Sunday, January 07, 2007

STILL bloody banging on about Green Wing, even though it's finished, GOOD GOD LET IT GO, MAN!

UPDATE: Production designer JPG has some great GW wedding-related photos over at his blog.

Anonymous said:

was it a conscious decision to have it themed around death? reviewers etc. have often said it's almost as though the gw writers have a ticklist of taboos to put on screen, so maybe death was the last one? how it affects people/ why people might choose it/ why people kill each other/themselves?

I need to stress I'm only talking from my own point of view here, but still:

The short version of why the GW special was about death (or at least why Mac had to die), is because... they're doctors, and they deal with death every day, which is why the big deal with writing GW was that you got to look at all the trivial stupid things that in the long run turn out to be important. All those little moments that would never make it into a more serious drama, but which are nonetheless can be just as profound. The brief, not-really-about-anything conversation you have with someone before you realize you've fallen in love with them, or they're hit by a bus. Or both.

Which is why I never agreed that you could have set the show on a cruise ship, or a supermarket or something, and have it work just as well, as you lose the sense that all the characters probably are dealing with life and death, and all the big emotions that are dealt in a very direct way in something like ER. In GW, you could tell from the fact that all the main characters had white coats, all that stuff was probably going on in the background, that just wasn't what we were choosing to look at.

But for a final episode (which sitcoms rarely have, because they're always trying another series), the characters suddenly had to deal with death directly, rather than it just being a part of the working day. It's important too, to think there's a good chance that the characters that survived would hopefully take something from the whole experience. I like to think that Boyce actually got something from his weird relationship with Statham (he'd probably buckle down to his studies after being shouted at, and maybe even find himself becoming just a bit pedantic every time he passed a garden centre), and that after Mac dies, Martin actually grows up a bit, and passes his exams (or decides not to be a doctor after all, which might be best). Guy has already become a slightly nicer person after falling in love with Caroline, and this process might even last ten minutes beyond the credits.

But that's just my thoughts on it, the other writers might have completely different points of view. It was fantastic being able to see something like Green Wing through to its conclusion though, and flawed and slightly-too-long though it sometimes was, I'm enormously proud to have been a part of it, and immensely touched by the community of fans that built around it, you crazy mofo's.

And despite me constantly being rude about the actors on here, they genuinely were lovely to work with, although I'll deny saying that HOWEVER MUCH YOU HURT ME.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

*James clutches balloons and floats off edge of blog*

Anonymous said...

*stands up*

*applauds*

Thank you James for being part of such a completely wonderful show. You've made a lot of people very happy. :-) (though, is there no possibiity at all that Mac might live? No?)

I'll admit I originally started reading your blog because I thought 'Cool! A Green Wing writer!' (much like many do now), but now I've come to care (not too much - I'm not a psycho or anything. Hahaha...I'm not!) about your everyday life and the madness that goes on in it.

You've given me an insight into the industry and moreover you've convinced me that that is the industry I want to go into. That is, Television, not writing for. (no patience and/or confidence for writing.)

So thank you James Henry. I salute you, Sir.

Anonymous said...

Well said. I have to say I still find Mac dying a bit hard to swallow, but Alan and Joannas final scene was very touching.

You really know how to make people want to buy the DVD don't you...

Anonymous said...

that was a THOROUGHLY good answer to my question, thank you. :)

and i agree it wouldn't have made sense for it to be set in a school or anywhere else because lots of the humour comes from little stupid things put into context with big, scary things- guy using his mobile at the funeral for example- and also that maybe they use the humour to forget about the bigger things.

belladona said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

You should be proud, you should be very proud.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the fun you've given us! :) I'd say the same to all the other writers and crew and cast and whatever but I have no time to turn stalkery, and shall just leave that to the likes of Sue White.

cello said...

Let what go? Eh?

james henry said...

You know, that show with the speedy-up bits. It's time to move on.

Until the convention and BFI thing, obviously.

(also, glad to read you liked the lakeside bit cello)

Anonymous said...

Quite frankly, I can't wait for this blog to move on from GWness. I started reading this blog because I pressed the 'next blog' button and liked what I saw. It took me about three months to realise James was a GW writer (I wasn't very observant).

