Alexander Sedov (alek_morse) wrote,
Alexander Sedov

What series in Russian TV are Really THE BAD / Плохие сериалы

Вчера меня спросили, какие отечественные сериалы я бы отметил как очень плохие, наверное, даже ужасные. Я бы не стал городить огороды, а просто предложил бы открыть газету с телепрограммой: легче ответить какие сериалы можно считать более-менее профессионально снятыми. Но вопрос прозвучал от английского товарища, который просто желает понять "что такое хорошо и что такое плохо" в нашем сериальном кино, так как сериалы, которые рекомендовали ему друзья из России - сплошь шедевры:

"Приключения Шерлока Холмса и доктора Ватсона"
"Место встречи изменить нельзя"
"Приключения принца Флоризеля"

И тогда я крепко задумался. Как ответить?
И потихоньку сочинил вот такой длинный-предлинный ответ - предупреждаю: на английском (!). Для наших соотечетственников, впрочем, там нет никаких особых открытий. Просто мой субъективный взгляд на историю сериалов с конца семидесятых до наших дней, очень бегло, с пропусками, но и с кое-какми пояснениями.
Тем не менее, в этом пространном тексте я задаю вопрос, на который пока не нашел ответ. Какие советские сериалы 1970-х или 1980-х вы отметили как откровенно плохие?

Of course, in 1970s-1980s, there were unsuccessful, slow and tedious films in that time. But from today many of them seem to me not as awful as seemed then. However, before I’ll name them, I want to do some historical excurse…

 It’s necessary to mean that Russian television, at least, divide into two periods –


Before Perestroika


And After


Before Perestroika:


There are ideological censorship

and “censorship” of “good taste” in movie (in arts) that was realized with Art Consulting Council in every Soviet film studio (if as Producers Council – but there were famous film directors and the officials of Ministry of Cinema). So, every ideological and art/taste roughness was notes by them, and than the members of the Council sent the movie to rework.


Sometimes, these demands went to the interesting creative innovations. For example, the author’s voice in “Florizel” (to be exact, is voice by Colonel Geraldine) is the consequence of the official demand “to soften the intonation of this movie”. Imagine how if as you see “Florizel” without Geraldine’s witty comments! What could this film be?


Before Perestroika there was NOT the term “TV series” in Western meaning, there were long series of NOT more 15 episodes, there were NOT sitcoms, soap-operas etc.,


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson”, “The Meeting Place…” and “The Adventures of Prince Florizel” (I try to “trace” the term) are multi-episodes films (многосерийные фильмы).


Any TV movie that had more 2 episodes is considered as multi-episodes.

In 1970s and 1980s there were not very many multi-episodes of more 5 episodes. As rule, in this category there were 3-4-5 episodes films. The films of 10 and more episodes (not more 15, as I said early) were real event for Soviet television. Usual people named their as “serials” (сериалы) like the Western term “TV-series”.

There was NOT term “the season” toward to TV movies (unlike some TV shows).


Some multi-episodes films could contain some elements of genres like sitcoms or soap-opera or be like them in part of plot structure.


You may imagine how quality level is meant for TV films in 1979, if three-episodes “D’Artagnan and Three Musketeers” (musical adventure) was apple of discord between the Ministry of Cinema (Goskino) and the Soviet Television (Gosteleradio): where will the film be showed firstly – on cinema screen or TV set? As result, the television wined and I remember what THE Event this movie among us, which we saw in Central Television.


Perhaps, my memory is too selected, but I can’t name THE bad TV series (or, to be exact, “multi-episodes”) from 1970s and 1980s. Probably, such ones existed, and rather they were filmed about an everyday life in some factory or collective farm in country. If who can name them – please do :) Maybe, is it the series about young Karl Marx (1979) that I didn’t see a long time – from Soviet period? - Karl Marx: Young Age


But I read the rapturous replies in the site:


Instead it, I can name some ones of middle quality, in which I never see some outstanding. I guess that in a large they are «фильмы на производственную тему» that it’s word-to-word – “the film on working subject” or I’d translate as “worker drama”, where a nucleus of plot is the collective/crew in factory, laboratory etc and the relationships between the members of it.


