TV DVDs

The latest titles from TV series and TV specials range to hit the shelves and online stores

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Monday, 10 June 2019

From an idea by its star Peter Barkworth, who is the centre of the action as Geoffrey Carr, The Price is a hostage drama set on both sides of the Irish Sea. The kidnap is the framework around which everything else revolves – business machinations, emotional conflicts and police procedurals - the story is rich in characterisation while exploring beliefs and motives. The mini-series is now back in the spotlight, not only for its subject matter but also for showcasing a pair of actors ‘before they were famous’, thanks to this release on DVD through Simply Media.

Set like an elaborate game of chess between the kidnappers and Carr (the husband and stepfather of the abductees), The Price is a drama which tackles the likes of political ideologies, matrimonial discord and the price paid in pursuit of happiness (hence the title). It does not run shy in its analysis of Ireland’s politics of the time, both Republican and Northern. Indeed, one wonders if the EU border arguments may be the unwitting blue touch-paper which could kick off violent hostilities once more.

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Monday, 20 May 2019

This is the classic BBC adaptation of the novel by E Nesbit, first broadcast in 1976. The story centres on four children who discover hidden treasures and adventures by chance, thanks to a trinket they acquire. This was the middle part of a trilogy of novels that started with “Five Children and It” and ended with “The Story of the Amulet”.

The eight part TV drama, out now on DVD from Simply Media, begins when a family buys an old carpet from a junk shop in Edwardian London. When unrolled, this worn old relic reveals a large shiny egg. One of the boys accidentally knocks the egg into an open fire, from which an irascible talking phoenix emerges. He has the power to grant wishes and send them off on adventures, all made possible with the flying carpet now laid out in their playroom.

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Thursday, 11 April 2019

‘Them’. The ‘Faceless Ones’. ‘Enemies of Mankind’. The ‘Aliens’. No, this isn’t David Icke on one of his lecture tours.  This is one of our most iconic comedians placed into a high-tech humour format. Les Dawson is a legend, much remembered for his deadpan style, curmudgeonly persona and snide jokes about his mother-in-law. The BBC series THE DAWSON WATCH saw Les tackle a different subject in each episode, with his unique approach framed in an intriguing comedy vehicle.

It ran for 19 episodes between 1979 and 1980. When you tie this into his work as a novelist, we can see that here was a man who knew far more about what was going on in the world, and in his book “A Time Before Genesis” he even predicts the future in a way that might just be coming true, right here, right now. Apply this thought to watching this series and added layers of interest are exposed.

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Wednesday, 09 May 2018

The Mad Death - out now on DVD from Simply MediaNever has the hymn “All things bright and beautiful” been given such a morbid undercurrent as in the 1983 three part mini-series The Mad Death. It is used as the title music, and the way it is sung, by a young voice which is quite frail, it immediately brings visions of classic horror.  The series took two years from its 1981 production to be screened by the BBC, and for those with any fondness for dogs and cats, or foxes, it is not comfortable viewing.

Brought to us on DVD by Simply Media, BBC Scotland produced the serial, based on the book by Nigel Slater. Its trio of 50 minute episodes chronicles the quick contagion of rabies in the UK. A French aristocratic woman smuggles a Siamese cat into Scotland, hidden in a large inside pocket in her smart coat (probably a stretch on plausibility, but we’ll go with it). It had previously been in a set-to outside prior to the trip, which meant it was infected, and effectively a ticking time bomb.

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Saturday, 01 July 2017

The Brothers - Series 6 out on DVD nowA family haulage business tries to keep expanding to survive. The more it tries, the more the relatives at its core realise they are losing control of their empire. There are slippery people with unclear motives getting involved, and very few outsiders are straight about what their part in proceedings is, or will be.  The Americans would later take such storylines to levels of excess in the likes of Dallas and Dynasty, but us Brits did it first, and in some ways did it a lot better.

The Brothers: The Complete Series 6 contains all 13 episodes of this Sunday night TV drama, this set dating from 1976, which follows the individual releases of the first five series by Simply Media. Series 1 came to us back in October 2006, with Series 2 taking until November 2015 to get a release. Series 3 followed in November 2016, and Series 4 in January 2017.  Cult TV gave you a primer on the series with the release in March 2017 of Series 5, which you can read by CLICKING HERE. Rest assured, undoubtedly the subsequent series have been well worth the wait!

