I’ve just finished watching the 6 episodes of the series ‘Neverwhere’ by Stardust writer Neil Gaiman, apparently dug out of some old archive of television and put up online. It appears to be avoiding any DVD release at any point soon, but it’s not too hard to get hold of.
I saw it originally on IMDB, after deciding that Niel Gaiman’s works translate into film rather well, and I looked through the rest of his stuff. I was surprised to find out that he wrote Neverwhere directly into a series after having watched some of it, it’s something that could definatley achieve more as a book, without the constraints that 1996 television would put it into.
It’s a weird series to watch because of it’s budget appearance and odd writing. Watching at first was mostly out of curiosity, to see where it was leading (and if it was any good) but at some point in the middle of the second episode I started to really enjoy it.
Set in an alternate world under london, it follows the ‘taken into another world’ idea where you follow the story of Richard Mayhew, your bog standard office worker who has a slightly unbelievably boring life. Parts of the introduction I did not like, the eggagerated abrasiveness of his girlfriend and the general disillusionment in London, for me, show a lack of imagination. Or a lack of will to try something different. It made it difficult relating to the main character at first, but when you threw off the shackles of the introduction (and my dislike for the main set of characters) the story began to shape well.
You can see the actors become a little more comfortable with their characters after a while, whether that was merely introspection or not I don’t know, and the later plot ideas are more engaging.
My biggest problem with Neverwhere is the two ‘evil’ characters, Mr Croop and Mr Vanderbar (or whatever). They have moments of exellent writing, and the casting seems good enough, but when they are not being exellent they are sucking balls. They just seem a bit over the top, and perhaps even like shadows of the two mercenaries in Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather (a good book, and a good mini-series to boot).
Overall, I really liked the series, with it’s high points being in the middle where Gaiman played about with the idea of a world under London, and what it meant to live in this world. The story is still not as imaginative as MirrorMask, or Stardust, and the script isn’t as tight as I expected from him, but in some ways I can now see the progression he has made as a writer.
It does irk me though, seeing reviews like this one by ‘Andy’ who is a ‘film critic’ and has completely ignored the fact that it was written as a series before the book. I just find it laughable that he’s made the comparison as if some studio had stolen the story and butchered it for their evil empire.
Alright mate. Go for it.