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Blake's 7 - Series 2 [DVD] [1978]
Blake's 7 - Series 2 [DVD] [1978]
Dvd ~ Gareth Thomas
Price: £18.00

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best BBC show ever!, 11 Aug. 2005
Season 1 of BLAKE'S 7 was a fun and intelligent adventure series that transcended it's modest budget to become something truly special. Towards the end however, it was clear that writer/creator Terry Nation was struggling a little, so for series 2 we were treated to the awesome talent of script editor Chris Boucher finally penning some stories.
After the rather clichéd (but fun) REDEMPTION that resolved the Season 1 cliff-hanger, we are immediately plunged into the "adult" drama that BLAKE'S 7 did so well: SHADOW deals with drugs dealers and BLAKE actually contemplating joining forces with them, and the ultimate revelation is both surprising & satisfying. WEAPON is also a great concept, and then we get the episode that marked out this show as unique: PRESSURE POINT sees the death of a major character during a wasted assault on Earth's "central control". Yes, the character of GAN had been underused, but his loss is still a shock and shapes the show from here on. The subsequent episode TRIAL, in which SPACE COMMANDER TRAVIS is used as a scapegoat by a nervous SERVALAN, is an astonishingly mature episode and sees the Federation officer go rogue, leading to a story arc as both he and BLAKE seek to discover the real location of Federation Central Control. This arc culminates in the truly amazing season finale STAR ONE. Here we find BLAKE, discovering the control centre has been overrun my invading aliens, having to rein in his fanaticism and actually deciding to side with the Federation. TRAVIS is killed, BLAKE is badly wounded and the show ends on a heart-stopper as the LIBERATOR is the only ship to face down the approaching invasion fleet.
'So what' if the alien spaceships are rubbish? Who cares if the Andromedan invaders are green blobs? The script, direction and acting are first rate and BLAKE's admission to AVON that he's trusted him "from the very beginning" takes both us and AVON by surprise. Paul Darrow's expression at this admission speaks volumes and goes a long way to explaining how betrayed he felt in the last ever episode.
But those costumes... Oh dear! June Hudson seems such a nice lady in the interview in this set that I hate to say what a mess those costumes are. They really were the only stumbling block this season and are what non-fans see as 'proof' that all science fiction is "childish" and "stupid". The episode GAMBIT is a well-written thriller undermined by an utterly insane wardrobe, but at least once you've seen it, it'll never be forgotten.
Still, with Jacqueline Pearce looking her luscious best as SERVALAN during this year (she was the first woman I ever fell in love with at age 9!), it takes more than a dodgy costume to undermine a great television series. Again we have poor extras and not-perfect transfers, but the underlying quality of the stories are more than enough compensation as far as I'm concerned.

The Hound of the Baskervilles [2002] [DVD]
The Hound of the Baskervilles [2002] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Richard Roxburgh
Offered by Leisurezone
Price: £3.90

