Tuesday, 2 December 2014

'She wants him back' - Remember Me (BBC 1)

Jodie Comer, Mark Addy and Michael Palin star in this spooky drama

After enjoying the first episode to a degree that was almost unseemly, I was a little concerned that part 2 of this original, feature length ghost story would flag a bit. I don't think it did, though arguably it caught its breath. For those who've yet to see it, I can only keep recommending it. This is what I wrote about the first part.

In the second episode  - Spoiler Alert and all that the surprising truth about runaway oldie Tom Parfitt begins to emerge. And again I was impressed by how writer Gwyneth Hughes combines elements of the traditional British ghost story with modern Asian horror tropes. Thus the entity - her name is Isha, we discover - moves in a way familiar from The Ring and The Grudge. (And there's a bit of a play on geography, going on, as Isha is a ghost from southern Asia, not the region where modern horror film was recently reinvented.)

There's an interview with Gwyneth Hughes here, in which she casts some interesting light on her methods and ideas. Michael Palin signed up on the basis of the first episode - the only one she'd written at the time. That, I think, is proof of Mr Palin's canny Yorkshire judgement. He could see an opportunity to play a 'real' person who is, as we come to realise, not so much good or evil as desperate.

Among my favourite scenes in Episode 2: the nod to L.P Hartley in the bus scene; Mark Addy's decent, baffled detective opening letters from the Queen; the sad fate of the care home worker, found dead over waterlogged egg and chips; Hannah's mam - Julia Sawalha - starting to come to terms with her grief by putting on a pair of denim shorts; Hannah (Jodie Comer) and her brother playing on the deserted beach.

'Remember Me' is also notable for accepting that viewers can work stuff out for themselves. It's a ghost story, which means its a variation on a traditional idea. And guess what? At the heart of the mystery lies 'Scarborough Fair', a traditional folk song that, we are reminded, comes in many forms and so - like the ghostly genre - can never be wholly defined.

Then there are the characters' names. The detective, Rob Fairholme, has in fact a fragmented home, with what remains of his close family in the Antipodes. Hannah's surname, Ward, suggests her protective role towards little brother Sean (Jamie Rooney-West). And while we can see Tom Parfitt is far from perfect, to Isha he must be.

I have my own vague notions as to what must/will happen to bring the haunting to an end. But I suspect that Ms Hughes is ahead of me on this, and that something dramatically better than my own guesses will happen in part three. If Remember Me does nothing else, it's demonstrated that the feature length ghost story is perfectly do-able on television. Let us have more of this.

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