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Star Trek: Voyager: Mortal Coil (1997)
Season 4, Episode 12
"Dead Like Me" in Voyager
1 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
In this episode Neelix recovers after being clinically dead, brought back to life with the help of Seven's Borg technology. His faith is shattered by the experience, not being reunited with his family as he expected.

We see in this story writer Bryan Fuller's interest in the afterlife which become a prominent feature of Dead Like Me, and Pushing Daisies. Here there is the feeling that Neelix is experiencing the loss of his soul - he has been brought back to life, but feels like an automaton.

As Bryan Fuller is the writer, the quality of the script is very high. Overall though, the story has a somewhat constrained use of the crew and is maybe not as good as some of the other episodes in this excellent season for that reason, but interesting nonetheless as an early piece of work by this marvellous writer.
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Star Trek: Voyager: Before and After (1997)
Season 3, Episode 21
Great sci fi
21 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
It's always been one of my criticisms of shows like Star Trek that they don't often enough set the scene for future episodes. Here, this episode makes a valiant attempt to predict one possible future, and mentions "the year of hell". You'd wonder if they'd got that story lined up already, and although there are notable discrepancies, nevertheless those events do transpire. It's certainly not a typical episode, and what a contrast from the horrible earlier episodes of this series - the 'Q' one being a stand out low point of Voyager. It's kind of a shame that Kes's hair style changes at the point she returns to its new style, rather than that being an event that follows in an episode or two. Good work on makeup too, and another great performance from Jennifer.
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Star Trek: The Next Generation: Evolution (1989)
Season 3, Episode 1
A dull story to start
10 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
After the Season 2 ended with a we've - run - out - of - money episode that largely consisted of flashbacks, you would think the opener for Season 3 would be something special. What we get is a dose of stodginess, with long dull scenes, and a preachy moralistic tone.

The underlying story about nanites is just ludicrous, and of course we might have guessed it was all Wesley's fault. It's either he who saves the Enterprise, or he who destroys it - a sort of balance I suppose. Watching this episode straight after the end of the previous series - doesn't Data's face look older? A problem they eventually fix in Time's Arrow.

On the plus side though, the special effects in the opening are very beautiful, the Enterprise in orbit is gorgeously lit. Also nice to see Doctor Crusher back. The best is yet to come, but this episode is dull, dull and dull.
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Grange Hill: The Competition (2008)
Season 31, Episode 13
A candidate for the worst ever episode of Grange Hill
1 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Finding the worst episode in this series is quite a challenge. Possibly "Boarderman" is the worst ever, but this comes quite close.

Can we really believe that the entire school of Grange Hill, which judging by this episode contains about 25 pupils and 2 1/2 teachers (Miss Bettany is actually just a teaching assistant), can't provide more musical ability than two people screeching at a sub-grade-one level violin, and a comedy act where the participants just pretend to play? Okay - yes it's just trying to be funny - but Grange Hill always prided itself on being at least vaguely realistic, not just a pantomime school. The first act we hear from another school is a tolerably good jazz band, yet somehow we're expected to believe Grange Hill have beaten them and all others: it's too much to expect we'd hear more than just one entry of course! Can we really believe in a school where the act is announced as "Here is Bryn Williams and Ducket" Ducket? What, a nickname being used by a member of staff - Ducket of course has no surname unless Ducket is his surname; but what sloppy writing and directing to just allow that line, and not at least make up a real name for the lad! Sloppy - yes that's a fair summary of this last, terrible, series of Grange Hill. And the other storyline in this pathetic affair - the falling out of Megan and Serena (who, in another demonstration of sloppiness of production has her name spelt "Serna" in the credits) and the heavy-handed moralising messages about working together and standing up for each other.

Thankfully not all of Series 31 is quite this bad in all respects as this stinker!
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Grange Hill: Boarderman (2008)
Season 31, Episode 2
An appalling episode
27 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In series 31, the show became targeted at younger children, moving away from focusing on teenage real-life issues. At the same time it continues with the characters from the previous series, introducing both new Year 7's and new pre-secondary school children. The style of the show is fundamentally different now, but not all necessarily bad. This episode though, to my mind is as low as the series has ever sunk, all sense of a real school goes out of the window.

