Top positive review
25 people found this helpful
one of the absolute gems of British TV
on 11 July 2015
'Tales of the Unexpected' is one of the absolute gems of British TV from the late 70s/early 80s. Some might think that the BBC were responsible making all the quality broadcasting back then, with ITV mostly showing cheesy sitcoms and endless adverts for biological washing powder, but this series is a clear evidence that 'commerical television' could hold its own in the creative stakes.
Produced by Anglia Television in, er, Norwich, Tales of the Unexpected clocked up a total of 112 "tales with a twist" over its nine year run, and every single one of them is crammed into this DVD boxset.
So what was so good about this show? I'd argue that when at their best, these seemingly innocuous little plays had twists which were so damn wierd that they'd be burnt into your brain for the rest of your life. We're not talking visceral gore and horror, nor lurid sex and violence, no breakneck car chases or edge-of-the-seat tension: it's more often a case of rather normal little situations which over the course of half an hour somehow manage to slip sideways from the world the ordinary into the world of the bizarre, almost without you noticing, until suddenly the twist at the end shocks you awake again and you're left reeling! And as you reel, the wonderful little theme tune dances around you (penned by Ron Grainer of Doctor Who fame, no less).
Most of the early ones were written (and also introduced on screen) by Roald Dahl, whose slightly unsane imagination we ultimately have to thank for the series' delights. Of course, many different other writers supplied stories as the years went on, not all of them quite of the same calibre - occasionally we seem to be watching Tales of the Bleedin' Obvious instead :) but overall the show keeps delivering.
The acting is generally great - there are simply dozens of familiar faces on the cast list, working your way through the boxset is like thumbing through a copy of 'Spotlight' - everyone from Peter Cushing to Joan Collins, I couldn't begin to list them all. Pretty much every episode has someone you'll recognise from your favourite sitcom/ soap/ police drama/ Hammer Horror film...or even the Royal Shakespeare Company. Oh look, it's him out of The A-Team! that guy out of M*A*S*H! there's Bergerac! etc etc etc.
If I have one real criticism of this boxset, it's the rather grotty state of the sound and picture on a lot of these episodes. It looks like the DVDs were made from copies-of-copies that had been doing the rounds for showing on UK Gold and ITV3 (giveaway sign: very few of them have the original 'silver man on a horse' Anglia TV logo, instead they've got some dodgy early 90s version edited onto the end). Most of them were made on video, but some of them (particularly the American ones) were shot of film and are crying out for someone to go and remaster them in high definition from the original negatives. Maybe some day this'll be done and we'll get a 'deluxe' edition, but I wouldn't hold your breath.