Deadly Class (US: Syfy) – adaptation of the graphic novel that sees Benedict Wong teach kids how to kill in the 80s
Black Monday (US: Showtime; UK: Sky Atlantic – probably) – Don Cheadle in a scathing satire of Wall Street in the 80s
And anything else that pops up, such as ABC (US)’s Schooled, which starts tonight (although that’s a spin-off from The Goldbergs so maybe not). Sex Education is on Netflix from Friday, so I might boxset it.
That’s a pretty full schedule, though, and as Deadly Class and Black Monday don’t air in the US for a couple of weeks, I might postpone them until nearer the time.
After the jump, it’ll be just the usual regulars, as well as what I watched over Christmas: three full episodes of Counterpart, the remaining four episodes of Plan Cœur (The Hookup Plan), the penultimate episode of Happy Together and the season finale of Titans, as well as 2018’s A Ghost Story For Christmas. See you in a mo…
It’s Halloween today. It’s also Wednesday. As it’s an occasional TMINE tradition to feature not only a spooky play at Halloween but also a play on Wednesdays, how can I resist featuring one today, in this year of all years?
But what to choose? Well, since I’ve been talking about The Haunting of Hill House quite a bit of late and since I happened to mention Lost Hearts in passing thanks to certain bad make-up decisions, there’s an obvious choice, isn’t there?
For those of you who don’t know, Lost Hearts was one of the much revered scary plays the BBC put out every Christmas during the 1970s, usually as part of the A Ghost Story For Christmas strand. As with most of the plays, Lost Hearts was an adaptation of a classic MR James ghost story. This one sees a young orphan sent to stay with his much older cousin at a remote country mansion. His cousin is a reclusive alchemist obsessed with making himself immortal and Stephen is repeatedly troubled by visions of a young gypsy girl and a travelling Italian boy…
Adapted by Robin Chapman and directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark, it’s notable as both the shortest of the Ghost Story For Christmas series as well as the only one to use hurdy-gurdy music to scare the crap out of the viewer.
Incidentally, this wasn’t the first British TV adaptation of Lost Hearts, since it was featured in ITV’s Mystery and Imagination series in 1966. However, just like The Road (recently remade by Radio 4) no copy of that first version exists, unfortunately.
It’s not quite 45 years since The Stalls of Barchester was first broadcast, as it aired on Christmas Eve 1971, but this is close enough and since when have I ever run TMINE’s The Wednesday Play feature on a day other than a Wednesday, hey?
The Stalls of Barchester was an adaptation of master ghost story writer MR James’ short story of the same name. It sees 1930s scholar Clive Swift uncovering a box in the library of Barchester Cathedral that contains the diary of the cathedral’s former archdeacon (Robert Hardy). Swift is able to work out from the diary that Hardy caused the death of his own predecessor at the cathedral and resultingly came under the curse of the man who made the wooden decorations for the cathedral’s stalls – a curse that ultimately leads to his own death…
Stalls was the first official entry in the annual 1970s BBC play strand, A Ghost Story for Christmas. It was adapted, produced and directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark, who had seen Jonathan Miller’s 1968 adaptation of James’ Whistle and I’ll Come ToYou and being a lifelong fan of the author, pitched the idea of another adaptation to Paul Fox, the then controller of BBC1. Fox agreed and Clark chose Stalls to be the first in a series he would produce, as well as largely write and direct.
The slightly novice and unconfident Clark chose to follow many of Miller’s choices with Stalls, including building up tension and fear through suggestion and atmosphere rather than being overt, and shooting on location (Norwich Cathedral doubles for Barchester) using 16mm film rather than video; he even hired Warning‘s Ambrose Coghill to play the curator. Unlike Miller, however, he was able to shoot in colour – and rather tastefully, too, unlike many video-shot shows of the early 70s. He also reveals a bit more of the supernatural than James ever did in his story and despite a cast of actors known mostly for their roles in sitcoms, avoids the humour that Miller included in his piece.
With no fixed run time thanks the scheduled late night time slot, Stalls was able to run to 50 minutes and proved so successful that Clark was able to make an annual return to James’ stories for most of the decade.
And it’s your Wednesday Play – enjoy!
PS Remember: if you like it, support the makers (ie the BBC) by buying it on DVD