Customer Review

7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable and entertaining, 27 July 2009
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This review is from: Minder 2009 Series 1 [2008] [DVD] (DVD)
It is over six months since I purchased this series - I had watched it on TV and thoroughly enjoyed it. So, you ask, why the delay? I was unsure of how to write this review. This product is DVD marmite - you love it or you hate it.

I am not one of those people who remembers the original minder series, with the great George Cole. On the advice of some of the reviewers here I have tried the old series and found that I personally prefer this new series (it was Dennis Waterman who really put me off).

The two main characters are:

Archie Daley (played by Shane Richie) is a wannabe wheeler-dealer;

Jamie Cartwright (Lex Shrapnel) is a just-out-of-prison taxi driver, but Jamie has a moral compass, a conscience.

There were 6 episodes in this first season.

1. Better the Devil You Know

Archie Daley meets Jamie Cartwright when he jumps into the back of a taxi cab that Jamie is driving. Archie is trying to evade a pair of thugs sent by some property developers. Jamie thinking Archie is in trouble tries to help them by fighting off the attackers after they are forced to crash. Impressed by Jamie, Archie offers him a job - Archie wants a briefcase of money delivered to a pub landlady as payment of the purchase of her pub. However, the landlady, Petra Bennett, doesn't want to sell. On returning to Archie Jamie discovers that he is being blackmailed into forcing Petra to sell. Unfortunately, the property developers are not the type of men that take no for an answer, and things turn violent.

2. In Vino Veritas

Archie agrees to provide some wine for a wedding for an old school friend (played by Rik Mayall). He purchases one bottle of the good wine and several crates of cheap plonk which he intends to label with copies of the label from the good bottle. As a favour Jamie is called on to follow the husband-to-be and keep him out of trouble. Unfortunately nothing goes to plan.

3. The Art of the Matter

Archie is buying some furniture from a couple when he discovers a piece of graffiti in the bedroom which he believes to be a work by Banksy who the couple say once rented the room. The picture is authenticated and put on display in the gallery. However, the picture is not all it seems.

4. A Matter of Life and Debt

A former jewel thief and business associate of Archie's dies owing the Archie thousands of pounds. Archie and Jamie are in a race to decide that the clue as to the location of some stolen diamonds.

5. Thank your Lucky Stars

Archie is "minding" a Porsche for a friend. He is invited to play in a poker match and ends up losing the car. Fortunately for him Jamie is a good card player and reluctantly agrees to try and win the car back, however poker is not the only game being played.

6. Till Debt Do Us Part

Archie's ex-wife turns up and threatens to expose all his dodgy dealings unless Archie pays off. But he decides that the best way to raise the money is to produce a boxer that can beat his ex-wife's toy boy. In doing his research into new up and coming boxers he discovers why Jamie went to jail. Their friendship is put under strain by the events that unfold.

I have tried to exclude as many spoilers as is possible in those descriptions of the episodes and I hope I have succeeded.

To be perfectly honest this series got to its feet around episode 4. Episode 4 itself was fun in its own right and did not seem to be trying to follow in the wake of the previous show, but was trying to go its own way, and, for me, it was at this point that it truly succeeded in becoming a good series in its own right. It was less wheeler-dealer than the other episodes.

Episode 6 for me showed that the tentative relationship between Archie and Jamie was a true friendship more on the lines of father/son than that of boss/employee. It showed what Jamie would do for Archie, and how much Archie truly cared for Jamie and the extent that he would go to in order to get Jamie out of trouble.

This friendship would have been the perfect kicking off point for a second season; unfortunately, it seems that we will not get the chance to see that development.

There are several reoccurring roles in the series. For me the best one is Lawyer Dickie Mint (Paul Brooke). The other two I liked less: pub owner Petra Bennett (Jenna Russell) was really surplus to requirements after episode 1; and DI Murray (Josette Simon) seemed out of place and unconvincing as a copper of any rank.

The series managed to attract the likes of Rik Mayall, Maureen Lipman and Josie Lawrence as special guest stars; it is a shame that it could not attract the support in the viewer base.

The DVD contains a behind the scenes featurette, bloopers and deleted scenes and a promotional trailer. From watching these and from various interviews that both Shane Richie and Lex Shrapnel have done they appeared to get on extremely well, which is so nice to see and by episode 4 this friendship had transferred to the screen.

Most people who I have spoken to about this series wrote it off (many without even watching it) when they discovered that Shane Richie was in it. I have to say he does a really good job, but is out acted by the extremely underrated and very watchable Lex Shrapnel.

Both George Cole and Dennis Waterman were asked if they wanted guest parts on the show - Waterman (now doing New Tricks said no thanks but they could use his song - after all he'd still get royalties - Cole made several statements which were summarised as "how dare you remake this without asking my permission first". It was such a shame that he took this attitude because he lost a degree of respect from quite a few people - the series concept did not belong to him he was "just" an actor who appeared in it.

I really did like this series, I would recommend that anyone not sure might want to rent it before buying, but I do not regret my purchase. It goes into my hospital bag every time I have to go in.
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3.4 out of 5 stars (16 customer reviews)
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