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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars West coast gothic
One of the best adaptations of a novel that I have ever seen. The 1996 BBC recreation for the small screen of Iain Banks' darkly brilliant gothic work really stands up superbly 12 years on.
Featuring a strong cast including Bill Paterson, Peter Capaldi and Joe McFadden as the male half of the McHoan clan who live on the beautiful Argyll coast in their rambling...
Published on 15 Nov 2008 by Arthur Dooley

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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Minor key response.
I just finished watching this 4-part rite of passage/who dunnit story on a copy taken out my local library. I chose it on the basis of the rave reviews associated with Iain Banks, his glowing approval of the adaptation (quoted on the cover), and the fact that it won a slew of Scotland BAFTA awards. Unlike many of those reviewing it here, I did not come to it as a fan of...
Published 22 months ago by Richard


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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars West coast gothic, 15 Nov 2008
By 
Arthur Dooley (N Wales) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: The Crow Road [DVD] (DVD)
One of the best adaptations of a novel that I have ever seen. The 1996 BBC recreation for the small screen of Iain Banks' darkly brilliant gothic work really stands up superbly 12 years on.
Featuring a strong cast including Bill Paterson, Peter Capaldi and Joe McFadden as the male half of the McHoan clan who live on the beautiful Argyll coast in their rambling country house.The storyline focuses on missing uncle Rory who never returned from a sojourn abroad and the rivalry between the writer brothers (Paterson and Capaldi) mainly instigated by elder brother Kenneth (Paterson) who never quite forgives younger Rory (Capaldi) for getting into print first before he disappears into the wide blue yonder. The McHoan sister is married to the charming but sinister 'Uncle Fergus' who lives in baronial splendor in his stunning castle on the shores of a mysterious dark loch.
Death is never far away from the central character, young Prentice (McFadden)..Kenneth's son who witnesses a series of family and friends die in usually tragic circumstances.
Sensitive soul that he is.He can't accept his fiercely atheistic father's brutal philosophical acceptance of these deaths and seeks answers.Just why does everyone he loves keep dying ? On top of this Prentice has to suffer further trauma as he watches older smarter brother played by Dougray Scott make a name for himself as a stand up comic and steal the girl of his wildest dreams-Verity- from under his nose !
Aided by the beautiful Ash his platonic girlfriend who happens to be a wizz with computers, Prentice gradually peels away the multitude of dark layers hiding the truth.
Beautifully,filmed acted and set.The whole 4 part series builds up to a powerful conclusion !
I had the pleasure of staying at Ardpatrick House on the Knapdale Peninsular where much of the Crow Road was filmed. Ardpatrick stood in for the McHoan family home. It was a wonderful experience and certainly enhanced a memorable drama experience.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb drama, 15 Aug 2009
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This review is from: The Crow Road [DVD] (DVD)
The Crow Road is essentially a story about growing up. But while most productions on this theme tend to be mawkish, the Crow Road is a brilliantly suspenseful, moving drama mixing elements of murder mystery, comedy, tragedy, love, sex and faith. The series comprises 4 hour-long episodes that follow Prentice McHoan, a young lad brought up by his father to question things in life. So when friends and family start dying, his older brother steals off with the woman of his dreams, and his beloved Uncle Rory goes missing, Prentice starts casting round for answers. Is there some spiritual meaning to all these people leaving him or is there a more human, and sinister, reason? Aided by his old friend Ashley Watt and imaginary visitations from the missing Rory, Prentice tries to solve the McHoan mysteries.

