Things we’ve learned from Bonekickers: suspension of disbelief doesn’t cross the Atlantic


Remember BBC1’s Bonekickers, which was let loose over the Summer? Here’s my review of the first episode to jog your memory.

It was a sub-Dan Brown piece of escapism created by the guys behind Life on Mars, Ashley Pharoah and Matthew Graham, in which a team of archeologists would go hunting for precious relics, such as the cross of Jesus Christ, get chased by other people who wanted it, then at the last possible moment they’d burn/throw into a bucket of acid/smash with a mallet the very precious, unique, vital relic they’d dedicated their entire careers to searching for and treating with respect. Then they’d head down the pub.

Now, ever since it’s been on, I’ve been pondering a couple of issues that Bonekickers has raised

  1. Ashley Pharoah (apparently) gets miffed about criticism and likes to leave messages on The Guardian‘s blogs insulting Gareth McLean and co as a result (do a search for TheWordBoy, which is also his Dome of Stars name). How odd
  2. It’s much harder to suspend your disbelief for a UK show than for a US show

The second point is the one I want to look at. Why is it that something like the US’s Relic Hunter seems almost acceptable as a bit of escapist fun, when Bonekickers isn’t?

Is it just we hold our own shows to higher standards? Is there something about the unfamiliarity of US settings that forces us to suspend our disbelief anyway – so it’s a smaller leap to other more far-out ideas? Does the US simply have a greater tradition of escapist shows, so we’ve learnt to adapt? Are the US’s actors simply more credible in escapist entertainment, while our slightly more down at heel, less gym-friendly actors don’t look like they could run for more than a couple of minutes anyway? Or was it simply that Bonekickers wasn’t very good?

And US readers: do you have any ideas on this and is there a similar situation for you? Do you hold US shows up to a higher standard than UK shows or vice versa? And do you even agree that there are more escapist shows on US TV?

Over to you, guys. What do you think?