't expect it to all of a sudden come over all cuddly. That's what I'm hoping, anyway.

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