Instance, «Дни хирурга Мишкина» (The Days of Surgery Mishkin, 1976), drama - 3 parts

True, here too I read the rapturous replies from the viewers.

Perhaps, I’m too subjective ;)

By the way, screen caps:



Yet here is the multi-episodes film (6 parts) of a middle quality level, in my taste:


«И это всё о нем» (And Everything About Him) – 1977, drama + detective elements



As rule genre “working drama” is considered as most boring, but both the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Cinema sent the compulsory quota to every film studio. Indeed, it was the ideological necessary. Understanding it, a film director tried to add in the movie some more interesting – to add the elements of other genres, to focus into human relationships etc.


After Perestroika


Russian television became commercial (after 1991), where TV channels lives on the money sent from the advertisement. So, the first Russian TV series (in Western meaning) aroused. The most early were very well movie quality and were considers as the events for audience/society.


For example:

 «Петербургские тайны» (Petersburg Mysteries) – 1995 (plus sequel of 2001)

  – based on trashy-sentimental novel of 19th century, with detective elements

 48 episodes + sequel 12 episodes


Another is:

 «Королева Марго» (Queen Margot, 1996) – 18 episodes

 «Графиня де Монсоро» ( The Countess of Monsoreau, 1998) – 26 episodes

 Factually, these TV series is considered as one TV saga (despite two film directors), because Alexandre Dumas wrote trilogy about these characters and events. Plus it’s one production film company, the same locations (in Czech Republic), costumes, the same actors, the same producer Sergei Zshigunov.


Now I continue to consider these films are best in the category “TV series” (not in “multi-episodes”) on Russian screen.



After economic crisis of 1998, the advertisement market became rise very actively and Russian film industry that was in collapse after 1991 became as actively swell up. Easy advertisement money moved the film industry to a lot of low-quality TV series – in generally it is crime/detective dramas. As rule, they have very low professional level.


Now it’s the Event for the television and for the society if Russian film industry gift to us, viewers, the series of more or less good quality and more or less professional level. Factually, it’s random luck.


Now I almost don’t see the series on TV set. But I can name the example really BAD series, just reading the page with the week time-table of TV-programs in newspaper.


Here, I see in this week:


Friday, 5 December –


«Монтекристо» (2007)


It’s the Russian remake of Argentina’s series


Today, I think the stable trend exists to film Russian TV remakes-analogies of Western soap-operas, crime dramas, sitcoms etc. In any way, such was before today’s economic crisis. Someone hopes that easy advertisement money will go out from Russian TV film industry – so the quantity of films will be less and a quality will be better. I don’t know, don’t know…


However, today even more traditional Russian/Soviet TV genre of “multi-episodes” film is experienced the hard times. Although during last 4-5 years the film industry created quite good-quality multi-episodes films -

For example:


Idiot” – based on F. Dostoevsy’s novel, film dir. Vladimir Bortko, 2003 – 10 parts;


Master and Margarita” – based on Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel, film dir. Vladimir Bortko, 2005 – 10 parts;


The First Circle” – based on Alexander Solzhenisin’s novel (8 parts), film dir. Gleb Panfilov - 2005


But much more low-professional productions, instance:


The Golden Calf” – based on Illya Ilf’ and Yevgeni Petrov’s novel, film dir. Uliyana Shilkina, 7 parts - 2006


This series has a huge budget, bit it’s just awful movie in own absolute non-professionalism.


Instead of it, I highly recommend the brilliant film adaptation of this novel screened in 1968 by Mikhail Shvejtser


In conclusion I have to say that today Russian viewers clearly see a harsh contrast between the movies/series filmed in 1970s-1980s – and today’s ones. Indeed, this contrast is in the content, the senses (other times – other morals), but MORE in quality of an image, in feeling of psychological depth of characters, in professionalism of filmmakers etc. And in this comparison the old movies wins.


Хотел бы еще раз обратиться к гражданам России, к тем, кто еще не участвовал - поставить свою подпись под петицией ПРОТИВ ПОПРАВОК в КОНСТИТУЦИЮ, направленных на продление срока полномочий президента и депутатов ГосДумы.

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Нехорошие люди хотят править дольше положенного.

Tags: movie, review, television, кино

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