See what I did there? Up above – with the title of this scribbling? I amalgamated the three television series under review – ‘The Affair’, ‘The Secret’ and ‘Satisfaction’ – to make a cogent heading. Clever or what? Do I discern eyes rolling?
But let’s commence at the basement and work our way up to the attic. Down in the cellar, by a long shot, belonged to ‘Satisfaction’. And let us not confuse this with the Australian series of last decade. Even if that one was set in a brothel, it is a darn sight better than this American travesty. The US product lacked any class – and was only marginally better than the execrable ‘UnReal’, which the Blue Room gave a massive thumbs down to on a previous occasion. Incredibly – as with the series telling of odious goings-on on the set of a reality tele show – ‘Satisfaction’ did garner a second installment. The pilot episode to this woeful production should have put me off. This consisted of hubby seeing wifey in coitus with a handsome young gigolo and such was his horror, he promptly decided to join that profession. We then see him pleasuring and catering to the desires of some unhappily hitched matrons. Tacky? You betcha. It is a bland, timid version of ‘Hung’. Naughty bits are not to be displayed at any cost, with the sexual action being as unbelievable as the plot. On top of this, the warring couple’s daughter (Michelle DeShon) feels it’s a good idea to sing about the affair of two of her teachers at the school concert. Then she promptly goes off to seek fame in the music industry with a black beau. I found I was fast forwarding this narrative thread as it gave me the irits even more than the nonsense her mum and dad were up to.
I suppose seeing your wife in a compromising position with a male escort could send a middle-aged fellow off into a doozy of a mid-life crisis, but Neil Truman (Matt Passmore), when he’s not penetrating other women, gets himself involved in a protest about a delayed flight, seeks counsel from a Japanese guru to get his head sorted and decides he is going to invent a website to guarantee personal happiness. As if. I must admit my interest in all these wretched proceedings did perk up whenever Katherine LaNasa appeared on small screen as the rich-bitch head of the escort service Neil worked for. It’s a bit of trivia that Katherine LN, at 22, was once married to 53 year old Denis Hopper – it didn’t last. In ‘Satisfaction’, to this male’s mind, she has being sexy down pat, but even her character was submerged in sudsy soap by the end. Of course, she had fallen in love/lust with the silly Neil. As wife Grace, Stéphanie Szostak has charm, but why in any way would she succumb to her empty-headed young paramour is anybody’s guess. Good in the sack I guess. Her decision to pose nude for a photographer – without any nudity, if you know what I mean – is totally out of whack with her previously zipped up, in public, character. The camerasmith, who captured her unclad form for posterity, also soon develops an attraction for Grace, despite the fact that he is dating her sister. This sets it up for more machinations in the next season. But don’t waste your time on this garbage as I did. It was cancelled after its second run of episodes. Just desserts. I can’t get that time back.
Much more believable is ‘The Affair’. Again it’s an American series – but with two imported UK actors in the lead. Maybe that’s the difference with the above. Dominic West plays Noah Soloway; Ruth Wilson is the object of his illicit affection , one Alison Lockhart. Maura Tierney has the role of Noah’s jilted wife Helen. Far grittier, far more forthright and more grounded in the possible, this take on a male with a bad case of PPS (Peter Pan Syndrome) was nominated for three Golden Globes in ’15, winning two – Best Series; Best Actress. It is also an advertisement for its Montauk, Long Island setting; but its winning feature is that the story is presented from the perspective of both adulterers. And the tale they tell, once an associated murder investigation is underway, would seem to indicate that one or both are telling great big porkies about their relationship. Noah was once happily married – at least that was the outward appearance. His life, together with associated collateral damage, was thrown out of kilter by a waitress at a truck stop who possesses many dark secrets to her background – part of the attraction I presume.
Although my lovely lady wasn’t quite so enamored of this, I enjoyed this take on the disintegration of a marriage. It was commissioned for a second series and in this it is promised we will see the points of view on the events from the two cuckolded spouses. A third season started screening at the end of ’16 in the US. This was time better spent.
Now let’s go right up to the attic with ‘The Secret’, from Northern Ireland, featuring James Nesbitt. This one’s based on real events. In fact James’ sister was mates with one of the victims involved in the very sorry tale he helped bring to wider knowledge. This recently aired on SBS and was excellent.
Nesbitt is also back on our screens, as well, in the marvellously rebooted ‘Cold Feet’; but playing a cold, calculating killer in ‘The Secret’, he pulls no punches. He takes us to the world of a god-fearing, Bible-bashing dentist Colin Howell. He develops the hots, big time, for Sunday school teacher Hazel Buchanan (a brave performance from Genevieve O’Reilly) – so big time that he is prepared to dispatch spouses to rid himself of the barriers to having his lustful way with Mrs Buchanan. He devised a very cunning plan – and it almost worked. It was nigh on ten years before the murderous couple were forced to atone for their evil ways – a period during which they both built separate lives for themselves. And just how much Hazel was involved, as her life unraveled, in what happened to said spouses is still open to question, thanks to the evil doings of her former lover. And Colin’s excuse for what he did in the end? Well it was what his god would have wanted.
It’s almost as riveting viewing as Nesbitt’s outing earlier this year in the ‘The Missing’ – coming back, minus the Irish actor, in ’17. ‘The Secret’, along with ‘The Affair’ and ‘Satisfaction’, is out now on DVD. But folks, I really wouldn’t bother with the last mentioned.
YouTube trailer – ‘Satisfaction’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2QARUk3oLQ
YouTube trailer – ‘The Affair’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPTtrScW3-E
YouTube trailer – ‘The Secret’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsYUBr8T6B8