on 21 September 2010
Watching the recent ITV version on TV reminded me just how good the original version was. OK it's dated but that surely is the fate of contemperary dramas filmed in the 70's, and it should in no way detract from the sheer quality of this production. Well paced, well acted and exploring the themes of obsessive love which Newman does so brilliantly in her novels. In short it is everything that the gratuitous hysterical rubbish I have just watched on TV was not. I'm hoping my new copy has some extras on it but I'm not holding my breath.
on 17 September 2010
Having watched the first two episodes of the new adaptation on ITV1, I can definately say that it does not compare with the original 1976 television series, which is nearer to Andrea Newman's excellent book. More than 30 years on, the quality of the acting and the subtlety with which the entire production negotiates some very disturbing and socially unacceptable concepts, remains unparalleled. Marvellous television!!
I have really enjoyed watching this show on a number of levels. The story is about a middle aged man, Peter Manson, who appears to lead a perfectly happy and successful middle class life. He has an attractive wife, a lovely house in Surrey, his own publishing firm and three children. The eldest is a daughter Prue, aged about 20 and he has two twin sons who are at boarding school.
However, not all is well. His daughter has married a fellow student, Gavin, who is American. Having made Prue pregnant, Gavin is immediately at loggerheads with Peter. It becomes clear that Peter has a particular obsession with his daughter and a deep jealousy with anyone in relation to her. Things come to a head in another way. Peter's long standing spinsterish secretary leaves the business to get married and is replaced by the young and attractive Sarah, who appears to have a number of admirers. When she and Peter begin an affair, it starts a train of events leading to multiple bed hopping and personal tragedy.
I enjoyed the 1970s "Sunday Times Colour Supplement" lifestyle on display in the series and was engrossed by the story. It was also great to see so many favourite actors. Frank Finlay has so much gravitas and charisma as Peter. Susan Penhaligon was so beautiful at the time and she played a very spirited Prue. I was also very glad to see James Aubrey as Gavin. I have admired his acting ever since I saw him as Doctor Faustus on stage and later saw his performance as Ralph in the movie version of The Lord of the Flies. His character is brooding but also charming and articulate and he could be very violent to the women in his life. Oddly, no-one ever thinks to call the police over his actions.
It is strange to see this 1970s version after the 2000s remake. It was more leisurely then, taking up nearly 15 hours of television time. I did feel that the endless extra marital affairs stretched credibility towards the end. When Sarah's husband asks her, "What is it about that family?" I couldn't help but feel that that was my big question as well. I also felt that the female characters all spoke exactly the same way - very odd.
However, it has been a highly diverting watch.
on 21 April 2012
I was barely a year old when this was aired, so I wasn't sure if I would like it. But after devouring the entire 2 series in the space of a week; I feel bereft! Tangled, twisted, perverse, deliciously dark with wholly unexpected / hilarious flashes of humour and more flares than you can shake a stick at - WE ARE NOT WORTHY!
on 20 February 2014
I would wholeheartedly recommend this DVD to anyone who is interested in the 1970s. This snapshot of 70s life is riveting: typewriters and trimphones; suitcases without wheels; a huge box-like carrycot for the baby - how did we ever manage!
This serial was made in 1976, when I was the same age as Prue. I was there, so to speak, but I don't recognize these people or their carryings-on. This was TV for the chattering classes; a slow-mo soap of the antics of posh people. On another level, it's a fascinating piece of social history; of a time when traditional moral values were being thrown out of the window, and taboo subjects were making their way into the public arena, but when women were still treated as chattels.
The drama tries hard to be 'modern' but is entrenched in the age-old fascination with the upper middle classes. It's disappointing that there's almost no pop music of the time to be heard - most of the music within the drama is classical, played on record players, of course. Even the young people are playing depression era jazz (and classical) records, which certainly wasn't my experience of the time. There are virtually no representatives of other classes or ethnicities. The theme tune is an insipid faux cool jazz dirge which I found annoying. The style is mannered: most of the actors seem to be on stage at the RSC, rather than in a racy TV drama. All of them have RP and public school accents. The son-in-law Gavin is supposed to be American, but he doesn't sound it. On a positive note, the dialogue is often perceptive and believable, and sometimes succeeds in being truly profound. It's utterly watchable, even though it may make present-day viewers squirm at times.(This was pre- Health & Safety, cholesterol, and political correctness.) There is much grating of cheese in various kitchens - perhaps that's what we all did in the 70s. As Prue says "..it's all protein". Her younger brothers are pure Enid Blyton,(or are they? - With this family, who knows what is going on behind closed doors!) and the strongest word we hear is their chirping "Twit" at each other. There's no swearing in this drama, at least I didn't notice any. That would not have been allowed. Moral turpitude -yes. Swearing - no.
