More Great Telly – Guilt, Daisy Jones & The Six and “Dancing Barefoot” by Patti Smith

As this place seems to act as my web diary nowadays I no longer keep a paper diary. I did get a small one from a neighbour at Christmastime however (think it was surplus to requirements) and I’ve been using it to record the films and TV dramas I’ve watched this year, plus the books I’ve read. Time to share some of my favourites here I think.

I’ll start with the telly – I last did a roundup of what I’d been watching 10 months into the pandemic, and although it was a well-received post, I did feel a tad guilty about having had so much free time for boxset binging, especially when many of us were really struggling at the time, what with home-schooling kids and remote working. Hopefully this time, the divide between the time-rich and time-poor who visit this place will be less pronounced. Also, I’ll not admit to all of it, just the ones that have really made an impact.

Well, we didn’t dilly dally with this one and have finished it already, but if you haven’t yet watched BBC Scotland’s dark comedy-drama, Guilt, I would thoroughly recommend it. Think Better Call Saul relocated to Edinburgh, or Fargo on the Firth of Forth. Here is the trailer.

You really need to watch the first two series before embarking on the latest (and final) series, but only four episodes in each so very doable. I have always liked Scottish actor Mark Bonnar who seems to pop up on our screens regularly, but in Guilt he really is the lead actor and gets a chance to shine in the role of Max, a Leith boy done good, but a Leith boy whose charm and lawyer shenanigans don’t always get him out of a fix. I won’t offer up any spoilers but I would urge you to watch it. For the music bloggers who visit here, Max’s brother Jake runs a record shop very much like the one in the film High Fidelity, so lots of musical anecdotes interspersed throughout the show. Catch it on the BBC iPlayer.

But this is a music blog, so next up we have the Amazon Prime show Daisy Jones & The Six. Regulars who visit this place will already know I have a real fondness for the music that came out of Laurel Canyon in the late ’60s/early ’70s, so it was a no-brainer that I would watch this drama set in that very place. It charts the rise and fall of a fictional rock band made up of an amalgam of real-life characters from that time (we spotted Fleetwood Mac, Ringo and George, plus many more).

One of the lead actors, who played the titular Daisy Jones, was Riley Keough who interestingly is Elvis’s granddaughter. Both she and British actor Sam Claflin, who played Billy Dunne in the band, provided the vocals and if this is indeed the case they both did really well. Again I don’t want to give away any spoilers but the format they used, with documentary style footage included of their future selves, worked really well I thought. Oh, and Daisy’s extensive wardrobe of hot pants and diaphanous garments felt right for the times. There is a soundtrack album, and a couple of the songs from it have been released as singles. Here is a clip of Look At Us Now (Honeycomb). Wonder what Elvis would have thought. He would have been a proud grandfather no doubt, but that was never going to be.

Looking at my little diary, here are the other dramas I’ve really enjoyed so far this year: Happy Valley final series (BBC iPlayer), The Gold (BBC iPlayer), Dead To Me (Netflix), You (Netflix) and Blue Lights (BBC iPlayer). The common factor amongst really memorable telly is the writing, and there can’t be many people in the UK who didn’t watch the final series of Sally Wainwright’s Happy Valley. It was going to be tough coming up with an ending that tied up all the loose ends and left viewers satisfied, but I think she managed it. What a fine young man Ryan had turned into too. As for Neil Forsyth, the Scottish writer who gave us Guilt, it seems he also wrote the screenplay for The Gold, the mini-series centred on the Brink’s-Mat robbery of 1983. It makes sense now that I enjoyed both so much and it was good to see the talented actor (with a wonderful voice), Emun Elliot, pop up in both. Blue Lights, set in Belfast, follows the trials and tribulations of three probationary police officers and it was so well-received a second series has already been commissioned. More synchronicity here in that one of the police officers is played by the same actor who played Max’s wife in Guilt.

From across the pond came the black comedy, Dead To Me, very much centred around the bond of friendship between two women (in amongst all the death!). It reminded me of the days before I met Mr WIAA when I was lucky enough to have a series of very close female friends, the kind you do everything with and can depend on entirely. These kind of friendships are by their nature short-lived, especially once a boyfriend or partner comes along, but I have fond memories of those days and this drama reminded me of how important it can be to have such a friend. My last pick, You, was also from across the pond, although in the final season the action moved to London. It’s a psychological thriller and although I thought it lost its way a bit in the second season we persevered with it and enjoyed the twists and turns along the way.

I will finish with the song that was used as the opening theme to Daisy Jones & The Six, one that formed an earworm when we were watching the show. Dancing Barefoot by Patti Smith was recorded for her second album Wave in 1979 but was the perfect fit for this new drama released in 2023. Something timeless about it I think and the lyrics really did work for the character of Daisy.

Dancing Barefoot by Patti Smith:

So, a lot of telly there but not as much as I admitted to during the long periods of lockdown. What have you been watching of late? If you have anything you think I might like, please do share. I’d love to hear from you and as you know by now, I always reply.

Until next time…

Dancing Barefoot Lyrics
(Song by Patti Smith/Ivan Kral)

She is benediction
She is addicted to thee
She is the root connection
She is connecting with he

Here I go and I don’t know why
I fell so ceaselessly
Could it be he’s taking over me…

I’m dancing barefoot
Heading for a spin
Some strange music draws me in
Makes me come on like some heroine

She is sublimation
She is the essence of thee
She is concentrating on
He, who is chosen by she

Here I go and I don’t know why
I spin so ceaselessly,
Could it be he’s taking over me…

She is re-creation
She, intoxicated by thee
She has the slow sensation that
He is levitating with she …

Here I go and I don’t know why,
I spin so ceaselessly,
’til I lose my sense of gravity…

(oh god I fell for you …)

The plot of our life sweats in the dark like a face
The mystery of childbirth, of childhood itself
Grave visitations
What is it that calls to us?
Why must we pray screaming?
Why must not death be redefined?
We shut our eyes we stretch out our arms
And whirl on a pane of glass
An afixiation a fix on anything the line of life the limb of a tree
The hands of he and the promise that she is blessed among women.

(oh god I fell for you …)