Friday, 27 June 2014

5 films that could follow in Fargo's footsteps and be transferred to TV

Turning a 18 year old crime film into a TV series may initially have seemed an odd decision, but the results proved it was a canny choice after all - the recently concluded Fargo received plenty of plaudits for wittily combining dense plotting, interesting characters and fine acting, with a generous helping of violence.

But are there any UK crime films of yesteryear ripe for the TV series treatment? Here are our pick of five British films that are prime pickings for the TV market:

Skyfall

Skyfall was the UK's biggest ever film and plenty of fun to watch, so simply following it up with another Bond film feels like a wasted opportunity, frankly. A TV series of Bond has plenty of potential, though it would have to work hard to avoid becoming a Jack Bauer knock off. And then there's the problem of casting - would you really expect Daniel Craig to sign up for a TV series too? In a nutshell, no. So why not a series centred on Q? Or another relatively minor character in the Bond set up, with Bond making a few fleeting appearances – like Nick Fury in Marvel's Agents of Shield?

Get Carter

The grim crime classic from 1971 sees Michael Caine go up to Newcastle to investigate and then avenge his brother's death. There's episodic potential in uncovering the seedy crime world of his home town, but in many ways it feels like Happy Valley might have pipped it to the post in its unflinching violence and crime up north centred on a strong family concept. In fact it wouldn't take that big a leap of imagination to see Sarah Lancashire take on the Michael Caine role in Get Carter following the critically lauded Happy Valley. And then there's the fact that a TV version of Get Carter would help banish the Sylvester Stallone starring film remake from our heads.

Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels 
Admittedly, following some research, it turns out this has already been done - back in 2000, a mere two years after the film was released - a six episode series was broadcast on Channel Four. And what do you know, one Martin Freeman starred in two episodes. Would returning to the concept another 14 years on be worth a thought? Or maybe a series out of the likes of Snatch? Maybe Fargo will reinvigorate the appetite for such a series.

Brighton Rock
Graham Greene's crime novel has been translated into film twice, the first famed for Richard Attenborough's portrayal of Pinkie and - for fellow geeks - for William Hartnell playing his right hand man. The story has moral complexity as Pinkie manipulates a witness to his evil deeds into a potential spouse and there's room to expand on the unpleasant deeds that make Pinkie so fearsome. And there's a period setting, the likes of which the BBC pulls off regularly to great effect in dramas like Peaky Blinders and Ripper Street. But would it be likely to be more adaptation than inspiration a la Fargo?

Sexy Beast
Sun, swearing, crime, Ray Winstone in budgie smugglers and a terrifying performance from Sir Ben Kingsley… Sexy Beast is the kind of film that endures in the memory, but would it make a good series? Using the film as a spring board, as the Fargo series does- rather than slavishly follow the same plot line - there's plenty of potential for stories based around a criminal going straight, or trying to, with a persuasive former associate dragging them back, virtually kicking and screaming, to perform another job.

How about Italian Job? Layer Cake? Or maybe Croupier?

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Complaining about violence on the TV seems refreshingly old fashioned

Is TV getting too violent? It's a complaint as old as, well, TV.

Fears that there's too much violence/swearing/sex/delete as appropriate on TV have been voiced throughout the history of the humble telly box. Who could forget the bespectacled Mary Whitehouse's headline grabbing complaints throughout the '70s and '80s, aimed at the behind-the-sofa antics of Doctor Who, among others, fearing it would irrevocably hurt tiny impressionable minds.

Has the debate moved on now that we're in the enlightened 21st Century?

With the advent of the internet in the trouser pocket of every Tom, Dick or Harry as well as ever improving visual effects - no longer the red paint blood of Hammer Horror - the barriers of taste and decency are not so much hard to police as almost impossible to get close enough to slip the handcuffs on. Even the government has been wading in to try to grapple with the topic of making internet providers force customers to opt in to allow porn, for example.

So complaining about violence on TV seems almost refreshly old fashioned. A bit like Sherbert Dib Dabs and tank tops. TV violence is a far simpler matter than the miscellaneous horrors of the internet (ED: like this blog?). Here violence is deliberately written into scripts, filmed and then broadcast.

But those offended by TV violence should just switch over and stop moaning? Sounds like a sound argument, so long as the violence is post watershed (is watershed an old fashioned term too, with the advent of iPlayer, Sky+ and On Demand?). Then you'd best turn over The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Happy Valley, Line of Duty...

The weird thing about violence is how quickly you get used to it. In a televisual sense, of course. Not only do I probably live a thankfully sheltered life but according to UK statistics, most of us are not hugely likely to see violence in the flesh. Unless you have a penchant for the Next sales.