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story I will never grow tired of...., 5 Jan. 2005
I read the novel of HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES several years ago, after having seen at least three of the many filmed versions. Despite my being forewarned of the plot I still found it an atmospheric and enthralling read, a true testament to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's writing talents. It remains my favourite SHERLOCK HOLMES story (I've read every single one!) thanks to the clever blending of superstition and modern thinking (perhaps reflecting the times in which Conan Doyle wrote it) and I always welcome any new adaptation of this classic tale.
Sadly, the time when the BBC produced quality television as a matter of course has long passed; They now treat such prestige productions as this as an 'event' that arrives annually, perhaps in the hope that we appreciate it enough to forgive the rubbish they feed us the rest of the year. This latest version of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES is indeed such an event: A quality production dripping with atmosphere and successfully infusing the tale with new slants and suprises. There can be very few members of the public that have not, by now, seen at least one adaptation of this famous yarn so I have much admiration for a writer who successfully takes such familiar material and makes it worth me watching all over again. Credit to all involved, as that is exactly what's been done.
The cast is uniformly excellent: Richard Roxburgh does on occasion seem to be supressing his Australian accent a little too much, but other than that makes a fine HOLMES. Both his performance and comments made by the actor on the DVD clearly demostrate that he understands the character, and the chance to see a younger, more energetic HOLMES is very refreshing. The same applies to Ian Hart as WATSON; He's a revelation in the role and carries his scenes with confidence. Nigel Bruce's bumbler to Rathbone's HOLMES is now a thing of the past, and Hart's assured performance stands along side my personal favourite WATSON, David Burke in the first Jeremy Brett series. Support from familiar names like John Nettles, Richard E. Grant and even Liza Tarbuck is very well delivered.
The story is so familiar I won't bother recounting it - It's the detail that make this film so enjoyable. The "spectral hound" itself proves that, despite horrendous overuse in rubbish like THE MUMMY, computer generated images can be effective and convincing. The direction is confident, the music suitably menacing and both the sound and art design are engaging & convincing.
There have been changes to the plot but as I mentioned earlier, such things are essential to keep such a familiar story fresh. My favourite adaptation remains the Hammer Studios version with Peter Cushing and Andre Morell, yet that takes enormous liberties with the storyline. One critcism I do share with a fellow reviewer is the scene of HOLMES injecting himself with drugs. He only needed the stimulus when not on a case, so it's inclusion here is wrong (as it was in the recent BBC SHERLOCK HOLMES film "The Case of the Silk Stocking" with Rupert Everett). The writer explains that HOLMES also took morphine to 'calm his thought processes' but I don't buy that - Still, it can't undermine what was a truly wonderful production mounted all too infrequently by the BBC.

Star Cops: The Complete Series [DVD] [1987]
Star Cops: The Complete Series [DVD] [1987]
Dvd ~ David Calder

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars mini-masterpiece from the 1980's!, 18 Dec. 2004
This criminally under exposed show (I can't say 'underated' as the few who watched it loved it) stems from 1987 and was tucked away on BBC 2 at a graveyard time. After just nine episodes and 'poor' viewing figures, it was cancelled. As I say, "criminal", as STAR COPS is a superb blend of genuine science fiction and thriller that proved way ahead of it's time (too much so, it would seem!). Devised by a major talent to emerge from the DOCTOR WHO writing stable, Chris Boucher (he also wrote five of the nine episodes), STAR COPS displays all the excellent dialogue and interesting characters we've come to expect from the man who made BLAKE'S 7 so enthralling. It helps that the cast was spot-on; Of the regulars there isn't a bad appple present (Trevor Cooper as "COLIN DEVIS" is especially convincing), but David Calder as the lead "NATHAN SPRING" gives a superb performance. On the basis of this series alone he bacame one of my favourite actors and I subsequently discovered that he's as good as he is here in everything he's done. Stories use the 'futuristic' setting in just the right balance to ground them in realism and the series' single mention of 'aliens' is clever and unexpected.
As always, the show has faults. The wire work from episode one that represents zero gravity is a little embarassing and resulted in a relocation to the moon of "Star Cop" HQ. Effects are pretty respectable for the BBC of 17 years ago - Some shuttle passes are beautiful while some spacewalks are horrendous, but this series wasn't about that and they are easily forgiven. A number of guest actors tend to be a little forgetable, almost as if they subscribe to the "I'm in sci-fi so need not do my best" syndrome. Some, such as Maggie Ollerenshaw and Geofrey Bayldon, are the opposite and lend real depth to already well sketched characters. The incidental music borders on horrendous at times - It's twee & totally innapropriate (the 'comedy' cues are pathetic!) and I'm not too keen on the title song either, it must be said. However, as soon as you realise just how good the scripts and main cast are, such flaws become less evident.
After nine consitently good episodes (not a single duff instalment) the series ended on a high with the prospect of the STAR COPS moving to Mars, while the massive improvement to the production values as the show progressed is stellar - Why did it fail?
Well, the British television viewing public have no taste, but that's a given. The title itself, "Star Cops", doesn't help. The irony is that it's intended to sound cheap and tacky, but it may have worked against the show. Also of course, then as now, science fiction has a bad reputation with "proper tv" watchers and the good gets dismissed along with the bad. Idiotic and unjust of course, but you can't fight human nature! This innovative series (and DVD) comes VERY highly recommended, and is very good value too. There are plenty of extras for a 'minor' series of this age, but I was a little disappointed by the commentaries provided by Chris Boucher. For a man with so much to say in his scripts, he tends to fall silent for long periods of time during his recollections. One thing that does come across is how upset he was that the series was cancelled and on that point, I can only agree.

