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The Bogie Man (1992) (TV)
7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Comic to TV transitions, 21 June 2006

Now, this is a bit of an oddity. It was 15 years ago that I first saw it and despite the fact that I videotaped it - and now have what is probably the world's only copy of it - I've only watched it once, since then. So my memory is going to be a bit sketchy.

The Bogie Man started off life as a comic mini-series in which the protagonist - Francis Forbes Clunie - thinks he is Humphrey Bogart. In the comic, he also LOOKS like Bogart. So it just takes a couple of props before he really fits the part. The trademark clothing are first, and any random object he encounters that his troubled psyche can make use of just help. Then a frozen turkey becomes the Maltese Falcon - and a vanload of them become a potential treasure trove. It also helps that he escapes on New Year's Eve and his behaviour doesn't initially seem to be particularly odd in the midst of all the drunkenness and partying.

(Note to all non-Scots out there. I called that particular festival "New Year's Eve" simply so that you'd recognise it and know which one I was referring to. In fact, New Year's Eve is a pale, watered-down imitation of what we celebrate in this country - and we call it Hogmanay).

Of course, that was the comic. The BBC screenplay version of the story inevitably made some changes, though. Particularly to the plot... in that they added one. The comic was just a random series of encounters, with Clunie drawing everybody around him into his fantasies, which - truthfully - was all that was needed. All sorts of other elements were added to the TV version.

As with most TV and film adaptations, a viewer's opinion will usually be fairly dependant on how familiar with and fond of the original concept they are. Changes to stories tend not to go down all that well, even if they are improvements on the story. In this case, my own opinion is that the changes weren't really all that much of an improvement at all. Particularly the conclusion, which was just irritating.

The casting, on the whole, is variable. Robbie Coltrane doesn't look even remotely like Humphrey Bogart, but the physical similarity wasn't all that important in the context of the TV version. The sadly missed Jean Alexander was particularly welcome in her role of Clunie's temporary landlady. Also present were Craig Ferguson, Fiona Fullerton and - bizarrely - Midge Ure.

On the whole, it's worth watching. The gags were mostly hit and miss, and the dialectic ones may require at least a passing knowledge of Scottish colloquialisms. The best one involved Clunie asking for a gun - and it's fairly likely that the average Scot can anticipate how that one goes. Definitely watch it if you ever get the chance. It has - to the best of my knowledge - been transmitted only once and never been released on either video or DVD. So your chances might sadly be slim.

Oh... one addition to the story that WAS welcome was a bit of dialogue.

"His father was a heather beater - unfortunately, Heather was his mother."

Tasteless, yeah... but funny as...

10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Sometimes things only come to you gradually, 9 January 2006

Sometimes a screen version of a story recognises that it doesn't have to be a slavish copy of the book in order to do it justice. Sometimes it remembers to rely on visuals rather than words. This mini-series utilised a very clever plot device to highlight Prentice's confusion, questions and internal dialogue.

The darkly comic story opens up at the funeral of Prentice's grandmother who subsequently explodes. This bizarre event sets the tone for the rest of the four episodes and lets you know right away, that you're not watching a standard mystery.

But more relevantly... shortly before Granny died, she set Prentice a little task. Find out what happened to Uncle Rory. Now, Rory has been missing for about seven years now and nobody knows where he is. He got on his motorbike one day and drove off - never to be seen again. Various family members have their theories on what happened to him, but they are a quirky and strange bunch with their own secrets, so their thoughts are open to interpretation, anyway. And the rest of the clues are present in Rory's memoirs which are haphazard, random and - due to his disappearance - incomplete.

So the story gradually unwinds. The viewer never knows any more or less than Prentice knows himself and he is unwilling to face some of the less savoury details. Further events, funerals and family gatherings, together with Rory's own notes inspire flashbacks and memories that flesh out all the characters, provide fresh suspicions and theories and ultimately provides one of those "Ooohh" moments where everything finally falls into place. I mean it. You might well find yourself shouting at Prentiss to "Make the #*$ing connections!" I certainly did.

Watch the series with a bunch of friends. Pause the DVD after every episode. Put the kettle on (or open some more beers or - if you really want to savour the mood - pour some whisky), recap what happened with each other, exchange theories and then settle back for the next instalment. Then later, you might even be inspired to read the book.

Very recommended.

7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Doesn't stand up to comparison, 9 January 2006

If you want an undemanding and reasonably amusing hour or so, then it's OK to watch this. It's not all that bad, really. Yeah, it's got more lapses in logic than I care to describe here and might tax the patience of people - like myself, I have to admit - who are inclined to throw things at the TV on occasion, but it's funny at least. Just because it's not always INTENTIONALLY funny, there's no need to let that get you down.

However, if you've read the book - or any of the other books by Brookmyre - then you'd probably best avoid it. I've read them all and when I first watched this film, I despised it. I've trashed it in detail and at great length on another site, in fact. The TV plot bears practically no relevance at all to that of the book and served only to outrage and infuriate many faithful (and admittedly rabid) Brookmyre fans.

Best bit of advice..? Watch this, then read the book and only THEN make your comparisons and submit your judgement.