Bouquet Of Barbed Wire - a refined mini-soap?

Discussion in 'TV Central' started by Willie Oleson, Jun 8, 2017.

  1. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    [​IMG]

    That's the question I've been asking myself all the time (episode 1 to 4, I haven't finished it yet).
    Well, of course I know it's not a soap series as it's only 7 episodes, but if this tv series had been written differently, and if the actors had acted differently - in other words, if they had removed most of the excellence - then this may have well been an early Jackie Collins story in the style of "The World Is Full Of Married Men".

    It seems a waste of time pondering about a futile hypothesis like that, but all the same: where does "drama" end, and "soap" begin?
    Bouquet is a story about a dysfunctional family, a family that looks everything but dysfunctional, which makes it all such a nail-biting experience.
    There are identity crises, a sexual provocative theme like I've never seen before, domestic abuse, adultery, and also a possessiveness that seems to squeeze every ounce of morality out of these characters, especially father and daughter.

    So, did I just describe a novel or Falcon Crest?

    The best part - that element that makes it feel so terribly shocking - is the unsuspecting bystander, in this case the mother, who's slowly being reeled in until her daughter dropped the bombshell on her.
    The exposure or - God forbid - act of flaunting it, is far more impressive than the adultery itself.

    Episode 4 ends with a serious spouse-beating which I found unexpectedly...I was going to say "physical" but that seems too obvious in this case. It's just that the tone of the series mostly focuses on mental manipulation, and how it can backfire.
    Ambitious secretary Sarah Francis is one of those characters. Very blasé, very sure about what she is and wants, and yet she of all people ends up sitting alone in a flat, crying and waiting for her lover to drop by.
    That was definitely not the plan.
    There have been slaps before, and although there's no excuse for physical violence, Prue often appeared to be more rotten than her abusive husband.
    But this was really...I don't even know if she's going to survive.

    But I feel like I'm rambling on so I better continue with the episodes.
    All the actors are new to me except Susan Penhaligon, she has a familiar face.
    And Deborah Grant too, but maybe I'm confusing her with a StockAitkenWaterman singer.
    I hope the sequel (Another Bouquet) has been uploaded too.
     
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  2. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    That was not a reference to the soap genre, btw.
     
  3. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    Oops, I picked the wrong name. The familiar face is Sheila Allen of course.

    The aftermath of Prue's beating is quite bizarre, but perhaps it's always difficult to pick up the pieces after a story climax.
    Is the writer going to take responsibility for his/her story and let it develop in a way that feels natural, or will he conveniently sweep it under the carpet in order to keep the core intact, which allows the writer to continue or even reset the story without too much disruption?
    I think BOUQUET does a bit of both.

    Husband and wife Manson separate, he's moving in with his secretary/mistress, but the beating has very little consequences.
    When I watched the fifth episode, I felt I was being overloaded with new information, such as Cassie Manson's extramarital affair when Prue was still a child, and Gavin's confession to the Mansons that he's slapped Prue before - but only because she wanted it. And they just accepted that as an explanation.
    Also because Cassie's former lover was abusive too, and she liked it too.
    So, all of this seemed like an excuse to have these characters to continue to interact, instead of having the police and lawyers doing all the communication.
    I think that's very characteristic of the soap genre.

    Because of all the drama, Cassie and her son-in-law Gavin grow very close, and they become lovers.
    Peter's lover Sarah Francis doesn't know left from right anymore, and she's the only character who's clutching at straws to justify her feelings and actions - not that I need everything to be spelled out (I could have done without the thought-bubbles).
    It's not quite as beautifully depressing as I thought it would be, the characters are way too immoral for that and some of the events seem a bit random, but the final scene (when Cassie sees her lover with his new girlfriend) is fantastic.

    If there's a lesson to be learned, I don't really get it - but perhaps that was the whole point. Perhaps the Mansons never learned their alphabet.


    BOUQUET is a terrific piece of seventies sleaze, combined with great dialogue and skilful acting.
    I still don't know "where drama ends and soap begins" - and maybe I'll never find out.
    But I think there are many novels (even those critically acclaimed works) that have soap-y traits, and also that soaps can produce excellent drama, as I've seen on Knots Landing and Peyton Place.

    Unfortunately "Another Bouquet" hasn't been uploaded yet, therefore I'll move on to the next dysfunctional family drama.

    Next stop: Texas!
     
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  4. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Now that's soapy.

    Dare I hope ...?
     
  5. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    Yes!
     
  6. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    An election upset and Willie's starting The Yellow Rose -- what a night!!!
     
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  7. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    Just re-watched that last episode to prepare myself for series 2.
    I think I disagree with that now.
    It probably wasn't meant to be depressing, but it's a family under a magnifying glass, and that also shows their most vulnerable and darkest sides - which we all have.
    And because of that, and because it's such an intense drama, I can't help but feeling some compassion too.
    Maybe it's because watching a story isn't just taking information in, there's also something going out - and it's safe (and entertaining) to judge fictional people. We are the witness and the jury.

