Guest Author - Eileen O´Sullivan
This particular 'Labyrinth' is not the 1986 fantasy movie directed by Jim Henson and starring David Bowie, but rather a 2012 TV fantasy drama based on the mythology of the Holy Grail that everyone always gets so excited about. In mega best-selling novels like 'The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail', and in particular 'The Da Vinci Code', it seems you only have to introduce key elements like sects, mysteries or spurious historical and religious analogies laced with skulduggery to have a captive audience.
Tandem Communications' Labyrinth is based on the mega best-selling novel of the same name by English author Kate Mosse (who has an on-screen cameo role, Alfred Hitchcock style) and it was screened over the 2013 Easter weekend in Britain. Historical drama is always gripping stuff and when it is liberally spiced with chick lit appeal like love, hate, sex and separation, then it is definitely one for the girls. In fact the two main 'goody' girls separated by millennia are also joined by two baddy girls. Mieouw!! So are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.
Goody number one, Alais, played by bland but pretty English actress Jessica Brown Findlay and otherwise known internationally thanks to Downton Abbey as bland but pretty 'Lady Sybil', lived in a medieval castle in 13th century Carcassonne, France. She had a very mean and jealous sister, Oriane played by Irish actress Katie McGrath. Clearly the casting team wanted to steer well clear of type-casting as Katie is also known internationally as Morgana, the meanie from the BBC's 'Merlin' TV series. Oriane snarled a lot and then poisoned their father. Well she'd just discovered he wasn't her father, so she and Alais were actually half-sisters. Anyway... she was such a nasty bitch that whatever she did you thought Nasty Bitch! What fun in fact and a pantomime villainess 'par excellence' (well, we were in France).
Meanwhile back in the 21st century, and back in the castle in Carcassonne, Goody (number) Two Shoes is blonde and fresh-faced Alice,(Vanessa Kirby) who, (surprise surprise!) is related through blood lines to the first earth bound angel, Alais. The clue was in the name maybe? Though it took our Alice a while to work it out, too busy looking through the looking glass in modern day wonderland. So she scurries around France chasing mad 'atters and mad men, clues in labyrinths, and the big baddy of them all,(told you it was one for the girls) the wicked Queen of Hearts, in the guise of scary Marie-Cecil (Claudia Gerini), who is rich, ruthless and off her rocker. Seems she has been driven mad by her obsession with the Grail, money and immortality, or she was just mad in the first place.
John Hurt, who was also in 'Merlin' as the wise old Dragon, gets to mutter wise and mystic truths like 'The Grail is among us', just before everyone gets stabbed in a cave, metaphorically, actually, or in a flashback time sequence thingy. Then Hurrah! It's all fine and dandy again, truth triumphs overall and we can all go home. Or switch off. Or turn over.
Poor Katie McGrath gets very poor billing on the official Labyrinth website, which seems a shame as we all love a villain and she steals the show. As in life, the good girls are dull and boring and the bad girls raise all the laughs (as well as their backsides). I've tried not to give too much away, though I will say, hasn't it all been done before and not so long ago?
We've all just heaved a sigh of relief that yet another Tandem Communications TV drama series 'World Without End' (complete with the Attack of the Mirandas) actually DID come to an end. Healing women scorned as witches, goody girls, this time in the guise of nuns (including Miranda Richardson of 'Black Adder' fame aka Miranda 1), baddy girls dead set on murder (Cynthia Nixon of 'Sex and the City' fame aka Miranda 2), secrets and lies...and on it goes. Like all pulp fiction, or TV sagas, you can't wait to get to the end to put them down or to switch them off and you can't wait to switch them on in the first place. Why are we all so fickle?
Labyrinth - TV miniseries: