22 September 2000 | Covey-3
Game, Sett, match. Badger is genius.
Badger is the greatest tragedy to exist. An eternity of people will only ever prey watch to the three wonderful episodes of this intolerably underrated series. Badger isn't just a classic police drama, it marked a defining moment in my life. The first time I sat down and watched the pilot episode, Setts, Lies and Videotape, directed by the wonderful Paul Harrison, I knew that I was watching something special.
Reminiscent of early Starsky and Hutch, crossed with the Scouse edge that made Z-Cars a classic, Badger had it all. Auntie provided the story, then took it from us. Typical of the cruel ways that the BBC thrive on.
The writing team for Badger clearly were all geniuses. Puns a plenty, like in the title of the pilot episode, "Setts, Lies and Videotape". It being a play on the classic Steven Sodenbergh film, the film had a cosmic humour, like watching a De Palma film with your feet up, a bottle of orange squash, a glass and some water. It's the simple things that make the best. With the mental horizon of a two legged unicycle, the British public needed simplicity. Twin Peaks had left us confused and agitated. Cube left us dazed and confused, Dazed and Confused left us with twin peaks. All these factors combined to produce the necessity for a show, a show to make the British public, and even perhaps the world, believe again.
The second episode, titled It's a Jungle Out There is possibly the series defining moment. It is impossible not to notice the subtle use of the word jungle in not one, not two but in three different contexts. The jungle, firstly being reference to the Urban jungle. The backdrop. Northumberland. The playground for these badgers to run and play and do their thing. Secondly is the irony that badgers lift in Setts, not jungles. The writers clearly knew this and tried to add some complexity into this masterpiece of observation. And finally, the opening theme music. "Badger Ass my Bitch Up" by Judd Judderson and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. The opening music is Jungle. The moment I realised this connection I felt a deep empathy with everyone involved with this short lived work of art.
Sadly, no story this good can have a happy ending and badger is no exception. Straying away from its usual Northumberland backdrop, the producers changed setting for the final episode, "Under My Skin". Clearly high on their own egos, knowing that the previous two episodes were above and beyond anything they could have dreamed of, the writers made a mockery of what could have been a defining moment in all of our lives. I'm sorry to say this but an episode that incorporates talking badgers, acid trips, and people being run over by skateboard chain gangs is not my idea of entertainment. Granted the Gary Sinise, John Malkovich cameo was genius, however, could not make up for the utter tripe that was "Under My kin"
In reflection and summary, one should not dwell on the mistakes, but embrace the fantastic emotion and gripping tension of Badger. While 33% of the episodes were poor, 66% were life affirming. I felt like I wanted to run through field of poppies with N.W.A. music as my backdrop. Singing. It made me feel that good.
In a perfect world, we'd all have "Badger" in our front rooms, day and night, for ever and ever. Sadly though, this world isn't perfect.
9.5 out of 10.