Can you imagine in a real school that someone could dress up in disguise and skateboard through a Staff Room, then onto the stage at Assembly wrapping a banner around the acting school head - and get away with it? Some of series 31 is actually tolerable - the very next episode for instance - but this particular episode, with appallingly unrealistic dialogue, and ludicrously pantomime teachers will give the viewer the reason that the series was finally axed as this series started to air.
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Grange Hill: Episode #30.20 (2007)
Season 30, Episode 20
Unfinished business
15 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In many ways this is the last true episode of Grange Hill, though many would argue the series ended with Series 25, after which the school shifted away from its London base. As such, there are many loose ends, and what followed a year later, in the series' final throes, was some abomination of what had gone before. Series 31 was hastily rehashed to make it aimed at junior viewers, so we never found out how Emma coped with her new baby, only a handful of the Year 11's returning in an almost token role. As for Kathy's decision to go to the same university as Martin, well that goes out of the window as she returns to school the next term as a member of staff: completely unbelievable, unfortunately.

Series 31 is a collection of daft stories, with fantasy sequences - a million miles from the challenging drama of the previous thirty years, and yet despite this handicap there's still some of the occasional magic poking through.

As for Series 30, and this episode - it just seems all very rushed. I'm not quite sure why Jeremy reads Emma's letter to Kyle: Emma goes and tells Tanya, but sooner or later that particular truth would have come out - actually by now Emma ought to have actually gone full-term and had the baby. The timing for all of Series 30 is odd, and compares badly to Chrissy Mainwaring's pregnancy which unfolded in normal time over a school year. Here, although we clearly start at the beginning of the school year - we see Lucy and Jenny start - Emma's nine weeks of pregnancy somehow last from late summer one year to early summer the next. Overall, the writing, acting and directing is excellent in this last proper series - the overall story lines are a bit strange though - Alex's bullying - again - Baz's death, which just seems to be there in a soap-like way. There are way too few teachers in this series, no visible Head, and no classroom scenes to speak of - it just doesn't feel like a school, more of a social club.
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Grange Hill: Episode #26.1 (2003)
Season 26, Episode 1
Spot the similarities to Series One
16 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Series 26 arrives 25 years after Grange Hill's first series, but is now produced from Phil Redmond's Liverpool based studios, rather than BBC's Elstree Studios. What we have, somewhat in disguise, is a rehash of the very first episode in 1978.

For starters, if you check the characters' names, especially their initials you'll find a little joke being played out. Tucker Jenkins-Togger Johnson; Trisha Yates=Tanya Young; Judy Preston=Emma Bolton (Bolton is near Preston!), Benny Green=Abel Benson, Ann Wilson=Annie Wainwright.

There are other storyline similarities - Togger's left unselected in the hall, just as his uncle, Tucker was, and there's the elastic band flicking of Togger to Tanya is history repeating itself too. Annie, like Ann Wilson before her, is missing as the names are called out, but this is not just Ann Wilson running the wrong way, and getting misled by bullies, but the start of a great long story arc involving Annie and her brother Baz, and their difficult home life.

Many fans do not like the series from here on: there is something missing - a gradual decrease in actual classrooms activities, for instance, along with an unexplained increase in Liverpool accents. On the other hand, it seems to me that the quality of acting, especially of the new youngsters who start this year, is outstanding.

