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McBain gets bored...unlike the audience!!!
This is a rather nonsensical action drama, with plenty of (entirely unintentional) comedy to go round. To start with, the film itself is called 'McBain.' Anyone who saw that famous Arnold spoof in 'The Simpsons' could be forgiving for looking twice at this title, which essentially features the same cut-and-paste plot, cheesy acting, and incoherent developments that Wolfcastle parodied. It's really nothing great but worth watching for the belly laughs at all the countless errors and overbearing cheesiness!
The 'plot' involves a Vietnam Vet Bobby McBain (Walken)whose friend Santos, a Colombian revolutionary, is killed by the evil dictator on live TV, whose sister comes to McBain to help organize a revolution in that country. For no real reason, other than to alleviate his self-confessed boredom and to avenge his Columbian ex-colleague from Nam, he and his gang of overtly gay middle aged nerds get into a little prop plane and fly off to Colombia to do this.
I started writing a review for this, but deleted it because it ended up totally incoherent. No wonder really, as the madness I was trying to chart is so messed up it's really hard to know where to start. So instead of indignantly providing analogies of McBain's sheer crappiness, I'll just list a few examples from the film which sum it up suitably:
several people are murdered by people who we have seen die themselves moments earlier
the special effects, especially some mid-air explosions, look like they were done by a small child with a chemistry set
at one point, McBain is sitting in the co-pilot seat of a small prop plane. Flying next to them is a jet whose pilot is trying to force them to land. McBain pulls out this stupidly small pistol, and shoots the jet pilot, who crashes, despite the noticeable non-smashing of either windscreen!
Some rebels attempt to infiltrate the presidential palace using a stretched limo. The driver opens the boot and four men jump out. Four! Near the end of the film, a government soldier was asking an old man at a café if he has seen Christina, the rebel leader. He beats the man who doesn't tell him anything. This is great because at the next table are a load of American mercenaries in sunglasses, Hawaiian shirts, and fedora hats!
In a similar vein, during all the battle scenes the good guys can generally just stand around without so much as a bullet touching them, where the bad guys get routinely mowed, and in many cases clearly fail to even notice the machinegun-toting middle aged mercenaries!
The doctor of the group has to perform emergency surgery on a little girl after a battle. He says she would die without proper facilities, but McBain tells him to go ahead as she would die anyway. After briefly slicing her with a little knife (the girl has had her rib cage severely crushed), she sits there for a second, and smiles! The stupidest survival from mortal wounding since Marie in Biggles: Adventures in Time.
A tall, Germanic looking drug dealer is really running Colombia. Predictably, he is called Hans.
A typical example of the nonsense value of the plot: the group doctor declares he is going to stay with the wounded to help them. Then, in the next scene, he is back doing soldiering!
And another: at the start, the guys are told the Vietnam War is over, and they get into their helicopter to fly home. All of a sudden they see one VC on the ground, and decide to launch a full scale covert assault on a POW camp they hadn't even seen. Yeah, that's exactly what you do right after getting discharged.
You know a movie is in trouble when even the extras don't look convincing. I blame the director.
Normally I like mercenary movies. They make great viewing and the body count is typically high enough to make up for the lack of plot. Skeleton Coast and Wild Geese were both enjoyable. But McBain, thanks to a total lack of plot development, realistic effects, bearable acting, and tongue in cheek humour, comes across merely as a convoluted, confused mess. In honesty it looked like a load of set pieces had been brought in from a variety of scripts, banged together any which way, and then tagged together with the formulaic 'South American dictator/drug baron revolution' shtick.
Don't get me wrong I sat through it fine, it was never boring, because I was splitting my sides most of the time at the hilariously bad production values and situations. There are some pretty good moments, such as when McBain's gang kidnap a gangster called John Cambotti and dangle him off a skyscraper pretending to be Israeli agents. That part was cool. But the set-up for it, where they killed everyone in a crack house without either taking the money or destroying the drugs, and getting a lecture from the drug chief, was so artificial I just didn't understand why it was put in. Needless to say, mindless killing and slaughter is only entertaining if its well done on a technical level, unlike this ham-fest, where someone is dragged out of a window after a ceiling fan and hundreds of extras overtly mis-time their exaggerated death throes
There is lots of violence but some of it is so poorly done that it actually looks funny, which is not always a good thing. I bought this DVD for £1.49, which in retrospect seems like a bit of a rip-off. I'll hang onto it though, for any occasion in which I want to either play drinking games for number of dead etc, or as a showcase for some truly shoddy film-making.
Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)
'Has Martin Riggs finally met his match?'
The thrilling, stunt-packed, ammo-toting second sequel to LETHAL WEAPON marks the further evolution in the characters of family man cop Roger Murtagh (Danny Glover) and his off-the-wall partner, Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson). This time around we get a great inversion of the original premise, as it is Roger who has to deal with a devastating event in his life he has shot his son's best friend. Back as chatterbox Leo Getz is Joe Pesci, whose role is far less central to the plot this time, but whose presence allows welcome opportunities for the two main protagonists to vent comedy steam in his direction! Also thrown into this explosive mix is Lorna Cole (Rene Russo) as an internal investigator who crosses Riggs on her investigation into missing seized handguns. The romance between the two is unique in the sense that the two are almost identical to each other, even down to their mutual love of the Three Stooges, meaning the relationship is an ongoing battle, each striving for the upper hand! Quite apart from being a verbal and personal match for Riggs, Lorna is also tough as nails, and it is a complement to the direction of series chief Richard Donner and Russo herself that Cole is made to look like a real hard-case. Cole's tough side rarely lets up though the film, allowing plenty of banter once again, but if there is to be a criticism, it is that the romance itself is treated a little lightly, almost as if Riggs and Cole switch from opponents to lovers too quickly. But then, isn't it the same in any relationship? Rapier-quick dialogue is more of a feature than ever, as well as an increasing tendency towards more physical humour, meaning that as all this takes centre stage the character of the villain is little more than a sideshow. We get to see Wilson as Jack Travis, a hard-boiled nasty ex-cop, but there is little character development beyond him killing witnesses and talking down his subordinates. With four full characters already, and the rest of the stock cast Roger's family, a new cop, Ed the Chief I guess a caricature evil bad guy was all that was required. And don't forget an unwelcome new love interest for Roger! With such a light and comedic feel to the picture, the last thing that would have felt right would have been some exploration of Travis's grievances and mindset.
Although with less going on visually, except the opening car chase, the ending in a burning building site, and Gibson's ponytail, LETHAL WEAPON 3 isn't as striking as its predecessors, it is in every other way a fine continuation of the series. Gibson, Glover, and Pesci are completely comfortable in their respective roles and allow the dialogue to shoot between each other like the electricity between their characters. With a successful complement of big action, the elements are all there for another successful entry into the LETHAL series!
Lethal Weapon (1987)
"'Mad' Mel hits the bit time!"
Progressing from the wide acclaim brought to him through the MAD MAX series, Mel Gibson's star continued its inexorable rise to superstardom with LETHAL WEAPON, the film that would launch one of the most popular, successful, and iconic film franchises of recent times. Gibson takes centre stage as suicidal LA detective Martin Riggs, allowing him free rein to explode into the claustrophobic surroundings in which he finds himself.
Partnering Gibson, his 'straight man' as it were, is Danny Glover as Sgt Roger Murtagh, a veteran cop who is less than pleased to find himself paired with Riggs. The 'buddy' nature of the partnership, shifting from suspicion, to dislike, to liking, back to antagonism, and finally to respect, friendship, and trust, is a formula which has often been imitated, but never bettered. The chemistry between Gibson and Glover is instantly evident, and throughout the film the tension generated by placing two such nominally dissimilar characters together is rarely far from the surface.
The dual layered plot, which initially and mostly focuses on the attempts of Riggs to overcome the depression which has settled over his life since the death of his wife, is an important feature of the film, and one that would be repeated successfully in the sequels. Gradually, as the partnership builds around a murder case of an old friend of Murtagh's, a criminal mercenary heroin running scheme is uncovered by the duo, who find themselves targeted, not for the last time in the series, by the bad guys. Of course, there is plenty of action, including drive-by shootings, fly-by shootings, fist fights, and explosions, but in this first instalment of the series, the best moments are saved for darker instances of tension between characters.
The one false note struck in LETHAL WEAPON is the repeated references to the Vietnam War, in which Riggs, Murtagh, and the head bad guy Mr Joshua (Gary Busey in a menacing but not overused appearance), are meant to have served. Not only are all three men clearly too young to have been in Vietnam, but the ties of Gibson's former special forces unit to the mercenary operation and the murder case are skimmed over too briefly, and could have done with deeper exploration, especially through the 'fleshing out' of key villains, such as Mr Joshua. A belated attempt to look at the US Special Forces abusing the narcotics laws was made in 1990 with Air America, also starring Gibson.
