To my left is an episode of Patrick Melrose on pause. It is the second episode of the first season. There is a door closed. Around is dark yellow and the symbolism at work in the scene previous was a salamander.
I did not know of Patrick Melrose, the books, character or that ShowTime was producing a show based on that material, starring no other than Sherlock himself, Cumberini Hobscotcher.
Damn, that dude can act.
The first episode follows him as he picks up his father’s ashes in New York. Set in the early 80’s with mucho use of the drugos the title character forms an intimacy with the audience through internal monologues. He interacts with a world that stares at him open-mouthed as if the sight were hard to believe. Patrick Melrose is Peter Pan if Neverland were made of drugs. I loved this, loved every second of it, sat riveted to my seat, in fact, the moment it finished I played the next episode, which basically explains the why of this character, Patrick Melrose.
This background of this character is hard stuff. Molestation, abuse, drug addiction, suicidal ideation, childhood abandonment all in a world of seemingly endless wealth.
Yet the second episode of the first season is on pause midway through and on the screen is a door that is shut implicating that behind it horrible things are happening.
The storytelling is emotional. It does wonderful things and plants seeds that sprout into horrible nightmares.
By the way, Hugo Weaving is menacing. Benedict Cumberbatch is brilliant, I believe completly he has done heroin every day of his life.
Patrick Melrose is the authorial surrogate of Edward St Aubyn, a rich dude who wrote five semi-autobiographical novels after recovering from years of heroin and alcohol abuse. He is married now and is still rich, but does not do heroin any longer, or at least one can hope.
His writing won a bunch of awards:
and has a bunch more work available to read:
But the real question is; am I going to keep watching this Show?
I thoroughly enjoyed Cumberbatch’s performance. The story pacing reminded me of Breaking Bad or the comic Kinski by Hardman. Where the off-balanced behavior set me on edge but I have to watch the character finish his horrible fall before I look away. I want to see what happens. There is a heartbreaking scene where the character sees the girl of his dreams. Smart ivy league law student and of course he makes a move, he is a hedonist, he does what feels good, and completely crashes and burns, but its the human in the attempt. Wanting what he would have been to have easier in a better world. Being human and believable is how this type of show thrives. Cumberbatch’s Melrose, wants more than the drugs but the drugs keep him functioning. Its like, a little of this to do that which counteracts this other thing. The action is snorting, shooting and shoveling food and drink into his body and disgusting everyone around him.
I read once that an opioid abuser will feel loathsome about themselves because that is the reaction they get from those around them. Cumberbatch plays him whimsical, but the surrounding characters react to him with disgust.
Every episode follows a novel, so most likely this is a stand-alone season. Is it? Let me know in the comments if not. If only there were a way to look such things up myself and be certain about the information gleaned.
The second episode is intense.
There is child abuse, and since becoming a father I can only picture my own child suffering from what I was watching, so in that, it is incredibly affecting. I had to hit pause several times to let my dander die down, and thankfully the door is closed indicating the action will be moving on in the narrative from the horror only glimpsed in my imagination, still though it haunts.
I would be surprised if this show doesn’t get nominated for all the awards.
It’s good if not a tough watch.
For another example of his cinematic writing, check out ‘Mother’s Milk,’ also based on one of his books.