This is also the last series for the incredibly long-lasting Mr. Robson, whose total episode count is heading towards the 300 mark, and a link back to the Grange Hill golden era in the mid 80's.
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Grange Hill: Episode #25.18 (2002)
Season 25, Episode 18
The end of the Elstree Era!
9 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is the explosive final episode which you might almost have expected to mark the end of Grange Hill altogether. At only 18 episodes, this series is two episodes short of the normal amount, and it shows here in the way the story is rushed - probably budget restrictions were responsible. As Deverill - really Wilcox - is exposed as a fraud, the school doesn't just burn - we've seen school fires before, but this is a huge explosive affair - the windows blow out and there's a huge fireball. It's just as well that after this the next series of Grange Hill came from Merseyside! We see Lisa, Tom, Ozzy and Vikki in the corridors just before a fireball engulfs the entire building - but the next series implies they are safe - that no-one was hurt.
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Grange Hill: Episode #22.3 (1999)
Season 22, Episode 3
Shocking, thoughtful, drama
13 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
It's hard to believe this is Children's television: the final scene is heart-breaking. Watching this episode is very difficult, impossible to do without finding tears in my eyes at the end. Tears because of the sadness that some four years after this episode was shown, by a cruel twist of fate, the actress playing Judi, Laura Sadler, herself died after falling from a balcony. In the next episode, Mr. Robson reads a eulogy for Judi - "a young life cut short in such a shocking way" - and this could apply so easily to Laura as well. But, at the time, this was just another episode in a long-running drama, convincingly acted by Laura Sadler and Thomas Carey (as Alec). Shocking, thoughtful, well-written drama, not contrived, endless, soap, or childish fantasy, and the sort of thing that will be sorely missed under the new regime at the BBC.
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The Fenn Street Gang (1971–1973)
A little flat -- DVD available in UK now
5 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Usually the first episode of a sitcom is something special: here although not disastrously unfunny, it does fall a bit flat. The two new replacement actors (for the absent Malcolm McFee and Penny Spencer) paper over the cracks quite successfully, but the script could have been quite a bit wittier, you would have thought. Still, it's nice to see the Eric, Frankie, Dennis and Maureen characters again in any form. It's the teachers who are noticeable from their absence - Mr. Price pops in during the first episode.

As I write, the DVD for Series One is available in the UK, but perhaps a little pricey at £24 odd for a 3 disc set.

One interesting thing is that at least one of the extras is the same as from the first three Please Sir! series - the leggy ginger haired girl who used to sit on the end nearest the door is visible in the episode one pub scene (or at least so it seems to me!)
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Grange Hill (1978–2008)
Thirty Years at School
7 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
It's hard to summarise 30 years of Grange Hill - so many characters, and story lines. At the time of writing, the last series is due to be shown, with a substantially altered target audience of younger children. Probably as a direct result of this, the show itself has been cancelled.

Grange Hill started in 1978 with a nine part series. After that there were typically 20 episodes, sometimes fewer, sometimes more. Grange Hill is set, originally anyway, in North London - a fictional suburb called Northam, postcode region N24 in one episode, something different in another. The series' strength is its sharp writing, and strong element of humour in among the serious themes.

The 30 series (ignoring Series 31 for the moment) can be divided into three eras, which have quite a different feel. The first era, set at various real schools around London, lasts seven years and is the time when we have Tucker, and later Gripper, Zammo and Roly. Then there's a long middle era where the series is predominantly set at the BBC's Elstree Studios: at this point the series has matured into a mixture of the fun and the serious: the writers don't shy away from difficult subjects, from the dangers of firearms, the dangers of AIDS, alcoholism, shoplifting, the sorrow of losing one's mother or father, diseases such as ME, sexual assault and Internet grooming. The final era occurs when the production moved to Liverpool, in 2001. I fear this was a grave mistake as the series becomes something else - not necessarily something bad, but the essential "Londonness" has gone. The style changes at this point, you notice that you see very few external shots - views of home life are minimal after series 26.

