Friday, March 26, 2010

Backward angel

The miniseries Fallen Angel starts in the present day and works backward in an attempt to show how the title character, Angel, became so . . . unangelic. The series is told in three episodes, each of which could basically stand on its own, although some characters attempt, in voice overs, to tie past events to the present.

The first episode takes place in the present. A female vicar stands to address the congregation for the first time, only to be interrupted by an intruder who stands at the back of the church and yells insults. This is shortly followed by the abduction of the vicar's young daughter. As the police try to find the child, and the parents become more distraught, we are introduced to "Angel," a young woman who lives in a house with the son of her recently deceased landlord. It soon becomes apparent that Angel is cruel and manipulative. She and the grown (if somewhat slow) son, it seems, have been abducting children off and on for a while. Angel claims that they were orphans who "weren't right" and that she eventually returned to the orphanage. Oddly, this claim is never followed up or referred to again. When the vicar's daughter goes missing, there is a great deal of media attention, so it seems odd that if other children had been turning up missing it would have at least been mentioned. This becomes important because body parts begin turning up all over town, which the police are quick to determine don't belong to the missing girl. So who supplied them? We never find out.

The second episode concerns Angel, then called Rosie, as a teenager. She has been away at boarding school, and comes home to live with her widowed vicar father. Much to her disgust, she finds her father has become engaged to the researcher Vanessa. Rosie comes across as a real spoiled brat, constantly screaming and slamming doors. She also takes up with the local bad boy, Toby, who lives with his sister in a nearby mansion. It's also at this time that she becomes interested in the story of the Rev. Youlgreave, a clergyman who was accused of human sacrifice in the early part of the 20th century and "thrown out of the church."

The final episode concerns Rosie at about age 5. She is living with her parents and her elderly grandfather, who is beginning to show signs of dementia. A family friend, Wendy, comes to stay and becomes the narrator for most of the story. There is a gory death, followed by a family tragedy, but Wendy is uncertain about how she should deal with the events. The entire series ends rather abruptly, with what I presume is supposed to be a shocking revelation, but what is something that has been suspected all along. I was more shocked that many of the unanswered questions from the first episode were not resolved. Where were the body parts coming from? Why was the lady shouting at the vicar?

The DVD also contains a "behind the scenes" feature which turned out to be a bit tedious. Every single person who had anything to do with the series (actors, writers, directors, costume ladies, etc.) has to expound, at great length, about the motivation of the various characters and how they came to work on the project. It was rather interesting to watch, simply for the complete lack of vanity in the actress Clare Holman. At one point in the interview she appears looking quite lovely, but in another, she is interviewed with rollers in her hair and a babushka scarf on. What's up with that?

All in all, the DVD was fairly enjoyable, if somewhat predictable. I just wish some of the loose ends had been tied up.
Final Verdict for Fallen Angel: Three Gherkins, for being an engrossing, if somewhat disappointing story

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