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Cut off in it's prime!
on 30 November 2006
By Series 3 Dempsey & Makepeace was starting to show real depth - series 1 had some of the most hilarious police storylines ever broadcast on TV (sword fights in stately homes, fist fights while parachuting to earth, a ludicrously inauthentic drug-trafficking travestite... it goes on!), and series 2 went all out on the action (how many gunfights can you squeeze into an hour??), but it was sad to see this show end on this, series 3, some 20 years ago just as it seemed to be really finding it's feet...
By these final 10 episodes Dempsey had toned down his American bravado somewhat, and Makepeace was no longer simply the 'Saturday night totty' on ITV; we not only saw darker and more serious storylines - particularly the last handful of this final series - but also saw the real characters developing, and most importantly Makepeace finally seeming to be the truly excellent detective she was always meant to be (rather than simply Dempsey's decoration). Glynis Barber herself wrongly remembers that "Makepeace never ever saved Dempsey, it was always the other way around", but from the very first pilot episode where she guns down the hitman about to chop off Dempsey's head in the hotel kitchen (!) to the final episode on this series 3 boxset where *again* she guns down the hitman (this time in a pub!) who is about to blow Dempsey's head off, Barber remembers things completely the opposite of what really happened in the show (has she ever watched it back, we wonder?) - Makepeace saves the day, and saves Dempsey, with frequent regularity. There's much talk about D&M being very mysoginistic, but this was the 80's, but looking back at it now Makepeace was a very powerful character for it's time, remarkably cold (hardly the giggling bimbo) and often very calculating. Tokenistic, initially, but in the context of these sorts of 80's cop shows, she was always as casually violent and gun-toting as the next *man*.
No-one can ever accuse this show of taking itself too seriously, and elements of it are shameful (most notably some of the 'guest' stars, many of the plotlines, and some terrible continuity) but it was magnificent fun to watch every Saturday night, and I for one remember it extremely fondly. Considering it was one of the highest rating shows in the 80's, its also pretty scandalous that we are only now, 20 years later, seeing a full release, albeit of Granada's daytime 'edits' with well over half the episodes over the 3 series' being heavily edited, with this third boxset being wrongly labelled 'Complete & Uncut'. Still great though, and every 80's cop show fan HAS to have this series!!
With Glynis Barber about to appear as a detective again for the first time since Dempsey & Makepeace - albeit only slumming it in Emmerdale this Christmas - maybe there'll be a demand to bring back the "crime fighting duo"... okay, okay, with Glynis in her 50's and Brandon knocking on pensioner-age, the premise for a new version may have to be reworked slightly, but they do both look amazing for their respective ages!! I for one vote bring it back, 'cos it was itself criminal the way it was cut off in it's prime the first time around.
Charlie Five, over and out.