I don't believe there's any year of Grange Hill without some merit. For me, Series 4 and 30 are pretty awful, perhaps the worst of the bunch. In Series 4, the dominant characters are still Tucker, and his male friends, with Trisha and Cathy on the female side, and it's all just a bit stale. There are new characters coming up, but they don't quite make an impact before the next series - Suzanne and Gripper are just too young yet - then Series 5 starts with a host of new characters who breathe life back in. Series 30 is weak because it seems to be regurgitating old ideas from just two years before - Alex's bullying is a repeat performance of the brilliant series 28, in which the headmistress adamantly promised to stop such things, after all, Alex came close to death. And yet, here it all is again, and the headmistress noticeable by her absence - a great gaping hole - she's still in the school, apparently, just never seen. Emma's storyline with her pregnancy is slow to gather pace. There's very little to recommend Series 30 - we've lost Lauren Bunney who was just so brilliant as Annie a couple of years earlier. Also, there are just no classroom scenes at all and too few teachers for it to feel like a large comprehensive. Baz's death seems just stupid, and unnecessary. But even in such a dire series, there are moments which are good - thanks to the great acting of Kirsten and Chris, playing Tanya and Togger. Kirsten can make one facial gesture, and you know what her character is thinking, and meaning. Daniella too is great here. The younger set show great promise too: Mia Smith, and Jack McCullen (Chloe and Tigger) are brilliant. In fact that's one thing that's greatly improved since the series began - the acting of the younger performers, a little wooden in the early years, and so much better now. Perhaps Series 30's problem is money - it feels like they had only half the cash to spend, and couldn't afford to build and strike enough sets, so made do with what they had available.

There's a certain amount of political correctiveness in Grange Hill: it's commendable, but at the same time a little unrealistic. For instance, Rachel's Cerebral Palsy goes almost unmentioned - of course this is how things ought to be in an ideal world, but probably not what happens in schools. Francesca Martinez does, I think, rise above being just an example of someone with her disability to become a character who plays a part in her own right over several years. Her role in the series is never one of a girl fighting with the troubles her physical body cause her. In the same way, Holly, deaf, but stunningly beautiful, has story lines like everyone else, except that her lip-reading is an additional benefit rather than her deafness being a negative thing. Racism occurs occasionally, and is a major storyline in series six, with Gripper Stebson picking on a Sikh boy. In later years there's a free mix of people from different ethnic backgrounds, and no point made: people's skin colour is irrelevant, and that's how it should be. The same is true of homosexuality - one of the teachers "comes out", but once the prejudices are brought into the open, nothing more is made of that aspect of the teacher. The swearing, or lack of it, is unrealistic: this is the dilemma of a children's show. The viewer can mentally translate the mild 1950's style of language of "Flippin' 'Eck" into something stronger perhaps! In November 2007, the first four series were released to DVD. Many people bought the series remembering Tucker Jenkins. It doesn't seem likely that more series are going to be released, but perhaps there is the chance of some kind of paid downloads becoming available. There was some disappointment with the DVDs - partly because of cuts for copyrighted music, and also because the picture quality seemed affected by some kind of filmizing process.
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Grange Hill: Episode #19.3 (1996)
Season 19, Episode 3
A controversial episode
27 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of those crucial episodes that's up there with Zammo's overdose, and Antoni Karamanopolis's and Judi Jeffries accidents. In this story, Kevin has acquired an air pistol, and sits in the classroom trying to find an opportunity to return it to its owner, Wayne. A teacher works out that he's hiding a gun, and when he produces it, he accidentally fires it, shooting Sarah-Jane in the arm. We see Sarah Jane scream in pain and clutch her arm. Afterwards, there were complaints to the BBC. The scenes were edited for the Autumn repeat to reduce the impact, so we no longer see the scene in full. There's another version which was shown in Australia, and perhaps elsewhere, where the shooting storyline is completely excised. In its original form, it's quite a powerful scene, excellently directed. Curiously it's a bit of a dead end in terms of story lines.
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Mortified (2006–2007)
Great series, destined to be remembered as a classic
19 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This just a brilliant kids show. There's lots to make you smile, all the acting is spot on and the stories always have interesting twists.

There's an element of fantasy in each episode, in the same way that the 70's series Billy Liar used to have Billy imagine his family in different (absurd) circumstances. Taylor talks to the camera frequently, usually to make an observation about her embarrassment from her family's antics.

Her mother is into new-age, a relic from the hippy days of the sixties, her father is the Underpant King (selling undies, unashamedly). Her sister, fifteen, is constantly on the phone, and is treats her with the contempt expected. Her best friend is Hector, who is in love with her, although she has a thing for Leon, another boy in her class. Her neighbours are "perfect", with a princess of a daughter (but she later finds that perfection isn't quite as good as it is cracked up to be).

The series (two so far) cover Taylor's last year at Primary School, and her first year at High School - new school, new embarrassments.

The show always manages to surprise - animals, statues, and even shoes come to life at different times, and the dialogue is very witty. In short it's one of those TV programmes that is frankly too good to be kept just for children.
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Grange Hill: Episode #28.1 (2005)
Season 28, Episode 1
A pinnacle in Grange Hill
3 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
After a Grange Hill "moved" to Liverpool, there followed a couple of rather insipid years. Here though, we have a series that reclaims its former glory, with powerful story lines, well written, directed and acted.

* * * SPOILER * * *

I've put a spoiler space here, but it's unlikely the old series will get a DVD release. Don't read on though, or read my plot summaries if you do get a chance to see this series.

The main story lines for series 28 are: 1) A French-exchange boyfriend for Tanya who she meets through email turns out to be someone grooming for young girls. 2) Year 7 kid Alex starts, and becomes the target for bullying both from his own year, and from the older kids. When things get too much for him, the consequences are almost disastrous. 3) The school decides to make a DVD. Due to various machinations, the musical My Fair Lady is chosen, but is transformed into a non-musical, modern remake, inverting the theme. 4) There's a romantic triangle, or perhaps pentagon, involving Taylor, Karen, Maddie, Martin and Baz. 5) New Year 7 girls start, and try to make money by selling sweets, and creating other scams. 6) There are new problems for Annie, as she starts using a credit card, and gets into spiralling debt.

I don't believe the acting in Grange Hill has ever been as good as here, most commendable are Kirsten Cassidy, and Lauren Bunney as, respectively, Tanya and Annie - they don't just speak the lines as would have happened in the early series, they act with 100% of their bodies. The directing too is great, shots in unexpected places, camera-work is never dull, lighting is excellent.

The downsides - 1) not enough use made of Maddie, Kacey Barnfield, another brilliant actor, who just seems have the single storyline of interfering with Karen and Taylor's relationship. 2) not enough outside scenes - apart from the Adventure trip, Series 28 seems to be entirely inside the school, or on its premises. But at least there are classroom scenes here - in Series 30, we lose these too - and most of the teachers! 3) No-one outside of the main cast. This lets down all the post-Liverpool series, the lack of additional personnel - this makes the series more of a soap. Adding a few extra cast in each week, giving the odd extra something new to do used to make the series more real.
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Populous: The Beginning (1998 Video Game)
The Best game of all time?
6 January 2007
I have many happy memories of playing the original Populous games with a friend, in the days when 2 player games were rare (it used a parallel port connection and played Atari ST versus Amiga) - alas that friend has sadly died (Cystic Fibrosis).

But Populous the Beginning, what an amazing game. I've played it through half a dozen times over the years, reinstalling it, and then doing the add-on levels. And even now, in 2006, the end movie sequence stands the test of time, so beautifully rendered.

The game starts you so that you learn about one aspect of the world, and level by level build up knowledge of the different buildings and types of attack possible. The final levels are hard, even to a seasoned played, but never impossible. There are always different ways to try and win - do you use balloons, do you use boats, do you try to do everything with firewarriors - it's up to you the player.

All the way through, the game is solid and responsive. Perhaps the in-game graphics are now showing their age, but that doesn't matter one iota. The only game to come close to this is Settlers, in its variant forms.

