So far, most of the plays in this strand have been worthy, important and serious. But there used to be a strong tradition of comedy plays within most of British TV's anthology series - there was even a Comedy Playhouse anthology series that gave birth to the likes of Steptoe and Son, Till Death Us Do Part, All Gas and Gaiters, The Liver Birds, Are You Being Served? and Last of the Summer Wine.
But Play For Today, the BBC's main play series, aired a number of important comedy plays from no less a director than Mike Leigh, the man behind the award-winning Naked, Secret & Lies, Vera Drake, Career Girls and Life is Sweet. But despite having that kind of a CV in the film industry, arguably he is still best known for two of his six Plays For Today: Nuts in May and this week's Wednesday Play, Abigail's Party.
In the US: Mondays, 10/9c, TNT In the UK: Not yet acquired, but you can bet Alibi will pick it up
There's a great big swinging pendulum off in the TV universe somewhere that mysteriously dictates who solves crimes on tele. First it was talented amateurs, then it was private detectives, then it was the police and now, it seems, the pendulum has swung back to talented amateurs again.
See, the police have to follow rules and if they don't, there are all kinds of political problems - either that or your show is escapist enough that people are prepared to suspend their disbelief. But if you have an amateur consultant, they can do whatever they like, more or less.
They can also have all kinds of personality quirks that probably would count against them in an institution like the police. Of course, in a crowded televisual landscape, or even on a crowded network like TNT, which already has the likes of Southland and Rizzoli & Isles, there's something of an arms race in personality quirks as shows try to grab the viewers' attention and distinguish themselves from the competition.
Now Perception takes us to Defcon 2 in the quirks arm race with neuroscientist, university professor and FBI consultant Dr Daniel Pierce (Will and Grace's Eric McCormack), who trumps The Mentalist, Psych, Lie To Me and practically every other amateur detective yet to grace our screens. Because Pierce goes into territory even Raines feared to tread: he's a schizophrenic who refuses to take his meds so a lot of the time, when he's talking to suspects, the suspects aren't always there - although they have a lot to say for themselves.
In these times of economic uncertainty, with Germany doing its level best to help everyone in the EU with their currency problems, it seems fitting to have a look back to 1981 - and beyond - to Private Schulz, a wartime comedy mini-series in which Germany tried to do its exact opposite: destabilise the currency of Britain.
Based on the real-life Operation Bernhard and written by Jack Pullman, Private Schulz saw Michael Elphick play the eponymous Schulz, a petty criminal recruited to the SS. He convinces the Nazis to counterfeit British five pound notes, in an attempt to cause massive inflation in the British economy and ruin its war efforts. Schulz, of course, simply wants to steal the fake notes and become rich.
Over six episodes, Schulz - under the direction of Ian Richardson, who played several roles in the series - first has to recruit people to make the notes, which are indistinguishable from the real thing, then infiltrate Britain to distribute the notes - something for which he has to learn how to be English. Of course, as we all know, the scheme never succeeded so you can guess not everything goes according to plan.
Also appearing in the show was Billie Whitelaw as a prostitute with a mental block that stopped her sleeping with any soldier below the rank of major, Rula Lenska, Cyril Shaps, David Swift and Ken Campbell. And as well as Operation Bernhard, a number of other real-life people, operations and incidents from the War were mentioned or used in the show, including the Venlo Incident and Salon Kitty.
Pulman died in 1979, but he was awarded a writers award by the Royal Television Society for his work on the show. It's available on DVD, but you can watch the first episode on YouTube below (just to be helpful part 1 of the video is part 2 in the playlist and vice versa. Sorry).
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A UK media blog focusing on the best scripted TV from around the world, with daily news, views, exclusive reviews and good conversation. There's a bit of a bias towards the latest and greatest US TV, but we also cover Scandinavian, Canadian, European and Antipodean TV, as well as UK TV ranging from new Doctor Who to old Z Cars, and BBC4 to S4C.
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I'm Rob Buckley, a freelance journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of, although you might have heard me on Radio 5 Live's Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I've edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for trade magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider and the equally short-lived Death Ray and Filmstar magazines; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it "web site for urban hedonists" The Tribe. I'm freelance now and have contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network and TV Scoop.