A ’gritty drama’ is how the Observer described it; ’bitty’ would
have been more appropriate. Having been elevated since the first series
to the prime-time Sunday night slot, Staying Alive did nothing to live
up to its up-beat, 70s disco namesake.
The writer, Neil McCay, obviously had a tick list to include every major
life crisis into the episode - from pregnancy and divorce to sacking and
potential jilting at the altar. Opening with a Dick Whittington-style
scene of a student nurse arriving in London and having her possessions
stolen, this drama oscillated from the dull to the ludicrously
Sub-plot upon sub-plot did little to involve the viewer. The Freddy
Kruger-like janitor apparently felt something for the sentenced
murderer, which was more than can be said for our feelings towards the
character. We felt more for the dog who was lucky enough to get a meal
of sausages - we got the dog’s dinner.
The basic storyline would work for Casualty, but the writer has been too
ambitious with a wide variety of unconnected events that confuse and
alienate the viewer.
The result is intensely dull - the viewer is left preferring to wait
until Monday for their own version of realism.
If this is an example of the genre of ’high quality’ drama that ITV is
investing in to build audience and erode the BBC’s share of total
viewing, advertisers are going to be sadly disappointed and ITV will
continue to decline.
There again, what hope did it have after the immortal words uttered in
the first 15 minutes: ’I used to think people in advertising were only
one step up from the evolutionary sludge’?