Before we prod and poke Channel 4’s new paramedic comedy-drama Sirens (which aired last night at 10pm), it’s worth mentioning that the US has already bought the format and decided to make its own version. Clearly, someone (USA network) is convinced that Americans are short on medical programming, so much so that they decided not to wait for Sirens to air over here first. Maybe they should have, because--as you might've seen--the first episode never quite found its rhythm. The show badly wants to be Teachers or This Life, but the script and cast just aren’t up to it. These are, at least, things an overseas buyer is free to tweak.
Sirens tries hard to be a lot of things all at once: comedic, sad, thrilling, macho and poignant. Scenes brim with bullish, over-blown banter that none of the cast can quite pull off. Part one was about paramedic Stuart (Rhys Thomas, Bellamy's People) refusing to succumb to the very specific emotional fallout (up-horny-down--also the name of the episode) that’s supposed to kick in after a traumatic encounter (he had just given a car crash victim an open heart massage). But it was never clear why he wanted to resist, especially as stage two involves an overwhelming desire to have sex. He’s more than earned it. Stuart’s reaction, presumably, is meant to mark him out as different (dark, self-loathing, furious) from his shallow, self-interested mates, who accept their short-term, sexy destiny.
What also doesn’t help sell Stuart is Rhys Thomas. He couldn't deliver a line without sounding like he was in an advert for lager or men’s deodorant. His cast-mates Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) and Kayvan Novak (Four Lions) are less inclined to murder dialogue. But to be fair to Thomas, the script was flatlining before he got anywhere near it.
Amy Beth Hayes (Misfits) plays Maxine, Stuart’s cop friend, who he visits when it’s clear that he’s craving sex. The pretty, dowdy policewoman is supposed to be a panacea for his trauma-lust, but you can tell where this storyline is headed. Maxine and Stuart’s relationship (shouting, shoving, buried sexual tension, etc) may be mildly head-turning but it’s not enough to make me want to switch Sirens back on next week.
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