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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Knight Rider 2010 - out on DVDBefore getting into the meat of a review of “Knight Rider 2010”, a little aside as to what we have here. Back in December 2003, when a ‘reboot’ of Battlestar Galactica appeared, many of the less-than-convinced original fan base nicknamed it ‘GINO’ – Galactica In Name Only. Original Knight Rider fans, when they saw “2010”, should have had the foresight to name this 1994 attempt ‘KRINO’ – Knight Rider In Name Only. It’s more ‘Mad Max’ than ‘Michael Knight’ – who’s nowhere to be seen in this version of the format. We even get teased to think the Black Trans-Am of the original will be the hook to what has gone before, as various super cars in pristine condition are revealed from under assorted tarpaulins.

What we get instead is a Mustang more suited to a stock car race track. Admittedly, in the “Knight Rider 2000” movie, (CLICK HERE for our review) we were told that KITT’s body had long since been disposed of, but they could have gone for some continuity by showing this was where it had ended up. There’s an attempt to wed the concept to some sort of high-tech wizardry with the way the car is eventually controlled by a crystal with a link to beyond the grave, but I have to say it really is like putting lipstick on a pig. It is a very strained attempt to actually have a car which talks to its driver, but goes one further by having a hologram which, at times, sits in the passenger seat. There is no way this sits just ten years after the events of “Knight Rider 2000” – too much has happened. Sure, 2100 would have made more sense, but all in all, this is a DVD worth getting for anyone who wants to see how NOT to do a revival or a reboot.

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Monday, 19 June 2017

Knight Rider 2000 out on DVDIn the year 1991, when this pilot movie was from, the year 2000 was the future. Guns are banned and criminals are sent to cryo-prison where they are frozen for the duration of their sentences, to many, this doesn’t seem like much of a punishment. When the mayor is murdered with an illegal handgun, thought destroyed as part of dis-arming the Police, Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff) is brought out of retirement by Devon Miles (the late, great Edward Mulhare) to fight for justice one last time in “Knight Rider 2000”.

Michael returns to find KITT has been dismantled and the parts sold for medical research uses. Devon manages to recover all of KITT’s interior parts except one computer chip. The body is long gone, so KITT is rebuilt and installed in Michael’s classic 1957 Chevy. Michael teams up with former female cop Shawn McCormick (Susan Norman – later the character of Susan Buckman Merrick in Parenthood) who was shot in the head and now has the missing chip belonging to KITT embedded in her brain. With the help of KITT (once again voiced by William Daniels - as in the original series), Michael and Shawn must uncover the conspiracy in the Police Department.

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Monday, 12 June 2017

Star Maidens is back on DVDStar Maidens has found its way back on to DVD, courtesy of Simply Media. The title originally came to the home market back in 2005 through the now-defunct Delta Home Entertainment, but it’s enough of a curiosity that copies of that version still command a good price, so there’s logic in bringing it back into the foreground once more. It was originally shown as a regional opt-out in some ITV regions (HTV had it, ATV didn’t – which is why I got to saw an episode or two when I was in Wales at the time).  Popping up here and there between 1976 and 1978, it’s classified as an Anglo-German production, with a take on a planet whose dominant sex is female. This is something which The Two Ronnies would do their own version of in their serial “The Worm That Turned” in 1980, in which women rule the Britain of 2012, and male and female gender roles are completely reversed.

So, here’s your chance to get something in for late night schlock sessions in good company, with all 13 half-hour episodes in a twin-DVD digitally remastered set.  There’s plenty of reasons for Cult TV appreciators to pick up a copy as it stars Gareth Thomas, three years before he played Blake in the Blake’s 7. As per the previous DVD release, it also contains a bonus interview with Gareth, weighing in at a very respectable 34 minutes and covers much of his career, but with a focus on Star Maidens.

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Monday, 05 June 2017

1990 - Series 2 out on DVDFollowing on from the release of 1990 Series 1 earlier in the year, here we are already with the second and final series now on the shelves to complete this compelling story. Wilfred Greatorex described the format as "Nineteen Eighty-Four plus six" and details Jim Kyle’s (Edward Woodward) fight against a corrupt government in a disturbing then-future Britain, devoid of rights of any kind, in a world which is heading in the direction of the worst nightmares foretold by Orwell and Huxley . It is as relevant today as when it first aired, and is something a lost gem for Cult TV appreciators to get their hands on.

