Thursday, November 1

Britz Click for more info

Well, I was wrong. Substandard acting and a confused plot were the orders of the day for this, the latest topical Muslim drama from Channel 4. Although I was never expecting this to present a new and shiny opinion I did want it to be entertaining in its own right, but alas it was never to be. Or was it?

Part One, Sohail's Story seemed to only offer us a day in the life of a Muslim spy; although that sounds hella interesting in theory the producers here didn't quite manage to pull it off. Cliched and irrelevant, it didn't really offer any new views or substantial points to the existing debate - heck it didn't even offer old ones.

As a film it was hard to watch as well. The mixed up and speedy plot made the viewer work way too hard; I had trouble following exactly what was going on or who they happened to be tailing/bugging/torturing at any one time. I finally gave up trying to follow the story and just let it slide over me.

So no, I wasn't sure what the point of Part One was. As a drama it was mildly entertaining at best, although I did find myself being drawn in a few times (and at least Priya Kalidas was in it). In fact, I was so discouraged I was contemplating skipping Part Two altogether. Of course my obsession with completeness didn't allow that to happen, and you know what? I'm glad I carried on with it.

Part Two, or Nasima's Story was way more interesting. Much of this was due to the bravery of the script - again, there was nothing new with respect to what was being said, but to present "the other argument" in a prime time drama is pretty unprecedented. I imagine that a lot of viewers may not have been aware of some of the legislation and behaviour demonstrated over the two hours tonight and for this Channel 4 should be acknowledged.

As a drama it was also well done. The obvious story led itself, but as a result there was less of the false "manufacturing" that the first part had severely suffered from. I was totally sucked in by Manjinder Virk, more so than I was by Riz Ahmed yesterday. This was the entertainment I was looking for previously.

Although Part One had set the stage for Part Two, I reckon that the latter could have survived on its own. In fact, I suspect that the main reason Part One was made was to "dilute" or soften the impact of the conclusion - I would have expected much more criticism and accusations of sympathising with suicide bombers directed toward the drama if it was just about Nasima.

So all in all a mixed reception. Better than the usual stuff, Britz managed to do pretty well by the end. It's encouraging to see boundaries being pushed in this particular way for once and I'm totally looking forward to the fallout from this, the latest topical Muslim drama from Channel 4.