Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Fall Gal

Thank the television Gods for the BBC. First BBC America brings us “Orphan Black,” a rich, complex, thrilling clonespiracy starring the dazzling Tatiana Maslany. And now BBC2 (now streaming on Netflix) brings us “The Fall,” a rich, complex, slow-boil psychological cat-and-mouse game starring the magnificent Gillian Anderson. The next time I see a Union Jack I fully intend to salute it in thanks of this bounty of quality roles for women on my television.

A few of you have recommended “The Fall” to me in the past few weeks, and I’ve finally taken your advice and had a look. While the pace is entirely different than the edge-of-your-seat addiction of “Orphan Black,” “The Fall” has a deliberate tone and thoughtful reserve that cannot be denied.

Mostly this comes from Gillian herself, who has refined her talents to a fine point over the years. She makes the most of silence, letting it wash over her all the while we know underneath roils an even sharper mind. I love actresses who can play intellect well. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that she has also grown elegantly into her features over the years as well. Seriously, Scully grew up quite nicely. Quite nicely, indeed.

While “The Fall” moved slowly, at times almost too slowly, it’s the performances and uncomfortable luxury of seeing the mundane and horrifying daily life of a serial killer that keep you there. It gives basically nothing away to tell you that former “Once Upon a Time” star Jamie “The Sheriff” Dornan plays the killer, as it is revealed in the opening minutes of the first episode. Though with short hair and face scruff, I kept thinking he was a dead-eyed Ashton Kutcher instead.

I’m only through three of the five-episode season (it’s more recurring mini-series than regular series), but I’ve also truly appreciated the show’s unvarnished look at sexual politics. Gillian’s senior police investigator Stella Gibson is a no-muss, no-fuss, wham-bam-thank-you-man kind of lady. And she does not appreciate, nor tolerate, the double standard that says guys who have sex are super studs and gals who have sex are unqualified sluts. Ladies can have and enjoy sex and still be good at their jobs – big shocker. Nor does she want to perpetuate the virgin/whore pigeonholes women get pushed into. It’s something that needs to be said more, on television and everywhere else because it’s still fucking happening all the damn time. (p.s. Slightly off topic, but like come fucking on, Serena Williams, you should never say about a 16-year-old rape victim, “I'm not blaming the girl, but…”)

Now I could talk about ingrained sexism and slut shaming all damn day. But what you really want to know is is there any gay in “The Fall.” Well, of course, kittens. No spoilers, but we do find out there’s a gay gal in the mix. And just to make the talent pool even more ridiculous, we also get some Archie Panjabi because too much of a good thing – that “thing” being gifted actresses working with smart material – is never enough.


I’m hoping, in the last two episodes, my patience with the show pays off (don’t spoil it for me, folks). But either way a second season has already been commissioned. So more Gillian being smart on TV seems like a pretty good deal to me.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

HAH! I was having Orphan Black withdrawal and was scrolling through Netflix and found 'The Fall' last night - watched the WHOLE thing. I didn't realize til this morning that it is so new. Really loved it and hope there will be more. Great cast (esp. G Anderson - she more than carries it), excellent choice of Belfast as a locale - fantastic script. Fingers crossed that there's a Season 2.

Anonymous said...

Yes, love the BBC. Nicola Walker, anyone? MI-5, Scott and Bailey, Last Tango in Halifax, even Chalk. Heading Out. Too cool for school, that Beeb.

Florence said...

Love the show. I love how Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) is a female character comfortable in her skin and in her sexuality and I love the relationhsips she has with the other two female characters: the police constable and the medical examiner.
I just wish there was more Archie Panjabi. Maybe season 2 will fix that.

Anonymous said...

The Fall looks very interesting. I would be a nice thought, since you brought this to our attention, to fucking tells us where to find it.

Anonymous said...

I *loved* The Fall! My only complaint is that Archie Panjabi was grossly underused.

Your friend, Rusty said...

I was going to post the answer to the question of "effing tells us where to find it" but then the teacher in me decided to say - It's in the material. Go read it again. There's even a link.

Anonymous said...

The best part about Archie Panjabi's role is that she basically Kalinda Sharma, or at least it's not very difficult to watch it that way, if you so choose.

Fluff said...

The show is too slow in the first three episodes, for such a short run but the last two episodes are dynamite and I hope they remember that when they start writing season 2.

I have to agree on all your points. The acting, especially from Gillian, is top-notch, and seeing her interact with Panjabi is just such a "too good to be true" thing, I had to pinch myself (deleted scenes available on youtube when you're done with the season).
And the way Stella is treated for being an independent woman, by her peers, is reminiscent of the way the killer is regarding women in a very creepy way.

etta said...

I was so excited to see Scully on your page today! I love this show and find it highly inappropriate that I have to wait for the next season! I think it was in eps 4&5 when I really started wanting Scully and Kalinda to get together ... :)

Rachelle said...

It is absolutely gratifying to see this female protagonist Stella Gibson. Loved Gillian Anderson's performance. Really interesting show...blablabla!

About The Fall Lad:

(On a personal note, like nothing I've said earlier wasn't personal) When you talk about Jamie and compare him to Ashton Kutcher, even only physically, I get highly offended, you have no idea! It's like talking trash about Tina Fey, you know what I mean?? Wow..Ashton Kutsher?? Jamie Dornan is Jamie Dornan. :P Ok now, I had to make this really silly and pointless comment. I'm sorry.
Imagine the fact that it was hard for me at the beginning to watch this serial killer - as I was increasingly sympathetic if not loving this serial killer...you know what I mean?!

Amanda Morrell said...

She's not bad in Hannibal either. I wish she had more of a role though. Also, it's hard for me to be AS in-love with her since reading about her weird comments regarding her same-sex love affair from way back.

Anonymous said...

sorry for being off topic. i just can't believe no one is talking about the bbc show 'dates' in afterellen or autostraddles. episode 4 erica and kate, starring gemma chan and katie mcgrath, wonderful performance, exciting script and excellent shoot. i suggest interviews to the actors, writer and director. don't miss it.

Anonymous said...

She looks amazing. I'm glad she's in a good series.

Eva Macalpi said...

Archie Panjabi and Gillian Anderson on one screen is almost too much to handle. I did think when that girl in the office (can't remember the character's name revealed to Gillian's character that she was gay that there was some meaning in the lack of response from Gillian. Something to be revealed at a later stage?