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Callan - The Definitive Collection [1967] [DVD]
Callan - The Definitive Collection [1967] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Edward Woodward
Price: £72.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I'm Fed Up Too!, 8 Nov. 2013
I ordered this a couple of years ago - possibly even a 'few' years ago now. To be honest, it is so long, I can't remember.

Now I see that it is due for release in 2020, but at this rate, I think they are being a bit optimistic. It's not as though the episodes don't already exist - just put them on disc and get a few boxes printed.

I'm not waiting any longer. I want to see all the episodes I never saw when 'Callan' was originally released, having heard so much about how good it was. I believe the actor who played Lonely had something to do with delaying release of the series on video due to a type-casting issue, so we've had to wait for years anyway.

I think I am going to treat myself to the individual sets now, and give up the ghost on waiting for this collection.

Sorry I have to give a 1 star review to a great series, but it's not the series I am reviewing.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [DVD] [2011]
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Gary Oldman
Price: £2.99

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'It isn't as good as the BBC version', 2 Jun. 2013
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'It's not as good as the BBC version'. That was always going to be the major challenge in trying to remake an adaptation of a book that already has a perfect adaptation in the 6-part BBC, Alec Guinness offering.

That aside, it is a reasonably well-made film, with acceptable acting and an attention to the atmosphere of the period. However, even a slew of famous actors are going to be hard-pressed to recreate characters who are already associated with the 'definitive' screen version of 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'. They do all right though.

Many scenes are almost carbon-copies of the BBC version; others are new and restated, sometimes pointlessly. For example, why is Hungary now substituted for Czechoslovakia as the scene of Jim Prideau's failed mission? It serves no purpose. Why is the Boris/Irina plot set in Turkey, not Portugal?

While the acting is acceptable, character development is sparse, which is a shame considering how much of this fine story does depend on back-story and understanding of the characters. Conversely, a huge amount of time seems to have been wasted on scenes that are trivial or that do not contribute directly to the plot, for example, Smiley walking through and swimming in what appears to be a pond in one of these parks. There's a staff party with silly singing too. This serves to make the film feel slow and long, when it really isn't giving as much away as it could,

What makes this lack of character-detail bearable, and perhaps almost un-noticable, is the fact that anyone who has read the book or seen the BBC version already has access to the back-stories and details lacking in this new movie version.

Even the BBC version couldn't convey all the details that reading the book could offer, but it was able to convey a great deal more than the new film version, being about 4-times longer. It does, however, seem to manage to move faster than the film version. Maybe that is something that Einstein could have explained.

My final niggle concerns the music. The incidental, background music is often overpowering, making it not incidental but focal. I am also puzzled by the significance of using 'La Mer; sung by Julio Iglesias as the end of the film, and the Geotge Formby number somewhere in the middle has me puzzled too.

So, 'it's not as good as the BBC version' because it isn't as good as the BBc version, and never stood a chance of being better. However, it is an interesting film to see for any lovers of spy stories or reasonably well-made British dramas.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 8, 2013 1:41 AM BST

Colditz - The Complete BBC Collection (with 5 Limited Edition Art Cards & Collector's Booklet) [DVD] [1972]
Colditz - The Complete BBC Collection (with 5 Limited Edition Art Cards & Collector's Booklet) [DVD] [1972]
Dvd ~ Jack Hedley
Price: £25.63

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SUPERB!, 24 May 2013
The title for this review says it all, because there is no word that can describe this 70s TV gem with more honesty. It is simply superb in every way, as is the DVD package that brings this back to life for your plasma.

With a host of the very best actors from the Golden Age of British television, and excellently scripted stories and interactions between allies and Germans, 'Colditz' makes for unmissable entertainment.

The DVD package is also brilliantly done. picture quality is crystal-clear; it is hard to believe this series was shot so long ago and, I imagine, left on a shelf somewhere while the Beeb obstinately refused to release it, for whatever reason. The CD collection comes in a beautiful box set with a few extras that will sit in pride of place o anyone's bookshelf.

This is a series of impeccable quality and at about 20 quid it's a steal. I am so glad this was released!

Enemy At The Door - The Complete Series [DVD] [1978]
Enemy At The Door - The Complete Series [DVD] [1978]
Dvd ~ Alfred Burke
Price: £24.62

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been better, 30 April 2013
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Enemy At The Door tells a story of a wartime Guernsey and the invasion and occupation by German forces. Action (and I use that term very sparingly) centres around a doctor and his family, and his relationship with the German Commandant who is, in fact a decent man. Other characters also feature such as a chief of police, and an interesting performance from Simon Cadell as an SS officer - a very different role to the wimpy one we usually associate him with in Hi-D-Hi!

Many of the stories are based around banal themes, such as livestock being poached and water quotas not being met. Some are more interesting, but all feature around dialogue, which. typically for BBC of the period, is done well. Sets are used extensively and outdoor scenes are kept to an absolute minimum. Some characters' reactions and emotions are bizarre, and unrealistic, but it is human realism upon which these episodes should be based.

What this series lacks is the depth of other series I've seen from the period, for example, Secret Army. The stories were more exciting and dealt with tenser themes; this series deals with day-to-day things that are far less interesting, as portrayed.

This DVD set also comes to a somewhat abrupt end, signalling that a third series was probably expected. Certainly the series should have planned to span the period of the war, in hindsight. So I conclude that a further series resulting in the liberation of the islands would have been envisaged by the series creators.

