Form does not replace function, Marcella.


The British police detective series “Marcella” returns in a third season, and this time with a completely new character who moved from London to work undercover in Belfast, Northern Ireland, aiming to entrap a mafia family who controls the illegal trade of the city’s port. But UK viewers (at least) have lost the ability to tolerate the naive ups and downs of events, and more than a million viewers stopped watching the new season after the first episode despite massive investment in producing a first-rate crime drama: glamorous portrayal, beautiful heroine, and an allusion to corruption. The many British police cars, music, lights, luxurious mansions, scenes of violence and raging psychological conflicts. But the team forgot the most important thing: the plot, which remains the last backbone of the dramatic product, and the form should be set and shaped in its service, not the other way around.
“Form follows function”
(Louis Sullivan 1856-1924 – architect)

Scandinavian crime dramas have achieved remarkable success with British audiences in the last decade as viewing methods developed in the era of streaming. In a short time, she succeeded in “stealing” the British from the fossilized English crime series from the days of World War II, the Agatha Christie classics and the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Detective Morris and his imitators. Scandinavians, without exaggerated budgets, in the extravagant American way, they produced soap operas with a gloomy black mood – as if they were inspired by the weather of their country and the colors of the place in it – distinguished by its exciting plot, and its ability to persuade, with important highlights without emotion on aspects of the chaos and corruption in capitalist society, and the state of acute alienation. For individuals in it, whether they were evil criminals or good security men, while permitting the borders between the two parties always to overlap to the point of ambiguity. Without the wonderful natural scenes and the style of distinctive buildings, the heroine characters of every size and shape came without insisting on exclusively beautiful faces, and scenes of violence, sex and abuse in their natural human climate were presented from the culture of the peoples of those countries without artificiality, and always in the service of the dramatic architecture of the story. Series like “The Killing” and “The Bridge” imposed their presence on the agenda of the global viewer. They were even re-presented in American and British versions that borrow the story and reposition it in local contexts. Instead of the opening crime taking place on the bridge between Sweden and Denmark as in The Bridge, it occurs on the border between the United States and Mexico in the American version, and inside the “Eurochannel” tunnel between Britain and France in the British version, and so on.
The British drama industry, which in some aspects surpasses even Hollywood itself, responded to the Scandinavian challenge in crime series and launched creative, commercially successful works and transferred the Kingdom’s contribution to this stadium from its historic “cage” to a contemporary “British” atmosphere (see, for example, Unforgotten, Bodyguard, Line of Duty …). However, “Marcella” – despite his use of all the tools of the Scandinavian form for crime drama and his exceptional spending on all the requirements of modern drama – is condoned in its first season, and viewers have endured it in its second season, often forced to try to understand the end of the story after they invested a lot of time in the follow-up of the first season. Thus, when the first episode of the third season was presented on ITV British TV, it attracted – compared to 3.4 million who watched the second season – only 2.7 million viewers (15 percent of UK TV viewers) perhaps motivated by curiosity to find out what this beautiful half-crazy investigator could ( Played by Anna Friel) to do after her story was completely drained out for the first two seasons. And when they found that the story had been resumed from a place that had no actual connection to what had happened previously, more than a million of them withdrew from the follow-up with the second episode and never returned, while the reactions of the rest seemed to have been disappointed by “Marcella” for the third time in a row. Something that puts the matter of making a fourth season in a circle of deep suspicion.

No issue has been adequately addressed: neither the corruption of society, the lack of responsibility of some policemen, nor the psychological status of the heroine nor her relations with criminals

Where did the British “Marcella” fail, as the Scandinavian “bridge” succeeded, for example?
It should be remembered at the outset that the cast (Anna Friel, his executive producer besides playing the lead role) hired Hans Rosenfeldt, the Swedish screenwriter who was behind the “bridge” in particular, to write the story. Besides Frill, he summoned the services of a number of professional British actors, and benefited from the atmosphere of London, and in the third season Belfast as a backdrop for the events with all the strong spatial character of the two cities, and all the requirements for a successful dramatic product were devoted to him, in terms of scenography, music, photography and accessories Plus, lavish buildings, luxury cars, and scenes of free violence, sex and nudity (Marcella spends a lot of time in the bathtub, with or without occasion). I added to the story parts of exotic psychology, features of corruption, convulsive marital relations, wholesale betrayals, teenagers, psychotherapists, exhausted policemen, and more.
Marcella, in the first two seasons, was a detective with the London Police with exceptional insight that allows her to hunt down the hardened serial killers, but at the same time she suffers from psychological and nervous difficulties, and in record time lost her marriage, custody of her children and her new manager / lover. On top of that, she discovered through hypnotherapy that she was involved in some murders, including killing her little girl when she fell into unconsciousness seizures, losing her ability to perceive what she was doing, so that the second season ended with her attempting suicide, and then attacking her colleague who saved her, and mutilating The same, wandering at the bottom of the city on the edge of death.
In Season Three, Marcella had to be revived almost out of nowhere. Indeed, the location of the story was moved to another city altogether, and the character changed her hairstyle and manner of dress, and turned into a blond undercover policewoman named Kira, who does not have many psychological or nervous difficulties, and her mission is focused on penetrating a wealthy family that practices illegal trade, human trafficking and drugs, and uses sleep Enthusiastically with (male) enemies to win their trust. As for the end, it was more like a wild joke that provoked the rest of Samad for the final episode of the season.
The gradual decline of the series “Marcella” – parallel to the decline in its popularity – despite the availability of all the elements of success, it was caused by the team and no one else, after forgetting the basic and most important element in the dramatic work: the plot, which remains – despite everything else – the backbone of the story. All the form inputs are put into service, not the other way around, just as the American pioneer of modern architecture Louis Sullivan went, who was strict in the necessity that the design of buildings follow their functional goal fundamentally before taking care of formality, finishing and decoration. The plot of “Marcella” from the first day was fabricated, fluctuating in place without real development, and did not allow the characters to be given depth, so it remained flat, emotional and unnecessary, and gaps and unconvincing transformations and insecurities increased with the progress of the narration. And no issue has been addressed in any sufficient way: neither the corruption of society, nor the lack of responsibility of some policemen, nor the psychological status of the heroine nor her relationships with criminals, nor their deep motivations, and we lost contact with other characters or she suddenly appeared without understanding her role in the total event (Heroin addict, third Ten years old? A person from outside the context of the whole story struck a bottle of champagne to death? A pervert who masturbates in the attic?
It is difficult to say whether following “Marcella” (the three seasons are available on Netflix) is postmodern entertainment, whose viewers rely on vomiting all the elements transmitted from successful crime dramas over a punched tale that has nothing to do with the logic of the drama, or is just a poor copy and a teenage attempt Extravagant elements for stealing the “bridge” success. But in both cases, unhealthy viewing seems closer to the gluttony that may fill the time of boredom, but you soon regret it the next day.

On Netflix

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