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85 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Drama
The Singing Detective is an absolutely cracking piece of drama, and it is wonderful to see it superbly transferred to DVD by the BBC. The last time I saw this was on VHS tape, when the picture was murky and dull; now we have a clear sharp image-as good as we can expect from a programme 20 years old.
Good drama depends on three factors: script, acting and...
Published on 19 Mar. 2004 by Steve

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not everyone's dish of tea
I couldn't imagine what this series was going to be like, so I bought it based on the mostly-positive reviews and high-level cast. After watching, I am trying to work my way up to mixed emotions about it.

The whole premise takes some getting used to, especially after more high-toned British mystery drama and period pieces. Michael Gambon plays a mystery...
Published on 19 Mar. 2012 by M. FUSCO


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best BBC drama ever, 7 Jun. 2001
By 
J. Bloss "jethrox1" (Buckingham,UK) - See all my reviews
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This is superb, surreal, marvellous, funny,touching, intriguing and entertaining. It is in short brilliant. Michael Gambon puts in an excellent performance ( but so does everybody else!! ) as the central character as reality merges with fantasy as he feverishly dreams from his hospital bed. This is a series that is worth watching time and time again there's so much to take in.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer brilliance, 17 Oct. 2004
By 
P. Boer ('s-Gravendeel, Holland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Singing Detective [DVD] [1986] (DVD)
This series of six episodes is a gripping spectacle. Which spins a thrilling web.
The story is quite simple: A writer with a skin disease slowly slips away into insanity.
But it's brilliance lies in the fact that the story plays on four different levels and each has it's own plotline.
A definite must for any lover of tv since it is probably one of the best things ever produced for tv.
The DVD is high quality with good extras, if not great. And it's definitly worth the price.
Also ignore the Robert Downey Jr. remake. I liked the film, but those ninety minutes just don't compare to the real thing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Potterism., 14 April 2015
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Mr. G. Morgan "wes" (Haywards Heath, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Singing Detective [DVD] [1986] (DVD)
Reading one negative review I was reminded of a New Yorker cartoon of a couple leaving a production of 'Macbeth' and one saying to the other, "Well I don't get it, it wasn't funny at ALL!". Yes, some of this autobiographically inspired masterpiece has to do with what the hero, Marlow, and Potter share, Psoriatic Arthropathy, in which joints are locked and skin dries and cracks, excruciatingly. Part story of this English patient, part fantasy in which he relives a version of his youth in part through the person of this Singing Detective, since he is in love with musicals and Hollywood noir. Prone in his hospital bed, sparring with his childhood enemy Binney, it seems his illness connects in some (Freudian) way with him discovering his mother with her lover in his home in Gloucestershire's Forest of Dean (amusingly referred to in 'The Glittering Coffin', his first book, as 'The Forest of Nead.'). Periodically music, dancing and mysterious wartime scenes and espionage intersperse the present in a beguiling drama that is unique. The acting is superb, future stars like Jim Carter, (his wife) Imelda Staunton, Patrick Malahide, an entrancing Joanne Whalley, the Great Bill Paterson and especially Michael Gambon - not for nothing did Sir Ralph Richardson early dub him The Great Gambon - the latter's 'Job speech' at the end of the first episode (preceding a beguilingly mimed and danced 'Dem Bones') is the finest acting I have seen on film, the actor going from tears to laughter and beyond with utter conviction. This is stunningly ambitious, brilliantly directed by John Amiel and exploring the world of illness and alienation as only Potter has ever tried. The miracle is, they succeeded. A masterpiece; ignore the nay-sayers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars three different time periods, 7 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: The Singing Detective [DVD] [1986] (DVD)
The Singing Detective is a wonderful drama.

Michael Gambon plays the main character. There are three different time periods for the story.

The Singing Detective is twenty five years old and it still looks fresh.

I watched all six episodes carefully. There is also a third bonus disc with a bbc programme called points of view With two snippets where the general public write in and give their opinions on current The Singing Detective bbc episodes. The viewer's opinions are very well written.