Thunderbirds [DVD] [2004]
Thunderbirds [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Bill Paxton
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £4.24

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Fans" of the original: This film wasn't intended for you!!, 16 Dec. 2004
This review is from: Thunderbirds [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
The negative reaction to the THUNDERBIRDS movie has left me reeling. I am truly aghast that such an enjoyable family film has been dismissed (and in such a vitriolic manner) by so many people.
Quite what they were expecting is beyond me, but I am reminded of the hostile reception meted out to THE PHANTOM MENACE, another enjoyable family film pulled apart by the 'adult' fans because it didn't meet their narrow view of what made a STAR WARS film 'good'.
If those with an overly negative view of THUNDERBIRDS can put their hands on their hearts and say they disliked it because it was a bad film then there's not much I can do to change their minds (I happen to disagree most strongly). But to dismiss it because it wasn't made to their expectations or that "too much was changed" is a little selfish. I have just finished watching the film again on region 2 DVD and I enjoyed it even more the second time around. Hearing director Jonathan Frakes state on the commentary that he was proud of the fact that the film only contained one single gun (which was never even fired) lifted my spirits and reinforced what he was trying to do. It's very sad to hear the commentary all the way through, as it's clear that Mr. Frakes believed in THUNDERBIRDS and that his hopes for a sequel have been completely destroyed by the cynical attitudes of modern times.
Then we have the critics... don't get me started on the critics! It seems these people are obliged to destroy at least one high-profile film release every year in an attempt to prove they know what they're talking about and this year, THUNDERBIRDS was drawn from the hat. Their reviews were unforgivable given the trash they heap praise upon (SHREK 2 was a "fun family film"?), but what's even more annoying is that the public believe them.
If I become aware of a film that interests me I will go and see it no matter what critics say. I seem to be part of a dimishing section of the (British) public that is able to 'make their own mind up' instead of believing what's fed to them by the press.
I suspect THUNDERBIRDS will do well on DVD in the run up to Christmas, but that's small consolation when you realise that a potentially brilliant franchise has been strangled at birth.
I apologise for the aggressive nature of this missive, but I feel a grave injustice has been done. THUNDERBIRDS was a superb family film and I have yet to see or hear of any children who disliked it. In a time when "heroes" are a thing of the past this film attempted to give them something pure to look up to. Now it's dead and finished. why shouldn't I be angry? I've been robbed of something special too.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 13, 2009 5:13 PM BST

Transformers: Robots In Disguise - 1.1 [DVD]
Transformers: Robots In Disguise - 1.1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Transformers

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun to be had is you're willing..., 20 Nov. 2004
As a die-hard G1 fan I could very easily take the path that so many seem to and rip ROBOTS IN DISGUISE to shreds, but I've actually grown pretty fond of this series over time. This DVD set allows for a timely re-evaluation.
For a start, forget continuity. RID bares no relation to G1, G2, Beast Wars, Beast Machines or even the more recent Armada & Energon. It stands alone and that is actually it's strength: You can just dive in and have a good time!
Basically, the enemy Transformers this time are the "PREDACONS" (not DECEPTICONS as in G1) and are on Earth to plunder it's energy reserves. The AUTOBOTS of this continuity have been on Earth for some time (it would appear) and have established a massive underground base as well as a planet-spanning "space bridge" to get them to trouble spots quickly. That's the premise and is enough to get you started if you're a new viewer.
The initial cast is small in number, but makes up for this deficiency with some great characters. While the MEGATRON of this series is a bit of a whiny bore, his underlings are a hilariously realised group of robots. GAS SKUNK, DARK SCREAM and SLAPPER are a wonderful 'triple-act' that blunder and stumble from one mission to the next and actually have you wanting them to win most of the time. Even better is SKY-BYTE, a mechanical floating shark that recites poetry during combat and talks with his mouth full. These characters are wonderfully voiced (although occasionally hard to understand due to the nature of dubbing a Japanese-originated series!) and easily outshine the AUTOBOTS. That's not to imply that the heroes this time round are boring (far from it!), but against such colourful competition they tend to fade into the background. Plots range from fun to mad (such as HUNT FOR BLACK PYRAMID, in which we are automatically supposed to know where the titular "Black Pyramid" came from even though it's never explained!) but always executed in style. The animation is super slick and the music (especially the theme) is ace. Also worthy of note are some bizarre yet funny scenes - PROWL and X-BRAWN in "disguise" in one episode, and the Autobots thrown into water and trying to swim in "COMMANDOS" (I laughed aloud at that bit!).
In the episode entitled, funnily enough, "THE DECEPTICONS", we finally meet some of the 'old style' villains. More traditional than the Predacons in their evil doings, this new group make for some interesting plot develoments as they attempt to steal glory from SKY-BYTE & impress MEGATRON while traces of a story arc begin to develop.
Unless you're a completely closed-minded G1 fan unwilling to accept anything else, I certainly recommend this DVD set. Be warned though, that the volume 1 that is also available right now contains the same episodes as in this set - DON'T BUY the one with the blue cover if you get this one (which you should do!)

