A Wanker’s Literary Reaction: River City
It’s the middle of the bloody night, I have lectures in seven hours time, and my body has just laughed in my face and decided that sleep is a commodity I can simply do without today. So, what to do? Raid the vending machines upstairs, wrap myself in a duvet, and feebly mock something that’s far more popular than I will ever be. Namely, a wanker’s literary reaction to River City. Take that, BBC who have created some of my all-time favourite shows and generally been a paragon of broadcasting virtue throughout my entire media-consuming lifespan!
Ah yes, the theme music! The opening sequence features 24-style split-screening and extensive shots of a stone lion, despite the fact that said lion rarely features as a key player in any of the episodes. What I’d like to draw your attention to at this point is the fact that River Shitty (too easy, really) does make a point of hiring the worst actors you can imagine. In fact, they’re so bad I started to think halfway through the episode that this was a deliberate parody of really terrible acting and that I was actually viewing some of the most innovative performances of my generation. What’s particularly striking is that many of the actors look like other people on TV- there’s one lad who looks like Bruce Forsyth might had he chosen a career as a pornstar, and another who looks like John Simm as redesigned with a plank full of rusty nails. The one thing all the performances have in common, aside from the lookalike factor, is the awful, dead look behind their eyes, the look that says they know their only viewers are themselves, peering into the camera as if trying to work out if their future selves are actually watching or have finally ended the sweet torment. I glanced over the Wikipedia page to do some “research” before starting this post- the article seems to sum up the passage of the show, starting out with thorough, brisk paragraphs, before descending into staccato half-sentences like a lost soldier futilely radioing for help from a platoon he knows is long, long dead.
I’d totally forgotten this soap was set in Scotland till I was greeted by what I can only describe as the west end Glaswegian shriek. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Glaswegian accents for the most part, but for some reason here it feels as if someone is forcing a handful of switchblades into my ear for half an hour. And I say that as a born-and-bred Invernshneckian, having been subjected to the horrendous Invernesian caw for seventeen years before I made my escape. Unlike many other mainstream soaps, River City is pretty much a relentless stream of grimness; depicting Scottish life as a bombardment of drizzle, corruption, promiscuity and booze. I find this a little unfair, considering we have at least a few good chippies.
So there’s Scotland’s top soap for you: life’s a bad-weathered bitch, then you end up in River City. Oh, flower of Scotland…