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Blackpool? More Like Manhattan Murder Musical! - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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September 4th, 2008


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09:22 pm - Blackpool? More Like Manhattan Murder Musical!
Unwittingly, I have done two British series in a row with abysmally failtacular American remakes. Remember all the hype about Viva Laughlin, which lasted a whopping two episodes? Chances are it wasn't nearly as good as Blackpool.

Ripley Holden runs a casino—excuse me, amusement arcade—in the small town of Blackpool. He's having a wee bit of financial trouble, but that doesn't stop him from celebrating in anticipation of his proposed casino hotel, which will make all his investors rich beyond their wildest dreams and invigorate the economy of Blackpool.

Things go a bit pear-shaped when he opens the doors of his casino and discovers a corpse. Moreover, he's the prime suspect.

As if that weren't enough, his daughter, Shyanne, is dating a man as old as he is; his son, Danny, has been staying out all night doing God knows what; and his wife, Natalie, is unknowingly seeing DI Peter Carlisle, the man investigating him.

Also, the town and its people occasionally burst into surreal song-and-dance sequences set to songs by Elvis and the Smiths and the Clash and Billy Idol. It's odd because they play the original songs loud and have the characters sing along to them. It's like someone based an entire series on the "Wise Up" scene in Magnolia. Plus, it's often unclear as to what the reality of the situation is since there are times when it's obviously a fantasy sequence and other times when actual plot is occurring during the songs. For instance, the numerous singing sex scenes. The schtick works way better than you'd expect, but it's also kind of superfluous; the series would be just as compelling without the songs. With the songs, it's just extra fun. It's like State of Play meets Moulin Rouge.

The real story of Blackpool is not the murder mystery. The murder mystery is great, and I would change my guess on who the killer was every episode. The cat-and-mouse game between Carlisle and Ripley is always exciting and sometimes gay (they duet to "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'"). Little background details percolate for a few episodes until becoming plot points.

But the real story, I found, was the story of the Holdens as a family. The events of the series really put the family to the test, threatening to tear it apart. But Ripley Holden will have none of it. He has a unique relationship with each member of the family, and we see each one develop. David Morrissey manages to make you actually feel for Ripley, despite the fact that he's kind of an unsympathetic jerk. Guess he had practice after State of Play, although he's a very different character here. In State of Play, he was low-key and downtrodden, but Ripley Holden is larger-than-life, almost a force of nature.

The show features another David: Tennant, the Tenth Doctor himself, being very un-Doctor-like. For one, he's totally Scottish. For another, he's acting and stuff. Playing a human detective is different from playing a Time Lord! Amusingly enough, he's macking on the Empress of the Racnoss.

Blackpool is only six episodes, but it manages to feel like an American season's worth of television, there's so much packed into it. Should you watch it? Well, let's pull the lever on this slot machine here...

WIN - WIN - WIN

Guess so.
Current Mood: busybusy
Current Music: Morrissey - Ganglord

(18 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


From:sabra_n
Date:September 5th, 2008 12:33 am (UTC)
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they duet to "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'"

And they TANGO to it! That's the key bit.

I'm kind of amazed, in retrospect, by the fact that I liked Blackpool, because all the characters are such horrible, often unsympathetic people- every one of them is a dick except for Natalie. The musical numbers probably helped, as did the total conviction of the actors. And now I'm going to have "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" stuck in my head for the rest of the night, THANK YOU.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:September 5th, 2008 12:43 am (UTC)
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I'm kind of amazed, in retrospect, by the fact that I liked Blackpool, because all the characters are such horrible, often unsympathetic people- every one of them is a dick except for Natalie.
Really? I thought Danny was a mostly decent chap. And Shyanne wasn't really horrible, per se. I don't know, I wouldn't go so far as to say they were all horrible and unsympathetic. A handful of them were, for sure.

It's kind of amazing what good acting'll do, huh? And it's so invisible when well done.
From:sabra_n
Date:September 5th, 2008 12:54 am (UTC)
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Shyanne's romance never really worked for me- I had no idea what was attracting her to this guy, so when she acted like a little teenaged brat, all I saw was a little teenaged brat, not someone fighting for love.

I...actually don't remember why I didn't like Danny at this point. He probably also acted like a brat, and I really have next to no patience with "rebellious teenager" characters. Plus, you know. Spoilermumblecakes.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:September 5th, 2008 12:58 am (UTC)
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Oh, I didn't see what was attracting her to Steve, but I also didn't see what was attracting Peter and Natalie, so whatever. I take TV romances for what they are.

