Friday, March 08, 2013

All figured out

Within ten minutes of the first episode of Stephen Poliakoff's Dancing On The Edge, I'd been sucked in, and as the five-part series progressed I sunk deeper and deeper into its glamorous and murky world, in which the bright young things of the jazz music scene rubbed shoulders with the obscenely wealthy and even royalty in 1930s London.

If the dialogue was occasionally a bit clunky, the acting (from a terrific ensemble cast) was superb, the cinematography stylish, the music accomplished and the narrative structure - each of the first four episodes opening with band leader Louis Lester seeking refuge from the long arm of the law before going on to reveal gradually, episode by episode, how he got into this predicament - was a neat and effective trick.

Thematically, the series mused on politics, race and class, though in truth proved to be at heart just a good old-fashioned murder mystery - but therein lay its flaw. The seeds of intrigue were artfully sown in the first three episodes, in which there were nagging moments or incidents which suggested that everything was not quite as it seemed. By the fourth, the viewer had been able to piece together this disparate evidence and given a pretty clear indication that Lester was falsely accused and that another character was the guilty party - and so it was somewhat disappointing to find, in the final episode, that there was no dazzling twist in the tale. Perhaps what had gone before had led me to expect something a bit more from the finale. Nevertheless, that shouldn't be allowed to detract too much from what was a very watchable series.

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