The City and the City: miniseries
April 8, 2018 2:40 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Two cities with a dangerous and volatile relationship.

Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad in the European city-state of Beszel, investigates the murder of a student from Beszel's twin-city of Ul Qoman - which occupies the same space but is perceived differently.

Based on the novel by China Miéville

Guardian review
Radio Times David Morrissey interview
posted by fearfulsymmetry (14 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Ideally this would be an art project that no one could figure out what's happening at any point even with notes and cheat sheets, just to stay honest with the source material.
posted by sammyo at 5:48 AM on April 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have no idea how this can be filmed but I am still so excited to watch it.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:15 PM on April 8, 2018

I've been wanting to see this filmed for ages! After reading it, I came to the conclusion that it actually could be filmed really effectively, maybe even more so than as a book. I'm excited to see if they follow my ideas or do something else.
posted by dfan at 4:05 PM on April 8, 2018

Wow that Guardian review managed to say a whole lot of nothing, didn't it? I left not knowing whether the show is any good or not, merely that the reviewer appeared cognitively derailed by some flares in the production design and the number of f-bombs.
posted by smoke at 4:53 PM on April 8, 2018

Do we know when non-UK viewers will be able to see it?
posted by cooker girl at 7:24 AM on April 10, 2018

Wot, no reviews here yet?

Watched the final episode on iPlayer last night. Really enjoyed the echoes of Cold War Berlin, Yugoslavia, the fall of Weimar Germany, all overlaid with a bizarro SF premise which made for some striking visuals and dramatic scenes. Good performances, especially from David Morrissey.

I haven't read the book, so can't speak to the changes that some of the Guardian commenters were moaning about, but it hung together well for me. I'd been wondering if they'd filmed on location somewhere in the Balkans, but no, it was Liverpool and Manchester in fancy dress. Nice work.

Be safe.
posted by rory at 12:48 PM on April 20, 2018

I saw episode one this morning and will try to see the rest ASAP. I have read the book and am interested in seeing how the two will diverge, such as the disappearance of Borlu's wife.

I'm finding the whole selective focus thing distracting. It is probably the best and most accurate way of showing what's going on but when I first read the book, knowing that I was reading China Mieville, I was picturing something more fantastical involving alternate dimensions or realities.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:41 PM on April 20, 2018

I was picturing something more fantastical involving alternate dimensions or realities

I very strongly never got that feeling - to me the key element of the story is that there is nothing fantastical going on whatsoever - the two cities are entirely a social construct, and that's what makes it so creepy and evil.
posted by dmd at 6:08 PM on April 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

Ultimately that is the key element and on re-reading the book it is pretty easy to see, but on my first read that didn't come out until pretty late in the book. Which was part of the enjoyment of reading it. Kind of like the Sixth Sense.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:45 PM on April 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

When on MetaFilter, see MetaFilter. Trust in Cortex.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:09 PM on April 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's a weird experience watching if you've seen Peaky Blinders as at one point it uses a very noticeable location that featured heavily in the last season of Blinders.

Much as with the novel, liked the set-up (especially the production design) but the plot left a bit to be desired.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:28 AM on April 26, 2018

I do not remember the book, only the premise of the cities and that I liked it, so I have no strong feelings about changes made to the tv show, which I also enjoyed.
posted by jeather at 10:42 AM on April 29, 2018

Yeah, I always have trouble retaining the plots of Miéville books (because I am generally obsessed with the premise to the point of distraction) and I can't find a good summary anywhere online. I know that his wife and his partner do not exist in the book, and I don't think it went with the whole archaeology angle, but


wasn't Orciny real?


I really like the series, if only because it actually helped me appreciate the fact that "unseeing" in this way might really be possible. Somehow, I never pictured Beszel and Ul Qoma as looking as different as they did on screen, and that sort of stark visual difference makes me think you could pretty much unsee the other city in crosshatched areas.

I particularly loved the scene where Borlu shoots someone in Beszel from Ul Qoma. They really managed to capture the transgressive nature of the breach visually.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:12 AM on July 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

The adaptation really brought home the reflexive cognitive dissonance of city living, as well as the fear of not knowing who is trustworthy.

I'm not sure I liked the invented wife. I understand why that choice was made, but it detracts from Borlu's professional drive to see the case through. (But the Beszel partner? Well done. That change worked.)
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:37 PM on February 6, 2021

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