Sunday, April 15, 2018

"The City & The City" disappoints (episode 2)

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My earlier hopes for "The City & The City" have been confounded. China Miéville's novel gets its power from its setting: the interpenetrating cities unsettle and remould all social relationships. Miéville then overlaid a police procedural to explore this subversion of everyday life.

The TV series, constrained by four episodes, has put the low-key and inert plot centre stage. The setting now has little to contribute beyond needless complexity while the characters mechanically deploy like chess pieces to push things along. The result: actions and motivations aren't authentic while characters are shallow and unconvincing. Corwi is played as an implausible one-dimensional buffoon while Borlú  is a grumpy, slightly sleazy ESTJ headmaster who could never have pulled his liberal, idealistic ENFJ wife.

I wish I could make a deeper ideological critique of the series, link it to crass political-correctness or SJW shibboleths. But it's just that the TV adaptors haven't allocated enough time, have failed to create that deep immersion in the Besźel/Ul Qoma duality which was the point of China Miéville's work.


Episode 3 review.

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