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Lives Up To Expectations!,
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This review is from: Public Eye - The Complete 1969 Series [DVD] (DVD)For fans of this series, 1960's nostalgia, but quality television in general, this is an absolute treat. This DVD set focuses on the fourth series from 1969 set in Brighton (almost all the earlier episodes are sadly lost.)
I had never seen these episodes, all but one in black and white, but had been hugely impressed by the later colour ones. I never seriously thought I'd be let down but even I was delighted by the quality of the seven stories. They really form a serial rather than a conventional series as they track Marker from his release from prison (following a wrongful conviction) through his parole and eventually setting up his own inquiry agency.
For those who have seen the later series, the same qualities are still present but amplified. Marker is a loner with the right principles but here he is more introverted, more bitter and resentful. The stories show his rightful frustration as the authorities and most of the public refuse to trust him and dog his every move. He is determined to plough his own furrow, refusing to make the "friends" that the "experts" such as his well-meaning probation officer feel he needs. He encounters the familiar stories of misery, corruption and vindictiveness which he handles skilfully but wearily.
There are some recurring characters that help the continuity and contrast. Mr. Hull, the probation officer (John Grieve) tries to help Marker but often has his hands tied by the official rules. Helen Mortimer (Pauline Delany), Marker's landlady, is the only person with whom he develops a warm but not especially close relationship. There are hints that it could have developed further - certainly on her part - but it remains firmly platonic. In two episodes Stanley Meadows plays Rylands, a dodgy private detective with whom Marker is uneasily placed.
All these parts are really well-played but especially impressive are Alfred Burke, Pauline Delany and John Grieve, who inspire great affection in their portrayals. The writing though is the key. Roger Marshall, the co-creator of the show, penned all the stories with superb results, maintaing great continuity. Direction is uniformly excellent, best demonstrated in the brilliantly stark and bleak titles. Robert Earley's evocative theme is also perfectly reworked. This was a series that was made with real care - nothing was out-of-place.
All the episdeos are of high quality but most notable are "My Life's My Own", featuring a very fine performance by Stephanie Beacham, "The Comedian's Graveyard" (with Tessa Wyatt and Joe Melia as a seedy comic), and the final "A Fixed Address" which is in colour.
The DVD set also includes various extras, including a very arly episode (actually not so effective due to Marker's limited role), rare stills but best of all great interviews with Marshall and Alfred Burke who talk with great insight. I have been delighted with this purchase and there are many more people who will appreciate it - hopefully you're one of them.