October 26th, 2004


Green Wing

Warning: If you don't watch UK TV you'll have no idea what I'm talking about.

I can understand why people don't like Green Wing - the whole program is a big mass of stylistic tics and jerks, wrapped around a take on the human condition more gruesome and unlikable than anything I've seen since The League of Gentlemen.  It's a hallucinogenic pantomime of ridiculous social horror, The Office as directed by Terry Gilliam on amphetamines.

trashcanglam objected to the frequent use of video-speed-up – I loved the fact that it allowed you to see the long pauses, silences and gaps, without actually sitting through them; you get at least 2 hours of 'show' in the hour it's on.  They don't have to tell you that a character carefully fakes his own hanging half and hour before the woman who spurned him arrives – they can show you instead.  It's a stroke of genius that, taken to its full extent and built into the shows format ceases to even be noticeable after a while – you're simply seeing time compressed in front of you – God keeping his finger on the fast forward button of his VCR so that you only have to pay attention to the fun bits.

The characters are not _all_ unlikeable, but even the likable ones are a mess and the less pleasant ones would have the lovable misanthropes that populate (for instance) Black Books running for the hills.  We watch anaesthetician Dr Guy Secretan mercilessly wind-up a doctor studying for his final exams, feeding him memory-aides that are harder to memorise than the actual information, showing off his own near-perfect recall and tsking about the shame of failing an exam multiple times, before finally working the student into such a state that he's incapable of responding when asked the technical word for 'leg'  (hint: it's 'leg').  It's not the funniest scene in the world, but that's probably because it's just before an even funnier one where each of the lucky exam mascots is derided for their obvious negative qualities "A bee?  So you want to be a drone worker and not stand out from the crowd?" before being ceremonially beheaded and lobbed binwards.  It's cruel, horrific and had me falling off of the sofa.

Of course there are romantic entanglements.  Or rather, there are would-be romantic entanglements – almost nobody get to be with who they want to be withThese people are slaves to their emotions, like Tantalus ever unable to reach what they believe they want.  A wants B, who wants C who mostly just wants to be left alone.  There are office parties where people finally say what they need to, only to find that nobody can remember the next day whether they said it or not.  And when a few of them do get to be with someone, they find that getting what you want can be the worst punishment of all.

It would be a horrible, unwatchable show if it wasn't so funny.  But if you _like_ people, if you don't find the whole human condition somehow screamingly wrong and distasteful, if you can't somehow view Green Wing as a section of hell, designed to hold up a terribly distorted mirror of how bad things can be if we let them – you simply won't enjoy it.

I've rarely seen anything more horrible than The Green Wing.  I've rarely laughed so much.


Met up with poisonduk for an orange juice or three, then headed over to stenchpuppy's flat, only to discover he was too busy watching movies to choose a new computer.

So home - to watch West Wing and get an early night with Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver, which is rather good so far.


Napster's charging me £10 a month for unlimited streaming.

MSN Music are willing to charge me 1p per stream.

Do I listen to 1000 songs a month?  That's 30 songs a day.  120 minutes on average.  I'm not sure I do.