Wolcott - The Complete Series

Sunday, 23 August 2015 23:00 Written by 

Wolcott - The Complete Series comes to Blu-ray and DVDWolcott is a police mini-series starring George Harris ("Raiders of the Lost Ark", "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"). Harris plays Winston Wolcott, a black policeman newly promoted to the CID and despised by both his new colleagues and the criminal gangs he is determined to bust. Surrounded by racism, police corruption and immersed in a vicious drug war, Wolcott has few allies to support him. The complete series is out now on Blu-ray and DVD.

The story opens with the brutal and senseless murder of an old lady for the sake of £200 in cash. The scene of the crime is an unwelcoming, dingy apartment block where the mostly ethnic locals have no interest in grassing up the perpetrator. The ITC-produced series emphasises the gritty, turbulent nature of life in the poorer, sometimes seedier areas of London in the early 1980s.

Hugh Quarshie (Holby City, "Highlander") provides a fascinating parallel to Detective Wolcott as Dennis St. George, a philanthropic youth club manager who tries to steer anchorless, black youngsters away from a life of crime and drugs whilst doing his best to not antagonise them, unlike the detective. The two characters maintain an uneasy relationship where one is constantly challenging the other's approach to helping the community.

The cast is littered with interesting, versatile actors. They include a very young Rick Mayall (The Young Ones) as a cocky, racist PC, comedian Alexei Sayle as a ranting political activist, Keith Allen as a fascist hooligan, Warren Clarke (Dalziel and Pascoe) as the unsavoury leader of a gang of white criminals and Martin Dempsey ("Ulysses") as Wolcott's approachable boss.

Other key roles are filled by Christine Lahti (Chicago Hope) as a probing reporter, Clive Merrison ("The History Boys") as her boss and Christopher Ellison (The Bill, "Buster") as a bent copper.

There is a noticeable even-handedness to the evolving plot, painting the black and white communities as fairly similar in their mix of good, clean characters and utterly malevolent baddies, with most figures fitting in somewhere in between. Striding confidently through the middle is Wolcott, always sharply-dressed, driven and fearless in his pursuit of justice.

It is a shame that Harris only got four episodes to begin to breathe life into his on-screen persona as he is bold, charismatic and sufficiently different from most other TV detectives to fill a niche.

Special features include:

  • Clean titles (at end of episode four)
  • Image gallery

The Blu-ray version is certainly a step up from DVD quality, with no artefacts. It lacks a little in the detail department compared to the best HD discs, but we are spoiled to have it as an option so I am not complaining!

Wolcott: The Complete Series (1981) is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of Network. The 1-disc sets have a running time of 194 minutes approx, carry a '15' certificate and retail for £14.99 on DVD, £19.99 on Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

Last modified on Sunday, 30 August 2015 17:14

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