Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bedlam: Season 1, Episode 1: Cohabitants

Now that's an intriguing beginning – the menacing, ominous hitchiker turns round, threatening and doesn't attack the driver – he convinces him to move on. The driver's already dead, died in a crash several; days before. Very good beginning, dark, slightly scary and very intriguing.

So, this is Bedlam apartments, high end luxury apartments converted from an old asylum. With a graveyard next door. And a big sign over the roof marked “SPOOKY!” Yup, laying it on thick with the reasons for the hauntings. The building was owned by Kate's grandfather (who ran the mental institute) and is now owned by Kate's father (Warren), who bought it in an attempt to do something “good” with it after allegations of dark happenings and patient abuse in the grandfather's time.

With such a history, of course the flats are haunted. In fact I imagine there's queue of ghosts.

We have Kate, who manages the flats, with Ryan and Molly who live in them (also looks like the token POC inclusion, though as is very common on TV they have chosen a very pale WOC for the inclusion).

And they are joined by Jed – just out of hospital and on medication for seeing... ghosts. I'm not entirely comfortable with this – the somewhat demeaning references to mental illness. The patronising and angry attitude of both Warren and Kate towards Jed for what they perceive to be his mental illness. Because he is actually psychic rather than ill this is never addressed – and his constant response to their rather snide comments is “I'm better now”. It's a trifle vexatious, the idea that being “better” (i.e. no longer mentally ill) is the only thing that would make him a tolerable presence.

In a much haunted building, of course, having someone who can see ghosts is quite useful – especially if said ghostie is going around drowning people to get her bling back (though, personally I think said ghost is just offended by the new decorations – honestly their taste is horrifying).

I actually think it does atmospheric pretty good. The dripping water and the river scenes on the computer are actually impressively creepy. In fact, I think this episode in general does creepy pretty well. And I do like creepy, yes yes I do.

Unfortunately there is the inevitable relationship drama. Kate made moves on Ryan then changed his mind which made Ryan huffy with Kate and Molly not happy because she likes Ryan – and Ryan doesn't like Jed moving in because he interrupted Kate and him. It doesn't dwell on it which is something but relationship dramas always give me headaches. I also don't particularly like the way Kate speaks to Molly (though Molly does call her out on having to pick up after her), there's a bit of snide mockery there that doesn't speak highly of respect.

And it's British. I know I know, it shouldn't get any points for that, but I always can immerse myself a lot more in shows set at home.

So anyway, Jed uses his special gift to save the people from the drowny ghost and also give the soggy ghost back her spectral bling. Pretty much everyone now notices that Jed has a gift and the apartments are not all good and ask Jed to stay – he's about to head out except he looks up and sees oodles of ghosts and decides to stay. Now, I have to wonder if the next episode will involve everyone packing and heading to the hills (since numerous murderous wraiths is hard even for estate agents to spin, and they can sell us those daft, low sloping ceilings as “rustic” and “cottagey”). But then, maybe they're due a huge rent discount for violent haunting? That'd be a hard choice – cheap London rent vs high possibility of being murdered... hmm... tough choice