This is England ’ 88
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.