Recently released on DVD as a double bill with the infamously violent "Big Breadwinner Hog", its predecessor "Spindoe" is quite a tough gangster drama as well, and a convincing example of Robin Chapman's writing talents.Spindoe is actually a spin off from the academic crime buster drama "The Fellows", starring one of its top villains.
In some introductions to Spindoe he is described as a "brash Cockney gangster", but McAnally's character really isn't like that. He is an original combination of a nervous accountant/family man type and a violent criminal mastermind. In the opening scene of the series Spindoe gets out of jail. While trying to regain his old kingdom he acts as a catalyst for a gang war masterminded by the Lucifer-like boss of the North, Mackleson (great Richard Hurndall). A loyal thug (Glynn Edwards) and a private eye (Patrick Sewell) join Spindoe, offering him help that he doesn't deserve.
Unlike some thoroughly cynical gangster dramas trying to maximize toughness, there are also sympathetic and idealistic "good" people in Spindoe's world. They act as a contrast against which all the cheap and violent acts seem more shocking. This is a show with some excitingly complicated plotting, outstanding acting and dialogue. In fact most of the hard nosed characters occasionally break into long, poetic monologues. Unfortunately the production values of Spindoe aren't quite as good. It looks like one of those early b&w episodes of Callan, with far more camera crew equipment visible in the shots. The equipment shadows shaking wildly over the actors are a bit distracting at times. But that means nothing to a tough gangster drama fan.
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