It's not a bad series by any means, but it also isn't a good one, and in comparison to other series of the period, it shows it could have done, and been so much more!

Harry's Game The Complete Series [1983] [DVD]
Harry's Game The Complete Series [1983] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ray Lonnen
Price: £8.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'An ordinary fella in a dangerous situation', 20 Mar. 2013
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I think I first heard of 'Harry's Game' through the haunting song by Clannad, known as 'Theme from Harry's Game', and Ray Lonnen I knew from the enormously enjoyable series 'The Sandbaggers' so it wasn't much of a jump from seeing this available as a DVD to clicking it into my cart.

'Harry's Game' centres around the troubles in Belfast, and beyond as it happens. An operative is sent in to Northern Ireland to capture or kill the assassin of a British government official. He has to infiltrate the deeply suspicious and unforgiving world of N. Ireland at the height of hostilities to complete his mission. There are several twists introduced into this scenario to add more drama to the story, so it isn't as cut-and-dried as it may seem

I have never been to Belfast, so I cannot comment on the authenticity of the feelings amongst the people, the behaviour of the 'provos', the ordinary people or the British troops, but I can only imagine that what we are seeing on film is a stark portrayal of the situation. Treatment of both sides is fair, I think. The IRA are not portrayed as being entirely inhuman, in spite of their atrocities. maybe the British troops are portrayed as being a little heavy-handed, but then again, if they are constantly under fire, who can blame them.

The are some interesting and surprising (well, one is not so surprising, given the accent) appearances by an actor and an actress we have come to know so well in other roles. The Irish guy of 'Coronation Street' has a minor role, and the long-haired one off 'Birds of a Feather' dons a convincing Irish accent to play a somewhat pivotal role in the plot.

The DVD includes an interview with a much older Ray Lonnen about the series, which is interesting to watch. Ray seems to be a really nice guy! I just wish they had made at least one more series of 'The Sandbaggers' to round things off. Ray, if you're reading this, I don't think look that old! You've worn better than a lot of actors out there!

Unlike other reviews, I won't ruin the ending, but I will say if you're a fan of quality thrillers, well converted from novel to silver screen, I doubt you'll be disappointed with 'Harry's Game'.

Sleepers [DVD] [1991] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Sleepers [DVD] [1991] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

5.0 out of 5 stars Finally!, 24 Feb. 2013
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I am so glad to see 'Sleepers' on DVD finally, after all these years! 'Sleepers' was shown twice on BBC TV in the early 90s and has resisted being released on DVD until recently. I had the final two parts on VHS for a while, and had to make do with just watching them, but now I have the full series to enjoy again and again, at my leisure.

Brilliant drama, tinged with comedy, 'Sleepers' is handled with real gentleness and you can't help getting caught up in the lives of these two hapless agents, as they try and evade their Soviet masters. This 4-part series is as nostalgic to me as a TV viewer, as the Soviet memorabilia must be to certain Russians. It has all the hallmarks of a serious spy drama, and the acting is perfect throughout. An interesting fact: Nigel Havers' Russian had to be dubbed in by someone else because he couldn't get his tongue round it!

I loved the music too, with the almost eerie opening sequence played on balalaikas, evoking music traditionally used with Cold War spy films, and the quirky Russian folk ditty at the end, also played on the balalaika. Speaking of music, I am sure I remember 'The Long And Winding Road' by the Beatles as being the backing track for the last scene, but in the DVD, this has been replaced. It doesn't detract from the quality of the story or the DVD package, it's just that if you are expecting it and it isn't there you notice it!

Finally, this set is advertised as Region 1 encoded, but it isn't. It works just fine on my region 2 player. So if you want it, get it!

Wings - The Complete BBC Box Set [DVD] [1977]
Wings - The Complete BBC Box Set [DVD] [1977]
Dvd ~ Michael Cochrane
Price: £28.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jolly Good Show, Chaps!, 8 Feb. 2013
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Wings - a truly excellent series from the glorious decade of television drama, the 70's! The two series chart the exploits of a small, poorly equipped reconnaisance squadron during the middle of WWI.

For a 70s series, Wings manages to look remarkably undated, by contemporary standards, if you allow for the grainy quality of footage for most of the flight sequences. At no time do you feel that you are not up there with the action and the sets feel real enough to dissuade question too. Some series such as The Sandbaggers are shot mostly on sets and it really feels like it. Not so with Wings.

Whilst being a thouroughly satisfying drama series in its own right, Wings serves to explore several themes and issues of the period, and wartime situation. For example, it explores class issues of the day, and how difficult it was for working class people to compete with officers for recognition and respect; the elitsist attitudes of the air corps inrelation to the foot soldier in the trench; the coming and going of sweethearts and the stupidity of wartime tactics and expectations.

Although it has been nostalgic to see this excellent drama again, at the end of the second series, I was left with a slightly bitter taste in my mouth. Series two finishes in a reasonably satisfactory manner, however, I cannot help but feel it could have extended into a third series and maybe beyond. Certain story ends seem to be hanging loose, such as the relationship with Gaylion and Lorna. Do they get married. or does Alan finally win het back in the end? Does he deserve her back? Maybe it was supposed to be left that way, like the uncertainly of warfare.

Conclusion: I highly recommend this series to any aficionado of British wartime drama or drama in general.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 30, 2013 6:41 AM BST

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