I mean, yes the special was the best thing on the tellybox and I actually applauded when the credits rolled, but we need to move on. We all need to. For our own sakes. For the sake of our children...

...as long as any new shows have speedy-up bits. You've got to keep the speedy-up bits. They're the new slo-mo.

Anonymous said...

I thought cello would like the cello I certainly did.
Doctors and death eh? One of the things about my over-rated and often pointless profession is that we truly believe that it will never happen to us, you know the stuff we see everyday, but it does and when it does it seems more difficult to take because then we've joined the oppo so to speak.
Sorry for wittering but I think Mr Henry you have taught me something about my own job. How did you manage to do that? And to think I thought it was all about the hair.

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes - letting go - but what's next?

Sainbury's in Truro do a gorgeous humous btw.

CupboardLady said...

Yay- you're going to the convention? What can we (I) obsess about now? What's in the pipeline in Jamesland?

cello said...

And not just any old cello, realdoc, but one playing a Bach Cello Suite. Class.

Yes, I'm very ready to let go of GW. Don't want to let go of everything to do with it mind, particularly some of the friendships because they are real and not just a TV programme.

But it's always wise to have something else to hold onto when you let go, so if anyone else trips over an intelligent, rude, moving, visually stunning comedy series please let me know.

The Thick Of It is very, very good, but doesn't have the warmth, loveability and surrealism of GW. Tried that Ugly Betty, which was OK, but honestly, the script was just so predictable and trite. I'll have to make do with Everybody Loves Raymond until your next oeuvre hits the screen James.

cello said...

I'll see you at the Convention James but the BFI thing is bloody well sold out. And I think Talkback are using my edit for it too!

Anonymous said...

loved it, so there! So many expectations had built up over the months and myriads of theories about how Mac wouldn't die that I wathced it with baited breath.

Pleased to say it worthy of several viewings over the weekend! (I'm still sad about the demise of Mac but Realdoc assures me all is not lost with an aneurism and hope is a wonderful thing.)

Great to know we will see you at the convention.

confused of South London said...

James, can I just add to all the praise being heaped upon you and GW here. GW has kept me going over a very difficult year for me and it's been a wonderful escape from all my unhappiness.
Caroline is the most realistic portrayal of a woman in her mid thirties I have ever seen. Those of us who are beyond a certain age have all had a Martin in our lives, and all had a Mac and a Guy who treated us so badly....yes, don't think that Mac is any better than Guy, please!

Alas, it's time to move on. After the convention and the BFI event of course. My nerves can't take anymore...


And I'm soo envious of all you GW people having the opportunity to be involved in such a wonderful project.

Bloclht said...

Dude, I stand to applaud you. It's been an excellent show that's provided many laughs during those rainy days and insomniac nights. The fact that, after seeing the final episode, I couldn't sleep for thinking about that beautiful scene with Joanna and Statham (very Paradise Lost), and poor Boyce alone in the room, not to mention the incredibly touching bittersweetness of the Macartneys' marriage... well, it goes to show how an amazing show can really affect people!

BUT - you *can't* let it go until you fulfill your destiny, little one... and that is what you promised us last month: that you will tell us about some of the alternate endings! So what else *could* have happened? Inquiring minds want to know!!

violetforthemoment said...

I think it definitely true that the emotion in GW gets you a bit more cos it's not rammed down your throat (OH LISTEN to the MUSIC, this bit MUST be DRAMATIC and HEART-RENDING!!), it sort of sneaks up on you and that's down to the characters being like proper people, and played by cracking actors - little silences between Mac and Caroline had me wailing a few times and I never got that from ER despite persevering with it even after George Clooney left (for, ooh, at least a week. I didn't fancy him, I hasten to add, I just thought the character was all cool and suave). Or much else on the telly apart from Buffy. Much as I love GW I think it's good to have gone out on a high - it's kind of like if the Manics really had set fire to themselves on Top of the Pops... well, kind of.

~salutes james~

Anonymous said...

James, this post shows such a strongly conscientious approach to one's vocation (& the fans attached), that is much to be applauded.

The special was fab in many ways. Plotty enough to satisfy mad fans such as myself without losing the humour. Even my man was satisfied, despite being ready to criticise it after being subjected by me to a bit of a GW overdose in the last few months.

Glad to hear you're intending to pop in to the convention :) Is the lovely Ms P attending too? I hope so.

