Strangers To Narrative Logic

I have been watching Strangers on ITV… and I write that in the past tense because I won’t be watching it anymore.

The last third of Episode 4 had more plot holes than the country lanes of Gloucestershire… and that is saying something!

The premise of Strangers is a good pitch. English man’s wife dies in a car crash in Hong Kong. When he goes to collect the body he discovers his wife had a second husband and daughter in Hong Kong and that she was murdered.

This nicely sets up a culture clash thriller as the hero battles with the Triads and a corrupt police force.

TWO BROTHER PICTURES FOR ITV  • STRANGERS
PICTURED: JOHN SIMM as Jonah Mulray, ANTHONY WONG as David Chen, EMILIA FOX as Sally Porter,KATIE LEUNG as Lau Chen and DERVLA KIRWAN as Megan Harris.

However, the delivery for me is seriously wanting. It’s incredibly slow for a start. It’s 8 episodes now but at 6 or even 4 would have cracked along. This leisurely pace also gives you plenty of time to recognise the numerous and significant plot holes. I’m not going to list them here because they are way too numerous but suffice it to say that from the middle of Ep 4 whole chunks of it are simply implausible and/or laughably inept.

And this confirms my contention that even when us punters don’t know the world of a story in detail we often instinctively know when it is presented lazily or the writer uses shortcuts.

The final crunch came for me when the protagonist made a big deal of taking his jacket off before confronting the bad guys and then this was never referred to again. The first question was why did he take his jacket off? The second was why were his wallet, phone, keys and everything else in his trouser pockets rather than his jacket… because he used them all later on despite leaving his jacket behind.

It occurred to me later that they may have cut a scene in which he had plausibly removed his jacket and that this created a continuity error in the next scene so they inserted a shot of him removing his jacket. The problem is that the audience assumes everything you show them is of importance. So if you show me a mid-shot of the guy taking off his jacket from that I understand that this action is important… because the director showed it to me. Thus I expect the jacket to be of significance.

5 minutes later in the show someone nicked his shirt too! The shirt was used later to implicate him in a murder so the theft of it had a plot reason but the problem was that when he was arrested no one mentioned the fact that he didn’t have a shirt! Not him, not the police. No one.

This stuff is easily fixable at script stage and I don’t want to believe they went into production with a script so lazily put together, hence my pondering whether an attempt to cut a couple of scenes has had unforseen circumstances. Either way in an era of such great drama it sticks out a mile and does not encourage loyalty from this punter.

Leave a Reply