An Evil, Reptilian Pamphlet Disguised as a Show: Why You'll Never See Me Post Any "Yes, Minister"
Tried to watch the first season of YES MINISTER but couldn't escape thinking that its characters and creators are all horribly smug evil cynical bastards who should be in Hell.
Though Nigel Hawthorne is amazing, regardless, with a cold, ambiguous stare to rival Ralph Richardson (whom I never noticed he resembled a bit). Good that he moved on to worthier work. I only knew what he did later, not this.
It's propaganda, really, and not in theory but in fact, as one of its showrunner/creators was an advisor to Thatcher(the other later did NUNS ON THE RUN, so, you know, talent finds its own level). And I have studied propaganda since college; it's something my work examines and appropriates from sometimes. But this is so obvious and graceless. Did it seem so at the time? In Adam Curtis' THE TRAP, they brag about the messages they inserted into the shows.
Like they have to point them out. They're just there, THUD for looong stretches, long and barely dramatized, nearly every line a party political speech, with wry little what-fools-these-mortals smiles on their faces. Only watching Hawthorne makes it bearable. The kind of sitcom only a banker would enjoy.
But this is a keen example of satire from the Right, with all the attendant smug long speeches acting as though their alternative (Thatcher's) was common sense, and the only reason for opposition were people trying to cling to undeserved places. This show and Thatcher managed to recast unions, the civil service, and the like as a type of new landed aristocracy, and took advantage of that feeling to redirect the hatred toward the ACTUAL powerful, who remained undislodged and enriched. And this was only speaking to the educated classes, very dry by design, what one might call "sophisticated." Like Fox but classier.
It's an evil, reptilian pamphlet disguised as a show and I don't even like studying it as a historical artifact. I post UK comedy here often. This isn't comedy. It's tragedy, but not in the classic sense. Because it worked. As I understand it, it inspired THE THICK OF IT. Thankfully, I can only see the barest influence, because THICK OF IT is brilliant and leaves me with none of this feeling I've accepted a sales pitch without knowing it, as this seems to.
"Eternity in the company of Beelzebub, and all of his hellish instruments of death, will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me & this pencil." --E. Blackadder, 1789 Questionable
words & pictures from John Linton Roberson