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Some of the best articles on the blog. Typically, these have a picture. It's a low entrance requirement, I know.


July 10, 2012

Review: Perception (TNT) 1x1

Posted on July 10, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Perception

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.

Here's a trailer:

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July 5, 2012

Nostalgia Corner: Private Schulz (1981)

Posted on July 5, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Private Schulz

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).

July 4, 2012

The Wednesday Play: The Year of the Sex Olympics (1968)

Posted on July 4, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Year of the Sex Olympics

When BBC2 launched in 1964, it was the first British TV station to broadcast 625 lines of picture, rather than the standard 405 lines of BBC1 and ITV. Yes, BBC2 was the BBC HD of its day - take that, US TV, with your 525 lines of NTSC (Never Twice the Same Colour) goodness.

To show off its technological superiority, one of the first regular programmes on the station was Theatre 625, a 90-minute play slot that ran from 1964 to 1968, giving us 114 separate plays (the last year's worth in colour, since BBC2 was also the first European channel to broadcast in colour), most of which, in typical BBC fashion, have been wiped.

Of the plays that were made, perhaps the most famous are John Hopkins' four-part Rashomon-esque Talking To A Stranger, which starred Judi Dench and told the same story from four different viewpoints - it was voted the 78th Greatest British Television Programme by industry experts and was reviewed at the time as "the first authentic masterpiece written directly for television".

Also of note was a remake of blog god Nigel Kneale's 1954 adaptation of 1984 and the strand's penultimate play, also by Kneale (who now has his own category on the blog, incidentally): the highly prophetic and highly appropriate for this month of all months, The Year of The Sex Olympics, which is today's Wednesday Play. Follow me after the jump to find out more.

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