Reviews

15 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Plays for Britain: The Lifeswappers (1976)
Season 1, Episode 2
8/10
Seriously weird. But I kind of liked it
2 October 2017
This set of plays for today - when today was 1976 - was released on DVD quite recently. An eclectic set of productions.

This one - The Lifeswappers - is seriously weird. Not sure if the writers were enjoying something recreational when writing it.

Its like The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and His Lover. But made in the 70s on more than one set (just).

Pork airlines was a treat. As was the cross dressing confusion.

I just wish I understood what the hell was going on ..... and what it all means.

Suggest you watch this late on a Friday night after having too much to drink.
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Band of Gold (1995–1997)
7/10
Good start and rapid decline
1 December 2016
Originally watched this in the mid 1990s, and then re-watched the series again on DVD. Series 1 of Band of Gold was excellent. Tense, interesting and realistic. Episode one especially was dark and dramatic. Unfortunately the show starts jumping a series of sharks in series 2. Becoming more and more ridiculous. Bodies being put in the back of cars that crash driver-less into shop windows. Moving from intense drama into dramedy. If they had been able to sustain the quality of series one, this would have become a classic. Series one can be watched without watching the rest of the series, and is very worthwhile and will be six hours well spent.
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The Sandbaggers (1978–1980)
10/10
Outstanding
27 February 2010
Agree completely with the other reviewers who reflect that every word in the Sandbaggers scripts is crucial. The dialog in this excellent program comes thick and fast. Don't watch Sandbaggers if you are tired and don't multi-task ... this one requires complete concentration and attention to keep up with the story and shifting sands of the characters' relationships. I have not seen this since 2003 on DVD, and plan to watch it again this year in 2010. Need to work up to the commitment, but cannot wait. If you have not seen this before and enjoy the cold-war genre, don't miss out. The commitment is absolutely worth it and you will surely not be disappointed.

For those that do love the genre, delighted that the monochrome episodes of Callan are now out. Hope that the excellent Game, Set and Match, and the even more excellent Ashenden come out on DVD soon.
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Talking Heads 2 (1998– )
10/10
Just finished watching this on a Sunday afternoon
4 May 2008
Talking heads comprises a 30-40 minute monologue of a character, documenting experiences that they have had in the life. While the first season was interesting and at times moving, this second season takes us to an altogether deeper level.

This second season focuses on 6 more characters, explaining the experiences they have had, recent or distant. While all 6 monologues are exceptional, there were 2 particularly moving ones.

Waiting for the telegram has Thora Hird, a 90-something year old woman in a nursing home explaining her life. When she reminisces on her young man back in World War I, it becomes truly saddening.

Nights in the Gardens of Spain has Penelope Wilton explaining her relationship with the woman next door, who has killed her husband after suffering an abusive relationship for many years. Not wanting to give too much away, this story is gripping and moving, and very very sad.

If you are looking to have a meaningful and moving Sunday afternoon sometime, this second season of Talking Heads is recommended.
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1990 (1977– )
10/10
Excellent drama -- I agree - it would be great to have this one out on DVD
15 October 2007
I remember this one as a kid as well.

It was very creepy .. I remember in hindsight being totally terrified by this one ... in retrospect I still don't quite understand what my parents were thinking, letting me watch all of this type of stuff as a kid ...

Some of my most vivid memories are of shows like this and Secret Army etc.

1990 as anyone reading this will know, is based on 1984, in which Edward Woodward plays a journalist. Unfortunately, I cant remember exactly what happens, although I still have a vivid memory of some of the scenes: Edward Woodward (Kyle I believe the character was called) meeting his informant in a little beat up car; the guy in charge fleeing when the government starts breaking down.

They do bring these programs out on DVD eventually. Capital City is out now, and they have recently released the 1977 BBC adaptation of Dracula in the US (I also saw that as a kid !!!). Hopefully we will see it soon.
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Kept (2005– )
10/10
Hate reality shows ... loved this one though :)
30 July 2007
Admission #1: I really only knew Jerry Hall in passing ... until this series, she had never really captured my attention.

