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02 May 2009 @ 10:35 pm
"He's not my hero."
"I'm afraid he is, dear. I know the type. Something about the eyes."

I've been rewatching this for the fifth or sixth time today. It was a unexpected but great birthday present a few years ago - from before I had a DVD player in fact. My copy of the series is composed of two videos in a chunky plastic box which are gradually succumbing to graininess.

That's kind of appropriate, really. Part of the charm of this series is that it appears to have been put together on a low budget. The beast that haunts Richard's dreams is actually a rather disgruntled Aberdeen Angus and Door's house is composed of pictures hanging from the ceiling of a completely white studio set. Still, I think it fits the tone of the show in general - what makes London Below isn't just the magic and the chaos and the general insanity, it's that there's still 'kilter' in the 'off kilter'. Rather than splitting from the ordinary, it messes with it. It's the kind of fantasy world which might look a little bargain basement and cobbled together.

Not that I want to sell it short. It's also wonderfully funny and deeply sinister. Watching it again, I notice things I'd never noticed before. Jessica has a picture of herself on her desk, identical to the one Richard has - and I've never seen it. It's a great sight gag, but it's on screen for a matter of seconds. I love things like that, the attention to detail.

I'm not a Neil Gaiman fangirl (mostly because 'Neverwhere' is the only thing of his I've seen/read/read), but I love this series. I used to think it was because it changed the way I look at things, so that it made me more prone to imagine that there were remarkable things lurking just out of reach, peeking out from behind the ordinary. While this is true, I now think it's more that the series takes you back to childhood. When I was a kid I used to think that a witch lived round the corner from me, that a jabberwocky lived in my cupboard and that earwigs really would curl up into your ear and make you deaf. Despite the fact it's a very dark show indeed, it taps into that childhood experience.

So what I'm essentially saying, is that Neil Gaiman is the reason I still check my wardrobe for Narnia. And is why I take extra special care to Mind the Gap. :-)
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