Regarding the obsessive love notion, it's never made clear whether Peter Manson's inappropriate feelings for his daughter (Prue) were ever acted upon, although it seems that there is something from the past that has led Prue to being the damaged and wayward young woman that we see in this drama. Incest and sadism are awkward and uncomfortable topics, even now. When Prue's mother Cassandra reveals that she had a sado-masochistic affair with a sculptor, in the recent past, one cannot help but note that her proclivities and absences would have had a strongly negative influence upon Prue; she is not just her father's daughter. There are some genuine shocks here, not least of which is the fact that Prue's husband is never made accountable for beating up his pregnant wife - it doesn't seem to enter anyone's head that his violence is criminal. As he says: "She got what she wanted". And no one disagrees! Cassandra really is straight out of Greek tragedy, where sleeping with her daughter's husband is par for the course. Yet she seems such an unlikely candidate to do such a thing. I guess it was an unpredictable era. The 1970s: O tempora! O mores!
The follow-up series is even more compelling viewing than the first. We know the characters by now, and it's almost a relief not to have Prue there in the flesh, as it were. She still makes her mark. The actors seem more comfortable in their roles. And there are more ups and downs than you could shake a stick at. Vicky's father makes a pitch-perfect appearance as a louche Welsh doctor. There is more grating of cheese, and some really fascinating glimpses of shopping - the prices are wonderful to behold. I was seriously alarmed at the cavalier manner in which the baby is left outside for long periods, all alone ("she needs the fresh air") but no one is even watching her through a window - and the house is easily accessible from the road - it's all very worrying. Cassie places the baby on the grass, face down on a blanket in the garden, and comes inside the house to settle down in an armchair to read and smoke. Did people really do this? Later Gavin comments: "She's getting really brown". (A suntanned baby? Bizarre.) We get a lingering look at Sarah's Mini Margrave; the fashions are amazing. We know that Peter is going to a private hospital (in Pont Street) because the pillowcase in the ambulance is embroidered with flowers. The phone calls, especially the urgent ones, are torture to watch because of the slow and fumbling dialling; it all seems so frustrating that no one can easily communicate - half their problems could have been avoided if they'd had mobile phones! And there is something truly creepy about Peter in the midst of his breakdown, his bedroom walls covered in photos of Prue, tucking the wad of photos of her under his pillow.
The disintegrations, the re-alignments, the awfulness, make for highly compulsive viewing. Again, there is some very acute dialogue. This series is more confident than the first - and the actors are playing up to an audience hungry for more. I found the series hugely enjoyable from start to finish. Fantastic!
on 18 January 2013
So very glad to get this full 14 episode set of "Bouquet" after many years. I watched, spellbound, over 35 years ago when this was first broadcast in the mid 1970`s. It was groundbreaking and controversial then and has stood the test of time. It has been copied well onto DVD format.
on 14 February 2014
I was pleased to discover this TV double series that was so controversial when it was screened in the 1970s has been issued on DVD. To my surprise it became the required family viewing over Christmas. It is a highly addictive series that kept us saying "just one more episode", until we found we'd watched all of the first series and moved on to series two. And then began all over again. OK, some of the acting is a bit mannered, but that's part of its charm. It's quite shocking TV even by today's standards, and some of it wouldn't be PC enough for today, especially the strand of sexual violence.
Much better than the fairly recent remake starring Trevor Eve.
on 2 May 2016
The first series is the one most will remember with deserved fondness. Another Bouquet will have few fans because it really is rather poor by comparison. Where Bouquet of Barbed Wire was extremely daring for the time it's sequel was a series too far, entirely cliched and actually a quite tiresome struggle for anything resembling credible story-line. And then there's the absence of 'Prue' from the second around which the first was completely centered. It was the wonderful Susan Penhaligon's finest role, and the one for which she will always be best remembered as an actress.
on 2 November 2010
I loved this series first time around and waited with piqued interest for the new, Trevor Eve, version which I found disappointing at best and positively laughable at worst. I had to buy the original DVDs to reassure myself that I hadn't been completely barking for enjoying them first time around. This original version has a much better script and storyline. Prue is a manipulative monster and Gavin's new girlfriend, Vicky, in Another Bouquet, has similar characteristics and worms her way into Peter Manson's affections like a mini-Prue.
The series has dated well, even while raising a chuckle at the 70s clothes and hair styles and the 'twee' speech patterns that all the girls have. Such a relief after the remake. I loved every engrossing minute of it all.