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Cut off in its prime
on 21 July 2014
Always interested in aviation, I remember this series when I was a kid, hanging onto every flying sequence as though my life depended on it.
Watching it years later I filled in the rest of the story that life experience tells us is also important, and could also appreciate the characterisation and the less obvious conflicts that are well portrayed. For its era I thought I'd find aspects of it (perhaps acting styles or editing) to feel a bit dated, but there was pretty much nothing getting between me and the story which, for a TV serial, I found quite a surprise. Instead I was dropped into those post-war years when grafters could make their mark provided they were quick *off* the mark, in a country struggling to find its soul after a long and bloody war, and this milieu was caught very nicely, not laid on thick with a historical trowel - burying the story in history - but brought in by far less obtrusive means that let the actors and the story breathe. The fact that it only ran to a single series is a travesty I attribute to the specialised nature of the setting; the more popular ordinary "everyday" dramas set in suburbia seem to be speaking to people who just want to see more of their world rather than someone else's, I expect a series about a rock band would probably also die a death unless it was a comedy, and Airline is a bit thin on the slapstick.
Condemned to be a niche series, I have to say that Airline deserved to be so much more than it came to be, and it was with genuine frustration that I realised now, but not as a child, all those frustrated storylines that were waiting to be worked out. This series had so much further it needed to have gone, and could have gone, if it's backers had had just a little more courage and faith in it. It showed lots of promise, and the hasty wrapping up in the final episode is at once sad to see and also well executed, in that it gives the characters a life after the series for you to ponder.
Don't let the fact that it is a "cancelled series" put you off. It's dry and at times frustrating but it never lost the sense of being real.