Radiation by Fiona Rae

So-so rom-coms and a Firefly

I like a good romance as much as the next gal. Pride and Prejudice: yes, please. Buffy and Angel: I am so there. Trouble is, romance could quite possibly be the most difficult genre of all. Even crap action movies have action, but what does a bad romance movie have? And when you add the c-word – comedy – that’s even harder to pull off.

How many good rom coms are there? When Harry Met Sally? Ugh – Meg Ryan. Bridget Jones? Ugh – Renée Zellweger, slightly ameliorated by a dash of Colin Firth. Television-wise, I’d count Sex and the City as a rom com. Good puns, lots of slapstick, funny gay friends.

So I was up for NY-LON, the short-lived British series, even though it had so-so reviews: Mark Lawson in The Guardian pointed out that the only obstacle in the lovers’ way is distance and: “Even 400 years ago, when Shakespeare pitched that script to the Globe, the money men encouraged him to include some stuff about confusing potions and a blood-feud between the two families.”

Quite right. Even Mills & Boon writers know the secret to fleshing out the plot until the inevitable kiss in the garden/on the bow of a boat/in the grand hall of his lordship’s country estate. Obstacles. And lots of them. Usually it’s terrible past relationships that have put the protagonists off, or maybe an accident, perhaps involving his wife (he’s scarred emotionally and physically), or perhaps he’s under some mistaken impression of her, or he’s just a rude prick. She’ll have to prove herself, possibly by saving the life of his first-born by his aforementioned dead wife; he’ll have to open up. Yada, yada, yada. Kiss.

So what possible obstacles could there be for NY-LON’s young and attractive Michael and Edie? The writers seem to be trying just a leetle too hard with this. There’s a hint of familial obligation on his part (his sister dumps her son on him regularly); needy exes are presenting themselves as speed bumps on the road to Happy Ever Afterville; there’s that annoying Atlantic ocean.

NY-LON has also gone for quite a bit of flash over substance too. If you can keep up with the times flipping over at the bottom of the screen, good luck to you. For a New Yorker, you’d think she’d know not to put down her bag on a park bench and turn away, as well. And did he really say “I sell dreams” by way of explanation of his job shifting money from one place to the other in The City? It certainly lacks flow and that’s not necessarily the fault of the disordered time and split screens.

But sometimes you watch a romance a) for the moments that do work, and if they do, you can forgive the rest, or b) to see why it’s not working. I’ve watched Notting Hill thinking, why exactly is this rubbish? What is wrong with this picture? Is it the complete and utter lack of chemistry between Hugh and Julia? Rotten pacing? Rhys Ifans stealing the show? All of the above? But at this stage, at only episode one, I’m willing to give NY-LON’s writers, for whom this was a (somewhat) true story, the benefit of the doubt. Just in case.

Good news from the Whedonverse everyone: Firefly, Joss Whedon’s space western (with a whore), will finally play on TV3 in a couple of week’s time, once season six of Buffy finishes. It seems Serenity, the movie based on the series, is almost finished, but won’t be released until September next year.

Here’s something interesting from E Online’s gossip columnist Kristin about the merging of scripted drama and reality, now that new drama shows in the US are performing so well and some reality shows are big fat flops.

Love this study, as reported in the NY Times. Jeez, makes you wonder why they spend so much money on these studies – they could have given me a call and I could have told them that. Like the study where they found out that you can’t go to sleep if your feet are cold. Well, duh. Researchers, ring me now.

Was anyone else waiting for the angels to arrive on Angels in America? I’m so glad they’re here at last. I found it a bit exasperating at first, but several eps in it’s really taking shape. You knew Al Pacino would have the actor-o-meter set on 10, but the rest of the cast are fantastic, especially Jeffrey Wright, who plays Belize.

Some quite good things on the Letterman list:
Monday 6th: Tyra Banks and Lyle Lovett
Tuesday 7th: Racing star Alex Zanardi, comedian Kevin Nealon
Wednesday 8th: Renée Zellweger (ugh!)
Thursday 9th: Tom Hanks, Nelly
Friday 10th: Salma Hayek, Jimmy Eat World
Monday 13th: Jerry Seinfeld, Jamie Oliver
Tuesday 14th: John Travolta, Pearl Jam
Wednesday 15th: Jim Carrey, Ashanti
Thursday 16th: Cate Blanchett and The Pixies
Friday 17th: Adam Sandler

Condolences to Graham and his family.