Hats off to the creators for something that's amused me for 500 game hours and more.
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Grange Hill: Episode #9.1 (1986)
Season 9, Episode 1
Perhaps the best year of Grange Hill?
10 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Series 9, 1986, is usually seen as the best year of Grange Hill's history. Here we have a classic mix of characters, some who are on their way out, or nearly so, (Fay, Roland, Zammo, Jackie), with new characters who are going to be with us for a few more years. We have the entrepreneurial Gonch and Hollo, the bad girl Imelda and her gang, and other pairs: Ziggy & Robbie, Calley & Ronnie, Ant & Georgina, and loner Danny Kendall. The teachers are good too, the incomparable Mr. Bronson, beautiful Miss Booth, and headed by the superb Mrs. McClusky. This season is also the source of the anti-drugs "Just Say No" campaign in Britain, with a single and album released by the cast. In series 9, we see Zammo slowly revealed as a drug addict, losing his friends, and his money, until the final memorable scene of him pathetically scrabbling around on the floor as his precious powder is spilled by girlfriend, Jackie. Series 9 is much longer than previous series - 24 episodes, 25 if you count the Christmas Special that preceded it. 10 out of 10 for this episode, but really that is for the whole of this year's series.
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Too easy to get stuck
30 June 2006
Although this is a fine game in many ways, a couple of points let it down. Firstly, and most importantly you can easily get stuck by not finding rather obscurely placed objects which are needed later, for instance the wire cutters in the props room. Once you've left the prop room, you've had it and the game can't be solved.

The geography is rather poor too. If you turn around from one spot, you don't always find yourself facing the opposite way, with the result that you can endlessly go round in circles in what is quite a small area. In the TV Studio, your movement is artificially restricted making movement like you are driving a fork lift truck with limited steering - you can often see where you need to go, but getting there is another matter.
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Star Trek: Bread and Circuses (1968)
Season 2, Episode 25
Atrocious ending (spoiler)
12 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The world of Star Trek usually shows people who have risen above superstition and religion. It's a little different by the time we get to Deep Space Nine, but there at least we see the Prophets really do exist. This episode starts badly when Spock shows surprise that the inhabitants speak English, and there's meaningless talk of parallel evolution - as if a common language would ever develop independently.

During the episode it appears that the people are sun worshippers, and this seems at odds with their general sophistication. At the close of this episode Uhura announces that it wasn't the "sun" they worship, but the "Son", the Son of God. As if this makes things any better! I always remember this laughable ending, and it goes so much against the grain of what Star Trek stands for, that it stands out like a sore thumb.

The idea that Christianity can be anything other than a belief local to Earth is ludicrous. What, does God go round all the worlds staging this redemption trick like some touring theatre group?
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A poor adaption of a great book
13 March 2006
The trouble with this film is it is very much of its time. It's hardly a film of the book, more an excuse to steal a few sparse ideas and try to string them together into a light-hearted comedy.

There's really far too much slapstick, and 1950's style girl-chasing, no real sense of a journey as there is in the book.

I wonder if anyone will ever make a proper adaption of the book, making proper use of JKJ's wonderful anecdotes? It would be tricky to do - they are often about completely different people from the three in the boat, but they are what make the book so good, and they've simply been discarded in the film.

So, in summary, if you've never read the book, you're in for a nice surprise: comedy that is still funny after a hundred years and more, but don't let this film put you off.
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Electric Blue 001 (1979 Video)
The start of a great series
15 January 2006
This series is from a lost era - the pre-cert days of erotica. Be cautious - some of the items linked to from IMDb's listing are a much later release, (for instance the model file, or "Best of") and are unlikely to be as explicit as the originals.

If you can find them, the uncut series up until about #16 are worth having, but the videos tended to deteriorate after about 13, as more and more American useless, unfunny, unerotic filler material was inserted. 17 to 24 are just about OK, but with increasing amounts of junk, and considerably tamer once certification came in.

But the first 13, these are quite special - high quality, splendid looking models, - interesting clips from movies, and really something of the like that hasn't been made since.
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All the Rivers Run (1983– )
Not a bad sequel, different from the book
9 December 2005
The first series was quite true to the Nancy Cato book, but here the writers have gone their own sweet way, concentrating on a fairly youthful Delie and Brenton. The trouble is too much of the story is away from the river, and concentrates to a large extent on Brenton. It's very episodic - we don't see the children noticeably age. Although we loosely cover the children's stay at Mrs Melville, we lose the detail about Meg staying on because she's infatuated with their older son - well, Meg here is only a little girl rather than the teenager she ought to have become.

