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I TALK Flowers

Described by Channel 4 as a dark comedy drama, Flowers is being treated as a bit of an event for the channel as they've decided to show all six episodes across five consecutive evenings.

Although the jury is out as to whether it is or not.

Starring Olivia Colman (The Night Manager) and Julian Barratt (The Mighty Boosh), Flowers tells the story of a dysfunctional family (The Flowers), who struggle to hold themselves together.

Olivia Colman plays Deborah, a music teacher who is (just about) still with her husband Maurice, played by Julian Barratt, an author of illustrated children's books 'The Grubbs'.

They live in a creaky, messy, crumbling old house with Maurice's fruitcake mother Hattie (Leila Hoffman) and their maladjusted twenty five year old twins, Amy (Sophia Di Martino) and Donald (Daniel Rigby). They are both competing for the affection of neighbour Abigail as they struggle to burst through the confines of their arrested development.

There's also the small matter that Maurice is actually in a secret homosexual relationship with his Japanese illustrator Shun, played by Will Sharpe who also wrote and directed the series.

Flowers won't be everyone's cup of tea. Some simply won't laugh. Some will find it too weird. Others will find it too dark and at times uncomfortable (attempted suicide for laughs. Really?!). And if you're like me, you'll feel a mixture of all of those things.

If I'm being honest, I can't say I overly enjoyed Flowers, and as a rule I only ever write about shows that I like or enjoy on here, but I didn't hate the show so I felt I should write about it. In fact, there was one element of Flowers which I enjoyed enormously, and that was Olivia Colman (surprise surprise).

Her wit, her charm and her humour really shines through in Flowers, so much so in fact that for the most part, her co-stars are outshone and it becomes 'The Olivia Colman Show' (no bad thing). The other characters are hard to relate to, engage with or even empathise with.

The characters might work well and be clear to understand in Will Sharpe's imagination, but sadly when translated to the screen it just simply doesn't work. The characters are a bit too strange, and not in a good way.

When it comes to humour (it is a comedy drama after all, more on that term later), it's safe to say that Flowers relied almost entirely on Olivia to deliver the laughs. Don't get me wrong, I laughed a lot during Flowers, but they were all as a result of Colman's exchilarious portrayal of strait-laced Deborah, struggling to keep everything in check, including her marriage.

The second she appears on screen you're looking to her for some (much needed) comic relief as the chaotic world around her becomes just a little too much to bear for the viewer. If it wasn't for Olivia Colman, I don't think I would have continued past episode one.

You forget that Olivia is one of the few actors able to do comedy and drama brilliantly. I adore her breakdowns in Broadchurch or The Night Manager just as much as I enjoy her performances in Peep Show and Rev.

Take Olivia Colman out of the equation and you're left with a very average drama, that unfortunately didn't capture my imagination, which is where I think the label "comedy drama" came in - a label I dislike hugely.

I feel that nine times out of ten, it is used for shows that aren't as funny as Peter Kay's Car Share (for example), or as gripping as Line Of Duty (for example).

There are exceptions to the rule of course, Stella on Sky 1, written by Ruth Jones, is a perfect example of being able to make you laugh one minute and cry the next. There are very few comedy dramas that are able to do both so brilliantly, and therefore deserving of the label.

Length is often a big thing when it comes to labelling a TV show. When shows are 30 minutes or less they're generally considered to be a comedy, anything over 45 minutes then becomes a drama.

Most comedy dramas are 45 minutes or longer (of course there are exceptions), which is why I found it odd that each episode of Flowers lasts less than 30 minutes. Technically, it should have been labelled as a comedy, but Flowers isn't deserving of that label as it just isn't funny enough, nor should it be called a drama as you just don't care for the characters enough.

So it's for those reasons that I can understand why they went with "comedy drama", sorry, "dark comedy drama" instead.

As well as the labelling, my other concern is the scheduling. Stripping six episodes across five nights indicates that Channel 4 sees Flowers as event television, something I really don't think it is, and viewers will be expecting it to be.

The other reason for stripping six shows across five evenings could be that Channel 4 wanted to get the series over and done with as quickly as possible and thought that this was the answer.

The sad thing is, the series does actually gets better towards the end, you begins to care more for the characters and invest emotionally a lot more in the series, but by that time it's too late. Your average viewer will only stick with a series if they were grabbed by the first couple of episodes.

That is just my opinion of course, you might disagree. You might watch it and really enjoy it. Whatever your feelings, I'll be interested to hear them!

Flowers starts Monday 25th April at 10pm on Channel 4


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