Cold Lazarus (TV Mini-Series 1996– ) Poster

(1996– )

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No biography!
McGonigle1 July 2003
This miniseries is a fitting capstone to a brilliant and unique career. In Karaoke, Dennis Potter gave us a heartbreakingly personal look at the end of Daniel Feeld's life; A writer of surreal musical miniseries for TV feels like he is losing control over his written work, both literally (as his words break free and get spoken by real people surrounding him) and metaphorically, as the director of his latest screenplay tries to refashion it in his own image.

In Cold Lazarus, the situation is somewhat reversed. The setting and basic storyline are, by comparison to Karaoke, quite impersonal. The sci-fi "dystopia" is well done and entertainingly campy, with some real strokes of brilliance (the "Reality or Nothing" terrorists who fight the media's dominance), but it's hardly as personal or unique as a typical Potter drama's set-up.

But ironically, the struggle that Daniel Feeld (now only a head, frozen for four hundred years) faces in Cold Lazarus is far more personal, as he literally loses control of his own life and is forced to re-live his own painful memories, without the ability to edit them or filter them through his own creative processes.

The metaphor is set up for us by Feeld's dying words, which we hear in the first segment: "No biography". While Dennis Potter always drew from his own life to a large degree in his writing, he apparently did not relish the idea of other writers attempting to pick through his real life.

Fortunately for us, though, he was (as always) not nearly as reticent about interpreting or re-casting his own life for us. As a contrast to the sci-fi sequences, he presents us with our final glimpse of childhood in his beloved Forest of Dean, in a series of flashbacks that may even as personal as any of the similar scenes in The Singing Detective.

The first time I saw Cold Lazarus, it didn't really grab me, but since seeing it a second time, its story and ideas have stuck in my brain to a huge degree. As I say, it is truly a fitting "final opus" for one of the most distinctive and creative writers of the 20th century; hopefully one day soon, this work (and many more of Potter's creations) will be available on DVD.
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Stendahl's comment:
ryokan-220 January 2000
Stendahl's idea that fiction holds more truth than any written "history" is, or will be, aptly applied to Dennis Potter's _magnum opus_, "Cold Lazarus." Even recent merger news makes the "Total Universal Entertainment Corporation" seem more a reality, as does the recent "State of the World" report. We've much to learn from our artists, the fewer there are, day by day. All those who love literature should be grateful that such a one as Dennis Potter left us these gems for television, among the few there have ever been, or will be.... Look upon "Cold Lazarus" with a somber and reflective mind, for the future is by no means, "out there...."
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An amazing accomplishment by Dennis Potter.
jim-6007 May 2000
I consider Dennis Potter's "The Singing Detective" the best thing ever to appear on TV. "Karaoke-Cold Lazarus" are contenders for second place. It is vital to see Karaoke first because Dennis Potter wrote them as a part of a whole.

Potter racing against the clock to finish Lazarus before he died. They are funny, weird, mysterious and profound -- a rare combination for any medium. It helps to know a bit of Potter's bio to fully appreciate the depth of this accomplishment.

My favorite moment came when slimy TV producer Siltz exults in the opportunity to own a writer's mind (literally) in order to exploit it. I can imagine the smile on Potter's face when he first conceived that scene, seeing it as a metaphor for his showbiz struggles with the Siltzes of the world.

Anyone who appreciates great writing will love this. Dennis Potter wrote a brilliant script about his own death. I doubt anyone will top his feat for a long time.
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An excellent Sci-fi story of a future to come
sonofhades23 July 2001
This story is a very good story in itself and if you've seen the story (behind Lazarus) you will get even more out of the serie. I enjoyed this "realistic" sci-fi stuff more than most of the hollywood style bang-boom-big explosion kind of action sci-fi.

But I must warn you, if you hate each and every drama movie, go watch something else. All other people should watch this one.
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Video release info.
r3d3731 December 2004
I remember seeing both Karaoke and Cold Lazarus a few years ago and recently wished to watch them again.

As it was co-produced by the BBC and Channel 4 they arranged to screen them con-currently across both channels.

