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Van der Valk (2020)
Entertaining contemporary take on a classic crime drama
I was pleasantly surprised that the reinvention of one of my favourite 1980s crime shows engaged me from the start. Marc Warren is strong as an impressively sullen/moody and issue afflicted titular character (a portrayal very different and fresh compared to Barry Foster's in the original series). The supporting cast is very good, the crimes intriguing, and the wonderful Amsterdam setting, evocative. Some fans of the original Van Der Valk may struggle with the tone of its new incarnation but I found it works well. It is disappointing that the iconic Simon Park Orchestra theme song is missing from the 2020 series. I hope there are more series.
Touched by Love (1980)
Emotionally moving film!
Touched By Love was based on nurse Lena Canada's equally moving book, To Elvis, With Love. While the film indicates Elvis Inc. was involved, this was the name of the production company registered while it was filmed - it was not the official Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE) organisation responsible for marketing Elvis and running Graceland. An official DVD/Bluray release of this positive and emotionally heart-rending film is long overdue.
Underrated Elvis travelogue
By the time Clambake was released the critics were well and truly down on his 'film quickies'. And Elvis himself is said to not have enjoyed making Clambake. However, it is a fun take on the Prince and the Pauper story with some pleasant songs and a solid supporting cast including Gary Merrill, Will Hutchins (best known as TV's Sugarfoot) and the King's favorite film co-star, Shelley Fabares. The film divides Elvis fans who either love or loathe it. There are worse ways to pass a dreary afternoon.
Taurus Rising (1982)
Admirable attempt at Aussie power soap
I always liked Taurus Rising. It was glossy, fun, over the top and the characters were interesting. It was an admirable if uninspired attempt at producing Australia's answer to Dallas and Dynasty. It deserved a wider audience than it got - surprisingly, few viewers tuned in even for the debut episode. The Nine Network erred in producing it as a replacement for the incredibly successful series, The Sullivans, which was aimed at a family audience. In contrast, the 'adult oriented' Taurus Rising, was not family viewing. Sadly, Alan Cassell passed away recently (30 Aug 2017) aged 85. He played Ben Drysdale, effectively Australia's answer to J.R. Ewing (Dallas).
Chasing Shadows (2014)
Great offbeat series
This was a fun series with neat twists and engaging lead characters. Nicely drawn albeit eccentric lead character with great support from the always likable Alex Kingston (ER, Hope Springs and Doctor Who's River Song), the always good to see again, Don Warrington (remembered as one of "Rigsby's" tenants in the wonderful British comedy, Rising Damp). Reece Shearsmith is well known for his offbeat comedic characters and after a sinister portrayal as a sociopath in The Widower it was good to see him offer another obtuse, but different, characterisation. Hopefully the cliffhanger ending to season one will be resolved....sometime soon.
Les Revenants (2012)
One of the best shows of the past decade!
Les Revenants is a simply stunning production with its evocative setting and equally musical score. With well drawn characters and an intriguing premise which offers a thrilling obtuse take on the zombie genre each episode makes for wonderful, entrancing viewing. Its resonance reflects David Lynch's TV tour de force, Twin Peaks (itself about to get a 21st century make-over by Lynch). The only disappointing thing is how long it is taking for the second season of Les Revenants to be broadcast. If the second season replicates the very high production standard of the first, Les Revenants is destined to mark its place in television history as one of the greatest shows of all time.
Score: A Hockey Musical (2010)
Cheesy and tongue-in-cheek....but FUN!!!
Have to say some of the reviews on IMDb for Score: A Hockey Musical surprise me.
The film was not written or directed to be an Oscar winning production. Score: A Hockey Musical is what it sets out to be, an over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek, cheesy comedy-musical. There is no need or pretense that the characters need to be more than one dimensional or the plot more robust, as Score is all about FUN!!! And it delivers that in spades.
I saw the film for the first time last night as the closing feature for the 15th Annual Canberra Film Festival. The near capacity audience was in stitches throughout and gave it generous applause at the end.
Great British Drama overdue for DVD release!
Warship is one of those lost treasures from the Golden and Silver Age of Television. Its great balance of strong story lines and characters set against the rough but romantic backdrop of the cruel sea made it unusual for its time, but nevertheless very engaging. Almost 40 years on it deserves a release on DVD. Solid characters, engaging drama, real tension....Warship survived because of its quality production values. With renewed interest and demand in older series, Warship is one which could easily find a loyal new audience and recapture an old one in 2010! We can only hope that in an era of DVDR on demand from the studios, it will get the opportunity to re-establish its pedigree as part of UK TV history. 2014 Note: Series 1 of Warship available on DVD from Amazon UK
The Outsiders (1976)
DVD release for The Outsiders WELL OVERDUE!!!
The Outsiders is undoubtedly a classic Australian TV series. Well defined characters, tight scripts, varied and interesting locales, great guest stars and a filmic ambiance all combined to make this series a special one.
Sadly, Andrew Keir has passed while Sascha Hehn from Germany has enjoyed small screen success in his native country. The ABC has repeated the series many times yet a DVD release is yet to happen.
The series is one which is timeless. It is as likely to strike a resonant chord with viewers today as it did in its own day. Come on ABC...release The Outsiders on DVD!!!!!
Live a Little, Love a Little (1968)
Elvis great in sex farce!
Elvis in a sex farce. Elvis in bed with his leading lady. What a change in approach we got with Live A Little, Love A Little. With songs kept to a minimum, but including a surreal scene involving Edge of Reality, and the upbeat Wonderful World, this film was a great change in direction from the earlier Presley travelogues. Michele Carey was certainly one of The King's most attractive (and sexy)leading ladies and she pairs with Elvis on screen well. An interesting touch was having Rudy Vallee (himself a music idol from yesteryear) as one of Elvis' bosses and the contrast between him and other boss Don Porter is very well done. Nice doses of humor make this film a viewing treat.
The Trouble with Girls (1969)
One of Elvis' better films
The Trouble With Girls was much maligned on its original release in 1969.However it has a strong plot, excellent cast, interesting direction and very good use of camera angles (very unusual for an Elvis film). What a treat to see horror maestro, Vincent Price, in an Elvis film! There is also good chemistry between Elvis and leading lady, Marlyn Mason. The pacing is quite slow but this is one of the few Elvis films which can be viewed in "film critical" mode. Sadly, by the time The Trouble With Girls came out, both critics and the public had tired of Elvis films. Yet it together with Stay Away, Joe; Live A Little, Love A Little; Charro!; and Change of Habit were a positive step in redefining what Elvis' film career could have been.
The Mask of the Clown (1961)
A forgotten classic!
I fondly recall this show from my youth. I remember that in parts it had a dark and menacing quality and it left an indelible mark in my mind. In particular I recall one scene where the "clown" appears. For a young boy, as I was then, it really was a powerful moment. How gratifying to finally find this show (with it's correct title - something I couldn't quite remember after so many years) listed on the Internet at IMDb. I hadn't realized it was written by one of Britain's greatest TV writers, Brian Clemens. Sadly, I suspect the tapes of this fine show were probably lost decades ago and we will never see it released on DVD. But boy does it bring back wonderful memories. For mine, The Mask of the Clown was a seminal moment in the Golden Years of Television. 2014 Note: According to the website lostshows.com all episodes of The Mask of the Clown are still in existence!