There is also a forty minute a close up of the writer Dennis potter

Worth buying and worth renting
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Generous package, 14 Mar. 2004
By 
Rienzi (Espoo, Finland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Singing Detective [DVD] [1986] (DVD)
I fully agree with the others, this is a DVD issue to own and cherish. For once, they also offer good extras for TV work: in an unpreceded act of generosity BBC includs full audio commentary to this series, the highly interesting musings by the director and the producer.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LIFE CHANGING .., 27 Feb. 2007
By 
Mr. N. D. Buckley (London : England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Singing Detective [DVD] [1986] (DVD)
You have, I'm sure read the reviews that proceed mine so i will skip the detail and concentrate on the mysterious . This is probably the most unique piece of theatre you will ever see, a musical detective story set in two time zones with a psychedelic autobiographical subtext that somehow connects everything with subtle artistic class. Through Phillip Marlow's search for an understanding to his life, his illness and his desires we are taken on a roller coaster ride through Dennis Potters vivid brilliant imagination. A must see for everybody who inhabits the world. ...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our hero's painful journey and struggle for redemption are cleverly paralleled with ..., 7 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: The Singing Detective [DVD] [1986] (DVD)
Potter's masterpiece and it's tempting to wonder how could he improve on this? Marlow's sickness (psoriasis) is entwined in his psychopathological psyche and guilt haunts him in a maze of interconnected scenarios - his schooldays during which his self-blame for his parents' rocky marriage and his mother's infidelity results in early neurosis plus his relationship with his mother whose licentiousness is projected onto his perceptions of his wife. Marlowe finds release in his writing where his alter-ego, the omniscient, super-cool bandleader cum sleuth, untangles every mystery except his own. Our hero's painful journey and struggle for redemption are cleverly paralleled with songs of the 40s lip-synched by the cast to add a savage satire to his agonies. Potter has never been better than when Marlowe claws his way through regression and fantasy (a scarecrow of guilt and a policeman super-ego) to face the final confrontation with his old ghosts. The acting - especially Gambon, Malahide and Suzmann - is magnificent and Trodd's masterful production makes this a joy. I'd give six stars if I could.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Singing Detective still great after all these years, 13 Mar. 2012
This review is from: The Singing Detective [DVD] [1986] (DVD)
Dennis Potters "Singing Detective" first shown as a television series and recently shown again remains a touching, imaginative and entertaining production despite the time that has elapsed since its first showing during my teens (I am now 57).The combination of the real story line of a writer in hospital with a terrifying skin ailment juxtaposed alongside the imagined detective story he is writing whilst lying in his hospital bed, combined with the halucinatory episodes he suffers through his illness (some frightening, some hilarious, some sad and deeply touching)and his memories of childhood, reveal deep aspects of his character and psychological condition.Though the theme is serious,revealing attitudes to illness, death, relationships to women, our view of our own past and more, the story is also conveyed through many truly comic moments, some musical.Michael Gambon plays the role of the writer (partly autobiographical of Dennis Potter's life) with brilliance, evoking nothing but empathy for his character despite his curmudgeonly and cynical outlook. It is simply a must see DVD.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BBC drama at its best, 27 Mar. 2007
By 
Andy Millward (Tiptree, Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Singing Detective [DVD] [1986] (DVD)
Though the years have not necessarily been kind to Dennis Potter's reputation (his misogynism and somewhat twisted view of the world live on), many of his plays and series, perhaps excluding Blackeyes, Cold Lazarus and Karaoke, have faded elegantly leaving a warm nostalgic halo. Maybe his technique of having actors surrealistically lip-synching 30s pop songs seems somewhat twee, but nonetheless he gives great pleasure wherever he goes. Ironic really, given the frequently hard-bitten satire of many of his works.

The Singing Detective may seem in retrospect somewhat overextended but to many, myself included, it is his seminal piece, working successfully in multiple levels - the dramatic equivalent of filo pastry! In fact, this is a huge and multifaceted kaleidoscope of a drama series, darting across three time periods in a combination of real time, guilty memories and a fictional film noir detective story in the mind of Philip Marlow - and how often have playrights bitten off more than they can chew in this kind of endeavour? Potter and his entourage succeed by getting the basics right - the dialogue is crisp and cutting, the human tragedy and psychoanalysis placed in sharp relief by humour and the fictional allegory around which the story has been intertwined. And then of course there is the autobiographical element associated with Potter's own youth in the Forest of Dean. How much of the man himself went into the characters we may never know for certain.

But this was not a one-man show: don't forget some tight direction by Jon Amiel and a superb cast - Gambon is as breathtaking as you'd expect, but Joanne Whalley and Bill Paterson among many more deserve plaudits for excellent performances. Stylisticially, this is Auntie Beeb at her absolute best, but the depth and subtlety of the comments and allusions, particularly around sexuality and psychosematic illness, make this a complex series of dramas that repay rewatching. The perfect addition to your DVD collection, in fact!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still brilliant after 26 years, 18 Feb. 2012
This review is from: The Singing Detective [DVD] [1986] (DVD)
I recall this was compulsive viewing in 1986 when first broadcast. Dennis Potter's multi-layered creation was way ahead of its time and when viewed today, it does not seem dated at all. Every episode is a pleasure to watch for its high production values, superb casting and sheer cleverness. Bizarrely, Channel 4 elected to re-broadcast it even as this DVD was in the post, but it's so much better to enjoy it at leisure and without the annoyance of commercial breaks. Worth buying whether you've seen it before or not.
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The Singing Detective [DVD] [1986]
The Singing Detective [DVD] [1986] by Michael Gambon (DVD - 2004)
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