Third-episode verdict: Meadowlands

The Carusometer for Meadowlands2 Partial Caruso

Long-time fans of Charlie Brooker will no doubt recall the “Daily Mail Island” section of TV Go Home. The idea of “Daily Mail Island” was that a bunch of people were stuck on an island with only the Daily Mail to read. Naturally, they ended up attacking immigrant pigeons, etc, etc.

Meadowlands is sort of a Daily Mail village, except rather than being filled with people who have frighteningly misinformed opinions, it’s filled with people from Daily Mail headlines. Imagine what it would be like if the only gynaecologist you could see was a scary stalker who’s unhealthily obsessed with you and who blurts out declarations of love at inopportune moments. Imagine a world where all working class people are rapists and murderers who can’t be sent to prison because they’re underage. Imagine a world where the only cop in town is brutal and corrupt and liable to beat you to extract a confession.

This, pretty much, is how Meadowlands works. Every character is someone you should be scared off.

It didn’t look like this at first. The first episode, while having quite a dark underbelly and being a bit confused, was also filled with comedy grotesques you could laugh at. But by the end of the quite absorbing second episode, it had all gone very badly wrong and comedy had made a quick retreat for the exit in case it was assaulted by rabid paedophiles. The third episode was darker still.

With the comedy downplayed, it’s a much better show, albeit one that is slightly nightmarish viewing. The protagonists aren’t exactly appealing and the supposed high-functioning autistic son (who’s played like he’s low-functioning) is pretty irritating. But it’s pretty entertaining on its own terms, even if it doesn’t have any more relevance to the real world than the Daily Mail does.

Heaven knows where it’s going if it’s already this full of evil with another five episodes to go. I’m hoping it’s going to be quite horrific. That would be nice.

The Medium is Not Enough has great pleasure in declaring Meadowlands a two or “Partial Caruso” on The Carusometer quality scale. A Partial Caruso corresponds to “a show in which David Caruso might volunteer to cameo. After forgetting what comes after ”I’m going to be your judge, jury and…’ in his supposedly threatening speech a total of 47 times during the audition, he will instead ad lib ‘I’m going to get you’ while clenching his fist. The producers will hire Ray Liotta instead.”

  • What does anyone bet me this will start while I’m out the country?
    Heroes; Meadowlands: Don’t you DARE start transmission before 10 September…

  • Meadowlands starts next week on Channel 4, I believe – the 10th, to be exact. Only over here, it’ll be called Cape Wrath.

  • Rob Buckley

    I’d heard about that, but I wasn’t sure if it was true or not, since the phrase “Cape Wrath” is never used in the show so would be completely meaningless (unless it pops up in a later episode). That, or they’re going to redub all the lines.

  • The town the family are relocated to is still called Meadowlands in all Ecosse Films’ promotional blurb.
    I’m guessing that “Cape Wrath” is a metaphorical title that wasn’t quite literal enough for our American cousins…

  • Anonymous

    Well they still got the irony of calling that particular hell-hole “Meadowlands”! Cape Wrath is far more accurate a title, so actually we’re the ones being more literal for a change.

  • Ah. I’ve just read a sidebar alongside Lucy Cohu’s interview in this week’s The Stage (which hits the shops tomorrow in most parts of the country), in which Douglas Rae, exec producer, justifies the name. However, it’s potentially a spoiler as to what the name refers to, so I won’t repeat it here…

  • Rob Buckley

    Ooh. Exciting. Don’t spoil it! Let me imagine…

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  • jacqui

    Please help, I fell asleep last night with 20 mins to go, what happened?

  • Rob Buckley

    As far as I recall, David Morrissey leaves the welcome party and goes to visit his handler, who explains to him that Meadowlands is a place where everybody is on witness protection. He tells his wife who goes a bit mental at the thought of having to share her life with criminals and other unsavoury types. There’s a great big “Meadowlands” dance for the new arrivals and then Jezebel turns up and she’s not like how her mum described…

  • Oh, that was quite a bit before the end — I suspect US episodes 1 and 2 may have been edited together to form the 1.5-hour opener that aired last night…

  • Rob Buckley

    Then tell us what happened, Scott! I don’t want to spoil anyone. My recollection of the end of episode two (US) is that there was somewhat of a fight between Jack and someone else, but that’s where I’ll leave it in case that’s not how it ended in the UK.

  • Okay then — Mark fought with Jack, after discovering Jack trying to rape his son (who he’d previously mistaken for his sister, as he was dressed in women’s clothes with a wig on).
    Jack died.
    Then mysterious new neighbour-stroke-mystery man from the past came in, and thanked Mark for doing his job.
    Cue a collective “WTF?” and the closing credits.

  • Rob Buckley

    Yep. That was the end of episode two in the US. Keep those WTF feelings on tap for the next episode: someone is going to disappear and it’s not who you think.

  • Oh, I think I meant Danny instead of Mark. Not sure, though. It’s so confusing when every character seems to have at least two names…

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