Hanks, Robert, The Independent (London, England)
AT A time when most television drama seems to consist of two- dimensional characters plodding through stereotyped situations, spouting carefully explanatory dialogue along the way, it's a real joy to come across a drama which is as compressed, exciting and teasing as the latest Vauxhall Zafira ad.
This is the one in which, to the sound of Bony M's "Daddy Cool", a man picks up a group of boys from a rural school, chauffeurs them through a series of dramatic landscapes, before finally delivering them back to the school gates, where a group of faintly bewildered- looking parents are waiting. As he drives away, the boys he has left behind look on yearningly; while a boy in the back seat leans into the upholstery and gives a little satisfied smile.
Car adverts have played on fathers' need to look good in front of sons - to be, as it were, Daddy Cool - before: the locus classicus here is the Ford Focus advert (the Focus locus?), in which an inept father is shown up in front of his son in a variety of stereotypical male-bonding activities (football, fishing), before winning the boy over by turning up at his school in a Ford Focus. On the surface, the Zafira ad is playing the same game; but there are anomalies in the narrative. The narrative seems to imply that this trip round the countryside is spontaneous; but in that case, why aren't the parents more angry when their children arrive back at school after an unannounced absence? Wouldn't they have called the police?
Then, the music is highly inappropriate - if we are supposed to think of the driver as a "cool" father, why saddle him with a song sung by a band that was a by-word for naffness? …