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Alex G

Alex G

Tuesday, 16 August 2016 23:00

Tingha and Tucker come to DVD

Tingha and Tucker - the lost legendary koalas make it to DVDTingha and Tucker, even for those who were there at the time, are now on the cusp of memory. Between 1962 and 1970, ATV made this pair of koala bears heroes to a generation of pre-school kids, but mainly only for those in the Midlands. And I was one of them, even being taken by my parents to Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire to see the bears, and their matriarch, ‘Auntie’ Jean Morton, for one of their ‘Annual Meetings’.

Jean had been promoted to various onscreen roles, following being one of the inaugural station announcers for ATV Midlands from 1956, along with future Police Five host Shaw Taylor. However, it is for this one children’s series that an entire age band most remembers her, thanks to assorted merchandise and an extremely popular fan club for the koalas. And now, Network has compiled everything that remains of the series in the archives, in an incredible two-DVD set which demonstrates amiable anarchy for pre-schoolers that has, even to this day, never been so raucous.

Sunday, 14 August 2016 23:00

McGoohan All Night Long Blu-ray

Patrick McGoohan in All Night Long on Blu-rayAs we approach the 50th anniversary of The Prisoner next year, it is not surprising that there will be a rising interest in all things ‘Patrick McGoohan’. And so it is that we see a fully restored Blu-ray release of “All Night Long” from Network, which is Shakespeare’s “Othello” set against an internal backdrop of an East London jazz jamboree.  Its subject matter is as timeless as you would expect with work based on the Bard, with one little bit of vintage technology making this very much a period piece.

From 1962, and presented in a brand-new High Definition transfer from original film elements in its as-exhibited aspect ratio, McGoohan is drummer Johnny Cousin, with the actor revealing another talent not widely mentioned on his CV. It’s terrific to see him genuinely playing with gusto amongst a parade of topline jazz stars of the time. That said, in one instance when McGoohan's character is playing a drum solo, the kit is different in the medium shots and Point-Of-View shots.

Thursday, 30 June 2016 23:00

Timeslip - Limited Edition DVD

Timeslip - Limited Edition DVD Set out nowSome shows stay with you a lifetime, and I recall Timeslip with huge relish from its first broadcast. It was a benchmark of 1970s ‘telefantasy’, and despite previous VHS and DVD releases of the series, while this set contains all episodes in their original, as-transmitted, full screen aspect ratios, what makes this new release from Network is the plentiful supply of  special features which will encourage previous owners to dig deep once more.

Devised by Ruth Boswell – who would go on to produce both The Tomorrow People and Shadows, with most of three of the four stories written by Bruce Stewart – Timeslip blends rational science with fantasy, in a format of two teenagers who discover the existence of a ‘time barrier’ - enabling them to travel to different periods and locations, and in terms of the broadcast episodes that ranges from World War Two to alternative chilling visions of the future.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016 23:00

The Face of Eve on DVD

The Face of Eve out now on DVDMike Yates (Robert Walker Jr) is a pilot and adventurer on the trail of lost Inca treasure in “The Face of Eve”. He goes searching for his business partner, Sean Moore, lost while out in his plane. During the hunt, he is saved from savages by Eve, a beautiful white jungle goddess who wields a strange power over her subjects. Soon, both Yates and Eve are involved in a dangerous race deep in the wilderness to locate the hidden treasure, in this new DVD release from Network.

Christopher Lee and Herbert Lom also feature in this adventure on a budget, but the star is the captivating Celeste Yarnall – to Star Trek fans forever Yeoman Martha Landon from the episode “The Apple”, as well as guesting as Andrea Fouchet in The Man from UNCLE story “The Monks of St Thomas Affair”. She was later immortalised as the blood-thirsty temptress Diane LeFanu in the 1971 cult horror classic “The Velvet Vampire”.  This is Tarzan with curves, in an yarn which has a sub-plot which lets it rise above the standard type of production in this sub-genre.

Thursday, 09 June 2016 23:00

Every Home Should Have One

Every Home Should Have One - out now on Blu-ray and DVDMarty Feldman is one of those comedy icons who has turned into the stuff of legend, as so much of his material from over the years has been junked from archives. In “Every Home Should Have One”, his first big screen performance, out for the first time on Blu-ray as well as a DVD rendering, this risqué comedy revolves around Teddy Brown, an advertising executive whose life becomes unnecessarily complicated when he's declared the man to run a campaign to ‘sex up’ one of his agency’s top products – and there’s no Tony Blair in sight!

It is 1970, and poor Teddy has several problems to contend with. His colleague’s advice to 'Think Dirty' (also an alternative title for the film, and a catchy tune laced throughout it) seems to have resonated worryingly with his young son, while the Rev Geoffrey Mellish (Dinsdale Landen) complicates matters when his ‘Clean-Up TV’ campaign gains unexpected support from Teddy’s wife. As Teddy's ineptitude is mistaken for talent, he needs an erotic angle for McLaughlin's Frozen Porridge (Highland Fresh Instant Oats). His solution is to stage a national hunt for a ‘Goldilocks’ to feature in some television commercials, which have to meet the approval of McLaughlin himself (Jack Watson).

Sunday, 05 June 2016 23:00

The Tunnel: Sabotage on DVD

The Tunnel - Sabotage - out on DVD nowAward-winning hard-hitting drama The Tunnel, from the makers of Broadchurch, returns for a second series subtitled Sabotage. Clémence Poésy and Stephen Dillane resume their starring roles in this geopolitical thriller, first broadcast on Sky Atlantic, and now making its DVD debut. The pace is ramped up from the rather Scandinavian melancholy-feel of the first series, and there are some uncomfortable moments for the ruling elite in terms of the plot twists employed herein.