The acting here is superb, particularly from Bill Paterson. The story skips deftly between the present, Prentice's younger days, and even the childhood of his father and uncles, allowing the relationships between the characters to be fully realised and making it all the more heartbreaking when they break down. The extras don't amount to much unfortunately, with the audio commentary from the director and other crew a bit dry. Some contribution here from the charismatic cast (including such faces as Peter Capaldi, and even Supergran!) would have helped. Quite how this TV series compares with the book it's based on I don't know as I haven't read it but here's the author Iain Banks' opinion: "annoyingly better than the book in far too many places". There you go. Do watch this.
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65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A scottish 90's icon., 22 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Crow Road [VHS] (VHS Tape)
A pity that the amazon synopsis for this title is so short. The crow road screened in the autumm of '96 to much critical aclaim and launched Dougray Scott's career as he has since played the baddie in mission impossible 2. This drama is totally realistic, I was 20 when this was screened - the same age as many of the characters in it, and they struck me as being exactly of a same personality as my own friends in the west of scotland and Argyll. It's nice being from the same area as where this drama is set. I can tell you that without a doubt, if you want to know what young people in the west of scotland are really like, then watch this - not some stupid stereotyped characters like the school janitor from "the simpsons"!!
Seriously though, you will never see a similar drama anywhere near as good as this one. Please do watch it, or read the book & watch it!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the book, but..., 4 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Crow Road [VHS] (VHS Tape)
As an adaptation of one of the best novels I have ever read, this version unfortunately has to cut swathes of great stuff to concentrate on the central story, and I think there's a least one big, though plotwise irrelevant, change - probably for TV's sake.
Who cares? The casting is well done (though Ash is not how I pictured her) and its played brilliantly. Buy the book, read the book, love the book, then buy this and watch and love it.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb adaptation of a great novel, 1 May 2005
By 
Shinkansen "letrayas" (Vale of Evesham - England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Crow Road [DVD] (DVD)
I chose not to watch The Crow Road when it was originally televised, it did not appear to be to my taste. Some years later I read Iain Banks' novel and realised just how poor my judgement had been. I was gripped by the coming-of-age/family saga/mystery/love-story and it remains one of my favourite pieces of contempory fiction.
The BBC adaptation, while naturally missing some detail, is an exemplar of good an adaptation of a literary classic can be. No vital parts of the plot are sacrificed, and the narrative, even with flashbacks is clear. An interesting - and successful device - is the imagined series of conversations between Prentice and his missing uncle Rory.
Production values and acting are of a consistently high standard throughout.
Excellent.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Adaptions of one of the Best British Novels, 7 Nov 2004
This review is from: The Crow Road [DVD] (DVD)
I just had to add my "hear, hear" to the first reviewer- Banks has one of the most eceentric, beautiful and cruel of literary outputs (let's ignore the SF stuff with the middle initial), and The Crow Road is perhaps in the Top Five of British Novels of the last 20 years.
For the BBC to have somehow made an adaption of such skill and care is remarkable- it genuinely adds to your experience of the story and is compelling, chilling and moving.
Special words should be said for Joseph McFadden as Prentice and Bill Paterson as Ken; McFadden is a charismatic narrator, and you never lose sypmpathy with him, even when he seems to be going off the rails.
Paterson's peformance is perhaps a lifetime best, and Dougray Scott, Peter Capaldi and Valerie Edmond all atmosphere as part of an excellent ensemble.
The Crow Road is everything that the British Novel and British TV Drama can and should be- challenging, entertaining, and serious in it's artistic intentions.
Truly a landmark production.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The BBC get it right for once.......!, 30 Sep 2002
By 
Lisa Richards "Lisa R" (Bulwell, Nottingham United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Crow Road [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I cannot express how enjoyable I found The Crow Road. It was pretty faithful to the book, and then there was Prentice - played by Joe McFadden. McFadden portrayed him as a sweet and innocent guy caught up in a family mystery. He acts convincingly confused and full of angst. The plotline keeps you guessing and is very clever, with twists and turns aplenty. The rest of the cast are extremely watchable, and the ending is satisfying. But it's McFadden who really shines in this. Well worth a watch, very highly recommended. Well done the BBC!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 22 May 2013
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This review is from: The Crow Road [DVD] (DVD)
Still powerful even 17 years after this TV series was broadcast, quite fauthful to the book. The big plus for me (over the 2004 DVD) is the fact the this edition has subtitles for the Deaf and hard of hearing.

Ss I haven't been able to watch (and hear) my former DVD it was pleasnt to note that even though the series was broadcast 17 years ago it doesn't appear dated.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great plot, great 4 hour series, 4 Sep 2010
By 
LXIX (scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The Crow Road [DVD] (DVD)
The Crow Road is Scottish drama at its best. Prentice McHoan is part of a jinxed, middle class, rural family who suffer a series of unfortunate incidents including a car crash, a fall through a conservatory, and more bizarrely, the mysterious 7 year disappearance of his Uncle Rory. When he comes across some of his missing uncle's notes and computer disks, he begins to unravel the sequence of family events that led to his motor biking relative's sudden exit from the face of the earth.

A number of sub-plots run throughout this 4 hour/2 DVD TV series - including his comedian brother's romance with the girl of his dreams, a famous journalist who keeps sending matchboxes to his father, his toils at university and, eventually, a love interest.

The Crow Road, starring Bill Paterson, Joseph McFadden, Dougray Scott and Peter Capaldi, is a 1996 thriller that varies from the light-hearted to the dastardly, and everything in between. The plot is elaborate and the narrative also flicks seamlessly between the past and the present (something that takes a bit of getting used to at first). Prentice's Uncle Rory, despite being missing, also appears throughout all 4 episodes as a kind of friendly ghost or the voice of his subconscious mind.

Excellent viewing and a gripping, intriguing and elaborate plot.

Extras include a 22 minute interview with Iain Banks, the author of the original novel.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Scottish Gem!, 14 April 2002
By 
J. Kirkland "jennyk" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Crow Road [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Whole heartidly scottish from the first with an outstanding cast, particullary Joseph Mcfadden as Prentise and Dougray Scott as his on screen brother. Both gave scene stealing performances and both there careers got a great boost from this as they were relatively unknown beforehand.
None the less the rest of the cast with years more experience helped nail this as one of the best scottish drama's in years. Bringing Iain Banks novel to live with great care and effection. A true star studied cast.
Although unable to give all Iain Banks quotes from the book & plot line missing here and there, they none the less gave the heart of the book combined with the scottish scenery (western Scotland more to the point!) and some heart rendering performances. Made this a one of truely great scottish story of fate, family, love and future and that's just for starters! As there is so much woven into The Crow Road!
Well Done to all and Joseph McFadden and Dougray Scott deserve all the success they have had since. Great acting all around and wish more scottish dramas like this could be produced.
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