Transformers: Season 1 [DVD]
Transformers: Season 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jay Bacal
Offered by Retro Online
Price: £23.00

49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Animated bliss..., 11 Nov. 2004
This review is from: Transformers: Season 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Okay, so I'm 34 yet still into TRANSFORMERS, GI JOE, MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE and anything made by Gerry Anderson - You have a problem with that? Good, because I honestly don't see a time when I won't be a fan of all these gems - If people seem to think I should give up all the things I love just because I've reached a certain age then that's their problem, not mine (but I digress).
Now known as "Generation 1" because of all the subsequent incarnations, to me this will always just be "The Transformers". I vividly recall the day when I leapt for a blank video cassette to start recording the first 4-minute snippet of the first episode when it was screened by breakfast television's summer holiday host ROLAND RAT (remember him?). I was mesmerized from the start - Here were my favourite toys brought to life in thrilling adventures that were told in a superb way. Years later the series seems as fresh and thrilling as ever, even though the original toy line is long gone - Sort of puts paid to the "toy commercial" jibe so many people level at series like this, doesn't it? After all, if that were the case the series wouldn't be held in such high esteem by adults such as myself (believe me, there are LOTS of us about!) so long after it ended.
This set features 16 digitally remastered episodes; the entire first season. Over the course of the unforgettable opening three-parter we come to know and love the core of characters that defined a generation, and subsequent instalments introduce the sublime SKYFIRE, ravenous INSECTICONS and the gargantuan gestalt DEVASTATOR. If you haven't a clue what I'm talking about then you need to buy this set. Back in the 80's we found ourselves caring for these two-dimensional robots and there's no reason the same won't happen to you. You may find the animation style 'crude' in comparison with today's cartoons (I don't), but the pace, excitement & quality of storytelling leaves the vapid modern counterpart lurking in shame amongst the shadows. Am I over-reacting? Well, I admit that my passion has flourished over 20 years and that I find it equally bizarre that people get so worked over the tedium that is football - Each to their own and for fans of quality kids television, this is a must.
I must agree with another reviewer and state that from a packaging point of view, the region 2 set isn't as attractive as the chrome box/animation cel freebie region 1 set from the US. Where this release excels is that the advert "bumpers" (those little clips that say "we'll be right back") are included in the American release. They're historically interesting but not after you've seen them 6 times per episode!! The UK release removes these breaks entirely and the episodes are more streamlined as a result. Also, the R1 set of the first half of season 2 spreads a lot of 2-part stories over separate discs - The R2 release places them (quite rightly) on the same one to avoid the nuisance of a disc change mid story.
At such a good price, this is unmissable.

