15 November 2008 | F Gwynplaine MacIntyre
That everlasting wristwatch
Eleanor Bron's series 'Making Faces' was ahead of its time; although basically a sitcom, 'Making Faces' was more concerned with offering an ongoing character study of its female protagonist, and in that regard the series anticipated later American programmes such as 'The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd' and 'The New Adventures of Old Christine', as well as some of Tracey Ullmann's work.
Unfortunately, the audience seemed to expect belly laughs, which were not on offer here. Bron had a well-deserved reputation for comedy at this point, prompting viewers to expect more of the same here ... but the excellent scripts of 'Making Faces' (all written by Michael Frayn) were more interested in letting her delineate and define a character rather than go for punchlines.
Eleanor Bron played the same character -- the oddly named Zoya Hirst -- in all six episodes. The gimmick was that each episode took place in a different year, depicting Zoya at different stages in her life ... always seeking romance and fulfilment, but never quite finding them. Each episode had a date in the title, to help viewers keep track of what year this was in Zoya's timeline.
I saw this series when it was originally transmitted, and I should like to view it again. Although Bron wore a different hairstyle for each year, I distinctly remember that her character wore the same wristwatch in every single episode, taking place over the course of about a decade. Now that's value for money! I'll rate 'Making Faces' 6 out of 10: the scripts weren't really very good, and Bron has done much better work elsewhere, but this programme deserves some credit for innovation.