|Index||4 reviews in total|
Quite simply, this is a stunning example of how good writing for television can be. Or writing, period, for that matter. It doesn't hurt that the cast, led by the indomitable Albert Finney, give uniformly great performances, but as with all of Dennis Potter's work, it's the virtuosity of the writing that reels you in, making you laugh hysterically in between (or sometimes during) scenes of unbelieveable sadness or poignancy. He was a true gem. I taped this miniseries when it was on Bravo five or six years ago and just watched it again for only the second time, and once again, it took my breath away. Viva Potter!
This was my first experience of Dennis Potter. Subsequently I find he used similar themes in other works, notably the Singing Detective. Though that work is terrific, I find Karaoke and its sequel Cold Lazarus to be the total package. I am yet to see anything on the small screen which comes close to them. The incomparable Albert Finney leading a strong supporting cast, tight direction and a fascinating story. The characters are so believable, and ironically (as Potter was dying when he wrote this) they are mostly likable despite their many flaws. It is hard to find anyone likable in the Singing Detective My only question is why has the Beeb Beeb Ceeb not released this on DVD?
Dennis Potter, who passes before these works, "Karaoke and Cold Lazarus" could be produced, asked in his last interview with Melvyn Bragg, "Where will the writers who want to tell stories about life as it truly is, beneath the hype and glitter, get their opportunity as I did in the 60's, in our current world of Rupert Murdoch sensibilities?" Karaoke is a tale of personal responsibility that reaches deeper than "E-network" can imagine in its most profoundly affected moments of easy sanctimony and sentimentality. This play should be at the peak of viewing assignments for all students of what TV can really do and be in a democracy that is real, not just a convenient platitude. Dennis Potter may have been the "Shakespeare" of our times. We will be lucky if such integrity and eloquence graces us again.
scriptwriter great dennis potter sadly passed away before this flawed but admirable big budget brit mini series was first aired on UK telly in 1996 (both this and it's sequel 'cold lazarus' were screened jointly on b.b.c. and channel 4 at his request). albert finney gives a customary superb central performance as a writer sufferring from terminal cancer who begins expierancing de ja 'vui when people around him start emulating lines and situations from his work. though not in the same calibre as 'pennies from heaven' or 'the singing detective'; it still remains an entertaining piece even though it could have benifetted by being tightened with a shorter length in certain scenes. it's little wonder that some scenes do meander slightly as potter was on a tight deadline due to his poor health so obviously was unable to supply rewrites. it's still well worth watching especially for it's high budget and impressive production values. with a top notch supporting cast featuring alison steadman, roy hudd, liz smith, ian mcdiarmid (looking amazingly like potter himself before he went 'star wars') and richard e. grant; watch out for two early walk ons from ewan macgregor and natasha mcelhone. only hywel bennett disappoints with an over the top ham turn as a dubious pub landlord. to date; this enjoyable series like potter's previous, critically mauled 'blackeyes'; is sadly unavailable on video/dvd.
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