Danny wasn't really all that bratty. He was sort of subdued and shy.
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From:duchessdogberry
Date:September 5th, 2008 01:27 am (UTC)
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but I also didn't see what was attracting Peter and Natalie, so whatever.

Her HOTNESS?
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From:spectralbovine
Date:September 5th, 2008 01:28 am (UTC)
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BESIDES THAT.
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From:lynevere
Date:September 5th, 2008 08:42 am (UTC)
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My third cousin acted in the third episode of Viva Laughlin, which of course will never see the light of day now. Still, that means I keep the show as a favorite on my DVR just in case that changes.

Blackpool does sounds pretty interesting. I enjoyed State of Play, as well as British shows in general. I really like the concept of continuing the show as long as the story warrants, rather than dragging it out as long as the money warrants.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:September 5th, 2008 11:58 am (UTC)
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My third cousin acted in the third episode of Viva Laughlin, which of course will never see the light of day now.
Aw, that's cool! Except for the second part.

Blackpool does sounds pretty interesting. I enjoyed State of Play, as well as British shows in general. I really like the concept of continuing the show as long as the story warrants, rather than dragging it out as long as the money warrants.
Yeah, it's been working out pretty well for those guys. And it makes their television way easier to catch up on.
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From:stephl
Date:September 5th, 2008 11:45 am (UTC)
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Okay, it's been so long that I can no longer remember -- the structure of your subject line (question involving real name of thing, answered with a different name that more accurately describes it [preferably one that rhymes with the real name of thing]) -- where did it originate?

(Uh, and if it's a P-C original, I totally apologize for implying you thieved it.)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:September 5th, 2008 11:53 am (UTC)
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Hee. So, well, it all started with my post on Cupid, whose title was "Cupid? More Like "Shoopid"! *Turns into Camel*" Which was a Sluggy Freelance reference that I could not resist.

The next time I caught up on a series, it was Doctor Who, which conveniently lent itself to the title "Doctor Who? More Like Doctor Shoo! *Turns into Half a Camel*"

Next up was Battlestar Galactica, and there were no camels left, so I went another direction. And then I decided to keep that structure for the rest of my pimping posts, the structure that you have pretty well described except for the part where "accurately describing" and "preferably rhyming" are often an either/or scenario.

So it is indeed a P-C original, albeit unplanned. I now spend a good section of my mainlining time wondering what The Post Title will be.

(Oh, but alliterator totally thieved from me.)

Edited at 2008-09-05 03:56 pm (UTC)
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From:ethanvahlere
Date:September 5th, 2008 01:50 pm (UTC)
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It's like someone based an entire series on the "Wise Up" scene in Magnolia.

Did you ever see any TV shows by Dennis Potter like The Singing Detective, Pennies From Heaven, or Karaoke? Those apparently are the influences of this series (I've only watched bits of it).
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From:spectralbovine
Date:September 5th, 2008 01:57 pm (UTC)
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I haven't seen any of those, but, yeah, Wikipedia mentioned they do similar things.
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From:eldritch_flame
Date:September 5th, 2008 09:45 pm (UTC)
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I loved Blackpool! I'm glad to see other people have found it and enjoyed it as well. Although the knowledge that they tried to do an American version pains me somewhat (why must they continue to do that? Do they never learn?). I'm also annoyed that they changed the songs on the dvds, as I was going to buy them and now I'm not sure.

And thank you for linking to your Coupling post, as I missed it the first time around and it definitely looks like a show that I need to check out.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:September 6th, 2008 02:56 am (UTC)
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They changed the songs on the DVDs?! But...how does that even work?!

I hope you enjoy Coupling!
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From:eldritch_flame
Date:September 6th, 2008 07:04 pm (UTC)
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Well, they just switched them to different versions of the same song (apparently it was something to do with copyright? I think?), but still that means that the actors lips won't always be synced up properly and that's just annoying!

I feel confident that I shall enjoy Coupling immensely, once The Riches has stopped consuming my mind.
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From:inigo
Date:September 7th, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC)
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Bizarrely, grim sent me this as I missed it when it was on here. Stupid me because I loved it. For me, the singing was integral and I would have found it too...grimy without those flashes of lightening.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:September 7th, 2008 07:04 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I can see that. They do lighten the mood a bit and show that even when it's all gone to crap, life is but a song.
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From:pandora_17
Date:September 8th, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC)
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I haven't watched Blackpool because I'm not down with the randomly bursting into song, but I have seen the David Tennant bits. I'm nothing if not thorough in my obsessions.

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