On the whole, this is a very enjoyable action film, with far less of the comedic element than was to follow, with only Riggs' lighter moments during his depression to provide relief from the drama. For an uncomplicated, powerful, and above all fun thrill ride, you can't do much better than LETHAL WEAPON!
One of the funniest educational shows ever!
Idly flicking the channels one holiday evening, I came across this gem of a show, written and hosted by Nick Knowles, who I have long said is great but wasted on DIY SOS. Following on from the 'Two's Country' mode of exploring history, i.e. placing tongue firmly in cheek and having a laugh, Knowles takes us on a wild ride through English Medieval history, but not as we know it! At first I was mildly amused and a little distracted. Quickly I got hooked, dropped what I was doing, and soon I was retching with laughter on the floor like an idiot. The gags, pacing, acting, and sense of timing were all perfect, making for comedy gold. Quickly I was reviewing the TV schedules to find out when this was on next, sadly I have not seen it since, but Knowles acknowledges it as his favourite project.
Although it had great feedback, Historyonics seems to be rather short lived, but luckily Nick is seeing a lot more spotlight these days, and even bigger things are sure to come for this much under-rated performer.
Time Gentlemen Please (2000)
Formulaic but great!!!
Al Murray's Pub Landlord, famous to most people in Britain now due to his stage shows and stand-up, starred in this hilarious Sky-One commissioned bar room comedy, in which he and his staff, regulars, and various other characters rattle through the same routine each week. The comedy is not in the jokes themselves, but the fact that you know what is coming and just wait to see how it all fits together.
Meet the gang: GUV (the Landlord) is the bigoted, frustrated, desperate proprietor of an ancient pub, and a central focus for its collection of staff and regulars. Although he claims to have been 'never confused,' it seems the GUV underneath the bravado is something of a 'new man'! His main sparring partner is the vile TERRY (Phil Daniels), a chain-smoking, beer swilling, self-employed serial monogamist with a great line in chat-up lines! Behind the bar are STEVE (Jason Freeman), a thickheaded impressionable type, and JANET (Julia Sawalha), who got her job by dint of being an Australian, who according the GUV "are bred for bar work, its instinct!" The bane of the GUV's is VICKI JACKSON (Rebecca Front), the rep from the brewery who has to keep him in line but really just wants to be everyone's friend. She owes her position to the fact that her father owns the brewery, not any knowledge of the licensed pub trade! Also don't forget OLD MAN (Roy Heather) nobody cares enough about him to ask for his name and PROF (Andrew McKenzie), an intellectual type who is secretly a notorious flasher and murderer! Add into the mix the GUV'S former college peer and now landlord of the Queen of Hearts (They've got a thirty foot bar and a carvery!) GREG THOMPSON (Marc Bannerman) who loves to lord it over the GUV, but is secretly in love with the GUV'S newest recruit, CONNIE (Emma Pierson), a 'bloody student' who manages to get the GUV'S blood flowing in more ways that one!
With that said, down to the routine. The entire show is usually based around the following instances, with plenty of mock-patriotic humour, fart jokes, sex jokes, and 'plot' mixed in: · GUV will proclaim: "rules is rules pint for the gentleman, white wine or fruit-based drink for the lady!" · Terry is usually barred for one reason or another (often involving a misdemeanour with Gary, the pub dog), but is let off "just this once" · Terry will enter the pub asking: "got any lunch left?" · Vicki will try to impress everyone by singing a famous old song. Nobody will have heard of it however · Prof will usually make an un-noticed slip revealing his identity as the flasher · Everyone remembers fondly the day Prof won £2 on the Fact Hunt machine · Greg will appear, sporting two gorgeous young ladies on his arms! · Despite her being a student, Guv will be forced to suppress his carnal desires for Connie · Terry will see a woman and proclaim "that is the woman I'm going to marry!" · Usually Steve will utter a desire to be in another profession, often related to the plot e.g. postman, ploughman, work for Riley's. · Guv's uncle Barry will appear, along with his fellow landlords Mike and Dave · Said Barry will get covered in beer, vomit, or other liquid, causing his black hair rinse to wash all over his face · Janet will make a pass at Steve, who is uninterested/oblivious · Janet will make an inappropriate/ill-timed/unwarranted crack about a former boyfriend · The Postie with the face shaped like a bean will appear, and scream out in frustration: "damn my bean-shaped face!" · The Guv will use his mock sympathy catchphrase: "oh well, what a pity, never mind!" · He will also curse himself by asking: "why do they all leave???" · He will cover up repressed non-hetro desires by loudly proclaiming: "never confused!" · The Prof's resentment of his mother, including his desire to kill her, will surface. This is a very amusing satire on the 'Cliff' character from ''Cheers'' · Old Man will make some reference to his immense age and/or his wish to die. Nobody however is interested. · At the start of every episode, the sign on the front of the pub door is different every week, usually a humorous mis-quotation at the Guv's expense. · The strange silent couple, Lesley and Leslie, sit in the corner of the pub at every episode, a huge man in leather and a bandanna and a short, skinny woman; neither will utter a word, and just watch proceedings.
