It’s the day after Christmas and nothing is stirring, not even the cat. It’s a day when you want unchallenging TV, the kind you can pop on and let wash over you as familiar faces guide you through uncomplicated, gentle plots.
The adaptation of Ian Rankin’s Doors Open is a perfect example.
The plot is simple, a Scottish bank has an expensive art collection and Stephen Fry (playing art professor Robert Gissing) looks after it. When the recession hits and they decide to sell it all, Stephen Fry decides for the good, of…well…himself, that a few choice pieces need liberating/stealing.
He asks a couple of friends to help with the heist: Mike McKenzie (Douglas Henshall), a business man who has just sold his company for a million or two, and Alan Cruikshank (Kenneth Collard), a middle manager who works in a bank.
All three are complete stereotypes. Mike is our tall rich leading man, Alan is our stubby, fat, balding comic relief and Stephen Fry is Stephen Fry. The gap between Professor Gissing and his QI host is so thin only the plot of Doors Open could slip through.
It wouldn’t matter that the characters are stereotypes if I had a reason to root for them. Sadly I don’t. Rich Mike’s only ‘problem’ is that he is love-sick for his ex, Laura (Lenora Crichlow). It doesn’t help that all we see of their relationship is a single night of TV sex – a few kisses followed by a fade out, what we all dream of!
The only character it’s remotely possible to empathise with is Alan, who has recently been fired but still has to find a way to pay for his expensive divorce and kids’ school fees – well it is Edinburgh, after all. #edinburghproblems
But maybe the heist will be interesting and full of tension?
Nope. It’s a dull series of unbelievable events. It does, however, contain two of the highlights of the show. Firstly, the awful disguises – 70s porn stars ahoy – and secondly Alan’s attempt to open a door with a photocopier, which is easily the best gag of the night. Both are also in the trailer, so you could save yourself quite a lot of time by watching that.
What Doors Open really misses is a sense of Scottishness. Without the establishing shots from the top of Arthur’s Seat you wouldn’t be able to tell where this is set. Also the people don’t feel Scottish. There’s a distinct lack of the trademark sarcastic and pessimistic Scots humour, which detracts from the characters.
Overall Doors Open is only a partial success. It feels like a Scottish version of Hustle but without the brilliant flashiness of that show. It definitely lacks the dark beauty of Rankin’s novels.
For many it’ll be a mince pie of a programme, you enjoy it while you eat it but forget all about it the moment the foil wrapper hits the bin.