Friday, 17 February 2012

Too Much of a Good Thing?

So, last night I was watching the latest episode of The Big C on More4. Now, I've watched this series since it began and was a big fan of the first series. It was as close to perfection as a comedy about having a terminal disease could be. It was actually funny, moving, and didn't ever feel like they were just recycling the same jokes every week the way a lot of comedy programmes do. The moment when Adam discovered the dozens of presents his mother had bought for him and wrapped up ready for him to open after she was gone...well, I was crying as much as Adam was.

But this second series has been...well, it's not as good. Last night's episode was an improvement over the previous few, but it's missing something. I've been giving it some thought, (quite a bit of thought, actually, since I've got a bunch of deadlines that I'm trying to avoid dealing with), and there are several big changes this time around:

- First, Marlene's gone.
- Second, the cute doctor's gone.
- Third, everybody knows that Cathy has cancer.
- Fourth, the husband is around. A lot.
- Fifth, Cynthia Nixon's character is around. A lot.

Okay, so Cynthia Nixon's character makes me crazy and I'm really not fond of the husband (played by Oliver Platt) but I can overlook these things because Cathy is played by the brilliant Laura Linney. I think the real issue is the fact that everybody knows now. In the first series, there were whole scenes where nobody mentioned cancer, and although it was always there under the surface, the viewers weren't being beaten over the head with it. Now that everyone knows, it's pretty much all they can talk about. And the storylines have changed. It's not about Cathy wanting to enjoy every moment, it's about Cathy sitting in a doctor's office worrying how she's going to pay her medical bills now that her husband's lost his job. And yeah, maybe that's more realistic, but it's not exactly funny.

The real kicker for me, though, is the fact that there should never have been a second series at all. In the final moments of series one, Cathy dies. Now, you and the people who write/make/sell the show can tell me it was an out-of-body experience or a dream created by her anasthetic, but you're wrong. She was dead. Actually, properly dead. This series is a prime example of something that was utterly brilliant, and then dragged out too long because it was good and popular and making money.

What do you think? Have you watched the series? If not, why not? Should they have left it after one series, or do you actually prefer the second series?

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