torsdag 20 december 2012

Wishes for the new year

Today, anything too tiring blog-wise is right out. It's December and my holiday starts tomorrow, which means I'm in my all-too-usual, pre-Christmas, I-don't-want-to-work-anymore grump. But a wish list is fairly easy. All I want (or some of them anyway) for the new year cultural-consumption-wise is:

A new villain (or several) Obviously, always. I'm not complaining, mind. It's not exactly been a villain-free year, though I have sometimes felt like the protagonist in some fin-de-siècle cautionary tale, in search of ever more depraved kicks. I comfort myself with the fact that however far I fall, the low point was already reached years and years ago with Monsieur Lheureux in Madame Bovary (though he was admirably mean to the ghastly Madame, no-one can call him glamorous). The main reason I'm always on the lookout for new villains is I want to be reassured that there are still new ones to discover out there. I can't quite get over  the unhappy suspicion that there will never be another villain-writer like Dickens. Which leads me to point two:

A new Dickens TV adaptation I know, that is never going to happen. They did Great Expectations and The Mystery of Edwin Drood this year and there was all the extra Dickens publicity about the bicentenary, which means the Beeb will probably want to, in the charming phrase of a few years' back, "take a rest from Dickens". There's always ITV, but they'll never risk adapting any of the lesser-known novels. And it's the lesser-known novels I would really like done: Dombey and Son, above all, but also Barnaby Rudge. Imagine what a great Sir John Charles Dance would be! And then he'd have a hat trick in Dickens villains: Tulkinghorn, Ralph Nickleby and Sir John Chester. Ah, what a trio.

If not Dickens, then at least lots and lots of new costume dramas I very much hope that the BBC has learnt its lesson by now, after that disastrous period when they consciously avoided "bonnet dramas". Then ITV's Downton Abbey happened and became a smash hit, and the BBC was left looking rather silly. I see signs that they've thrown in the towel and are now desperately trying to catch up with their commercial rival. There was Parade's End which the critics loved, and The Paradise which they hated. I look forward to watching both and am wishing for more try-to-catch-the-Downton-crowd dramas. And while on this subject:

Dan Stevens signing up for a fourth series of Downton All right, I promised not to Downton-blog until after Christmas, but just a teeny-weeny bit, without giving anything away? And yes, I know Stevens is the one playing Matthew. So, do I suddenly have a thing for Matthew now? Ha, no fear!

The reason for this wish is that I've heard the rumour that Stevens hasn't signed up for series four of Downton Abbey yet, and I'm worried about what this will mean for the future of the series. I can understand if he hesitates. There was only ever talk of three series at the start: I remember it well. But now a fourth series is on the way, and it looks like Downton could run and run, but only if it keeps its act together. And the centre of this act is the main plotline, what could be called The Heir's Tale.

Matthew may not have turned out to be the middle-class champion I'd hoped for when he first came on the scene in series one. The Downton set had him house-trained in a trice. There was much caustic talk among TV reviewers about how little time he spent in the trenches, but at least he's spent more time there than in his lawyer's office - now, the estate appears to be his full-time job, and he is as gentrified as anything, even to the point of being snooty to Sir Richard Carlisle. Having said that, the main plot of Downton, the one all the other plots are latched on to, is how Matthew faces up to his inheritance, and how his romance - now marriage - to the present Earl's daughter Lady Mary will work out. Just because I (normally) don't fall in love with heroes doesn't mean I don't appreciate the way they keep things together. After all, you can't have David Copperfield without David Copperfield. No, you really can't.

New novels by favourite authors This is the up-side of having authors like Morgan and Fforde on one-book-a-year-contracts (well, I assume they are, anyway). From Fforde, what I wish for most - as always - is another Thursday Next novel. It is greedy of me, because we had one this year - The Woman who Died a Lot. Wonderful read as always, but sadly there were no BookWorld outings this time. Not even a visit from the Emperor Zhark. So, next time, some fiction-fun please, preferably not all relating to the Dark Reading Matter - I'd like adventures in/about books that are actually read. I want some more!

More Doctor Who Of course. And stop splitting the series up - send it in one go, so I can get proper whole-series box sets.

Sweden doing really well in the Eurovision Song Contest but not necessarily winning again - I don't think we can afford it. And, naturally, I hope that we put on "a fantastic show".