Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-08-2019, 09:28 AM
Paintcharge's Avatar
Paintcharge is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: 10 sq miles of reality
Posts: 2,123

The City and the City Anyone watch it?

The BBC did an adaptation of the China Mieville book, aired in 2018. I never heard about the series, but vaguely remembered liking the book. It's available on Amazon now. David Morrissey (the Governor from the Walking Dead) is a detective in a really weird place where there are two cities in the same spot that can't see each other.

I thought it was interesting, a good crime show, and Morrissey was excellent. The way they showed not seeing the other city was a cool effect, too. And Christian Camargo was an appropriately creepy baddy.
Old 08-08-2019, 12:25 PM
Shoeless's Avatar
Shoeless is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: The Sunflower State
Posts: 6,737
I'll have to check that out. I read the book last year -- I found it at the library and remembered China Mieville's name from one of the book threads around here -- and thought it was very weird but enjoyable.
I'm not black, but there's a whole lotsa times I wish I could say I'm not white. -- FZ
Old 08-08-2019, 04:36 PM
Banksiaman is offline
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Australia
Posts: 985
I've read and really liked the book a couple of times, so wondered how the TV series would handle the essentially cognitive central element of people being born into a place where they are taught to look past and not register part of their environment.

Unsurprisingly, I found the way it was shown on television didn't work as well as in the book, and too distracting to enjoy the story so gave up when shinier things came into view. I do intend to give it another go, and focus more on the acting and story-telling, which I remember both as being very good. I can't imagine what a viewer with no knowledge of the book would make of it all.
Old 08-08-2019, 09:49 PM
Thing Fish is offline
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Chicago (NL)
Posts: 3,371
Yeah, to correct the OP, it's not that they CAN'T see each other, it's that everyone in both cities is conditioned from birth to PRETEND they can't see each other. Like if you witness a murder, and the murderer and victim are residents of the "other" city (as indicated by color-coded clothing), and you intervened or tried to report it, you would be considered to have committed a crime far worse than murder.

At least that's how it worked in the book, haven't heard about the adaptation but would be interested in checking it out.

Last edited by Thing Fish; 08-08-2019 at 09:49 PM.
Old 08-09-2019, 03:08 AM
bonzer is offline
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: NW5
Posts: 3,184
Thought it worth watching, though inferior to the book. Didn't have a problem with some of the changes - such as swapping the sex of the opposite number in the other city - but others weakened the plot.
Old 08-09-2019, 04:23 AM
DerNils is offline
Join Date: Aug 2018
Posts: 52
I am really looking Forward to see it, as this is one of those "quite unfilmable" properties for me. Mainly due to the central concept being hidden for a Long term in a literary trick on how you tell the Story. IIRC, the realisation that they actually only pretend to not see the other city is somewhere around the halfway par of the book.
Old 08-09-2019, 11:29 AM
pmwgreen is offline
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 393
I haven't read the book, but watched the show. Very Philip K. Dick-like I thought. I was disappointed by the ending, and the way the show left too many things unexplained, such as how the city/cities got in that situation in the first place.
Old 08-09-2019, 12:17 PM
Alessan's Avatar
Alessan is online now
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Tel Aviv
Posts: 24,520
I respect China Mieville far more than I actually like him, so I wouldn't mind being experiencing some of his ideas without having to force myself to read one of his books. I'll check the show out.
Old 08-09-2019, 05:15 PM
Banksiaman is offline
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Australia
Posts: 985
Originally Posted by pmwgreen View Post
I haven't read the book, but watched the show. Very Philip K. Dick-like I thought. I was disappointed by the ending, and the way the show left too many things unexplained, such as how the city/cities got in that situation in the first place.
The book itself does not provide a definitive explanation for the dual city thing. Without spoiling it, some of the scenes are set in archaeological digs trying to investigate when precisely it became two concurrent societies.
Old 08-09-2019, 05:31 PM
Slow Moving Vehicle's Avatar
Slow Moving Vehicle is offline
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Posts: 3,898
Whoa, how did I not hear about this? I really enjoyed the book - probably my favorite Mieville, after Embassytown. I'll have to see if I can dig up the series.
ďIt may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.Ē
― Neil Gaiman, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
Old 08-10-2019, 11:45 AM
Driver8 is offline
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Bellevue, WA
Posts: 2,047
I liked the book quite a lot, and the main conceit really appeals to me: dark, creepy, weird, and a fun thought experiment. I did watch all four episodes of this adaptation, and it had its moments, but overall I think it fell flat.

The main problem is that the multiple cities construct isnít really realistic. Thatís not a knock against the book. I actually totally bought into it. I found the text provides enough details for your imagination to fill in enough details to make the world fully fleshed out but at the same time allowed your brain to ignore the practical implausibilities. I really did feel the weight of this dysfunctional world.

That balance didnít work as well for me on film where they had to try to make the city borders more concrete and visual. I had a much harder time suspending my disbelief. It seemed a bit ... silly.
Old 08-15-2019, 03:56 AM
Dr. Strangelove's Avatar
Dr. Strangelove is online now
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 7,826
I just finished watching it--thanks for the suggestion.

I enjoyed the book, and figured it to be unfilmable. And in a way, it was:
As DerNils said, in the book the understanding about the nature of the two cities came slowly. Initially, it's far less clear. Did some supernatural event split the cities, or join them from different universes? Is "breach" something that could somehow damage reality, deserving of such harsh punishment? How do they even overlap--are they literally in the same location or interleaved somehow? Is there a physical barrier separating them, or some portal-like border, or something else?

In the show, it's pretty clear from the beginning that it's really just everyone playing pretend. They talk about unseeing pretty early on in the book but again, it's not clear exactly what this means or the consequences of not doing it.
I don't blame them for just skipping this entirely, even though it was one of my favorite aspects of the book. I don't think there's a way to make it work with a satisfying payoff. I still enjoyed the remaining parts.

The idea of unseeing clearly requires a great deal of suspension of disbelief, and yet the core conceit hits home. Aren't we all doing this to some extent--ignoring the homeless guy, or the one hawking flyers, or the drug deal, as we walk though the bad parts of a city? We walk past, consciously excluding it from sight. Unseeing in this universe is just the extreme extension of that idea.


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:04 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017