Monday, July 20, 2009

Desperate Romantics

The more observant among you may have noticed that TVScoop, along with all the Shiny blogs, is now existing in a state of suspended animation (Shiny's gone into administration, but that's about all I know...) But dammit, I'd alread written by Desperate Romantics review! So here it is...

The BBC have been promoting Desperate Romantics pretty heavily of late, so they must be proud of it - but I've actually heard rumblings that it is not, in fact, all that great. Our head honcho Paul had an early look, and it wasn't so much that he didn't like it, as that it wasn't quite what he had expected; rather than a serious look at these apparently serious men, it's something of a fun, BBC Three Casanova-esque romp. Sign me up...

He's right you know, Desperate Romantics *is* fun. Over the top, yes, to the point of silliness, probably, but when has that ever stopped me enjoying something? It usually enhances my enjoyment, to be honest. And what's better, it's over the top fun performed by really engaging actors.

Leading this merry band (band being the operative word - they're made out to be rebellious rock stars, raging against the establishment of the Academy) is "half Italian, half mad" Rosetti, played by the brooding vampire in Being Human, Aiden Turner as a ladies' man who has an artistic temperament, big dreams, all "wit and bluster". Then there's intense Mr William Holman Hunt, played by Rafe Spall, who is also known as 'Maniac' (sweet) and the hugely engaging, rather fey John Millais AKA Samuel Barnett, who excelled as the older Simon Doonan in Beautiful People.

And finally, with their reputations (and ability to afford food...) in his hands, there's art critic Ruskin, who also provides the only storyline approaching drama in this drama. Played with his usual aplomb and delicacy, Tom Hollander steals the show from under the noses of the young bucks as the repressed critic who - inexplicably to most - refuses to yield to the advances of his wife, played by the delightful Zoe Tapper.

I've no idea how accurate Desperate Romantics is (not particularly, I'd imagine), and yes, I would also like a sister documentary on good ol' BBC Four just to keep my TV diet balanced, but overall, I can't pretend for a moment that I would have preferred this programme to be more cerebral. It's gossamer-light but, thanks to some lovely performances, is saved from being completely inconsequential.

8 comments:

Jane Henry said...

Damn I missed this. Aidan Turner definite draw for me! I have a feeling from a half remembered lecture from a zillion years ago, that Rossetti used to slide naked down the bannisters, and kept a menagerie in his house. So maybe they aren't too far off beam... Sounds like fun though. As you say. Nowt wrong with silliness.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

It is UTTERLY insane: totally over the top. This is art history as moder-day style celebrity culture.

And it is GLORIOUS. I atched it laughing my head off at the various historical innacuracies but not giving a hoot. Aiden T is undeniably caddishly rakishly lovely, but there is something childlike and very sweet about Samuel Barnett as little Mr Millais. Not sure how I feel about the maniac WHH but I did laugh like a drain at the scene when he catches the eye of Christ in the drawing for 'The Light of the World'.

Yes, I am the art history geek who knows all the paintings and the dates they were painted and who was actually in the PRB and who did what etc... but it was hellishly fun drama and I will certainly be watching the rest.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

PS what has happened with TV Scoop?

Anna Lowman (annawaits) said...

Aw I knew you'd love it Lisa! Very much our cup of tea :D

And Jane, you should certainly catch up if you can.

As for TVScoop, just Google 'Shiny Media administration'...!

Stuart Ian Burns said...

V. sorry to hear about Shiny. Hope something gets sorted out.

There was a companion documentary on BBC Four though oddly they decided to broadcast it three weeks ago:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lglxw

And not when people might actually be a bit interested...

Anna Lowman (annawaits) said...

Thank you Stuart, we'll have to wait and see how things work out.

And yes, I remember them showing that series now! Very odd not to broadcast it now as you say...!

Katie Lee said...

Drama's that take TOO much liberty with the truth annoy me, but this one is surprisingly accurate, considering. Ruskin really didn't sleep with his beautiful wife and there were rumours (now in doubt) that he destroyed his friend Turner's sketches for being too rude. Yes, I did get straight onto Wikipedia after the first episode - how did you guess?!

Jane, think it's Byron that you're thinking of - he had a house full of wild animals and slid down the bannisters.

Anna Lowman (annawaits) said...

Ha, I read Ruskin's Wikipedia page too! And you're right - a lot of his storyline especially seems totally based on truth.