I have searched but can not find any information on a video release of them. So I contacted both television companies regarding a possible release but they both replied with the same answer. There are no plans for a commercial release of either and probably will never will be. I can only hope that sometime it the future they'll decide to share such a masterpiece.
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Very interesting...
johannes-kemppanen16 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This mini-series was shown on Finnish TV on last Christmas. What brought me to watch it was a picture on a TV guide magazine and the premise: "scientists are trying to recover memories from a frozen head." OK... As a fan of sci-fi in general I did some searching on the Web and was impressed enough to decide that I would spend some 4 hours of my precious Christmas holiday watching this one. I wasn't disappointed.

Cold Lazarus tells the story of a group of scientists in the future who are trying to recover memories from a hundreds-of-years old frozen severed head of a screenwriter Daniel Feeld, a character who was introduced in the earlier mini-series "Karaoke". (Which was also shown on the day before "Cold Lazarus") The man died to cancer in "Karaoke", but apparently he decided to get his head frozen.

The future world is a truly strange place where giant media empire controls the people. It seems truly unethical to make entertainment from a dead man's most painful memories. (Including very disturbing images of sexual abuse as a child.) Then there was also this group called RON (Reality Or Nothing) who fought with weapons against the media. Interesting analogy to today.

Technical quality was overall very good. The special effects were fine, although some set pieces and especially props had a "cheap" look on them. That didn't bother me too much.

"Cold Lazarus" is always worth watching.
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Parts OK - parts unwatchable
Spydy11 March 2008
I'm a big fan of British TV and this series sounded as though it was going to be right up my alley.

While the parts with the scientists were fine enough, too much time was spent with "Martina" the American financier - her bits were absolutely unwatchable, contained zero entertainment or interest value and effectively torpedoed what would have otherwise escaped as a passable sci-fi yarn.

Perhaps this could be remade with more focus on what makes the story interesting.

3 out of 10
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Karaoke (good) but Cold Lazarus (bad)
John Smith25 August 2014
karaoke was really good, i liked the story and how it developed...kept me watching. cold lazarus was awful, i could not follow the story because the production and acting was horrible...the British really suck at doing science was like the 70s version of doctor who...but i am writing this after only watching the first episode. i am fast forwarding now to get to albert finney's role in this ugly thing, maybe he can save it...but i doubt it. I don't understand how there could be such a disconnect between the karaoke and cold lazarus productions. i can't imagine the writer could have had such different visions of the two, so how did the people involved with actually bringing the written story to TV, misinterpret the writing
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neongen24 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
First I'll write that Karoake is great, this follow-up is crap. The dialogue, characters, casting sets and plot all stink. Worse it makes a muddle of Karoake , which seemed to be an outstanding story on the nature of was Feeld affecting "real world" events ? Cold Lazarus never answers this and dwells on societal control of substitutes for things such as cigarettes and coffee ( tho never touching on why this should be important to the "ruling powers") ..crap. CL never explains how Feeld affected reality in Karoake, but throws in his twin brother's history in some meaningless way that does not settle the questions raised by Karoake at all.Cheap claptrap. What did Feeld say at the end ?
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artwk22 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I am not a fan of Dennis Potter, although I believe that he could have produced good work if the producers of his TV series had been less indulgent, and had forced him to cut his scripts in the interest of wit, point, and (above all) brevity.

I once sat through "The Singing Detective", which was not bad apart from the umpteen pieces of repeat footage. I even endured the Bob Hoskins version of "Pennies From Heaven", which I thought would never end, and which was padded out with surely every third-rate song from the 1920's. At least half of it should have been left on the cutting-room floor. The shortened film version starring Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters was a perfect validation of the adage "Less is more".

In another piece Potter used grownups in the roles of children. This was a good basic idea, but he did nothing inventive with it. I found it as watchable as a one-joke comedy.

Some of Dennis Potter's other pieces were so dull and slow-moving that I gave up after ten minutes. But none was a feeble as "Cold Lazarus", in which it was proposed that all records of past history had been inexplicably lost (HOW?), and in which one character came up with a BRILLIANT (?) idea for a new TV series, which clearly was nothing more than a rehash of those old mystery/horror TV series produced by Rod Serling and others.

Maybe Dennis Potter had never watched TV back in those days. A pity, because he could have learned a lot.
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