Entertainment Magazine

Review #3117: Bedlam 1.6: “Burning Man”

Posted on the 08 November 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Bronzethumb

There’s something terribly wrong with a TV series when the reviewer finds themself saying “thank goodness THAT’s over” once they reach the end of the series finale. Despite some bright spots, there were far too many of the old “Bedlam” problems, too many things the writers tried to ram through in their final story, and overall the finale is just as big a mess as everything else the show has offered up to date.

Review #3117: Bedlam 1.6: “Burning Man”

Even in the final episode, “Bedlam” can’t resist a haunting-of-the-week storyline, though the show at least has the good sense to make the hauntee a main character. Molly keeps having fire-related mishaps around the flat, leading Jed and Ryan to think that the ghost of a man who lit himself of fire has taken to haunting Bedlam Heights. Meanwhile, Kate actually DOES something – or at least, gets others to do stuff for her – when she decides to confront her father and figure out what’s going on in the secret room.

And then there’s the Molly-loves-Ryan storyline, which came out of nowhere and came so fast that viewers probably got whiplash. Bringing that character to the fore was probably the worst thing they could’ve done for her: Molly had been an unremarkable but not terrible presence in the show while she remained very peripheral, but putting her centre-stage in “Burning Man” really showed how she’s just as two-dimensional as the rest of the main cast. Even a few lines to suggest that her sudden infatuation with Ryan is exactly that, something that developed very suddenly in-universe, don’t mitigate how her very thin character seemed to turn on a dime.

Kate, on the other hand, got a much better showing, and for the first time in the series’ run. Rather than simply wandering through the show and being vapid, she actually does something and drives the episode towards its cliffhanger ending, first confronting her father over his involvement with Zoe’s disappearance and the necklace that turned up in the last episode, and then getting Jed’s help in uncovering the secret room. It’s a rather pathetic showing for a character by the usual standards, but compared to the characters of “Bedlam” and her own uselessness over the previous five episodes, she’s pretty much become Wonder Woman. Where was this characterisation in the first few stories?

Hugo Speer also got to stretch himself a little bit as Warren, casting doubt on how nefarious he actually is. Unfortunately the characterisation is very inconsistent from scene to scene, as one moment of him seeming genuinely insulted by Kate’s accusations transitions to another of him gleefully strangling Ryan with safety harnesses – “but not really, honestly” – lacking only a thin moustache to twirl, to his moments at the climax of genuinely trying to help his daughter. Tiny glimpses of a complex, three-dimensional antagonist finally start showing through, but again, it’s too little too late.

As for the cliffhanger ending and the big reveals… well, they weren’t very revealing. There was a lot of clever camerawork, special effects, jump cuts and fake blood, but coming out of the episode, the average viewer might find themselves scratching their head and saying “But wait, what exactly was that?” The episode had no resolution, not even a sense of things coming to a close, in addition to teasing glimpses of things that the writers are no-doubt hoping to explore in a second series despite the fact that they look completely uninteresting. It’s going beyond “dense”: the writers clearly think they have a hit on their hands rather than a mess.

Can a finale really be called “disappointing” if nobody expected it to be any good? Even with some interesting nuggets, some spots where it looked like the show had something genuinely interesting and dramatic to play around with, “Bedlam” continues to be just plain bad. It won’t be missed, and Frith willing, it won’t be back.

Rating: 3/10

(Series 1 Final Average: 3.7)

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