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Thursday, 10 July 2008

Stop digging

Did anyone see the first episode of Bonekickers on Monday night? It’s the new BBC (so-called) drama from Ashley Pharoah and Matthew Graham, the people behind the brilliant Life on Mars and its OK sequel Ashes to Ashes. Unfortunately, going by last night’s offering, Bonekickers is neither. And, yes, it’s full of fine actors and was directed by James Strong, who is one of the directors of Doctor Who – so why was it so bad?

According to the BBC hype, Bonekickers:

is a highly original six-part series about a dynamic team of archaeologists [and is set] against the backdrop of Bath, a city steeped in 3,000 years of history, [where] each week the team uncovers a compelling mystery from the past that tells viewers something profound and revelatory about the present.

After last night’s episode, hearing their claim that “archaeology has never been so dramatic” made me laugh out loud.

This episode was full of dire dialogue, religious references – including miracle cures, the cross that bore Jesus Christ – and modern-day religious nutters and psychopaths as well as very unsubtle references to the religious divisions between Christianity and Islam in Britain today. This culminated in a particularly gruesome, gratuitous and out-of-place beheading of a Muslim by some nutter who’d convinced himself that he was a modern-day member of the Knights Templar. I can’t help thinking that this is the sort of rubbish that would be produced by those responsible for (the brilliant) Waking the Dead if they spent too many Sundays inhaling too much religious incense.

Going by the press reviews, the chatter on the Internet and everyone I’ve spoken to, most people agree it was bad. In just a few days, the Beeb has managed to give us Criminal Justice, which has got to be the best piece of brand-new drama so far this year, and then what can only be described as the worst. In the Guardian, Gareth McLean described it as “mind-bogglingly dreadful [with] lame characters delivering abysmal lines”, while the academic and critic Sarah Churchwell described it as “beyond silly”. On BBC2’s Newsnight Review, John Mullan (the University College, London, professor of English who specialises in eighteenth-century fiction) criticised the show's absurdities, saying that “hokum has to have its own logic”.

In my opinion, Bonekickers was baloney. It was truly bad. It was a load of cringe-making bollocks! Den of Geek is spot on when it says that it “is surely the BBC’s most spectacular and hilarious misfire since the dark days of Eldorado back in the early 90s”, but I don’t buy their it-was-so-bad-it’s-good line or that because 6.8 million viewers watched it, they must have enjoyed it. Let’s just wait and see how many people bother to tune in again next week.

They’re not very impressed on the Bonekickers fan site, either, and see this rather hilarious recap of the first episode on the Killed in a smiling accident blog.

I should have watched ITV2's The Skulls instead.

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