This is Eng­land ’ 88

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Mon­day, 9.30pm, SBS One This is the kind of hu­mour­less, high-oc­tane drama at which the Brits excel. A spin-off from the 2006 film This is Eng­land, it is also a se­quel to the 2010 tele­vi­sion se­ries This is Eng­land ’ 86. There is a clue about its tone in the open­ing scenes of what would be the ti­tle se­quence in an Amer­i­can pro­gram. A street lamp burns in the fog and choral mu­sic plays mourn­fully. The cam­era pans to a se­ries of hideously ugly coun­cil build­ings, also draped in mist. In the first min­utes of this sec­ond episode, set on Christ­mas Eve, a young man is caught mas­tur­bat­ing by his girl­friend. Hor­ri­fied, she screams at him that he is be­ing mean, be­cause she of­fered him sex and he didn’t want it. He tries to ex­plain that he just needed some time for him­self, but she can­not com­pre­hend. Could this be a turn­ing point in their re­la­tion­ship? (In­ci­den­tally, when are tele­vi­sion characters go­ing to learn to lock the bath­room door?) There is just the briefest hint of a smile when he rolls his eyes as her rant fi­nally con­cludes. Else­where an ob­vi­ously de­pressed woman leaves her tod­dler with a friend as she pops in to see a nurse coun­sel­lor. In quite a long scene, the pro­gram morphs into a two-han­der, a low-bud­get English ver­sion of In Treat­ment. Then, in a scene straight out of The Royle Fam­ily, three ridicu­lously dull English peo­ple sit in a row on a sofa as a 25-year-old man at­tempts to ex­plain why he didn’t come home un­til af­ter mid­night the night be­fore, leav­ing them all wor­ried sick. He tells them he was send­ing a fax. It ap­par­ently took longer than he ex­pected. If there is com­edy here, as is some­times in­di­cated by crit­ics, it is darker than the Delta Quad­rant. On Christ­mas Eve no one can hear you scream.

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