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Dixon of Dock Green [DVD]
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Contains the first six available colour episodes of the classic BBC police drama. Featured episodes: Waste Land, Jig-Saw, Eye Witness, Harry's Back, Sounds, Firearms were issued. One of the longest running police series on British television between 1955 and 1976, Dixon of Dock Green was also the best-loved. Starring the popular Jack Warner in the role of Sergeant George Dixon, the series set the tone for television police drama and paved the way for all that would follow. Filmed on set and on location around the fast disappearing dockland community of London's East End, the character of Dixon, with his friendly and informal Evening all, offered viewers the kind of policeman you d be tempted to welcome into your home for a cup of tea even if you d just robbed a bank. In these first available colour episodes, the Dock Green police must deal with cases as diverse as a vanished policeman; a mysterious assailant of young women; police protection of a witness to murder; a charming crook with friends in the right places; the hidden world of spousal abuse; and the police shooting of an unarmed criminal. In a modern world of CSI, DNA, and CCTV, much has changed and much remains the same in these still-gripping and utterly compelling episodes of Dixon of Dock Green
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Less than one-eigth of the 432 episodes produced remain in existence, entire swathes of programmes including in some cases entire series are lost, probably forever. Acorn started at the right place with the first six colour episodes, which gives a balanced flavour of the series at a time by which it was mature, everyone knew they would get a quality production without unnecessary bells and whistles that doggedly bog down many potentially-watchable things currently on TV. You cannot beat telling a good story and the six episodes exemplify this. I agree with the earlier poster who says that two in particular stand out. Lee Montague in "Harry's Back" is the lovable rogue returning from a long holiday, only to be harrassed by an obsessive Andy Crawford. Has he gone too far? And if you thought the Blame Culture was a fairly recent idea, look hard at "Firearms Were Issued" where an investigation into who shot who, how many times, where and when threaten everyone involved with being at the least disciplined. Yes, things were simpler then, so take it in historical context of when it was made.
The first four episodes survived because they were entirely produced on colour film, whereas all surrounding colour videotapes were wiped for re-use. Extras are limited to the picture gallery on disk one. I guess little in the way of 'extra' items remain seeing as the main features are notoriously absent. You can see what's missing and what survives on the BBC's "Treasure Hunt" page about the series [...]. The following summary is taken from the Wikipedia page about "Dixon Of Dock Green" -
"Most of the original 432 episodes of Dixon of Dock Green are still missing. Only 51 still exist, due both to the show being broadcast live in the early days and the BBC's policy of wiping old videotapes for re-use before realising their possible historical significance - in summary:
Series 2 (1956): the last five episodes
Series 7 (1960): two episodes
Series 9 (1962): three episodes
Series 11 (1964): one episode
Series 13 (1966): five episodes
Series 14 (1967): seven episodes
Series 15 (1968): three episodes
Series 17 (1970/1): first episode
Series 18 (1971/2): two episodes
Series 20 (1974): five episodes
Series 21 (1975): nine episodes
Series 22 (1976): complete - eight episodes."
On that basis, this means we could - healthy sales permitting - have around 19 more colour editions to come on three more twin-DVD sets. SO BUY THIS NOW...!
P.S. where's "Z Cars" for Z-Victor's sake?
Dixon seems so rooted in the B&W, '50's and '60's era that it's surprising to realise that the series ran until 1976. The conventional viewpoint is that the show was already hopelessly dated when Z Cars arrived in the early 1960's, so what appeal can the episodes on this DVD, sourced from the some of the earliest surviving colour episodes from the early 1970's, have?
The answer is, quite a lot. Although Dixon of Dock Green was hit hard by archive purges, with relatively few episodes remaining from its 21 year run, a handful of high-profile B&W episodes have appeared a number of times on BBC2 and BBC4 over the last few decades. But the colour era of the programme has had much less exposure and therefore is ripe for reappraisal.
The first surprise is that several of the episodes are shot entirely on film. This wasn't standard practice for BBC drama of the era, normally exteriors would be shot on film and interiors on VT. The all-film episodes do give the series an added realism, although it's a shame that the prints are in such bad condition. Some restoration would have been nice, although given the niche interest of a title like this, it's probably not surprising that it wasn't done.
The first episode, Waste Land finds Dixon and his colleagues searching for a missing policeman. With some hand-held camerawork and a mildly disturbing voiceover, this is far removed from the cosy image of the Dixon series. The downbeat ending reinforces this view.
Given that there's a number of missing episodes after Waste Land, it's a slight pity that the next story on the disc, Jig-Saw is quite similar to the previous story on the disc, this time the search is on for a missing woman, last seen at the abandoned Dock Green gasworks. As with Waste Land, there's some stark camerawork that lingers on the decay of early 70's Britain.
The remaining episodes are slightly more conventional, with Eye Witness featuring George somewhat implausibly sent on a holiday to mind the only witness in a gangland murder. By this time Jack Warner was somewhat advanced in years, so it's difficult to imagine him putting up much of a fight!
The last episode - Firearms Were Issued - sees Dixon and Crawford under scrutiny when a suspect is shot and killed. The result of the inquiry might raise a few eyebrows, but it was a different era, and there's nothing to say that the inquiry result isn't an accurate reflection of the times.
Hopefully Acorn will release the remaining colour and B&W episodes which should allow for a fuller reappraisal of a series that, even in its later years, could still produce stories of high quality.
If you want to see how the East End looked before it was lost forever under concrete and high rises, this is the programme for you. Most importantly you will see how the police worked, meaning having an area to work and getting to know the citizens, their problems and what was going on a daily basis.Something that doesn't happen now, the old saying 'if you don't know the way ask a policeman' Do l have to say anymore.
They wear a basic uniform, helmet, radio and probably a truncheon, nothing else and of course their real knowledge of the area they patrol.
It was how l remembered life and was a look back at the past. Would like to find the black and white version. You can buy an audio version on Audible, though not with the original actors, very good though.
The episodes were so realistic and entertaining Suffice to say Saturday nights could not come quick enough. These DVD's are well worth adding to your collection if you wish to reminisce. Another plug I would make is to purchase other great police on DVD, the complete series of Gideons Way, and The Sweeney.
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