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"Dancing on the Edge"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"Dancing on the Edge" More at IMDbPro »

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35 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Highest quality as expected from Stephen Poliakof

8/10
Author: Murray Morison from Greece
26 February 2013

Cannot understand the current rating of this outstanding drama. The story, set over a few weeks in 1933, follows a talented black leader of a jazz band as he tries to get his band established in the London club and hotel scene. He soon finds he is meeting with royalty but that something dark is also going on.

Dancing on the Edge explores the slimy corruption of real evil as royalty, masonry, bigotry and sensuality all combine to provide a very particular view of the upper reaches of British Society.

The production values are excellent, and the 1930's are recreated in remarkable detail. The acting is uniformly excellent, with Chiwetell Ejiofor providing a compelling performance of a man caught up in circumstances spinning beyond his control.

Highly recommended as BBC drama at its best.

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16 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant new drama

8/10
Author: stephanie alden from United Kingdom
5 February 2013

This new series has been trailed for weeks and the trailer certainly caught my attention so it already had a lot to live up to. I am pleased to say that it did not fail and I have very much enjoyed the first two episodes and looking forward to next week's already. Some of the music is quite exciting but I am not sure it is true to the jazz music which was being listened to in the early thirties but nevertheless very enjoyable. I like the casting,particularly the female roles and specifically Jess, Rosie,Pamela and the photographer. Jacqueline Bisset is excellent as is the Stanley character. Hope it maintains the momentum but it will be disappointing if Jess has been killed off already. Would expect to see more of Rosie as there must be some sort of love triangle to develop.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Very Disappointed Final Episodes-Semi Spoiler

4/10
Author: dannykalifornia from United States
24 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are so many things to say that is wonderful about the first few episodes of Dancing on the Edge. The visuals were great, the music catchy, the characters interesting. I couldn't wait to see the next episode. There was so much intrigue and suspense.

Then on the 4th episode it seems that the writers were told that this wasn't going to be an ongoing project and to wrap it up in a few episodes as possible. It was at this time that the show lost all suspense and interest. There were so many ways they could have developed this program, but just took short cuts and then wham the final episode was just the worst possible of all 6, (5 including the interview episode).

They could have developed more on the lives of the two rich protagonist. They could have delved more into why Julian was the way he was. They could have told us more about Sarah and her father...or even the basic relationship between Louie and Sarah. It would have been nice to know more about Jessie, but it was not to be...she was far more tragic than her role portrayed.

I could go on....but I won't. Watch it for the 1st three episode then bail. If you want all six, you will wish you had those hours lost on viewing it back.

Seriously disappointing.

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

All round excellent - and no spoilers here!

9/10
Author: petervintner
16 September 2013

Firstly, at the time of writing (16 September 2013) the information for this on the main page is incorrect. It says this film/series is not yet released. However, I've just watched all 5 episodes on DVD (2 DVDs to be precise), plus the extra almost 1 hour "interview" between Stanley and Louis. The DVD release date was March 2013.

Like another reviewer I simply don't understand some of the poor ratings for this film. It was an immaculate production with an excellent cast for, I think, a cracking, well written story. It has style, suspense, humour, sensuality, good looks, great music and, as with so much of Stephen Poliakoff's work, a lot of intelligent dialogue and some fairly long scenes. But that's why I'm a fan of Poliakoff's work - it is literate, well researched and observed, and you have to pay attention. It rewards that attention many time over.

I must say there were some performances that were a revelation to me. Jacqueline Bisset for a start, and the late Mel Smith. But everyone was really outstanding in the parts they played. Joanna Vanderham is astonishingly mature well beyond her years (19 or 20 years old during the production) and is destined I feel to be a great actress. One cannot comment on this production without mentioning the singers - 2 established actresses who had never sung in public, in theatre, TV or on film before. They did their own singing and were amazingly good.

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9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

I loved it!

8/10
Author: skipp-5 from United Kingdom
25 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Personally, I was glued to Dancing on the Edge - Whilst I found the story intriguing, what really captivated me was the whole look and feel of the production - the costume, scenery, Architecture, and the overall 1930's feel to everything. I thought it was lavish, and very classy, and each scene a treat for the eyes. I also felt that the acting was superb,with some great performances from what was a terrific cast. The final episode in particular, with Julian edging nearer a breakdown, edged up the tension and whilst it seemed obvious what would happen in the end, the scene where Masterson confided in Lady Cremone of his love for Julian and his final demise in the café were captivating.