Admission #2: I HATE reality shows.

Admission #3: I LOVED this show. Jerry Hall was funny and charming and very human. The guys were very competitive and great fun to watch.

And the winner ... well the reasoning for the eventual selection was very sweet.

I hope this one comes out on DVD.

IMDb says I need to write 5 more lines otherwise it will not accept my review ... 4 more lines ... 3 more lines ... 2 more lines ... Hope you found the review helpful :)
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Number 10 (1983– )
10/10
Excellent Drama
30 November 2006
This was a short series dealing with the private lives of 7 British Prime Ministers. It was broadcast in the early 1980s and as far as I know, has disappeared since then.

Although my memories of this series are distant, having not seen it for more than 20 years, I remember it as compelling and absorbing. The acting was excellent, and the stories seemed to focus on a particularly interesting element of each of the Prime Minister's lives. I remember a particularly excellent one on Disraeli.

Hopefully someone will release this series on DVD one of these days. There must so much really good stuff in the archives. Hopefully we will get to see it again.

UPDATE: April 29, 2009 -- this is about to be released in the US on amazon.com
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Stranded (I) (2004)
8/10
See Stranded on AZN Popcorn Zen Re-runs
20 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Happened to see the last few minutes of Stranded late the other night on AZN's Popcorn Zen.

This is a simple little morality tale that posits that ultimately we are all the same regardless of race creed or nationality. Stranded has more character development in 10 minutes than many movies manage in 2 hours.

Both Greg Hashimoto and Garret Sato were excellent. I am very surprised that IMDb says that this is the only thing Greg Hashimoto has done. I thought he was terrific - charismatic - and ultimately tragic.

If you have the opportunity - see Stranded.
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Tenko (1981–1984)
10/10
Exceptional
4 December 2005
For those people in the US who want to see Tenko again (or even for the first time as I don't know if it was ever on PBS), you can simply order it from Amazon.co.uk and have it sent over. It will take about a week to arrive. Make sure that you have a multi-region DVD player though! I have almost finished with the last season, and it is as good as I remember - perhaps even better. For those new to this series, the first episode of season 1 is a bit clunky, but give it time and space.

The story and characters evolve through 3 prison camps in seasons 1 and 2. I still get chills down my spine remembering the revelation of how Rose was betrayed in season 2.

Season 3 records the end of the war and the difficulties adjusting to a new life of freedom (??).

The third season DVD set also includes the reunion, set in 1950.

I think each season of Tenko is best seen continuously - say over a weekend. It is like reading a good book. But give it time between seasons. In many ways, each season is self-contained. Best to give it at least a few days between them.

Invest in this series. You will be ever grateful that you did.
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10/10
Really beautiful and sensitive film
17 November 2005
Sidney Lumet directs the singularly beautiful and sensitive movie, which still affects on multiple levels.

River Phoenix, the son of Vietnam protest criminals, still on the run from the FBI, has reached an age where he needs to pursue his own life and ambition, requiring a stable home environment.

River's relationship with Martha Plimpton's character, both lonely and disconnected adolescents in 1980s America.

River's parents, conflicted about their relationship with their children, the cost to both themselves and their sons of the life they chose to live, and conflicted in their relationship with each other - both knowing their life cannot last the way it is, but unable to deal with the inevitability of the end of their family unit.

Christine Lahti's re-awakened relationship with her estranged father, and the pain of 15 years absence.

River was wonderful. Judd Hirsch played the father to a tee. The scene between Christine Lahti and Steven Hill was just gut-wrenching.

I am affected by this movie whenever I watch it ... but kind of in the way a poem might do. What really got to me when I saw this movie again recently, is that it is almost 18 years old now. I remember it like yesterday. Now that's sad.
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Traders (1996–2000)
An excellent show – now out on DVD
6 January 2005
I remember seeing this show on Global during one of my visits to Canada a few years ago – near the end of its last season run.

