The Swedes and Danes make even the Americans look formula-ridden. I never miss an episode of Homeland (Channel 4) but nor am I ever able to forget that the same production outfit made 24. Sooner or later either Claire Danes or Damian Lewis will be asked to do something stupid.But at least the Americans, on occasion, know that the fizz of fine brains working on a problem can be good television. Here in Britain it is often as if the people who made the show – let’s say it’s about the political loyalties of a bunch of people who shared a house in their student days – got all the way through university without meeting even one person smarter than they were. You just don’t get the sense that television drama here is being made by the top grade of minds. In the Scandinavian countries, evolution seems to have gone further.This observation is probably too generalised to be useful and there are, of course, exceptions: if you remember State of Play, you remember something truly intricate, with Bill Nighy given ample room to groan and purr. But on the whole our television drama conveys no sense that there might be an elite within the elite: a dedicated bunch who think that television drama is the top dog among the creative media and who have the mental wherewithal to prove it. I am just one of the millions of people in my generation who have never been very confident about finding Denmark on the map, but look at the Danes now: they’ve got the whole world talking about them, and every bright young man in the English-speaking countries wants to emigrate to Denmark and marry a Danish girl on the off-chance that she might turn out to be a television producer.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
at 4:31 PM