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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Dancing in an alien landscape

8/10
Author: Raymondander from United Kingdom
26 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When was England portrayed as such a weird place? Director Stephen Poliakoff has served up a wonderfully realised vision of a land offering unthinking obeisance to its Princes while casual racism and anti-Semitism is unchecked by the surface good manners. In Poliakoff's 1930s London a black jazz band finds success and tragedy. But this is not just a drama about jazz, as some of Britain's better known critics seemed to expect. Dancing on the Edge casts its net wider than that with an evocation of mood and time both effective and affecting. Some of the sets are worthy of fine painters. Even Degas is referenced in one witty little scene with a ballet class.

The BBC deserves praise for allowing the money, air time and creative freedom to realise the director's vision. We're likely to see a lot more of young stars like Tom Hughes (the debonair and highly-strung Julian) and Joanna Vanderham (the sister Julian is so dependent on).

Stand-outs in an unusually strong cast of characters are Chiwetel Ejiofor's Louis and Matthew Goode's Stanley. John Goodman puts in as strong a performance as he gave in Oscar-winning Argo, a slight production compared to Dancing on the Edge.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Vivid Evocation of a Hitherto Undiscovered Aspect of British History

7/10
Author: l_rawjalaurence from London
14 July 2013

Based on a hitherto undiscovered aspect of British history, DANCING ON THE EDGE tells of the fortunes of an African-Caribbean jazz band in 1930s upper-class British society. Louis Lester serves an apprenticeship in the United States, then takes London by storm with the help of talented singers Jessie and Carla. Initially managed by Wesley, who drives a hard bargain but manages to offend just about everyone, the band is eventually guided by white fixer Stanley, who just so happens to run one of London's leading music papers, a rival to the much better- known "Melody Maker." Poliakoff has a fascinating story to tell of a basically racist society that nonetheless embraces the Louis Lester jazz band, which provides the kind of music than no one has ever heard before. The band are so successful that they even attract the interest of the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII). At the same time polite society has a seamy underbelly; if anyone dares to question the idea of white supremacy, then they are summarily dealt with. This rule applies to white and nonwhite people alike. The television series attracted mixed reviews on its premiere in February and March 2013; after having read Poliakoff's excellent screenplay, I am rather nonplussed as to why DANCING ON THE EDGE generated this kind of reaction.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful, but rather empty

7/10
Author: junemo from alexandria, va
4 November 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I got STARZ just so I could watch this mini-series but can only attest to the first three episodes. First, the production values--the costumes, set designs, lighting, etc. are stunning and Emmy-worthy. However,the storyline as a whole could use a bit of work. Personally, I have to care about someone in the story for the storyline to work and unfortunately the only person I cared about in the entire cast is killed off by the end of episode 3. I felt they tried to pull a "Lady Sybil" on us ala Downton Abbey, without the impact. I knew there would be a murder mystery of some sort, but didn't expect the victim to be a band member. And I wanted to see more of the Jessie character, who was really promising. The music is not as good as the "real" jazz back in the day, at least the jazz my dad used to listen to, and play when he was in a band. All of the other characters are relatively superficial, and perhaps too modern, if you will, to truly be believable as people from the 1930s. Would a white European woman really kiss a black man in public back then? Doubtful. Are the all-too-common nude scenes really necessary to move the story along? Nope, and not all that sexy either. I'm assuming the mystery will be solved by the end of the series, but I'm not sure I'll care.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

All Aboard

5/10
Author: Prismark10 from United Kingdom
15 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This television series from the celebrated Stephen Poliakoff portrays 1930s upper class London but focuses on a Black Jazz band travelling the clubs of Britain, mixing with the high ups of polite British society but reveals an underbelly of prejudice, secrets and murder.

Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Louis Lester, trained in the USA but his jazz band takes London by storm when armed with two female singers. Matthew Goode plays a music journalist who champions the band in his music paper. John Goodman turns up as a mogul who wants to buy newspapers.

Although there are twists and turns, Poliakoff needs to stick to writing, needs a stronger story editor and get someone else to direct and interpret his words to the screen.

It looks good, there is a fine all star cast from Jacqueline Bisset, Jane Asher, Anthony Head. The music and song which was written originally for the series is fine with a few memorable tunes but it meanders too much. The murder story has little mystery as you have a rough idea who the culprit might be.

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6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A mixed bag

7/10
Author: pawebster from England
26 February 2013

Good points: Matthew Goode was excellent in his role as Stanley. His character was original and he carried the show, in my opinion. Most of the others were all right and did what they could with the material. The story kept me watching and interested to the end.

Bad points: It took place in a depopulated London (reminding me of 'Survivors' or 'Day of the Triffids') and never convinced me for a second that it was 1933. The tame music seemed very unlikely to offend anybody at that date, when much 'hotter' jazz had been available for at least a decade previously. Some of it sounded more like the swing music of the forties. Tom Hughes' character and acting was ho-hum. The hiding from the police became silly and unbelievable in the last episode.

Like others, I cannot understand why the BBC think this director is something special and throw money in his direction. But it's worth seeing.

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