Nope, I’m done.
Episode 2 of Mildred Pierce was terribly well-intentioned and terribly tasteful, but it was also just as terribly boring as episode 1. What is it that the critics (and the cast) saw in this? I made it through this week’s instalment, but, to be honest, I was so bored I was ready to switch it off during the first scene, which, like everything else in the programme, was so in love with itself that it took an eternity to make its blindingly obvious point. Everything except the incredibly important illness and death of one of the characters, that is; done and dusted in what felt like seconds.
As well as the pace problems, the story and the storytelling were also just as hackneyed and uninspired as episode 1, and the dialogue and characters just as irritating. Love interest Monty, in particular, was loathsome and daughter Veda was absolutely horrific. Mildred’s estranged, adulterous husband came across far better than anybody else, Mildred included, and one or two of her scenes with him were quite touching – particularly the scene where they decided to divorce – but a couple of scenes is slim pickings when you’re sitting down for over an hour at a time wading through what is just very expensive soap opera. Nowhere near enough to bring me back for episode 3.
Good grief, that was dull.
Mind-bogglingly boring – and it really shouldn’t have been, given the writing, acting and programme-making talent involved, and the chorus of critical acclaim heralding its arrival.
My main problem was Mildred herself. I should have found her inspirational and interesting as a woman asserting her independence in incredibly difficult circumstances: she kicks her faithless husband out, and then fights to find a way to support herself and her daughters in 1930’s America. Good for her. Unfortunately however, whilst we’re supposed to admire her strength and pride, having her spend the entire first episode whingeing and looking down her nose at the idea of working for a living may have been historically accurate but it really wasn’t the way to get me to sympathise with her. I get that things were different then, but, by the end, I just wanted her to SHUT. UP. And none of the other characters provided much relief from her, either: their lines read like someone had had a go writing a spoof adult sequel to Bugsy Malone. What Blousy Did Next, or something. Only much less entertaining. This from HBO? The home of super-edgy, high-quality tv? No doubt there will be a load of nudity to fulfil their quota later in the series, but they’ll need much more than cheap thrills to breathe some life into this show. This episode was slow, cliched and unimaginative – so much so, I wondered why on earth all these A-listers signed up for it. There has to be more to it than this, surely? On that basis, I’ll give episode 2 a shot but I’m not holding my breath.
If the ads are anything to go by, this lavish new HBO adaptation of Mildred Pierce looks like a “tv event” a bit too worthy and pleased with itself for me. It’s about a single mother struggling to raise her wilful daughter in Depression-era USA. Its starry cast includes Kate Winslet, Guy Pearce, and Evan Rachel Wood. And its trailer suggests it’s going to be five episodes of slow and serious ACTING and EMOTING.
But it’s summer, there’s very little else on, and Todd Haynes – responsible for the wonderful “Far From Heaven” – is the man behind it, so even if it is a self-conscious and lengthy melodrama, it’ll be a gorgeous, lovingly made one that I might well end up enjoying in spite of myself. We’ll see. 9pm, tomorrow (Saturday 25th), on Sky Atlantic, if you want to check it out.