The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Sometimes Quiet Is The Most Powerful …

Well I’m back.

The good news is it’s already the last day of the first full week back at work.

How good is that?

Well it’s probably too good, so let’s end it on a low.

I mean high.

I mean … oh who cares …

One of the things I’ve loved about British comedy is their ability to be utterly poignant.

I’ve written about this before but recently I was reminded of a scene in the last season of Blackadder that really got to me.

It’s from Blackadder Goes Forth … the series about WW1 … and it’s the final scene of the final show, as they are about to climb over the safety of their bunker to face certain death.

It’s not exactly the sort of scene you would expect in a comedy, and it’s not played for laughs, instead it captures the honor and bravery of the men and women who gave their lives for others wellbeing.

But as the scene ends, it crossfades to something else … something that both captures the tragedy of war, the futility of war and the sadness of war. It’s quite an amazing scene – especially given it’s quiet simplicity – and yet it works, which is even more remarkable given it was never in the script.

Originally the final scene was going to show the cast being gunned down and end – as previous seasons had – with their deaths, but a combination of factors meant the footage they took was so bad that it was almost unusable.

Without much time before the show had to be aired, they came up with an idea that didn’t require a rewrite or even new footage and yet it became one of the most famous and powerful conclusions to any show in British history.

As I have said before, sometimes the most powerful moments of creativity are born from adversity but when you know what you want to communicate, the reward can be something quite magical. Different … but maybe even more magical.

11 Comments so far
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Did it take longer to travel there and back than you actually spent in Shanghai? You’re a crazy person Robert. I loved Blackadder but had not seen this before. Despite the low production values in relation to modern times, it is a very moving scene. As you also mentioned, British comedies ability to switch mood in an authentic manner is something that sets it apart from US shows. Or it did. But your point about adversity opening new possibilities is very true. Shame we live in a world where organisations prefer short term efficiency.

Comment by George

I think the UK TV can still pull it off. Fleabag had some moments that US TV would never attempt to try. Mainstream US TV falls in 2 camps: shows filled with small degrees of emotional range or a competition to achieve the most emotional hysteria.

Comment by Bazza

Good point Baz. I still remember watching episodes of ‘Extreme Makeover’ and everything was about emotional inflation. From the chats of “Move That Bus’ to the people collapsing on the roads screaming in an attempt to show they really were moved by the work that was done. Then of course there’s the name, ‘extreme’. I mean, that’s louder that Spinal Taps amplifiers that went up to 11.

Comment by Rob

Yep. You’re right George. But it was a good trip because the meeting was great and I got to spend time in a place I still regard as my spiritual home. Only downside is I had just got over the jetlag from Sydney and now my body clock is more confused than ever.

Comment by Rob

Your body is more confused than your body clock.

Comment by Bazza

When everything is loud, the only way to cut through is with quietness.

Comment by Bazza

Good point. Sadly too many people – especially politicians – seem to think adding loudness to loudness is the only way to be heard, when ultimately it just ends up getting lost in the loudness of extreme claims and fear-mongering.

Comment by Rob

My respect for Ben Elton went up when I realised he was the only member of the Blackadder writing team who wasn’t involved in writing Mr Bean. Then he ruined it by writing the Queen musical. ; )

Comment by Pete

Well said Robert. Blackadder was an amazing piece of British television. I had forgotten the final scene and it is very powerful. Your last paragraph sums up your point best. Know what you want to communicate but be open to how you do it.

Comment by Lee Hill

Cunning planners.

Comment by Bald Rick

first decent comment this fucking year.

Comment by andy@cynic

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