Dad's Army - The Complete First Series Plus the 'Lost' Episodes of Series Two [1968] [DVD]
Dad's Army - The Complete First Series Plus the 'Lost' Episodes of Series Two [1968] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Arthur Lowe
Price: £5.99

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars truly Timeless... 6 stars out of 5, 11 Sept. 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Surely no introduction to this DVD is required? The major strength of DAD'S ARMY was that it employed genuine actors for it's many roles and not just the comedians who were popular at the time. The talent on display in this series is staggering and such a great ensemble has NEVER been seen since. Another strength of the series was that Jimmy Perry went to great lengths to actually develop the characters instead of parading the same comedy ciphers each week and with such quality performers reading his scripts, the success was guarenteed. Later colour episodes like "MUM'S ARMY" may not be the funniest, but they contain heartbreaking scenes of Capt. Mainwaring losing his chance of true happiness in life, and the final scenes of the final episode "NEVER TOO OLD", where the cast pay tribute to the real Home Guard (and the spirit of war-time Britain in general) moved me to tears.
To those viewers only familiar with the colour series, these earlier black and white episodes will perhaps seem odd, but they will never the less enjoy them a lot! PIKE is perhaps a little too childish early on, but the blueprints of all the characters we love so dearly is laid out here. Surely ARTHUR LOWE was one of Britain's best ever actors, and Capt. Mainwaring has passed into television legend. This jumped-up "bank clerk" was probably one of the most arrogant, pompous and deluded characters ever committed to film, yet there's no way on earth any viewer can hate him as portrayed by Arthur Lowe. This disc is pure happiness committed to film: Not nostalgia for the sake of it, but because it's so wonderful to begin with.

Hancock's Half Hour - Volume 1 [DVD] [1961]
Hancock's Half Hour - Volume 1 [DVD] [1961]
Dvd ~ Tony Hancock

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last the REAL best of Hancock..., 10 Sept. 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Rather like the way in which "The Deadly Attachment" episode of DAD'S ARMY is elevated to classic status purely for the "don't tell him, Pike" line (when it is in fact one of the lesser episodes of that great series), so too is Hancock's "The Blood Donar" lauded for it's "armful" gag. The fact is that "The Blood Donar", like a lot of the episodes from Hancock's final BBC series, show him offering a stilted performance and suffering from the absence of Sid James (a hero of mine!). To see what made Hancock so good it's far better to look at these earlier shows and see honest-to-goodness GENIUS at work. The timing, the everyman resignation, the sad/indignant impression, all receive far better showings in the earlier episodes presented here.
Although stars of the radio show, Bill Kerr and Hattie Jacques never crossed over to the television medium, but Hancock still has the perfect foil with the presence of Sid. Although early on Sid was still the "shady twister" of the early radio shows, he later develops into a genuinely warm and credible friend for Tony. Hancock's desire to go it alone saw Sid (amicably) leave before the final series and in my opinion, Hancock lost far more than he knew.
It's sad that the BBC destoyed so many of these gems (as they did with a lot of black and white DOCTOR WHO episodes) but it's nice to see them attempting to release all the material they have left (even if the first season is represented by a single episode!)
THE ALPINE HOLIDAY features the only (I think) appearance of Kenneth Williams in the tv series (adopting his "Snide" persona of course!) and also look out for the scenes in THERE'S AN AIRFIELD AT THE BOTTOM OF MY GARDEN when the set begins to fall apart (earlier than planned) and Hancock & guest star Dick Emery have to improvise their way through the chaos. Time to wheel out the tired old cliche "They don't make 'em like this anymore", but use it with absolute and utter conviction. At his peak, Hancock was THE greatest comedian/comedy actor that this country produced - Partnered with Sid James he was unstopable and with episodes like THE MISSING PAGE and THE POISON PEN LETTERS (two of my favourites) still to be released, the best is yet to come.

Thunderbirds/3 Am [DVD]
Thunderbirds/3 Am [DVD]
Dvd ~ Busted

1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars hideous..., 28 July 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Thunderbirds/3 Am [DVD] (DVD)
I will first off admit that I HAVE bought this, but purely as a piece of merchandise for the THUNDERBIRDS film (which I did like a lot!). I'll probably watch the video with the sound down, but as an audio single this is lousy (as, in my opinion, are all other Busted songs). Still, me not liking them (I'm more of a RAMMSTEIN listener!) doesn't prevent me from respecting other people who do - Each to their own. What really did annoy me was to hear Busted band members, after they'd seen a preview of the film, moaning that it may hold back their chance of success in the US... What a nerve! Listening to this failed attempt to capture the magic of both the THUNDERBIRDS TV series and film ("Kick a bad guys ass" eh?) seems to indicate the reverse may be true.

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