This Life + 10 = Outstanding

Last night saw a slice of nostalgia, when This Life returned for a one-off special, ten years on.

Ten years ago I was a few months away from leaving university (stop rolling your eyes, at the back!) and I fondly remember cramming into my neighbour’s room to watch each episode. We were all just about to graduate, and seeing these five people sharing a house in London at the start of their careers somehow felt like it might be a view into our own lives in a few years’ time. This series, and Friends, were big at the time… and somehow Friends was never real enough for us to think that way about it.

This Life was groundbreaking stuff – the handheld camera work, the sex and drugs pushing new boundaries (although whether or not that has been a good thing in the long term is another matter), the gritty realism, the rapid editing, the well-observed mundane details (not only who was sleeping with whom, but whether or not the washing up had been done)… a really great series.

From the moment the theme tune came on last night, the memories all flooded back. The characters had grown slightly older, but not very much wiser. The characterisations were still excellent. The setting had changed, of course – no more lawyers sharing a grotty house in London, this time the careers had all changed, and it was scaled up to a weekend at a country house instead. The thing that impressed me the most about the special was that there was real emotional depth and tension that had an impact even after the 10 year gap.

The music was great too – although this time it was all played out of an iPod. A chance to relive some of my favourite indie moments of the 1990s.

I’ll be getting the original 2 series on DVD to remind myself of what it was all about…

Good stuff to watch most nights this week – final two episodes of Torchwood tonight, and the final episode of Green Wing tomorrow. Don’t expect to hear much from me… 😉

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8 responses to “This Life + 10 = Outstanding

  1. I’m also a huge fan of This Life, for many of the same reasons. However I found last night’s one-off very disappointing.

    In short, it was too crammed. One of the qualities and innovations of the original series was that it just flowed along with not very much happening. There was the odd moment of excitement such as Warren being caught cottaging for instance, but mostly it played out storylines over the whole series or more. I found +10 tried to do too much in too short a space of time. For instance, did it really need both Milly and Warren to suffer “Oh my god they’re dead” moments?

    There were some scenes such as when Egg, Anna, Miles and Warren were drinking wine after dinner which were very evocative of them in the old house, but by and large there was too much drama and not enough of, well, them.

    I also found the setting to be a bit too much like Peter’s Friends for my liking, and the docu-drama mechanism didn’t really do anything other than give them a reason to get them together and provide a happy ending.

    I was really, really looking forward to +10, but the most telling indicator that I found it a let-down was the fact I ended up picking up the laptop at times, only to realise and then put it down and force myself to pay attention to the TV. Never a good sign for a show, that. It’s also an interesting observance on how things have changed since This Life was first aired!

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  2. Well I agree with the comment about the sudden “oh no!” moments – two panic moments in a very short space of time. For the rest though, we’ll have to agree to disagree… I didn’t find myself distracted for a moment.

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  3. Seems the critics are more on Adrian’s side, mind – well – the Metro and London Lite both gave poor reviews (although they were basically the same, since they are essentially the same newspaper at different ends of the day).

    I stand by my comments. Great stuff.

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  4. I was a big fan of This Life (and Queer As Folk, which came a bit later (no pun intended) but was equally ground-breaking), but missed the +10 special. I was gutted.

    I have not read your post or Adrian’s comment just in case they contained spoilers, but will try to catch +10 if I can somehow.

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  5. I’m sure it will be released on DVD at some point, since the original series are available. I need to pick up the final Green Wing on DVD too, to complete my set.

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  6. Are there any plans to repeat +10, I also missed it.
    😦

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  7. I haven’t heard of any plans. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t come out on DVD at some stage.

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