Described as a “tense, high octane thriller”, this time the investigative duo from opposite sides of the Channel have to first rid themselves of the demons left with them at the end of the initial series. Pragmatic, meticulous and newly-promoted Commander Elise Wasserman  (Poésy – Fleur Delacour in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” parts 1 and 2, Chloe in “In  Bruges”) and laconic DCI Karl  Roebuck (Dillane – Stannis Baratheon in Game  of  Thrones, Rupert Keel in Hunted) are reunited. They are assigned to investigate the case of a French couple abducted from the Eurotunnel, leaving behind their traumatised young daughter. As this story brews, a passenger plane carrying British and French nationals crashes into the Channel, killing everyone on board. The two strands begin to intertwine, leading to far bigger questions to address, and a genuine conspiracy to uncover.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016 23:00

Grace and Favour comes to UK DVD

Grace and Favour comes to UK DVDBuried in the mists of time is the spin-off from Are You Being Served? That original series began in September 1972 and concluded in April 1985 after ten seasons and (guffaw guffaw) 69 episodes! The idea for a new format, away from the constraints of the department store, was pitched immediately after the previous show had finished – the cast themselves suggesting it to writers and creators Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft. Unfortunately, it was some seven years before Grace & Favour made it to the screen, and in many respects its era had long since passed. Today, it certainly seems like an anachronism, but it would appear this was the same reaction back at its debut. Now you get to judge for yourself, as all 12 episodes appear on a UK DVD release for the very first time.

The first season of six episodes certainly seems to be very mixed-up about what it wants to be, and indeed the years it actually resides in. The set-up is your traditional ‘fish out of water’ scenario, where the newcomers from the city struggle to come to terms with an almost-primitive rural life, all based at a country hotel which they have reluctantly inherited instead of a pension fund. However, the attitudes, culture and technologies seem almost like they have been transplanted from the 1930s rather than the then-contemporary world of the early 1990s. Mrs Slocombe ends up in court for having a horse and cart run away with her; the hotel’s current staff are bumpkins who make The Beverly Hillbillies look sophisticated; and the trappings of the hotel have none of what might be expected of a late 20th Century manor house.

Sunday, 22 May 2016 23:00

Whicker's early ITV on DVD

Whicker and Whickers New World come complete to DVDAlan Whicker has rightly gained the reputation of television legend on British shores. The incisive journalism took him to global locations, and saw him create an inimitable niche over 50 years of broadcasting. Having previously had three volumes from Network over the years of what many would consider his ‘greatest hits’, now the company goes back to the beginning to release a chronological collection of his entire ITV output. The first two double DVD sets are out now, from 1968 and 1969.

And there is good reason to do this relaunch. You very much get to see the development of the television character, the honing of the most incredible of narrations to the material you get to see, and also appreciate the scope of how what initially local current affairs for the ITV network from the Yorkshire Television area became something far more. The scope increases, as must have done the budgets, where the characters Whicker encounters become more outlandish, doused in cash and idiosyncratic.

Sunday, 15 May 2016 23:00

Roobarb (and Custard) on DVD

Roobarb - and Custard - in a complete DVD collectionA creative dog, a puce shade of green, tries to put into action every mad-cap scheme. A cynical cat, who watches on mostly from the top of the fence in critical disdain. And a cast of garden wildlife, including Mole and Rookie the Rook to support or hinder the dog’s equivalent of tilting at windmills, in terms of invention and innovation. So it is that Roobarb, and its sequel series, a five minute show supposedly for kids, took on the pre-news slot in the early evenings on BBC1, and ended up having adult fans from all walks of life making time to see the short adventures. It may have been a different form of animation, magic markers taken to the extreme, but this was very much a generational-crossing concept in the same surreal category as The Magic Roundabout.

Roobarb was inspired by creator Grange Calveley’s Welsh Border Collie, who was so named after ‘watering’ the rhubarb in his garden, very soon after going to live at his home. Despite publishers liking the character and his strange adventures, no-one took Grange up on them, so he turned his thoughts to a series of short television animations instead. Persistence with the BBC eventually paid off – not a slot on Jackanory, oh no, but a request to see a pilot episode. Enter Bob Godfrey, animation director, and Australian animation director Peter Green brought Calveley’s sketches to life. And now all 69 episodes are released together on DVD by Simply Media.

Monday, 25 April 2016 14:00

The Professionals MKIV on Blu-ray

The Professionals MkIV - The final batch of original episodes comes to Blu-rayWith the release of the final 18 episodes of The Professionals, in this collection known as “Mk IV”, Cowley, Bodie and Doyle head off into the sunset, with some fine examples of the series, and all three of the actors at the top of their game. There are no fillers here, and we get little glimpses of character back story, leaving the audience to flesh out their out-of-episode lives themselves. It’s a lesson which contemporary television could learn from – concentrate on the plots and let them be the driver for characterisation, and not the other way around.

Gordon Jackson, Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins had wheel-spun themselves through 57 episodes. And once again, Network Releasing has spared no expense in bringing us the episodes in a quality as good as it will ever get, and actually far better than when originally broadcast. Here, on Blu-ray for the first time, they have been restored from the camera-original negatives with the option of 5.1 surround sound, to add to the atmosphere and unsettle the neighbours – especially when the opening credits roll! Even if you are very familiar with the stories, here we have a rendition which will have even the hardest hearted beaming big smiles throughout.

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