Shameless (Series 1)
The critically acclaimed and brilliantly
funny drama from award-winning writer Paul Abbott features the
Chatsworth Estate's Gallaghers, probably the UK's most dysfunctional
family that finally arrives on DVD!
Shameless Series One is probably one of the
most unappreciated television shows on Australian TV and when a
colleague of mine mentioned that I should watch this show, I just
scoffed and went back to commercial TV. What a mistake that was! If only
I turned to SBS and got hooked on the Gallaghers, I wouldn’t be in this
predicament at the moment.
As mentioned earlier, Shameless is created
by writer Paul Abbott, one of the most innovative writers of British TV
whose series focuses on a Manchurian family that become involved in a
myriad of anecdotes that include sexual exploitation, cons, boredom and
every other issue to affect poor socioeconomic housing estates.
The patriarch of the family is Frank, a
single-father who suffers from unemployment, gambling and an addiction
with alcohol who gets involved in all sorts of trouble and considers
himself the leader of gang of motley thugs. Fortunately for Frank, his
eldest daughter Fiona, holds the family together with her
pseudo-maturity and she tries to juggle playing mother and figuring out
how where her life has gone wrong.
There's also Phillip (or Lip), the eldest
brother in the family who exchanges fellatio with the next door
neighbours daughter in lieu for doing her homework. Ian, the second
youngest in the family happens to have a relationship with a Pakistani
shopkeeper who is also married. Carl, the no hoper slob of the family is
dominated by boredom and mischief with Debbie, the youngest daughter in
Gallaghers can’t do wrong to anyone. Last but not least is Liam, the
baby of the family who is rarely seen but mostly heard and to make
matters worse, add in carefree neighbours Kevin and Veronica to help
spice things up for this Manchurian family that is a train wreck waiting
Apart from the amusing and sometimes
disturbing storylines, the series contains some brilliant
characterisation that is helped by grade "A" British acting by
Anne-Marie Duff (Fiona) and David Threlfall (Frank) that not only holds
the show together but pulls off some of the best performances for the
entire series. All of the cast members are well-chosen and the child
actors in particular do a fantastic job. The result is a strangely
compelling drama that raises itself above the sum of its component
parts as a bleak, depressing picture of mayhem, to come across as,
quite simply, a truly warm look at family life. For, no matter what
happens to this particular family, they always unite and fight together,
as one. For all their faults, this particular Chatsworth Estate
household has not forgotten to, first and foremost, look after their
Episode 1 – Here we are introduced to all
of the major characters and we follow Fiona as she meets the potential
man of her dreams, Steve.
Episode 2 – Already Frank is missing and
the kids fear the worst when a body is discovered.
Episode 3 – Kev and Veronica, through a
confluence of mistakes, decide to get married, leading to no end of
Episode 4 – Debbie starts stealing, much to
the dismay of the family.
Episode 5 – Frank’s indiscretions come home
to roost and cause yet more trouble for the family, in particular Lip.
Episode 6 – News about their missing mum
shocks the Gallaghers.
Episode 7 – Frank goes to extreme lengths
to get money and Steve is faced with a tough dilemma when Fiona’s
Policeman friend gets jealous of him.
Shameless is presented with a 1.78:1 aspect
ratio anamorphic widescreen transfer, and it’s nice to see that British
TV series like this are increasingly being released on DVD in
widescreen. The audio is shamefully restricted to mere Dolby Digital 2.0
and is unfortunately rather bland but fortunately the witty dialogue
makes up for the lack of audio dynamite.
Shameless Series One contains a variety of
extras that includes a ten-minute documentary hosted by Debbie (Rebecca
Ryan) and Carl (Elliot Tittensor), two of the younger children. The two
of them basically wander around various areas on the set (during the
filming of the second season) chatting to different cast members and
asking them about their characters. Apart from the main cast (Frank –
David Threlfall, Sheila – Maggie O’Neal, Karen – Rebecca Atkinson, Fiona
– Anne-Marie Duff and Veronica – Maxine Peake) we get contributions from
some of the smaller players including Marty, the guy with Tourette and
Jez, the landlady of the Jockey. The interview clips are interspersed
with footage from the series itself, illustrating the tales from each
member of the cast. It’s a nice little documentary which highlights the
best bits of the series without coming across as pretentious marketing
fluff. The extras also include an interview with Paul Abbot that takes
viewers through the journey of his bizarre family, the Gallaghers.
In conclusion, I would recommend this
series not for the faint hearted, especially for those who are
politically correct because this series is as far from that as you can
be, without being on another planet. Great comedy, great drama and a
great series! A must have!