|Index||4 reviews in total|
SPENDER is the kind of gritty, intelligent cop drama that's been missing
from North American television screen. The BBC produced series is a
positive gem, having run for 3 consecutive seasons, and spawned one film
entitled "The French Collection". Starring the excellent and multi-talented
Jimmy Nail ("Still Crazy", "Evita"), it has garnered a following in Canada
through re-runs on Showcase Television.
The character of Spender is a tough and able cop cleaning up the streets of London with his somewhat unorthodox methods. Following a tragic incident, he's sent home, back to the North-East to his home-town of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, which had taken him 20-odd years to get out of. Now re-united with old friends and haunting ghosts from his untamed past, the loathing he feels for the city and his new assignment drives his character to push the limits, and test the powers that be that govern his jurisdiction. But once we meet Spender's family - divorced wife Frances and his two young daughters - we witness an unexpected dimension to the character: that of a father and protector of his children, who finds it awkward to work his way back into their lives.
Excellent scripts, hard-hitting drama and action accompany a wealth of talent involved in the making of this quality program. Jimmy Nail not only stars, but pens a few of those scripts. Together with his friend Tony McAnaney (who also co-stars as Keith and writes the music for the series) they combine to produce a unique and often haunting musical score which creates just the right kind of atmosphere for the program. And of course, there's the thick and sexy accents which can only come from the North-East.
Spender is definitely worth a try. If the catchy theme doesn't get to you, the high-drama will!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It seems incredible that the only other contributor to this site (at
the time of writing) is from Canada.
This was a blindingly good series that had a comparatively brief run in the early 1990's.
Jimmy Nail - regular from the earlier and perhaps more popular 'Auf Weidersien, Pet' - played the starring role as 'Spender', the detective grudgingly rediscovering his roots. Nail also made substantial contributions to its script and production. I gather it was he who was also largely instrumental in bringing its life to a somewhat premature close. The program was extremely well rounded, with non of the needlessly graphic gloss of shoot 'em ups and pyrotechnics, yet still retaining a very earthy and believable grit. It also came with a simple but haunting little theme tune that suited the character and his circumstances to perfection, and seemed to act as a frame for each episode.
I personally like the concept of short runs like this. The ideas and characters never outstay their welcome or become stale. Much better, I think, to leave you wanting more, rather than saying 'Oh, is that still on?' Some of the most iconic British TV programs have been also the briefest: 'The Prisoner', 'Fawlty Towers', 'Blackadder Goes Forth'. And to these I would certainly add the crime drama 'Spender'.
It was also a refreshing change to have a star who wasn't what one might call good-looking in that typically simpering boy-band fashion. Actually, Jimmy Nail was voted ugliest man on television in some sort of European poll. But that hardly excuses the lack of interest and support from the home front. You Anglo-telly-philes ought to be ashamed of yourselves. If ever a series deserves pages of praise this one surely does. I never missed an episode.
Highly recommended - on both sides of the Altantic.
This is just a response to the last review that I can see 'Jimmy Nail's
accent' - unbelievable!!! The accent has to travel - if his accent
hadn't have been gentrified nobody outside of Geordieland would be able
to understand it - is that what you want?
There are many American movies and series which do not take the rest of the world into consideration and shows like Eastenders in Britain are totally incomprehensible to the American ear.
As it is the Geordie accent isn't understandable around Britain.
I remember this series as being hard hitting and well acted with a bad performance by Spender's nemesis the other cop - didn't seem to ring true I remember.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have to come clean, I have a b-i-g soft spot for the programme Spender. That's not to say however that I think it's up there with top quality television such as Dexter, Revenge or Damages. I find it difficult to review it - I even struggle to separate the goods from the bads because there is good and bad in many of the key facets. Probably the most polarised view comes when considering Jimmy Nail......most people in the region consider Jimmy to be 'a total knob' his excruciatingly jarring 'posh Geordie' accent is viewed as nothing short of a betrayal to his roots. His acting is wooden. Compare this with his character Oz in Auf Wiedersehen Pet where he behaves 'naturally' and where he's one of televisions classic comedy characters. The soundtrack/titles almost approach hauntingly beautiful and menacing as befits. I love the local setting. Stick's one-liners are right up there with the best. My personal favourite - when served rare lamb in a swanky restaurant - he looks in horror at the plate of meat and so the waiter enquires if there is anything wrong with it and then explains that the chef does do the lamb 'a bit pink' Stck responds; "Pink!....a good vet could have this bugger on its feet again" For me compulsive watching if you can just overlook that blasted accent!
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