Top critical review
91 people found this helpful
Not what I had hoped for
on 20 October 2011
As an avid fan of 60's/70's TV in general, I've come across the great, the good and the not-so good. Having no real memories of it (I was born in 1960) I gleefully snapped this up, hoping for a combination of entertaining drama and witty humour from this collection of eight plays from the early 70's. My excitement soon turned to disappointment as I waded through them. While acknowledging that the performances from the impressive collection of guest stars are good, the disappointment for me lay in most of the stories and scripts. While I respect the opinions of those who regard Armchair Theatre as 'thought-provoking drama' etc, I found this particular collection to be mostly heavy-going and sometimes pretty awful.
Before giving my opinion of the plays, I will give you a bit of info about the discs themselves. For a start, each play is around 50 minutes long, picture quality is generally OK although grainy in places, with the odd glitch. The sound is OK, there are no extras or subtitles. An episode synopsis is featured on the inside of the DVD case, which I have included below....
*SAY GOODNIGHT TO YOUR GRANDMA - When Tony goes home with his wife and baby, Nana has everything planned. A party... all the lads...just like old times. But Tony's wife Jean has other ideas. After all, a man can't be run by two women, and Jean believes Tony is all hers.
Starring Colin Welland, Susan Jameson, Duggie Brown and Mona Bruce.
SUMMARY: The simmering hatred between daughter in-law Susan Jameson and mother in-law Madge Ryan reaches boiling point during a party. Colin Welland stars as the wimpish husband caught in the crossfire. VERDICT: Not bad, but nothing special. 6/10.
*OFFICE PARTY - On his last day at the bank, retiring manager Dickie is given a party by the staff. But there are other things to worry about - especially for Julia and Paul, whose own futures are far from certain.
Starring Peter Barkworth, Ray Brooks, Peter Denyer, George A. Cooper and Angharad Rees.
SUMMARY: Sexy secretary Angharad Rees discovers she's pregnant just before an office party. I thought that some of the dialogue at the party was dire. The only point of interest for me was the all-too brief glimpses of Ms Rees' lovely pins, this is one party I wouldn't want an invite to. VERDICT: awful. 2/10.
*BROWN SKIN GAL, STAY HOME AND MIND BAY-BEE - Ruth, a lonely divorcee, lets her basement room to Roger, a nervous, shy young man. Naturally people talk, but they have little idea of what is really going on, as the two attempt to bridge an unbridgeable gap.
Starring Billie Whitelaw, Donal McCann and Ann Firbank.
SUMMARY: Donal McCann takes a shine to Billie Whitelaw while she fantasises over him. The 'will they won't they' scenario was the only reason I hung around to see the outcome. A fairly mundane affair. VERDICT: 4/10.
*DETECTIVE WAITING - A simple ploy: find your man, and watch him until he cracks. Bringing about the downfall of underworld boss James Cummins becomes a personal quest for Detective Constable John Lewis, a young rookie CID officer. Cummins may be tough and have friends in high places, but he's never come up against a detective who lies in wait...
Starring Richard Beckinsale, Barry Lineham and Bryan Pringle.
SUMMARY: Fresh-faced Richard Beckinsale plays the CID officer out to break down Barry Lineham's underworld boss by basically camping on his doorstep in a car. The mind games eventually begin to get under the criminal's skin. Beckinsale proves he could easily cut it in a serious role, but the ending did leave me a little disappointed. VERDICT: OK. 6/10.
*WILL AMELIA QUINT CONTINUE WRITING 'A GNOME CALLED SHORTHOUSE'? - To millions, Amelia Quint is the writer of best-selling children's stories. But there is another side to the eccentric spinster's character - as her panic-stricken publisher discovers.
Starring Beryl Reid, Richard Vernon, Geoffrey Chater, Sheila Staefel and Sally Bazeley.
SUMMARY: Beryl Reid plays the author, with publisher Richard Vernon at loggerheads with the profitable spinster. With it's inane characters and witless dialogue, the whole sorry tale was a crashing bore from start to finish. VERDICT: dreadful. 2/10.
*THE FOLK SINGER - "I've been in the war, in the desert, and all through Sicily, but I ain't never come across anything quite so dangerous as Belfast. My nerves won't stand it."
Starring Tom Bell.
SUMMARY: Folk singer Tom Bell waxes lyrical to all and sundry amidst the troubles of early 70's Belfast. Set in a hotel, and accompanied by his band of merry men, the continual recitals become increasingly tiresome. Some of the later scenes were awful. Yet another waste of a good cast. VERDICT: woeful. 2/10.
*A BIT OF A LIFT - When they came to the hotel Alec, Frank and Penelope were strangers. A bedroom brings them together.
Starring Ronald Fraser, Ann Beach and Donald Churchill.
SUMMARY: A bit of a bedroom farce with Ronald Fraser planning an amorous liason with Ann Beach at a wedding reception. Things become complicated by the appearance of Donald Churchill at the same hotel. Fairly lightweight story, not exactly a laugh a minute either. VERDICT: mediocre fare. 5/10.
*RED RIDING HOOD - For Grace, haunted by secret fears, the regular visit to her aged grandmother turns into a terrifying nightmare. But are the macabre events in that strange house reality, or the imaginings of somebody close to a mental breakdown? Red Riding Hood was an innocent little girl who walked into danger and terror - but just how innocent is Grace?
Starring Rita Tushingham and Keith Barron.
SUMMARY: I was impressed by Ms Tushingham's edgy performance as Grace. A moody and atmospheric drama. For me, the pick of the collection. VERDICT: good. 8/10.