I’m not one to recommend television series. In fact, the last TV series I did recommend was the BBC’s extraordinary dramatic release: The Crown1. I’m eagerly awaiting the second season. But, until then, I suggest for your viewing pleasure something different—something entirely different: W1A.
The title, W1A, is the London postal code for the address of the BBC. The comedy series is about the BBC fretting over the upcoming, pending renewal of its government funding charter and trying to reinvent itself for the 21st century to ensure its funding, and therefore its existence, continues. Written and directed by John Morton, this series is must-see TV!
Apparently the series has a prequel, Twenty Twelve, of which I was unaware and have yet to watch. But, I certainly plan to explore it in the near future. So here are some Pros and Cons for W1A:
The writing is searingly funny. I know humor is a personal thing, and British humor may be an acquired taste for some, but this program is often laugh-out-loud hysterical.
The writing is brilliant on multiple levels. John Morton deals with some of the serious concerns and broad cultural, economic, institutional and philosophical themes swirling about in contemporary times in a cunning and understated way that effectively brings the audience to a defined viewpoint without ever making a case that you should see things from that particular point of view. Brilliantly done. While the issues are heady, the skillful execution is not.
The witty, understated dialogue is insanely fast paced. You frequently barely digest one jab before two more have been dealt.
The acting is superb. I had never seen Hugh Bonneville in a comedic roll. He nails it. And his fellow actors also do brilliant work. The comedic characters have an unexpected authenticity. Despite their flat, even-tempered British affect, they are robust and dimensional.
The editing, directing and camera work are also exceptional. They seamlessly work together to capture even the slightest, subtly nuanced facial expressions at absolutely the perfect time: crazy attention to the minutest details!
The ever-present but never obtrusive narrator, as if you were watching the documentary of a very stressful undertaking, is always illuminating the obvious. It’s an ongoing, brilliant comic interlude that is hysterically well mocked.
Short episodes. Tim loves short episodes that knock it out of the park.
The dialogue is so fast, and so witty, and so British I had to turn on closed captioning to catch it all. In fact, it comes at the American viewer so fast that even then it’s hard to keep up: one hysterical line rolling atop another in blistering, rapid-fire delivery and editing. (To be honest, I actually loved it! So much of TV is bland and slow-paced beyond belief. This series is anything but bland or slow-paced.)
The series only has 3 seasons! But, honestly, that’s probably about all of British politeness and understatement I could take while binge watching the series.
And that’s the final con: Once you start watching, you can’t stop. You binge watch until your eyes fall out.
Got Netflix? Watch W1A! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I think you will.