For those of you familiar with what has happened previously in this dystopian vision from 1977-8, here’s what’s changed between runs. Kyle’s actions at the end of the last series mean that Dan Mellor is no longer the Home Secretary, replaced by Kate Smith (Yvonne Mitchell), who Skardon (Robert Lang) sees as a threat. Delly Lomas and Henry Tasker have been moved away, to be replaced in one swoop by an old flame of Kyle’s, Lynn Blake (Lisa Harrow), put there to keep Kyle on a leash. And Kyle no longer has ‘Tiny’ Greaves as his editor – he’s gone to the ‘Alcoholics’ Laundry’ and been replaced by Tom Doran (Clive Swift) who now rather weakly fills his boots, he’s not much into putting the cat amongst he pigeons.

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Wednesday, 31 May 2017
Rockliffe's Babies - out now on DVD

Seven trainee CID officers based in London tackle some tough cases and an even tougher boss in this BBC police drama series from the 1980s. Sgt Alan Rockcliffe (Ian Hogg – “Hitler: The Rise of Evil”, Doctor Who “Ghost Light”) can be the most charming and supportive leader, but if you make a mistake or catch him on a bad day, he will come down on you like a ton of bricks! Can the rookies solve enough cases to win promotion, or will they crack in the process?

Running for just two seasons (three if you include the spin-off series Rockcliffe’s Folly, not included here), Rockcliffe’s Babies quickly introduces us to the trainees, though interestingly we do not meet Rockcliffe himself until the end of episode one. They are a real mixed bag, with varied backgrounds and skillsets that - when pulled together - make a great team; sometimes, however, the PCs bicker and fragment, and that is when things do not run quite as smoothly, much to their skipper’s chagrin.

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Monday, 29 May 2017

The Brothers - Series 5 out on DVDThe Brothers as part of the Cult TV landscape? In the 1970s this Sunday night drama about a road haulage company was, ah-hem, something of a ‘juggernaut’ in the ratings. After four seasons, the show needed a lift, so colourful characters were brought in or given greater prominence via Cult TV stalwarts Colin Baker (the sixth Doctor Who), Kate O'Mara (who would later cross paths again with Colin in his Time Lord regeneration as the Rani) and Mike Pratt (Randall in the original Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)). They complicated the world of the Hammond family, so they are now nowhere near as cosy as they had been. They face an uncertain future with power struggles for the control of the family business, ill health, new additions to the family, and having to face the consequences of their own personal vices and demons.

The Brothers: The Complete Series 5, contains all 13 episodes from Spring 1975 of this reignited format, created by N J Crisp (Dixon of Dock Green) and Gerard Glaister (Dr Finlay’s Casebook). Doctor Who aficionados will be able to see why Colin Baker gained nationwide fame and notoriety, and if this is this is the nature of your interest, this is an ideal jumping-in point. Although his Paul Merroney character was much-talked about in Series 4, he was actually only seen in a handful of episodes (“Partings” - Episode 4.5, “Hit and Miss” – 4.7, “Public Concern” – 4.8, “A Bad Mistake” – 4.12, “The Fall Guy” – 4.13). Series 5 is where he becomes an unmissable core of the proceedings.

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Monday, 20 March 2017

1990 - Series 1 comes to DVD for the first time everIt was then a future Britain 13 years henceforward, and 1990 sharply pictured what happens when the Government is allowed to carry on its agenda, with the apathy of the people allowing anything to happen. The population is soon devoid of individual rights, a dystopian vision which now, in the 21st Century is presciently chilling as the pieces are coming into place for this to be acclaimed as a road map to what will become our future. Originally broadcast on BBC Two in 1977 as part of the ‘Drama 2’ strand, this is the very first time this series has been made available on any home video format, all thanks to Simply Media.  

1990 stars Golden Globe winner Edward Woodward (Callan, The Equalizer, CI5 – The New Professionals) in the lead role as the calm, witty and charming rebel journalist Jim Kyle, with an Austin Princess as his preferred mode of transport. He’s working for one of the last remaining so-called ‘independent’ newspapers, and a secret dissident fighting the corrupt establishment by covertly helping others escape from the UK. He risks prison or even death if identified and ‘collared’.

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Wednesday, 01 March 2017

Spike Milligan - Q Volume 2 out nowWhat are we going to do now? When it came to 1979, Spike Milligan moved on to giving the BBC a series called Q8, and the play on the fact it sounded like Kuwait. Indeed, the following year, the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation was formed, and decided to adopt the moniker ‘Q8’ for its petrol stations! This series of six episodes, along with 1980’s Q9 half-dozen, are released on an unsuspecting public for the first time by Simply Media. The Kenny Everett Video Show had made its debut in 1978, and 1979 saw the debut of Not the Nine O’ Clock News, so this was very much a climate of testing the limits of TV comedy, which veteran Spike had done for his entire career.