Although it wasn't mainstream stuff, with strong language throughout, TGP was defiantly a riotously successful comedy, which developed a cult following. The idea of putting The Pub Landlord into a sitcom could have been mishandled but in the end it works rather well, with Murray and Daniels displaying tangible on-screen chemistry. Credit should also go to the co-writer (with Murray) and director Richard Herring, and the casting people who got such a great cast together, all of who were great for their roles. TGP managed something like 24 episodes, which is more than The Office, of which it was a lesser known, but no less funny, contemporary.
We Were Soldiers (2002)
Honest war drama not over-shadowed by Hollywood's greatest star
Despite the political commentary that has understandably accompanied discussion of Randall Wallace's We Were Soldiers, it should be remembered that the film is primarily based on a true story, with the actual protagonists having had considerable creative input. The movie sets itself up as following the American soldiers as they make their nation's first intervention into the most controversial conflict of the last century, and, with any group of close-knit people who find themselves outnumbered, surrounded, and at war, the instinct is to root for them in their heroic battle against a faceless enemy.
Except that's not the full story of We Were Soldiers. Some understanding and insight into the enemy's strategy and mindset is attempted, if not always achieved, and although we rarely get to see how the North Vietnamese coped with and approached battle and death as we do the Americans, at least we have more of them than what could have been a merciless, villainous, thoroughly dislikeable conveyor belt of cannon fodder. It's made clear that everyone involved in this battle is not doing so because of their duty to their countries or their belief in ideologies or faith in religions. They are there because they are soldiers. Everything else is strictly secondary.
If soldierhood defines the main protagonists, their roles as husbands and fathers is brought directly into play simultaneously, as the families on the home front receive shattering news in the case of each fatality, as the conflict develops. This is a new and interesting slant taken by a film that puts itself primarily into the battleground, and although the two separate sequences struggle to gel greatly together, it is nevertheless an intriguing attempt to show the solidarity between the families in a soldiering community, and the impact of soldiering and war on a small town.
It's hard to fault the film in terms of realism, for we are taken right into the filth and depredation of battle to a degree fully comparable with PLATOON or SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. The use of helicopter pilot characters allows us to get an overview of the conflict is a welcome breath from the claustrophobic, tense, battleground sequences, which are energy sapping in their ferocity and intensity. Wallace's use of light and darkness is also a wonderfully innovative feature, both in the cases of the men on the ground, and the view from the helicopter. Special effects, such as the dropping of napalm and high explosives, are pulled off very effectively as well, but none more so than the authenticity of some of the wounds on the casualties, to such an extent the you often secretly wonder if the men will quietly slit the throats of their tragically maimed brothers in arms, to save them further indignity and suffering.
WE WERE SOLDIERS should not be seen as a microcosm of America's involvement in the Vietnam War, but a degree of political exploration is unavoidable in such a sensitive subject. You cannot help wonder, as the men go into action on behalf of their country, what abstract platitude they went into battle for. The environment that Col. Moore and his men find themselves in is fully believable as hell on earth, even more so than as depicted in Oliver Stone's PLATOON, simply because were are able to see that a seemingly sane, normal, calm world is just on the other end of a radio receiver. The film's biggest strength, that of underlining how men's lives became dominated and identified by their occupation, is also its largest weakness. Because of the depiction of each man as a soldier first and a personality second, it is hard to empathise with any of them, except for scenes in which they encounter each other with soldierly obligations, such as when one platoon of men gets gut off from the main group, and the rest desperately feel the urgency to come to the aid of their embattled comrades.
