// July 2010
Gay-themed drama (and I do mean drama, not porn) can be faintly painful to sit through as a viewer. The painfully obvious lack of budget, the clunky dialogue, the clumsy plot development, the sub-porn acting talent and not having any money to do any ADR seem almost determined to keep the genre in the ghetto.
That said, even then, sometimes they veer into the so-bad-they’re at least entertaining, if not capable of actually attaining the level of good. (Yes, The Lair, I’m looking at you.)
Recently, though, I was trawling through the darkest reaches of the Sky+ channels when I stumbled across two hot guys about to make out. My interest, naturally, was piqued, and I then found myself staying put as the show in question unravelled before me with a script that actually amused for the right reasons, and managed to stay just the right side of insanity to be compelling and not laughable.
This, as you may have guessed, was Sordid Lives: the Series, a more-or-less prequel to a 2000 film (“a black comedy about white trash”), that somehow has found itself on the ailing Film 24 channel in heavy rotation.
And I can’t recommend it highly enough. Olivia Newton-John and Rue McClanahan are the big names in a uniformly great cast and amazingly the whole thing even manages to bear repeated viewing with various subtleties revealing themselves with each visit.
The budget is clearly low (although this is not apparent from the design or the acting, more from some slightly flabby editing early on) but as a whole it really is a genuinely funny and engaging show with real warmth and wit.
There’s arguably a slightly slow start in the first couple of episodes, but the fourth (“Call Waiting”) is probably one of my favourite episodes of television ever – it’s the sort of phone-led story that was Steven Moffat’s stock in trade, pre Doctor Who – and the subsequent episodes fair rattle along from there on in.
Sadly there’s only one series, funding having been pulled after, as it would have been great to see the events of the film brought into and rationalised properly in the series (the continuity of the story in the film doesn’t totally match up).
I genuinely hope they somehow get the chance to do more. It deserves it.
It’d also be nice if the DVDs finally came out on Region 2, because I doubt Film 24 will be with us much longer…