As recent releases of Spike’s radio trailblazer The Goon Show state on sleeve notes: “Some of the humour reflects the era in which the episodes were broadcast.” Today we have the likes of Family Guy and American Dad really testing the boundaries of good taste, with sharp intakes of breath as you wonder how on Earth they manage to get away with some of the barbs laced throughout those shows. As with the release last year of Q5 – Q7 on DVD, this follow-up pair of Milligan series takes aim at everyone - no religion, race or public figure is safe – be it royalty, politicians, or celebrities. Words now off limits are used regularly, but it’s never with malice or aggression. Cultural Studies students will no doubt find plenty of material to pontificate over in this run of episodes.

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Monday, 13 February 2017

Connections with James Burke out now on UK DVDHe was immortalised by The Human League in their 1980 song “The Black Hit of Space”, where Phil Oakey implored we “get James Burke on the case”. At that point in time, the impact of the first series of Connections had been seismic. First broadcast in 1978, the ten part series had cemented Burke’s place not only in our British culture, but he was then exposed to a worldwide audience. He had become a national icon through working on Tomorrow’s World from when it began in 1965 through to 1971, as well as being a cornerstone of the BBC’s coverage of the Apollo space missions, and fronting The Burke Special (1972-1976).

Why was Connections such a ‘big thing’ at the time? Much like Burke’s own philosophy regarding inventions and progress, it joined together elements of history, science and technology to show how seemingly disconnected disciplines fed off each other to create major breakthroughs. This created a positive feedback loop, and explains the ever-faster rates of change that we see in our society today. The biggest surprise in all this is why it has taken so long to finally get a UK release for the series in any shape or form. Thanks to Simply Media, it is time to revisit not just this but all the incredible, and in places prophetic, work of James Burke.

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Wednesday, 08 February 2017

Probatiion Officer - Volume 1 of existing episodes out on DVD nowEvery now and then, a DVD release comes along of a TV series that has vanished into the memory hole. Remembered by few, the perceived wisdom is that if it was worth taking notice of, then the trivia books would pay close attention to it. In the case of Probation Officer, we have a series which has slipped through the net. An ATV production starring John Paul (Doomwatch) and Honor Blackman (The Avengers), even from that small snippet interest is immediately on high alert.  This initial batch of surviving episodes, (unfortunately the archive holdings are patchy at best) come from 1959 and 1960. Anyone who thought in that era it was all very “Cholmondley-Warner” when dealing with fiction rooted in reality will be in for a shock.

Whether it’s drugs on the streets, gangs out of control, or even a very early inter-racial screen kiss (beating Star Trek’s “Plato’s Stepchildren” by a good nine years), even today there will be many surprises as to what topics are brought into sharp focus. Admittedly, the attitudes of many of the characters are set in another era, where racism and sexism were par for the course, but this adds a blunt reminder of how much things have changed over the nearly six decades which have passed since these episodes were put into production. For any students of sociology or cultural studies, there are a stream of dissertations which could be written from this sample of a dozen episodes.

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Monday, 23 January 2017

The Flower of Gloster comes to DVDThe mission: Guide a 72-foot narrow-boat through 220 miles of canals from Wales to London in 10 days. The crew: Three cheeky kids from the Doherty family, after daddy Doherty is injured. What (else) could possibly go wrong?! This cheerful 13-part tale from 1967 has the distinction of being the first Granada Television series to be made in colour, even though it was initially broadcast in black and white.

The Doherty family are up against a rival boat manned by the Evans clan. The stakes are high as the first party to deliver their boat get the deal, and the Evans are not playing fair. Sabotage is not the only problem facing Dick, Liz and Mike Doherty, however, as they must also contend with mechanical faults, a haunted wood, Mike’s uncanny disappearing act and a girl they crash into along the way. Think ‘Swallows and Amazons’ only on a canal.

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Friday, 16 December 2016

All Star Comedy Carnival 1972 and 1973 make it to a DVD releaseAll Star Comedy Carnival was an annual television event which ran for five years from 1969. It was ITV's annual ‘Christmas bonus’, screened at the height of the festive season, usually on Christmas Day, presenting viewers with brand-new sketches from the network’s most popular sitcoms of that particular year. A highlight of the festive viewing period, only two editions still exist in their entirety - those for 1972 and 1973.