Despite its unbalanced feel, WE WERE SOLDIERS is effective at portraying the story of one individual unit in one specific confrontation. We need not worry that things seem too easy for the 'good guys,' as the horrors of war are inflicted onto them as much as they are for the enemy, who, despite having lost something like fifteen times killed the number of US soldiers, at the end watch the cavalry leave and wander out onto the battlefield with further re-enforcements. This moment, more than any other, brought home the reality that there are only wars because there are solders to fight them, and in the end, the ground the armies fight for is only as valuable as the blood that soaks into it from the bodies and hearts of the men who do the fighting.
The film attests to be a tribute to the soldiers who fought in the 'Valley of Death,' and despite a feeling that it ignores the wider picture it does that very effectively. WE WERE SOLDIERS may not be everyone's cup of tea, for the reasons of lack of emphasis on the hollow and needless aspects of the waste and sacrifice in Vietnam, but for a film that shows what it is like to be down in the dirt, amidst the blood and mayhem of war, it cannot be faulted.
Big Break (1991)
Saturday night will never be the same if you can't 'sink the pink' and 'down the brown'
I don't even know why this show was axed - the great duo of dour and deadpan John Virgo as the referee, and manic 'cheekie chappie' Jim Davidson as the host and quiz master, plus a mix of general knowledge quiz and snooker - it was never unpopular. The most likely cause of its axing would have to have been the BBC deciding, in its own 'poliitcally correct' manner, that Jim Davidson was an inappropriate figure to be hosting one of their shows. In fairness Jim is a little risqué with his jokes, and the Beeb maybe felt it could not give recognition to someone who makes a living talking about "the bloody frogs" etc, but the point is, as a comedy talent on a family show, Davidson was pretty impressive, especially in his banter with Virgo, which rivals the Paul Merton - Ian Hislop double act on Have I Got News For You.
The format is pretty simple - 4 rounds of different formats whittle down the three initial contestant / snooker pro duos, to eventually find a winner and what that winner will take home. Although the real characters of the game were never given that much scope to entertain, it was nice to see players from the past showing they could still do it - Masters Veterans like Ray Rearden and Dennis Taylor were regular guests. One memorable quirk was when the first contestant to be eliminated could pick up a consolation prize in the 'Trick Shot' round, where John Virgo would demonstrate a trick shot, and invite the contestant to repeat it. This was always done with great enthusiasm and was a real crowd pleaser, especially when the contestant got it right after Virgo had fluffed the demonstration himself! The trivia part was always interesting, as were the skills shown by the various snooker stars who made guest appearances, but the best element was always the John and Him combination. They just looked like they were having such a good time, and that's the point of Saturday night TV, I don't want to know how smart I am (Test the Nation), I don't buy lottery tickets, and every time Ant and Dec hit the screen I reach for my revolver. BB was good clean fun, and its a crime that Aunty saw fit to give it the boot.
Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
"The film that blew James Bond out of the box office in 1989 will blow your mind!"
Carrying on from where they left off in the original, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover are back with more incredible stunts, machine gun dialogue, and red hot action than ever before. Reprising their 'good cop, mad cop' routine, except with a greater emphasis on the lighter side of Riggs's character, the comedy is enhanced further by the significant adaptation to the series of pint-sized motor-mouth Leo, played by Joe Pesci (Raging Bull). Along with the full set of characters introduced in the original, such as the police chief, the psychiatrist, and Murtagh's family, we are treated to an even greater range of gun fights, car chases, explosive fist fights, and dramatic confrontations as the duo become involved in an investigation into heroin smuggling.
The bad guys, who are depicted as stereotypical Afrikaner racists (boo, hiss), are nevertheless played by deliciously by Joss Ackland and Derrick O'Connor, who spit out their dialogue in as guttural and vicious way as possible, accentuating the unusual use of the South African accent (in Hollywood, anyway) to create characters immediately identifiable as villains, but whom it can be great to imitate anyway! The actual 'plot' of the drug runners hiding behind diplomatic immunity takes third place to the other two plot strands, as the police come under attack for their intrusion and Leo enters the new treble act with Riggs and Murtagh.
Visually, LETHAL WEAPON 2 will always go down as the most memorable of the series, mostly due to the famous 'bathroom scene', which should be textbook material for any writer in how to take a unique dramatic situation, and turn it on its head to create comedy. In effect, that is the entire LETHAL series in a nutshell. We do get another long hard look at the dark side of Martin Riggs, and once again Gibson is completely believable as a man driven to the edge of rationality by his enemies, as he makes a terrible discovery about the death of his wife. Also notable for the appearance of the stunningly beautiful Patsy Kensit who does a great job keeping up with Gibson (why she married Liam Gallagher I can't imagine), the first sequel to LETHAL WEAPON is a worthy successor and in some regards actually succeeds in surpassing its illustrious predecessor.
Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)
"The gang go out on top!"
It came as something of a surprise when it was announced that a fourth LETHAL film would be made, especially given the 6 year lay-off and the huge status of Mel Gibson since his Oscar winning direction and performance in BRAVEHEART pushed him right into the all time Hollywood 'A' list of super-super-stars, but any fears that Gibson's ego could be too big for the new production, or that things would be too unfamiliar after so long away, were to prove unfounded.
LETHAL WEAPON 4 would probably go down as the best entry into the fine series, given the truly special nature of the stunts, action, and explosions that not only surpassed the lofty standards set during the series, but that also stands well in comparison with anything done since. Check out, for example, the scene in which Riggs and Murtagh take down the 'Exterminator' style killer in the opening moments I've never seen an oil tanker do anything like that! But the action is not the only huge plus. The introduction of Chris Rock into the formula was a real masterstroke from the casting department; especially taking in mind the 'special relationship' the plot throws up for him and Roger. Rock is also superlative in proving a match for Leo (Joe Pesci), and the reaction of Riggs and Murtagh when these two motor mouths get together is comedy gold! Rene Russo is back, along with all the characters we have come to know and love over four films come together, and with a twin pregnancy storyline intertwined with Riggs agonizing whether to marry Lorna, Roger angry his daughter is pregnant without being married (little does he know!), Leo working as the world's most conspicuous private detective, and on top of all that Lorna suspecting Roger being on the take, there is enough here for a small soap opera! Throw in a gang of Chinese Triads involved in human trafficking slaves with Jet Li's mobster, and what you have is one of the most explosive, stylish, hilarious action comedies of the 1990s! Jet Li deserves a special mention in his first major US film. He may have few lines, but he has genuine screen menace and when he swings into action he comes to the fore in a big way with some of the most impressive martial arts skills ever committed to celluloid. As already mentioned, the action scenes are imaginatively written enough already, with scenarios such as Roger's fishing boat sinking (leaving the shark Leo just caught free to get some payback!) or Gibson going fist to fist with mobsters in the rear of a moving caravan on a freeway, but with someone of Li's skill on board, the whole things goes to a whole new level.
Only a couple of false notes are sounded, those being that Rene Russo looking a little too physically able when knocking out villains while nine months pregnant, and some of the crucial dialogue in key situations being inaudible due to other sound effects, somewhat lessening the potential impact of comedic scenarios. Also, if you haven't seen the other LETHAL films, there are a lot of in-jokes, such as the 1-2-3 routine and other features that any sequel would contain (check out the BACK TO THE FUTURE series for instance).
If this represents the end of the LETHAL series, as implied by the ending and Mel's other projects subsequently, then LH4 certainly is a fitting way to end a fine franchise, and a great example of going above and beyond to finish on top! This has to rank as one of those films its hard to dislike and easy to love, and is a fine tribute to the work of everyone involved in the entire franchise over a decade or more!
Pales by comparison with the original, but worthy and better than expected
While the 21st Century version of the classic 80s comedy-drama 'Minder' was always going to have a lot to live up to, the first episodes gives cause for optimism.
There was outcry amongst fans when TV personality and sometime TV presenter Shane Ritchie was cast as Archie Daley, nephew of the infamous Arthur, but while Ritchie is not much of an actor, he gets an 'A' for effort here. If anything, he should tone down his 'cheekie-chappie' enthusiasm, in favour of portraying a veneer of reputability, but, as the series will take time to hit its stride so will Ritchie.
The plot exists to be disregarded - an entirely nebulous storyline fulfilled its purposes of introducing us to the principals, via a series of non-descript villains. While Petra (who I take to be a relative of the gravel-voiced Dave, proprietor of the Winchester Club in the George Cole original) is a spirited character and looks set to be a series regular, it was Lex Shrapnel who gave the standout performance. Carrying the show with an understated hard edge and an air of seen-it-all-before weariness, he already seems as able a Minder as either Dennis Waterman or Gary Webster.
It was during the commercials that I stumbled across Waterman on the other side, and while I thought I would be pining for his gravelly tones and acknowledge considerable presence, I feel that the show, in its infancy, will survive without him.