    I really need to find more of these 70s time capsules.
     
  8. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    "Another Bouquet" appears to be a sequel in every sense of the word.
    Episode 1 brings the characters back together again eventhough there is nothing peculiar about that situation.
    In fact nothing significant happens, it's mostly long conversations, explaining things that don't need to be explained but it does create that "fly on the wall" feeling.
    As always, I'm devouring the vintage sets and scenery, sometimes I wish I could touch it.
    Peter announces his plan to move to Scotland with Cassie and the baby, thus creating a problem for son-in-law Gavin.
    But it ends with the return of Peter's ex-mistress Sarah, who's living in Germany with her wealthy husband. But she never struck me as a person who places security above everything else.

    upload_2018-4-12_1-50-21.png
     
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  9. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    "The boys" (Prue's brothers) visit their parents, I had almost started to think of them as imaginary children.
    They're twins, and this scene creates the idea of a mirror (it's not):
    upload_2018-4-14_18-35-2.png

    Things aren't going so well for Gavin's clingy, hysterical, now-ex-girlfriend.
    upload_2018-4-14_18-38-55.png

    Another Bouquet has very little plot, neither did the first series, but Barbed Wire had the father/daughter relationship as the story's raison d'être.
    Nothing happens to these characters, no, it's almost as if they're going out of their way to be in these miserable situations. None of them has a valid reason to be "there", and yet they are.
    This kind of clunky yet unapologetic narrative feels very 1970s and it's bizarre and fascinating at the same time.
    One could argue that they cut to the chase and showed the drama without the plot devices that would cause the drama.

    Sarah hates the commitment of marriage but she (the ex-mistress, of all people) is very involved with Peter Manson's family. It would be hard to make this look convincing, but they don't even try.

    It's mostly scenes of two characters discussing the other characters, very daytime soap indeed, but the "fly on the wall" feeling is increased by all the additional and external sounds: the sound of a clock, traffic and even a plane so loud it muffled the conversation, and this was not a scene at the airport.
    Episode 3 ends with the confrontation between Peter, Cassie and Gavin but it's not as good as the scene of series 1, when Prue confronted her father with his marital infidelity.

    As a story this isn't very good, but the dirtiness and blatant sensationalism makes it an interesting watch.
     
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  10. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    Episode 6
    And so it goes on and on, mixing up the various couples is a good excuse for another episode no matter how implausible it looks.
    Peter has taken an overdose but I'm not sure why.
    Apparently he was depressed but I don't think it had anything to do with the revelation of Cassie and Gavin's affair.
    He never showed any remorse for his affair and I never bought the idea that he wanted to move back in with his wife because he loved her so much.
    Too much had happened and he doesn't come across as the forgiving kind.
    Maybe it was because of his own irresponsible behaviour by kidnapping his grandchild, and then Sarah told him about the abortion. I guess he lost grip on the situation.

    Anyway, Gavin's ex-girlfriend is still very much in the picture (I guess they're not familiar with the "ex" concept), in fact she's now Peter's self-appointed caretaker.
    I have no idea why she doesn't move on and enjoy her youth and spend time with other young men.
    Not that a story has to be completely realistic, but I'm not getting any information as to why this is happening. Where's the motivation, the profit, the emotional connection?
    The doctor, but not even the doctor who's actually treating Peter (!) is Vicky's father, and suddenly he's involved with everything too.
    Even Sons & Daughters wasn't that fast.
    Vicky's father is a womanizer who likes to seduce his women with his cooking and sarcastic stories. He and Cassie have sex.

    Gavin and Sarah have sex. She gave him a lift after she had visited Cassie to ask her to forgive her.
    I'm not sure if Sarah still wants to save her marriage (suddenly this is very important, well it was in episode 5) and her ongoing ambivalence is driving me up the wall.
    Every time she gets into a car I hope she dies (one more episode, maybe I'm lucky).

    All in all not such a raving review - but I still enjoy watching it. It's probably the performances which are top-notch, and when it comes to drama, the actors trump the story. Always.

    So, this was a critically acclaimed series, partially due to its controversial subjects, but with the "car keys in a bowl" from the early seventies and other sexual liberations typical of the seventies decade, it really shouldn't be that controversial. Or maybe it applies more to certain countries?
    There was a lot of bed-hopping going on in the 80s prime time soaps, but the sexiest episodes are from the early seasons. The 80s seasons looked rather "clean" and relatively un-sexy.
    If there was a decade that needed sexual liberations then it was the eighties.

    OK, so this is what I do when there's no NuDynasty episode.
     
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  11. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    And so it ends!
    upload_2018-4-19_1-58-51.png
    It was a good episode, and I would have liked to see more of this plot-less soap, if only for that beautiful intro/end theme. It's quite generic, but I like generic 70s TV music.

    Next stop: Japan.
     
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