Tag Archive | The Sandbaggers

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Review: Homeland 1x1

Posted on October 4, 2011 | comments | Bookmark and Share

Homeland on Showtime 

In the US: Sundays, 10pm, Showtime
In the UK: Acquired by Channel 4

Ah, thank heavens for cable TV. Although network TV has been producing some perfectly acceptable dramas this fall season, the miss rate has been a lot higher than the hit rate. Cable, however, with the obvious exception of Starz, has a far better success rate.

You know what else? Thank heavens for Israeli TV. Although you could argue over the merits of The Ex-List and Traffic Light for a while, they were at least a cut above the normal fare, and Israeli TV has at least indisputably given us the basis for the surefire cracker that was In Treatment. Now Israeli show Prisoners of War has given us the basis for Homeland, starring Claire Danes and Damian Lewis and adapted for US TV by former 24 producers Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon. 

Bearing more than a passing resemblance to AMC's Rubicon, the thankfully faster-paced Homeland sees obsessive CIA analyst Danes convinced that returning war hero and former prisoner of war Damian Lewis has in fact been turned and is really working for al Qaeda. All she's got to do is prove it, even though no one else believes her, not even her mentor, best friend and boss Mandy Patinkin. In fact, given she's on anti-psychotic drugs, there's a very good chance she actually is crazy. All the same, to prove her hunch is correct, Danes is going to do anything she has to - whether Lewis is innocent or not.

Here's a trailer.

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Lost Gems: Jane (1982-1984)

Posted on February 18, 2011 | comments | Bookmark and Share


Glynis Barber may best be known now as a star of soap operas such as Emmerdale and EastEnders but back in the 80s, she was something of a small screen pin-up. After a brief appearance in The Sandbaggers as a Russian spy so beautiful "you'd crawl a thousand miles over broken glass" for her, her big break came as Soolin on Blake's 7, a role about which I've already written. After Blake's 7 finished, she went on to much greater fame and pin-up-dom as Makepeace in fondly remembered Dempsey & Makepeace:

Dempsey and Makepeace

But in between those two series, she starred in a much more poorly remembered show on BBC2 about a literal pin-up: Jane.

Yes, we're about to get a little bit racey after the jump…

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Question of the week: what are the merits of sadness in drama?

Posted on January 13, 2010 | comments | Bookmark and Share

As Sally Sparrow once said, "Sad is happy for deep people." And indeed, there have been a whole load of miserable plays, TV programmes, films et al designed for smart people: I love Se7en (as a quote in the introduction to the BFI book on the movie says – or was it one of the special edition DVD commentaries? – "Of course I love Se7en – I'm an intellectual"), for example, and Callan and The Sandbaggers are so brilliant because they're so bleak. Think of Turn Left and Midnight in the latest series of Doctor Who, as well as the fate of Donna in Journey's End: better for bleak, no?

Over the last year, though, there's been an increase in sad TV programmes on the Beeb: Wallander, The Day of the Triffids, Survivors, Paradox, Criminal Justice et al have all been deeply miserable. As Paradox shows, being miserable doesn't mean being good, but does it help – the bleaker moments of Paradox were its best bits.

So today's question (in parts) is:

Does being depressed, sad or miserable increase the chances of a show being good? Is sad happy for deep people? Are TV shows getting more depressing of late (thanks to the recession maybe?) And do you like watching sad shows?

As always, leave a comment with your answer or a link to your answer on your own blog.

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