While I was not familiar with any of the back-story, I was taken by the drama – the style and the acting. Its setting – a Toronto Investment Bank – is reminiscent of the absolutely terrific British 1989-1990 drama also dealing with an Investment Bank – Capital City (search Title Capital City 1989 on IMDb). Capital City was a show that I loved when I was a kid.

Traders appealed sufficiently to me as to keep my eye on amazon.ca to see if and when it would ever be released on DVD. Well, the wait is over and it is here. I am now half way through the Season 1 DVD of Traders and I am really enjoying it. It has remained fresh, despite being some 10 years old now. If anyone from Alliance Atlantis is reading this though – please note that the DVDs tend to freeze – especially on the first disk. These problems need to be addressed. Also lacking are any Special Features – which should be standard on any contemporary DVD release. Nonetheless – worry not – I will be purchasing Season 2 when it is eventually released.

Reading some of the other reviews here – which unsurprisingly have generally been written by Canadians – there seems to be some Cultural Cringe regarding the quality of Canadian drama. Maybe it is only because I have tended to see the best of what's on offer, but I have always viewed Canadian drama as pretty good …

I give Traders Season 1 DVD a buy recommendation.

And if you like Traders and ever see Capital City on release – I give that a Strong Buy.
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Breakthrough at Reykjavik (1987 TV Movie)
10/10
I remember this engrossing drama from the 1980s
3 January 2005
I have not seen this drama since it was originally shown in 1987. However, I remember it as an excellent political drama - documenting the historic meeting between Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik, Iceland.

In this meeting, against advice, Ronald Reagan offered a deal involving massive nuclear disarmament - an offer so monumental that Gorbachev viewed it as politically impossible in the context of a conservative, militaristic USSR administration. The leaders walked away without a deal.

I remember Timothy West and (now-deceased) Robert Beatty as excellent as Gorbachev and Reagan respectively.

I don't know who produced this drama originally - but with the recent death of Ronald Reagan, it is about time that this great drama was released on DVD. Who knows - really cool Special Features might be interviews with the still very active Timothy West - and perhaps original or exert interviews with the man himself - Mikhail Gorbachev ...
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Colditz (1972–1974)
I don't really remember this - but loved Secret Army
3 December 2004
Being a great fan of Secret Army, I am one of the many people who have bought up the recent DVD release ... and from what I understand ... the producers did Colditz before SA ... it won British Academy Awards and was extremely popular.

After the great success of the Secret Army DVD releases, isn't it time Colditz was released on DVD too? I would definitely buy it. What do you think guys?

There is just so much good stuff from the 1970's and 60's .... it was a classic period

The more people asking for some of it on DVD, the more likely we are to actually have it released.
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Capital City (1989–1990)
10/10
An Excellent Series
3 December 2004
I remember this series so well. It was excellent - such strong and compelling characters, stylish and sexy ... and so different to everything else on offer at the time - and now ... I am sure that it inspired the also excellent Canadian drama "Traders".

Both season 1 and season 2 are available on DVD region 2 in the UK. Its a treat to watch the series again.

Season 1 is 13 episodes and season 2 seems to be 10 episodes.

Unfortunately, it seems to have ended after 2 seasons.

This series was a lot of fun.

Sometimes you can get it on special at Amazon.co.uk
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10/10
A moving experience
18 May 2001
I was just surfing and saw The Sweet Hereafter playing again on Bravo. I was drawn into watching this beautiful movie once again.

The Sweet Hereafter tells the story of a terrible school bus crash, and the impact it has on a small Canadian community.

Although a simple tale, performances in The Sweet Hereafter are deep and profound, and emotions are taught. Atom Egoyan brings his vision to the screen with a simplicity and naturalness that is almost misleading. The simple story unfolds with a complexity and depth that becomes both gut-wrenching and profound.

Bruce Greenwood and Alberta Watson are haunting. Sarah Polley is almost other-worldly. Ian Holm has one of his most complex and understated roles. Gabrielle Rose is heart-breaking. The bleak Canadian winter scenery is almost like another player.

This is a movie that is moving in its first viewing but only becomes more poignant with time. It is a Canadian masterpiece.
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