This new DVD from Network Releasing presents both these complete shows, comprising specially written sketches for 13 classic series, and running without adverts for about an hour and a half each – and rest assured you get the advert break cards and jingles included!  Most of these components were extended sketches based in the comedy and variety formats they showcased, a lot of them operating within the confines of a single studio-based set.

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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Maid Marian and her Merry Men - Complete Series 1-4 out as a Limited Edition DVD setRe-released as a limited edition DVD box-set (just 3,000 copies), Maid Marian and Her Merry Men is a brilliantly funny, BAFTA-winning re-imagining of the Robin Hood story from Tony Robinson, of Blackadder and Time Team fame. In this version, Maid Marian is the brains behind the band of outlaws who rob from the rich and giving to the poor; Robin by contrast is a dim-witted and rather cowardly tailor with terrible archery skills. AND YOU COULD HAVE WON A COPY OF THE LIMITED EDITION SEASON 1-4 BOX SET IN OUR PRIZE COMPETITION.

Marian is played with gleeful bravado by Kate Lonergan (The Hello Girls, The Bill), with Adam Morris (Genie in the House, Backup) as the bumbling Robin. Danny John-Jules (Red Dwarf, Death in Paradise) is Barrington and he also lends his vocal talents on many of the songs that open the episodes. The final two members of the crew are Rabies (Howard Lew Lewis – Brush Strokes, Chelmsford 123) and Little Ron (Mike Edmonds – “Time Bandits”, Ewok Logray in “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi”).

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Monday, 28 November 2016

Tim Vine - new Tim Timinee DVD now availableIf one-line puns machine-gunned at you are your thing, then time to make an appointment to watch as award-winning British comedian Tim Vine, in a new show where he emerges from a chimney to take the roof off (it says here…). If Dick van Dyke was a stand-up, and from this side of the Atlantic, well, it’s nothing like that at all!  “Tim Timinee Tim Timinee Tim Tim to You” is the latest mix-and-mirth from a man who breaks up the unyielding procession of off-the-wall corner-turning rat-a-tat spiel with silly songs, and one prop after another with a slick and simple pay-off.

This was a sell-out show which took Tim around the country and beyond. Take a deep breath everyone, because there’s a lot to get through. Stand by for a large number of stupid jokes, (and platypuses on poles, plus an interloper). Packed with a range of extras, this is the full-on exposure of the concept, and a breathless experience – if you don’t like one particular joke, another will be along before you have chance to blink, let alone frown.

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Monday, 28 November 2016

Ironside - Season 3 on UK DVD - Season 4 also now availableIn August 2015, the first two seasons of Ironside were releases in the UK by Fabulous Films. You can read our review of that release by CLICKING HERE. Now, 15 months later, we get Seasons Three and Four to savour. Our wheelchair-bound former Chief of Police, Robert T Ironside (Raymond Burr) is back with more insightful detective work, and these seasons mark the final ones for one of the quartet of key players – the female lead Barbara Anderson as Eve Whitfield, finishing her 105 of the 199 total episodes, landing an Emmy for her role in 1968.

We get 26 episodes on each season box set this time out, season three having originally aired Stateside from September 1969 to April 1970, and season four from September 1970 to April 1971. Again there are plenty of guest stars to look out for, whose faces will be familiar to many a Cult TV appreciator. The victim of a failed assassination attempt, Ironside was left paralysed from the waist down. He became the head of his own special police unit, aided by a crack team of investigators on the streets of San Francisco, including Sergeant Ed Brown (Don Galloway), and ex-con-turned-assistant Mark Sanger (Don Mitchell).

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Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Spike Milligan - episode of Q series finally come to DVD completeThere’s a reason that Spike Milligan’s TV shows from the late 1960s onwards have faded away from memory. On one level it can be put down to a lack of repeats, but the truth is based on their effective ‘blacklisting’, all down to one social factor which has scared people into silence. Political correctness. Seeing the shows Q5, Q6 and Q7 finally getting a DVD release is symptomatic of the fightback going on across the world at the moment. People are sick to death of being told what views they cannot hold, what language they can and cannot use, and instead being expected to go along with social restrictions which make it nigh-on illegal to have targets for humour.

Milligan adopts equal opportunities on many such targets for his off-the-wall stream-of-consciousness humour. Every religion, race, and political allegiance is verbally machine-gunned. The stupidity of belief systems and cultural actions are exposed to the spotlights which reveal the nature of divide-and-rule that such codes of conduct allow to grow. But the Social Justice Warriors will just focus in on the use of terms which, in this day and age, have been abolished. In effect, in the 21st Century the Q series has suddenly become the tool of revolution. And so it is that this new release from Simply Media allows us to take a snapshot of how sensibilities have changed from those of 1969, 1975 and 1978 respectively.

