Mar 15, 2013

Nine rains on a Parade of quality drama

Parade's End is one of the most formidable shows to come out of Britain, writes arts critic and cultural commentator Peter Craven. So how did Channel Nine screw it up so badly?

The news that Channel Nine has not only bombed with the resplendent Tom Stoppard adaptation of Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End but actually relegated it to one of its subsidiary channels, where, presumably, it will shine unseen, beggars belief.

Parade’s End is one of the most formidable British TV shows for a long time: it is superbly composed, it has a script by Britain’s most celebrated living playwright, and it has at its centre a performance by Benedict Cumberbatch at once rivalling and recalling the finer things done by the Ralph Richardson/Michael Redgrave generation. How on earth could Channel Nine stuff all this up out of post-Downton Abbey greed?

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14 thoughts on “Nine rains on a Parade of quality drama

  1. Jenny Taylor

    Couldn’t agree more. I knew I was going to be out this Wednesday night so set up to record this weeks episode as soon as last weeks was over. I sat down with great anticipation last night only to find I had recorded Sherlock Holmes. I immediately went online and ordered the DVD having already downloaded the complete works of Ford Maddox Ford to my kindle after watching last week.

  2. Glenn Dunstan

    Having watched Parade’e End previously (courtesy of…well…), I was astounded to see 9 picking it up.

    Downton Abbey it is not!

    Hardly a fit for the normal demographic of 9, one would have thought…

  3. Holden Back

    I seem to remember they had the same problem with “The West Wing”: they kept shifting it about, hacked the episodes to fit in ads, and had dire ratings.

    Straight off to purchase a DVD, or stream if I could.

  4. Peter

    Channel 9 should never have taken it on, it’s a quality show – channel 9 and the other commercials pump out unwatchable rubbish week after week. Should’ve been on the ABC or SBS where quality exists and the managers know how to bring it to air in an orderly manner.

  5. AnnaInTheWood

    Agree wholeheartedly with above – was mesmerised by the first episode (despite the ads) and then missed it the second week because of the channel/time shift. Just another reason why we don’t bother with the commercial TV channels – DVDs all the way!

  6. archibald

    SBS doesn’t seem to handle quality drama series that well either of late. After a long delay, they screened Mad Men series 3 as double episodes with a triple episode to finish off the series. This approach only suits people who will record the broadcast, I would have thought. Presumably this represents what they think it is worth after its previous debut on Pay TV and the sale of the DVDs. They screened the repeats of series 2 and 3 over summer as double episodes again starting at around 1 a.m. and as far as I could see didn’t announce them at all.

    SBS previously handled Big Love and Mad Men series 1 by promoting their screening and showing them in prime time as single episodes on sequential weeks – just as the author suggests Parade’s End should have been handled. I can only speculate that SBS regards that which has already screened on Pay TV as being of little interest to the 75% or so who don’t subscribe.

  7. Christy Takeuchi

    Wonderful review and couldn’t agree more. Benedict Cumberbatch is surely on his way, if not already, to being in the ranks of great actors like the late Alec Guinness.

    I was just a little disconcerted by this line, however: ‘The book, which takes place between World War I and the coming down of the Berlin Wall…’

    If I’m reading that correctly, it appears to be mean the period from 1914 to 1989!

  8. BSquaredInOz

    Thanks for the great review. I had heard some good things from overseas but this is a much more considered piece. It has prompted me to order the series on DVD as I do with anything I’m really interested in watching these days. I have been bitten too often by commercial TV in the past few years with schedule changes, channel shifting, endless ad breaks, mixing old and new episodes, playing episodes out of order…the list goes on. I’d much rather pay for the comfort of watching such shows at a schedule to suit me and knowing I will be able to watch all the episodes in the order the makers intended. I have a group of friends who do the same and we share our purchases – a relatively cheap way to enjoy many hours of far superior entertainment than anything commercial tv can offer.

  9. Peter

    Once I’ve seen a quality series on TV I buy the DVD series over time…then don’t have to chase the repeats on SBS or ABC.

    A quality review by Peter Craven.

    I just downloaded a free ibook version of The Good Soldier from iTunes.

  10. Nici

    I seem to recall the last book ending sometime after WW1.

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