I hope that this gets better, because, despite the attractive sets and the interesting historical context, the first episode wasn’t particularly, well, gripping. Whilst I understand that it’s supposed to be a satire, the nasty businessman, the temptress daughter, the spoilt brat son and the nice but dim new business partner were so caricatured that it was hard to take them seriously. That sort of thing works brilliantly in Carry On films or ’80s sitcoms (speaking of which, all the references to the rubber industry kept making me think of the Union Jack Rubber Company in You Rang M’Lord), but not in something which is supposed to be a drama. The best character was Webb senior, played by Charles Dance, but he’s been bumped off already! And the jumping about with the timeline was confusing.
But the sets are nice. There were no historical/anachronistic blunders. And maybe it’ll get better, once we get into the love triangle between Mr Nice But Dim, the temptress daughter, and the “mystery” Chinese woman played by Xin from Coronation Street. And I assume that we are actually going to see the fall of Singapore to the Japanese – I think we’re meant to be in 1941 at the moment. I hope it gets better, anyway. There’s nothing else on on Sunday nights at the moment.
We’re in Singapore. Obviously. Charles Dance, Mr Webb senior, sadly died part-way into the episode, although not until after he’d struck a blow for the older generation by wandering around the garden topless. Without a scythe, though. So his nice but dim son has inherited his share of the rubber company which he owns jointly with Mr Blackett/Nasty Businessman, who has two giddy daughters. The elder daughter told her dad, to whom she’s creepily close, that of course she’d marry the nice but dim guy, and it didn’t matter what he was like, followed by lots of tittering and giggling. However, it appears that the nice but dim guy is involved with the mysterious Chinese woman, whom the Blacketts met a few years earlier and who has now arrived in Singapore as a refugee, and is suspected of being a communist. I’m not quite sure what the point of the other daughter and the spoilt brat son is. Or the wife, which is a shame, because Jane Horrocks is wasted playing a character who hardly does anything.
I shall persevere. I’m hoping that young Mr Webb is not as dim as he seems, and I’d quite like to know what’s going on with the mysterious woman. And it might get better …