I’ve been thinking about Poliakoff this week. I’m a big fan of his TV work and was dismayed to miss Glorious 39 at the pictures when it was released. I realised it was out on DVD the other day so I ordered a copy and watched it over the weekend. It was fab. It reminded me why I loved Shooting the Past and Perfect Strangers and all those other marvellous stories so much. He works miracles with a camera. The Poliakoff landscape is a delightful confection, seen through a sugar-coated lens: sumptuous and vibrant and lovely. It’s a fantastic juxtaposition to his often dark subject matter and powerful scripts. I think Poliakoff has a deep understanding of the human condition, of the things that make us tick, or give us joy, or terrify us. Glorious 39 delivered all of that, in spades, along with some great performances. Romola Garai and Bill Nighy were particular standouts for me. I’ll be coming back to this film. But first I’m going back to Shooting the Past, which I was shocked to realise I hadn’t seen for over 10 years!
The other thing I’ve been enjoying recently is Glee. I think it has some of the most sparkling, well-written scripts on TV at the moment. And I love the meta-textual qualities, too, the nods and winks from the writers, the things that expose the real heart of the show beneath all of that musical gloss. This week we saw one of the teachers say to another (and I’m paraphrasing) “We spend so much time around these kids I think we’re starting to act like them.” And isn’t that exactly the point! Don’t we all act like teenagers, most of the time? Do we ever really grow up? Behind the veneer of maturity and respectability, aren’t we all still vulnerable teenagers at heart?
I think the writers and producers and actors behind Glee understand this. Essentially, though, I think the characters understand this too, aware that they’re acting out a series of desperate love stories and aware that we’re watching them do it, too. And every now and then, they also burst into song. Absolutely sublime.