Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Slap: Where logic and emotion collide, sort of, at a barbecue

When a tv show is called The Slap, our old friend logic tells us - in probably quite an uppity way, and with folded arms and maybe even a slight sneer - that a slap will be involved somewhere along the line.

And logic is right, as logic tends to be.

But where logic lets itself down is in its failing to work well with emotion, because when watching The Slap an emotional response is likely.

Because logically we'd probably agree hitting someone else's badly behaved four-year-old child is wrong.

But, emotionally, you can also understand the heat-of-the-moment impulse, in the middle of a hectic family barbecue, that might have led to it.

And so it certainly looks like eight-part Australian drama The Slap, currently showing on BBC Four here in the UK but based on a novel by Australian/Greek writer Christos Tsiolkas, knows what it's doing.

The slap itself - carried out by Harry (left in the picture above) - is the pivotal event of the series, and each of its eight parts will see the consequences of that same event unfold from the perspective of a different character each week - a technique that could be seen as a novelty, but maybe more likely as an effort to make each episode different enough from the previous, and to get the audience thinking about its own viewpoint.

But because you know this slap is coming, the initial laid-back leisurely pace and the almost fly-on-the-wall style of camerawork is deceiving - and unsettling.

It's set in a real, suburban, middle class house in Melbourne, where preparations for a 40th birthday barbecue are under-way - a scenario familiar in Australian tv for us in the UK thanks to the one-time popularity of Neighbours (a comparison Australian's might hate, but hey).

But that's where any similarities end because this is far less cosy - we're following Hector and his wife's preparations for his barbecue; but he's considering an affair with her assistant; he's disappointed with his lazy son; he then sniffs a line of cocaine to help him through the party.

And as we get to know this sometimes selfish and unsympathetic character, the sense of worry about this approaching slap we know is going to happen continues to grow.

It's cleverly done - and you know it's all going to kick off, and it does.

One to watch.

The Slap, Thursdays, BBC Four or on BBC iPlayer

Related stories:

The Slap episode seven review - Aisha: Another part of the jigsaw
The Slap episode six review - Manolis: It's all still quite bleak...
The Slap episode five review - Rosie: Confusing sympathies in the toughest episode yet
The Slap episode four review: Connie - this week it's a coming of age drama, with scenes in a vets
The Slap episode three review - Harry: TV drama as washing machine (in a good way)
The Slap episode two review - Anouk: It was good; we liked it
The Slap episode one review: Where logic and emotion collide, sort of, at a barbecue


  1. Great story, please put more things on like this!

  2. Great series.characters were fully formed, language (dialog)brilliant, loved the drama aspect veering into fly on wall doc. Backround action and dialog spilt over to the forground shots very well, even on important parts of storyline, ie argument in background between harrt n garry.
    excellent , more of this please.Guy Forrester