Not The Greatest Piece Of Television . Possibly The Most Memorable Ending
According to writer Philip Martin series one of GANGSTERS got viewing figures of 8 million while series two got 6 million but the audience figures quickly dropped off . One can see the difficulties of doing something a little bit different . The PFT and series one were both tough , gritty , sleazy pieces of television ( Though we are talking mid 70s BBC tough , gritty , sleazy ) while right away the stylistic changes of series two hit you in the face long before the episode cliffhanger . It's also impossible for someone who knows how the series ends to view the show objectively in 2008 because of " that ending "
Certainly most of the cast from series one seem more at ease in their roles but is that because they're playing different people ? Saeed Jaffrey as Rafiq is wonderful if only because his style suits the second series perfectly . He's no longer an international criminal mastermind but a Benny Hill clone who desires the virginity of Lily Li Tang . Colbourne too is better since he's no longer a former SAS soldier come film noir/ French New Wave anti hero but someone who just wants to run a restaurant . Cassidy too is very good ( As she was in the original ) and both she and Colbourne do have a very good on screen chemistry . Perhaps most improved performance is Paul Satvender as Kuldip who never convinced as a violent thug but is very amusing as one half of a comedy double act with Jaffrey
It should be pointed out that there's some really terrible acting performances such as Eric Young as Double Petal but one can't help believing this is due to the production agenda of series two . Likewise Philip Martin gives what must be a contender as worst acting performance in the history of thespian skills that would shame a hysterical pantomime dame but isn't that the point ? Parsons and Khalil might disappoint but that's down to the fact Parson's seems to be written as an entirely different character in every episode while Khalil's character spends a large portion of the running time sitting in jail
For those who saw GANGSTERS on its original broadcast what they will remember is the meta-fictional ending . It's not an ending that comes out of nowhere but the structure and the heavy handed post modernism obviously alienated the audience on broadcast which led to falling figures . It genuinely does all make sense with hindsight such as WD Fields dialogue of " With these hands and total self awareness I will destroy Kline " but how would the audience know this without letting the cat out of the bag ? There's also the problem that the insanity of the final episode swamps a very important character subplot of Iqbal Khan who despite never having visited England sees it as " The Mother Country " and has his naive illusions of a lifetime shattered after a violent racist attack
GANGSTERS is a show I remembered fondly from childhood . I did find it rather disappointing after buying the DVD set probably down to the dated production values and that the narrative often moves at a snail's pace at some points which makes it very difficult for me to recommend it to people . I was overjoyed to read Bob The Moo's comments and do take heart that it's essential study at academic classes featuring media studies and post modernism and with an ending like that how can I fail to give it anything less than ten out of ten
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