Sunday, 6 June 2010

Retro Monday - Six Feet Under (TV)

Long before I watched Deadwood, I discovered a TV show way back in 2002. Six Feet Under first aired in America on HBO in July 2001 and reached our shores shortly after that, it came to its genuinely heartbreaking and critically acclaimed finale in August 2005. It spanned 5 seasons over 63 episodes. As I type this my wife and I are watching the last 2 episodes of season 5, after re-watching the previous 61 episodes over the last 2 weeks.

The show revolves around the members of the Fisher family who, after the Death of their father must stand together to run their Funeral home in Los Angeles. It also focuses on their friends and lovers. The ensemble cast included members that went on to have acclaimed shows of their own. Peter Krause plays Nate fisher the eldest son of the family, Michael C. Hall his younger brother and business parter, Lauren Ambrose their sister, and Frances Conroy as the long suffering Matriarch. The astounding cast rounded out with Rachel Griffiths as Nate's on-again off-again girlfriend and the excellent Freddy Rodriguez as the Fisher's family friend and mortician.

Each show begins with a death (anything from drowning, faling off cliffs, car wrecks,) which would paint the tone of the show, this is one of many strong themes that the show was known for. It was never afraid to hide from the utter truth of death, the hard facts of life.
The show also had a strong dosage of black humor and surrealism running throughout.
A recurring plot device that ran the length of the show consisted of the main protaganists having imaginary conversations with the deceased. These were parts of the show that I loved the most, dark exchanges between Nate and his late father, or Federico's 'chats' with the recently past-on as they lie on his slab. Awaiting to be embalmed. The idea that these represent the living characters internal monologues exposing them as external conversations. Awesome !!

Now comes the unprofessional gush - I fucking love this show. Always have, always will. The writing and the cast make this show near perfect, it's tone, it's pitch. The 63 episodes cover many years of Fisher and sons funeral home, life, death, grief, joy. It's all here in an amazingly written piece of now legendary Television. The major themes that are scribed here by American Beauty writer Alan Ball (the shows creator) try to capture life as it is, bringing morality into the picture and focusing on those who must deal with it on a daily basis. Just like Deadwood you feel for the family and their subsequent partners, it all leads up to the astounding finale that has gone down in the history books as one of best TV endings ever. I'm not going to lie, I cried. Like a little girl at a Jonas Brothers concert.

You know that feeling you get when you think you discovered something, something special. I didn't know anyone that watched S.F.U when it first aired on Sky. It was unique to me, I didn't have anybody to talk to about it.
2nd time through however things are different, DVD sales and torrents make this accessible for all. I do urge anyone and everyone to buy the boxset off Amazon, book off a weekend and blitz it. You will not be disapointed.
Go seek out excellent TV as opposed to 'Britian's got this..' and 'Pop idol that.' Stupid drone television that seems to consume the masses. I don't watch the idiot box that often but if more shows like this were broadcast i'd guarentee my bum would be glued to the seat.

Peace and love
Dr Sanchez

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