7 items from 2010
Poignant and understated, The Jewel in the Crown's account of the decline of the British Raj is one of the high-water marks of 1980s British TV
Saturated in gin fizz and repressed emotion, The Jewel in the Crown sits alongside Brideshead Revisited as the high-water mark of 1980s British TV. Understated and hugely poignant, its 14 episodes trace the decline of the British Raj from Gandhi's inflammatory Quit India speech of 1942 to partition and the riots that followed.
Paul Scott's original Raj Quartet novels become much more navigable in Ken Taylor's elegant screenplay. Focusing on just two of the quartet's many storylines, the series, which first aired on ITV, follows the struggles of young Hari Kumar (Art Malik), an Indian raised in England who returns to find himself "too Indian for the English and too English for the Indians". Kumar's tragic affair with English girl Daphne Manners leads »
The greatest works always suffer in translation to the tube, but Parade's End could work perfectly
Good to see the BBC is to bring us Tom Stoppard's forthcoming adaptation of Parade's End, Ford Madox Ford's tetralogy. For a start, it gets Stoppard back on the box after 30 years. Spread over five 60-minute parts, meanwhile, this version also sounds about the right length. On top of that, Ford's little-known sequence of novels sounds dead right for television. My view is that the great literary masterpieces always lose through adaptation; it's what you might call first-rate novels of the second rank that invariably gain.
It's admittedly a bit cheeky of me to say this as I've never read the four books that make up Parade's End. But I very much like the sound of them. The critic Walter Allen, in Tradition and Dream, tells us that Ford's world is that »
- Michael Billington
In the 1990s, Harvey Weinstein rightly took a lot of flak for buying up award-winning foreign movies and recutting them savagely, then releasing them in America as if they were still the same moves. To me this was far more corrupt and dishonest than those cynical old exploitation producers of the 50s who would take a murky Japanese monster movie, add a cheap American actor in newly shot scenes; dub the dialogue into badly synched, poorly written English; cut footage; change the title to Octopus-Robot From Outer Space; and release it in an imaginary, all-new format like "Awesome-Scope!" These guys knew they were trash-merchants, but Weinstein called what he did "art".
Nowadays, the process has been tarted up, made vaguely respectable and is called a "remix". And oddly, I couldn't be happier. »
- John Patterson
From Rajahs and Yogis to Gandhi and Beyond
Images of India in International Films of the Twentieth Century
By Vijaya Mulay, Seagull Books, 554 pages, Paperback Rs. 695/-
The film society movement in India must get a huge proportion of the credit not only for having created the best filmmakers outside the mainstream – those like Satyajit Ray and Shyam Benegal but also for inspiring film critics, academics and film scholars, as it continues to do today. Vijaya Mulay, the author of the book under review is one of the pioneers of the movement, having been associated with ‘Indian film culture’ in its infancy and its formative years. Beginning her engagement with cinema more than 60 years ago, Vijaya Mulay (or ‘Akka’ to her friends) has seen Satyajit Ray at work and also come into close contact with international filmmakers like Louis Malle – when he was in India in the 1960s. Malle went »
- MK Raghavendra
EastEnders' 25 years map sweeping changes in the state of TV, and of Britain. In its 26th year, it could be used to attack the BBC
Many communications between BBC executives are intended to have only a short-term effect: arse-covering, career-enhancing. But an idea typed up in Television Centre on 1 February 1984 turned out to have astonishing long-term consequences: The bi-weekly is an ongoing serial about the life of a community in the East End of London … our group of characters is fiercely territorial – incestuous, almost – and reflects how life is Today in a disadvantaged part of the inner city …
That bi-weekly is now a quad-weekly, and the numerous social dilemmas it has reflected have indeed reached incest by the time of the 25th anniversary, to be celebrated on Friday. And, because very few TV shows reach their silver jubilee, EastEnders usefully invites comparisons between the state of TV and of Britain, »
- Mark Lawson
Our TV critics have voted, debated and decided on a top 50 of classic TV drama series - the results might just surprise you
None of your favourites on our list? Join our TV Club and let us know
What do you imagine a TV critic's ultimate viewing pleasure to be? A five-season box-set marathon of The Wire, quite possibly? A drama that digs into the power games of Washington (The West Wing)? You'd be surprised. It seems, at the Guardian at least, they are far more likely to enjoy a beautiful, costumed saga about 1920s aristocrats or a gritty tale about growing up as a lesbian in mid-70s Lancashire.
To find out what the Guardian's TV writers really think is the best TV drama ever made, we asked Nancy Banks-Smith, Sam Wollaston, Lucy Mangan, Sarah Dempster, Mark Lawson, Grace Dent and Richard Vine to rate, and then debate, »
- Tim Lusher
The best TV drama series ever made, from Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy to Inspector Morse, as nominated by Guardian critics
21 Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (BBC, 1979)
22 Buffy the Vampire Slayer (The WB/Upn, 1997-2003)
You can't get sick of the tale of a SoCal blonde popsy who turns out to be her generation's vampire slayer. Over seven series thick with classical allusions, pop culture references, wit, charm, martial arts sequences and achingly painful love stories, she grows into the role and gradually learns what it means to be the chosen one. She made old-fashioned ideals like honour and sacrifice relevant and accessible again, and even resurrected ancient feminist beliefs by fighting back against the demons that sought to subdue her. Instead of forever being rescued (or punished – for having sex or self-confidence »
- Lucy Mangan, Richard Vine, Mark Lawson
7 items from 2010
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