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Neglected Classic That Deserves A Big Audience,
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This review is from: Wings - The Complete BBC Box Set [DVD]  (DVD)
I remember it was a big ratings winner in the late 70's when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I took a gamble I bought the series as I only had sketchy memories of a few scenes and characters from thirty years ago. I thought that for the price you couldn't go wrong for 25 episodes.
It was well worth it. It is far superior to anything shown over the Christmas period or all year for that matter. A drama following the fortunes of early British pilots in the first world war at the very dawn of air power.
My parents and I have really enjoyed it. It's a period drama so has not really aged at all. The stories are well told and the characters are distinct and well performed. These days I feel writers are lazy and they hide silly plot holes with a manic pace ( I'm looking at you Spooks writers ). No modern soap-opera sensationalized rows and tedious `relationship' merry-go-round disputes between semi-clown characters. These stories are credible and are really rich in depth and texture. I particularly liked Michael Cochrane who did a superb job of showing a man under extreme strain.
The joy of watching real aircraft over cartoon ones cannot be under-valued either.
I watched a few minutes of the historically dubious Red Baron film at around the same time and found the computer generated aircraft silly in both speed, movement and believability in comparison to the solid forms of the rickety and sluggish planes of Wings.
It's strange Wings has never been repeated on any of the many channels that show old BBC dramas ( Colditz, Secret Army, House of Elliot, Onedin Line etc ). In my opinion Wings is superior to all of them except Secret Army. Wings was a series that filled the peak time BBC1 slot on Sunday evening at around 7pm. This is when there were only three channels to watch!
It's also incredible to me that the three lead actors have vanished into virtual obscurity to only appear in occasional character parts rather than to become house hold names. Tim Woodward probably had the largest scope to appear in more dramas. He has completely vanished from our screens as a leading man. Michael Cochrane and Nicholas Jones have real presence as upper class officers; both in very different and memorable ways. I suspect they may have been type cast in upper class roles ever since. To a modern audience I think Nicholas Jones as Captain Triggers is probably a bit too full throttle. He never seems to relax. He at times reminds me of Lord Flashart from Black Adder Goes Forth - which of course came many years later.
All three leads are however superb and it was with real regret that I watched the last part. It really did feel as if I'd lost old friends when I watched the last part. It was good enough for another series. The series had still plenty of bite in it. There was no dropping off in quality over time. It would be great if the BBC could re-unite the leads for a one-off drama set thirty years later just after the second world war.
I suspect in the post Star Wars mania era of the late 1970's, the BBC changed to dramas like Blakes 7. It's a shame because even though I'm a Blakes 7 fan, Wings is a much better drama and should be appreciated far more than Blakes 7.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 25 Apr 2015 20:13:32 BDT
Laraine A. Barker says:
Like you, Roy, I remembered Michael Cochrane's character more than any of the others. For a long time I tended to think of him as Charles rather than Michael! Yes, I would say Cochrane has definitely been typecast in upper class roles. If memory serves me right, anyway. Maybe he doesn't have the gift for producing anything but a "received pronunciation" accent? It was riveting drama, anyway. I'm so glad I suggested my husband get this on DVD.
In reply to an earlier post on 12 Oct 2015 01:27:11 BDT
Last edited by the author on 12 Oct 2015 07:07:55 BDT
Sue Weston says:
I agree, Roy and Laraine. I remember being hooked on this series when it was freshly made and it's on my Wish List which has swollen to over 100 items; I'm having to eke out my purchases somewhat. Nicholas Jones is one of my favourite actors, loved him in Sensitive Skin and Little Dorrit amongst others. And we only seem to see Michael Cochrane in episodes of series such as Rosemary and Thyme or the ubiquitous Midsomer Murders. I think Tim Woodward appeared in an early Prime Suspect but we hardly see him now. Hey ho....
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