*Forget the past. The past should be discussed only at elderly relatives' birthday parties and court hearings.
To reminisce about the past is like finding a skip containing the sad contents of a house clearance - a dead man's musty drawers, the odd woodwormed chair leg, a stack of dubious magazines suggesting dark sympathies - then sticking a straw in the soup of stagnant rain water at the bottom and sucking. The past belongs in the past, mate, but that's a sentiment not one single TV producer or commissioner holds in their heart.
To pass the past off as something even remotely palatable, it has to be made glossy, and nothing matches the high gloss of Sky's new dramumentary Fleming (Wednesday,
Fleming is beautiful, shot like a Bond film - with approximately 892 nods to the franchise - and supplemented by loads of graphic phwoar. The action takes place during the second world war, from which Fleming was pretty much cocooned by wealth, arrogance and an assortment of creamy thighs. Two of them belong to pathologically cold Lady
Dealing as it does with a family of ermine miscreants, the show looks and feels luxurious, even when Fleming is unfurling reams of dickheadery. This makes for a very pretty series, because it turns out
Elevated above the need to hold down a job, Fleming spends most of his time lounging around in opulence, developing sexual peccadillos and shopping. When the Hun rocks up, Mater puts in a good word with Winston and Ian saunters off into a job in naval intelligence, where he's appointed his own M, second officer Monday.
As its lead lies his way out of incompetence and boosts his scoundrel quotient on other people's money, it gradually dawns that this is an expose
of what an awful human being
likability Ian didn't, and his many smirks and
raised eyebrows give off giant, throbbing referential signals, framing his nastiness as something to respect and admire. It's around the time Ann obligingly crumples into his arms like a piece of falling silk following what looks suspiciously like violent sexual assault that you start to realise you have, in fact, been staying at the Mandarin Bullshit. That your jaw is wired open, and you're being spoonfed thick, unctuous vomit from a large tureen forged from glimmering, gilded rubbish.
All this gilded luxury isn't there to occasion an uncomfortable "Hmm, I think this is called dissonance" reaction to disturbing acts of violence and sexual predation, it's a lacquer on them. It's not coercion if the surroundings are elegant enough.
So I dunno WTF this is. Maybe it's an exquisitely wrapped gift to people who believe the "PC brigade" have stopped you from saying anything any more. The ruddy good old days. I'd prefer to think of it as a swansong, though, because Fleming belongs in the past, gold-plated or not ?
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