All in all it's a good yarn, although the ending seems hurried and (without giving away the plot) unreasonable. I'd recommend reading the book in which Delie is a real three dimensional character, rather than a fairly cardboard figure. If you can find it, it's still worth giving this sequel a viewing - the acting and camera-work is brilliant, and the producers have done a fine job in creating turn-of-the-century Echuca.
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Amorous Sisters is a Different Film
7 December 2005
Although Six Swedes on a Campus and Amorous Sisters seem to have most of the same cast & director, not to mention basic premise, they are different in content. Amorous Sisters is much shorter (about 65 mines), but contains slightly stronger material, and Six Swedes on a campus seems to be better made, and more of a full-length movie. In 6 Swedes, the girls mess around with the rather camp muscle-bound PE teacher outdoors, whereas in Amorous Sisters, he's pounced upon inside.

Perhaps there was originally one big movie, and was then made into little ones. I'd say 6 swedes was the better one, because the film quality is higher. Don't bother with 6 Swedes in Ibiza by the way, it's rubbish: 6 Swedes at the pump is OKish, but beware of the 6 Swedes at the Alps - the version I had which is supposedly uncut is very tame.
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Worth finding
27 November 2005
A shame this was deleted so quickly, and also that it was not properly restored in the same way that they do with Doctor Who and other archive material.

Although when you watch this you mentally picture the equivalent in the 1970 movie, the story here has more time to happen. It's a bonus that the kids are closer to the right ages that they ought to be - Sally Thomsett was way too old in the 1970 movie. The acting seems to get better as the series progresses, and all in all it's worth viewing for another "take" on the book, less dramatic and more thoughtful than the "proper" movie that was to follow.
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Father Dear Father (1968–1973)
Each episode a farce
13 October 2005
This was a long running, popular, comedy that ran on ITV during the early 1970's. Patrick Cargill is the author Patrick Glover of tacky thrillers who is separated from his wife, but has custody of his two teenage daughters. Also in the picture is Nanny, the housekeeper, and Georgy his agent, with whom he's also having a long-running relationship. Oh, and there's an enormous St Bernard dog, called H.G.

Each episode is a mini farce, usually with a misunderstanding that leads to conversations which drive Patrick wild. There seems to be a real studio audience for the first few years, and then canned laughter - the standard audio which ITV always used at this time, and which can be recognised, began to be used, and the programme suffers from this.

One thing different to the norm is the introduction as the titles play - a little story unfolds, which usually leaves Patrick in a mess. The later series lost this, so there was just a rather twee, but pointless scene during the titles, with some exceptions, for instance in the last episode of series six. There's also action at the end, actors chaotically moving around.

This comedy is very much played as though it were on stage, and it has a quality of perhaps just a little hamminess which enhances rather than detracts. The wordplay can sometimes be too fast for the studio audience who don't always react to the more subtle jokes.

The first three series can be bought: the first two in black and white only from Australia, but for the rest you'll have to seek out copies from traders. If you can get hold of them, I'd particularly recommend series four and five, and there's a definite dulling of quality after this.
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Operation Good Guys (1997–2000)
Not bad. DVD needs to be withdrawn and laughter removed
8 October 2005
A lot has been said in the other reviews. When it is funny, this series is very good, but it's not that sharp - it certainly doesn't compare to People Like Us. Each show has one or two brilliant moments.

One problem is the audio which is at times very hard to make out.

The opening episode is very dull, which is surprising, because quite often a comedy series uses its best material in the beginning - Operation Good Guys gets better during series one.

The complete series has been released to DVD, but unfortunately a huge error of judgement has been made in putting on laughter (studio audience or otherwise) which made this instantly unwatchable on series two.

If enough people complain, perhaps this will be fixed in the future.
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