Reviews & Ratings for
"Tales of the Unexpected" The Facts of Life (1988)

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Really well made, just that the story is a little soft.

Author: Paul Evans from Swansea, United Kingdom
22 February 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Nicholas Lillie is a capable young fencer, scouted and selected to go to a big national event in London. When his father is asked he declines, believing young Nicholas too young and inexperienced to go, his father is somewhat fanatical. His mother convinces his father the competition could be a good idea, and that losing at something could be good for him. Nicholas is a fast competitor, an attacker opposed to a thinker, that's his undoing as he loses. Nicholas is taken out by some of the boys, he's taken to a casino, where he takes to the life of the table and meets young woman Zoe.

Jim Broadbent as always shines through, a wonderfully capable actor, he does a funny comic turn along with Ronnie Stevens. They are a great duo. The young Benedict Taylor is good too, not such an innocent guy after all.

it isn't my favourite episode it has to be said, but it's still very well made, wonderfully acted, and very well produced, series 9 has been excellent, but I think the damage was done in the earlier two series. It does ask an interesting question at the end, one I suppose you'll never have the answer to.


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2 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

"This is important, have nothing whatever to do with women." Another average tale of the unexpected.

Author: Paul Andrews ( from UK
17 June 2007

*** 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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