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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Tales of the Unexpected: The Facts of Life starts as teenager Nicholas
Lillie (Benedict Taylor) is invited to compete in a national fencing
championship in London, his religious father (Stephen Hancock) at first
refuses because of London's corrupting influence but after realising if
Nicholas loses it'll teach his son a lesson he agrees. Together with
his coach Mr. Lovejoy (Jim Broadbent) & the headmaster of his school
Mr. Rudge (Ronnie Stevens) Nicholas travels to London & takes part in
the competition but loses to fencing ace James Barron-Ervine (Gerald
Logan) who says he gave him his hardest fight in the entire competition
& decides to take Nicholas out for the night to show him some of the
vices which London has to offer & may have a corrupting influence on
him but will he succumb...
This Tales of the Unexpected story was episode 5 from season 9 that originally aired here in the UK during January 1988 & is yet another dreary tale in a pretty poor season overall, the eleventh of eleven Tales of the Unexpected episodes to be directed by John Gorrie this really isn't anything to get excited about & is worlds apart from the smart interesting & engaging stories which Roald Dahl were involved with at the show's opening couple of seasons. The story by W. Somerset Maugham had already been adapted into a TV anthology show episode in the Somerset Maugham Hour in 1960 before it was dramatised by Noella Smith & isn't what I would hope for from a Tales of the Unexpected story, it's a morality tale where the dark side of the story wins out which I guess is meant to be the unexpected part of the tale but it's pretty predictable as a whole & it's just a very average story of someone coming out of their shell & being corrupted by modern day vices. I don't know, I suppose it might appeal to some out there as it tells a story competently enough it's just that it's all rather pedestrian & dull.
As with a lot of these Tales of the Unexpected stories The Facts of Life hasn't dated that well at all, I would imagine they were shot pretty cheaply as they generally look rushed & are forgettable without a single trace of style or substance. There are no horror elements in this one at all, there is no violence or scares & it's all rather flat. The acting is alright & yet again there's a future star in the cast with an amusing performance by Jim Broadbent who's funny coach is probably the best thing about The Facts of Life.
The Facts of Life is an OK Tales of the Unexpected but I just can't help thinking OK isn't good enough when you think about some of the great stories in the earlier seasons, another disappointment from a disappointing season 9.
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