Bonekickers - Expensively Recycled Garbage
Good grief! BBC1's new Tueday night drama serial Bonekickers seemed like proof that if you get one TV success story under your belt you can pitch just about any old tripe and get funding. Bonekickers was like a cack handed lashing together of the archaelogical team of Time Team with the ludicrous plotline of the Da Vinci Code and the breathless running around and "shorthand TV" of adventure series like Primeval, Torchwood and Spooks. It managed to be less than the sum of its parts - appallingly cheesy dialogue, a plot that was easily predictable to anyone who has read Dan Brown's book or watched any of the above serials and a cringeworthy attempt to appear relevant in the first episode that involved anti-muslim christian fundamentalist bigotry.
We perhaps should have suspected this would have been the case after the disappointment that was Ashes to Ashes, the follow up to Life on Mars - the programme that made a name for Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah.
Where Life on Mars was original and witty, Ashes To Ashes was derivative and predictable. Where Philip Glenister's character DCI Hunt was a funny portrayal of a stock character from the 1970s in Life On Mars - with views that allowed viewers to have a laugh both at Neanderthal 70's males and the "PC" 21st Century views of John Simm's time travelling cop, situating themselves somewhere in between - in Ashes to Ashes the affectionate response people had had to Hunt was taken as carte blanche to present him and his views as a positive role model and the series came out with some appallingly reactionary crap, stereotypes and messages.
But Bonekickers managed to be even worse, you had to keep reminding yourself that this was expensive "quality" BBC TV you were watching and not some cheap lowest common denominator ITV pap. Hugh Bonneville had some lines that were supposed to be funny, but most of them fell flat, and the rest of the dialogue was painful. The far-right Christian character was so caricatured as to be unbelievable, but was given "topical themes" which may have meant that his oft repeated speeches actually got a sympathetic response from some of the audience, whilst allowing themselves to distance themselves from the ludicrous portrayal. If the message was liberal (as suggested by the "peace and love" portrayal of a Muslim community leader that one of the "soldiers of God" beheaded) then it was put forward in such a stupid way as to negate itself - likewise the treatment of the religious subject, all "woo-woo it's a miracle!" one minute showing the atheists in the team in a bad light, and then throwing the miracle into a more explicable light later to keep most of the audience on board regardless of faith. This just came across as tacky compromise - nothing wrong with being enigmatic and not offering solutions, but the way it was done here was just silly and obvious.
Sorry Life on Mars guys, we now know that the Emperor has no clothes!