on 17 June 2011
I remember when these were originally broadcast and how much I looked forward to watching each one. There is an enormous mixture of story types and writing styles and you can see many actors who have become familiar in the 30 years since these programmes first came to the screen. Each story is engrossing in its own way. A small number, particularly in the earlier series, have less than perfect picture quality (not really surprising after all this time) and one or two have very quiet sound. That aside this disc set represents very good value for money indeed. A superb collection if you like short stories with a (often satisfying!) twist in the tail.
on 12 October 2010
I'm going to break the habit of a lifetime and keep this review short and sweet. This boxed set of DVDs is utterly, totally wonderful. Exactly what I'd hoped for, brilliant value and delivered quickly.
If you loved Roald Dahl, liked Tales of the Unexpected and want to take a trip back in time, buy this. You'll be delighted.
on 21 August 2010
This DVD box set of all 112 episodes includes over 20 which were never shown in the United Kingdom, having been made and produced in the United States. Some of the best episodes are in this category, including such stars as George Peppard, Sharon Gless and Joan Hackett. However, all episodes of the usual 28 minute run feature acting and production values which will never be approached in the 'reality-ridden' content which masquerades as Television nowadays. In the first 2 series, introduced by Roald Dahl, much of his own work is used. Later series involve a wide range of other authors of the weird and horrific such as Angela Carter and W.W.Jacobs. The quality of the acting is of the highest order with such thespians as Sir John Gielgud and Sir John Mills amongst many others.
A word of warning. Do not watch this in large doses. Look on it as you would a collection of short stories. Sip carefully over a long period of time, to extract the best from this unique box set. It will never be available again.
Produced by Anglia TV, and broadcast from 1979-88, this 112 episode, complete series of 25-minute short stories, were adapted from stories written by authors including Roald Dahl, Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Rendell. The tales cover a wide range of deadly sins, including murder and infidelity, with a generous dash of black humour.
A stellar cast from stage, film and TV, including Sir John Gielgud, Peter Bowles, Denholm Elliot, Joan Greenwood and Sian Phillips all make guest appearances. The series hits the ground running, with the tense opener "Man From The South", in which a young sailor accepts an highly unusual wager.
Sir John Mills stars in "Galloping Foxley", playing a commuter whose daily routine is disturbed by the arrival of a new face on the train, a face which evokes painful memories of being bullied as a pupil at a public school.
Elaine Stritch enjoys herself in the delicious black comedy "William And Mary", as the long-suffering wife of a dictatorial husband who "keeps an eye" on her from beyond the grave. Fans of the earlier "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" may experience a feeling of Deja vu, with some of the stories having been recycled from that series, an example being "Lamb To The Slaughter", a domestic murder tale starring Susan George and Brian Blessed.
The series also boasts a number of American actors, including Gloria Grahame, George Peppard, Sharon Gless, and Stuart Whitman to name but a few. Gary Burghoff (Radar from M.A.S.H.) stars in "The Best Policy", a humorous little tale about a newly-promoted bank manager, an extremely honest man who finds himself accused of embezzlement.
Inevitably with such a bumper collection, some stories are better than others, but collectively this is a very entertaining and enjoyable series, wickedly good fun, with lots of delightful twists and turns.
Picture and sound quality are generally good, no extras or subtitles. The 19 discs are stored in ten slim cases, with a synopsis of each episode on the inside of the cases.
Another excellent release from Network.
on 11 July 2015
'Tales of the Unexpected' is one of the absolute gems of British TV from the late 70s/early 80s. Some might think that the BBC were responsible making all the quality broadcasting back then, with ITV mostly showing cheesy sitcoms and endless adverts for biological washing powder, but this series is a clear evidence that 'commerical television' could hold its own in the creative stakes.
Produced by Anglia Television in, er, Norwich, Tales of the Unexpected clocked up a total of 112 "tales with a twist" over its nine year run, and every single one of them is crammed into this DVD boxset.
So what was so good about this show? I'd argue that when at their best, these seemingly innocuous little plays had twists which were so damn wierd that they'd be burnt into your brain for the rest of your life. We're not talking visceral gore and horror, nor lurid sex and violence, no breakneck car chases or edge-of-the-seat tension: it's more often a case of rather normal little situations which over the course of half an hour somehow manage to slip sideways from the world the ordinary into the world of the bizarre, almost without you noticing, until suddenly the twist at the end shocks you awake again and you're left reeling! And as you reel, the wonderful little theme tune dances around you (penned by Ron Grainer of Doctor Who fame, no less).
Most of the early ones were written (and also introduced on screen) by Roald Dahl, whose slightly unsane imagination we ultimately have to thank for the series' delights. Of course, many different other writers supplied stories as the years went on, not all of them quite of the same calibre - occasionally we seem to be watching Tales of the Bleedin' Obvious instead :) but overall the show keeps delivering.
The acting is generally great - there are simply dozens of familiar faces on the cast list, working your way through the boxset is like thumbing through a copy of 'Spotlight' - everyone from Peter Cushing to Joan Collins, I couldn't begin to list them all. Pretty much every episode has someone you'll recognise from your favourite sitcom/ soap/ police drama/ Hammer Horror film...or ever the Royal Shakespeare Company. Oh look, it's him out of The A-Team! that guy out of M*A*S*H! there's Bergerac! etc etc etc.
If I have one real criticism of this boxset, it's the rather grotty state of the sound and picture on a lot of these episodes. It looks like the DVDs were made from copies-of-copies that had been doing the rounds for showing on UK Gold and ITV3 (giveaway sign: very few of them have the original 'silver man on a horse' Anglia TV logo, instead they've got some dodgy early 90s version edited onto the end). Most of them were made on video, but some of them (particularly the American ones) were shot of film and are crying out for someone to go and remaster them in high definition from the original negatives. Maybe some day this'll be done and we'll get a 'deluxe' edition, but I wouldn't hold your breath.
on 13 May 2011
Excellent value and fine entertainment so I can't add much more to all the other unanimously positive reviews. My only slight quibble is that some of the American tales lacked the great character actors which the British series had. So many household names, some now dead others still going strong are all there. TV was far more civilised in the days that these shows were made and sadly it has been mainly down hill since then so we won't see the like again. A collection to be treasured.
on 30 March 2011
This box set is absolutely brilliant, A lot of viewing for a great price, I'm about halfway through it and loving every minute. I watched this series the first time around and to see a lot of familier faces that are still around today. It's a lovely box set an ideal gift for all ages. The delivery was fast and well packaged and like I said a great price. A good company and will use again A1..........