Wednesday, 23 July 2014
New Worlds: Episode 4
"I dream of a vast continent, a republic where millions of men live in liberty."
So, New Worlds is over with a whimper, and I notice that, unlike The Devil's Whore, it caused nary a stir at the time and, mere months later, is pretty much forgotten. So what went wrong? Well, it's dull, for a start, with forgettable characters entirely lacking in charisma. And then there's the didacticism. While there's nothing wrong with looking at the past through the eyes of the present- it only exists in those terms, after all- New Worlds goes too far in putting modern sentiments into Restoration mouths.
The Devil's Whore managed to square this circle, looking at the "Good Old Cause" through the eyes of the contemporary Left examining its own heritage. Yet the characters were all of their time. Here we have Whigs expressing modern values, unhistorical attitudes to the Native American genocide, and crude use of dramatic irony in the many hints that the USA is set to exist in ninety years time. Most notably, the concluding bit of text doesn't even mention the Glorious Revolution of 1688, an elephant in the room that demonstrates a crude attempt to avoid a Whig interpretation of history which values the post-1689 constitutional settlement and trying to put a modern Leftist slant on, well, Whigs.
Charles II continues to be an I characteristically miserable bastard, and then dies right on schedule. Abe Gough is tortured, but escapes execution and buggers off to Boston to embark on a career as the authorial voice. Chris Finch from The Office is still around. There is much examination of the fact that Massachusetts is founded on the genocide of local tribes, and conflict with the King's representative that crudely foreshadows the 1770s ("I am here to remind Massachusetts that it is a colony and not a republic"). Hope is a bit racist. Sidney is horribly executed. Beth's mixed race baby is shunned, and reclaimed by it's fatger's moribund tribe. The Monmouth Rebellion happens. Etc. Etc.
This is actually the best of the four episodes, and moderately involving to watch. But by now it's far too late.