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Monday, 31 October 2016

National Treasure - out now on DVDRobbie Coltrane and Julie Walters star in this drama about a famous comedic actor falling from grace. Paul Finchley (Coltrane – Hagrid in the “Harry Potter” movies, Cracker) is one half of a long-standing and very successful double act. Life is good and everyone adores him, but then the police notify him of some historical sexual assault charges that have been made against him, and his apparently perfect world starts to implode.

Recently broadcast on Channel 4, the mini-series was crafted by two BAFTA-winners - writer Jack Thorne (various This is England series, The Fades), and director Marc Munden (“The Mark of Cain”, Utopia). The series also features Tim McInnery (Black Adder, “Notting Hill”) as Karl, the other half of the comedy duo, and Andrea Riseborough (“Made in Dagenham”) as the Finchley’s mentally unstable daughter.

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Saturday, 15 October 2016

Baa Baa Black Sheep - the Squadron comes to UK DVD“In World War II, Marine Corps Major Greg ‘Pappy’ Boyington commanded a squadron of fighter pilots. They were a collection of misfits and screwballs who became the terrors of the South Pacific. They were known as the Black Sheep.” From 1976 to 1978 Stephen J Cannell, who would later go on to co-create The A-Team, used World War II as a backdrop for a military series called Baa Baa Black Sheep (aka “Black Sheep Squadron” for its second season – the final 13 episodes, aka “Flying Misfits” - the title of the pilot movie). The South Pacific was the place for their adventures, but in TV terms has since passed by virtually unknown in the UK.

But at last, all 36 episodes, including the feature length pilot episode, get a DVD release this side of the Atlanti. You could have won one of two copies we had available, just for nominatiing your favourites in this year's Cult TV Awards.

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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Organization - out now on DVDCorporate politics sounds a very dry subject to make a TV series from, but anyone who has found themselves in an office environment will sagely nod as they work out “who’s who” in their own workplace from this 1972 series. The idea that everyone is “going through the motions” is reflected in the episode titles of the series – one character of two mentioned in each title appears again in the next, until by the seventh story we have gone full circle, and one character from the first story is mentioned once more. Yes, the action is mainly studio bound, with only the occasional scene committed to film, but this is very much a ‘slow burner’ – the plot weaving its mysterious way to a satisfying conclusion.

The Organization, (not to be confused with a 1971 Sidney Poitier film of the same name) with its American spelling of the term, came from Yorkshire Television and is very stiff upper-lip British in its sensibilities. The central cast is iconic – including the likes of Donald Sinden, Anton Rodgers (two of the actors who played Number 2 in The Prisoner), Bernard Hepton (Albert Foiret in Secret Army) and Peter Egan (Shrimpie MacClare in Downton Abbey) star in this acutely observed drama which exposes the intrigues, resentments, bewilderments and betrayals of the staff of Greatrick (as in “great trick”), a large corporation.

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Sunday, 25 September 2016

Softly Softly Task Force - Series 2 out now on DVDLong before the days of CSI and NCIS, spin-off shows weren’t unheard of, but none was more popular at the beginning of the 1970s than Softly Softly: Task Force. It featured two stars from Z Cars, Stratford Johns and Frank Windsor, reprising their roles as DCS Charlie Barlow and DCI John Watt. The show had originally come into being as Softly Softly in 1966, running for four and a half series before a sudden change halfway through series five, in 1969. Originally to simply be called Task Force, late in the day the BBC decided to keep the Softly Softly brand in place as an umbrella title. And now, thanks to Simply Media, we had three copies of the DVD set up for grabs of Series 2 of Softly Softly: Task Force (aka series 6 of Softly Softly if you want to be pedantic) in a prize competition.

Formatted by BBC crime go-to-guy Elwyn Jones, other popular characters included fellow Softly Softly stalwart DS Harry Hawkins (Norman Bowler), dog handler PC Snow (Terence Rigby) with trusty Police Dog Radar (who gets his own end credits caption), cheery Sergeant Evans (David Lloyd Meredith) and gruff and rule-bound Chief Constable Cullen (Walter Gotell). Unafraid to address problematic social issues of the day, the show provided an accurate reflection of police methods of the time, and many of the simmering tensions and resentments on the streets of 1970s Britain. This leads to social commentary, and classy production, which even today is worth your appreciation.

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