Friday, October 7, 2011

City of Vice

City of Vice
UK, 2008


This is a historical drama TV miniseries from the UK. There are 5 episodes total. Set in 18th century London, the story is based on the real life of Henry Fielding (author of Tom Jones) and his efforts to form London's first police force, the Bow Street Runners. His partner in this endeavor is his half-brother John, who is blind. In real life, Henry died soon after founding the Runners, and John took over as magistrate at Bow Street, but the TV show doesn't get that far.

Now Devo Girl is a sucker for all British costume dramas, so this one is of course a big favorite. But she can't help nit-picking. Henry Fielding is played by Ian McDiarmid (the Emperor from Star Wars), who although he attacks the role with great vigor and a dirty mouth, is far too old. Henry was only in his 40s, although he was quite sick. There is quite a lot of swearing, and they really play up the squalor and rampant crime of the 1740s, which is fine, but by the last few episodes it's so over the top, it's a bit hard to take. The directors tried to make it like CSI: Georgian London, which is a shame, since the material is already so juicy it hardly needs embellishment.

On the other hand, Iain Glen, who plays John Fielding, is fantastic. It's so nice to see him portrayed as young and handsome, rather than old and fat (like in the books Blind Justice and Death in the Dark Walk). He even gets a bit of romance in episode two. And Glen wears opaque contacts, oh be still my heart. Highly recommended, it's a shame they didn't make more episodes.

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