If it weren’t for this job I sometimes wonder whether I’d even bother watching TV at all. This mood strikes me particularly in those weeks when I find myself casting round for anything new and vaguely interesting to watch and I end up in front of something as epically dire as Sky’s new Dan Brown adaptation The Lost Symbol.
Brown’s hero Robert Langdon, whom we first met on screen in the The Da Vinci Code, is like Indiana Jones with a charisma bypass. Remember that wonderful scene in the first Indie movie where hunky Harrison Ford is giving a lecture to some besotted female archeology students, and one girl closes her eyes to reveal that she has written ‘Love’ on one eyelid and ‘You’ on another? Well the lecture his 21st-century milquetoast equivalent delivers at Harvard is nothing like that.
Langdon (Ashley Zukerman) is a ‘symbologist’: like something from a large-print, abridged and simplified Umberto Eco novel for readers with a sub-50 IQ. But what his lecture is really about is politically correct indoctrination. He shows slides of the Gadsden flag (the ‘Don’t tread on me!’ flag with the snake on it); nasty right-wing people sporting a cross; more ‘far right’ people making the OK hand sign, which supposedly now signifies white supremacy. ‘When do benign symbols become malignant?’ he asks.
Ooh, Professor, sir, I can answer that one! They become malignant when a pair of right-on scriptwriters — Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie — get hold of a crappy 2009 novel which predates ‘woke’ and impose on it their achingly tedious progressive spin.
This is about as intellectual as the first episode gets. After that, it quickly plummets into your bog-standard, formulaic Dan Brown storyline in which Langdon is a helpless prisoner of a contrived, all-constraining plot.