Danothebaldyheid said...

Hi there,
Just thought I'd point cello in the direction of the Arrested Development DVD's. It has all the qualities alluded to in healthy amounts, though perhaps without the heart of GW. Whatever, it beats Ugly Betty and Everybody loves Raymond into a cocked hat (why a cocked hat? Who cocked it - is it liable to go off?).

james henry said...

God yes, Arrested Development is perhaps the best sitcom I've ever seen in my admittedly brief and uninteresting life.

Kelly said...

Your reasoning behind killing off Mac helps the pain somewhat ;) But what do you think happens to Caroline?

james henry said...

Errr......

*runs away*

LMS said...

Merely posting as my work verification is baolu, although I did enjoy the finale and look forward to seeing future projects from the team.

LMS said...

Rather 'word' verification.

Kelly said...

Aww, c'mon James :) The thing that rankles most about Mac is the fact that poor Caroline's heartache is so unremitting!

Marsha Klein said...

I think you've made the point elsewhere that good comedy arises out of good writing and well fleshed-out characters (with reference to "The Fast Show"). Green Wing had both of these in spades and, consequently, had as much, if not more, to say as many a TV drama. You are right to be proud of having been a part of this project.

cello said...

Dan, I admire Arrested Development very much, as I do Curb Your Enthusiasm. Both big on laughs but not so good on the old emotion front. I really am struggling to think of anything that does both well apart from Spaced.

james henry said...

Nothing did anything as well as Spaced.

*hearts Spaced*

Danothebaldyheid said...

Aye, that's what I meant about Green Wing's heart. Unfortunately you're right, the two (laughs and heart) are seldom mixed in an unsentimental way. In that case apart from the afore-mentioned 'Spaced' the only thing I can think of which succeeds on both fronts is the oft-neglected last couple of seasons of 'Still Game' - but that may well be a peculiarly Scottish taste. And it lacks the surreal element, I guess. I suppose it's up to James and others to take up the gauntlet!

Anonymous said...

As much as I heart Still Game (which I think is of peculiar Scottish taste...) I heart Spaced more. That, Green Wing and the Mighty Boosh ae my all-time favourite sitcoms.

I bought the box set of Spaced from Play the other day. Gawd knows what kept me from buying it this long.

belladona said...

I heart Spaced too. I might heart Green Wing a tiny bit more though.

Marsha Klein said...

I also love "Spaced". It has a hint of possibility - Daisy, Tim & co could exist, there's an element of believability to them, whereas "Friends" (the American show it most resembles) is obvious fiction. During series 1, Green Wing was compared (unfavourably in some cases) to "Scrubs", a comparison which I feel missed the appeal of GW completely. "Scrubs" is too slick and shiny - there is no real depth to the characters, unlike GW. One of the things I loved most about the show was the fact that you could believe in all the characters (even Sue!) and you cared about them.

Tim Footman said...

Can I just put in a word for the desperately underrated 'Peep Show'? There, I did it.

Also: James... you talk about what you'd like to think happens to the characters. While you were writing, did you start thinking of them as real people, worry about hurting their feelings, etc? Or were you brutal and Brechtian about the whole thing?

(Sorry, it's a long, long time since I've written any fiction or drama or similar, so I don't remember what it's like.)

Skeadugenga said...

Loved Drop the Dead Donkey, Spaced, Black Books and The Fast Show, but loved Green Wing way and beyond most of all. Now that its finished I may have to go back to books.

Anonymous said...

Let me just squee like a crazed fangirl while i remember the hug Nick Frost gave me.

Anonymous said...

Ah! Peep Show is on my list of favourites too.

Anonymous said...

Can I just say (belatedly) that I loved the GW special too?

Brilliant TV. Sheer class. And it really made me laugh.

Cheers. Please write your next script quickly...

ros x said...

that was a peferct answer to a rather challenging question well done james - after reading that and watching the special again it has grown on me a lot i mean I adore it i just get angry and upset baout guy not marrying caro...

anyway, I'm also upset that you wern't at the signing on monday? i was hoping to chat to some of you funkah writers after steve and the brown haired julian etc...

and will you be at the bfi thing on wednesday i have questions for you so it won't all be for the cast :)

james you rule!