channel Hopping

A lot of unnecessary words have been wasted on the supposed political messages in GBH (Channel 4). which came to a comprehensive climax in the final episode. This is nothing new ofcourse. 1ts illustrious predecessor Boys From the B/(l(‘/v’.8‘lllff. suffered a similarly narrow area ofappraisal where the issues of unemployment and the black economy attracted the critics' attention to the neglect ofthe writer‘s true gift. that ofinv'enting individual and idiosyncratic characters driven to the edge by economic circumstance.

If we have to talk manifestos. it has to be admitted that Bleasdale‘s political perspective has all the limitations ofa well-intentioned liberal. still clinging to a nostalgic view of 3(ls-style working-class solidarity. where rent-a-iiiob troublemakers are put in their place with a firm thump in the mouth from the noble socialist yeomanry. llis depiction of MIS as inner-city agent provocateurs might not be the paranoiac fantasy some would have you believe. but it still came across as a little glib. a little too black-and-white.

Murray’s jokes were punchlines equivalent to pelvic thrusts, the aggressive posturing of a deeply insecure man.

The point is though. surely. that all this is of minor importance. Why should we ask Bleasdale to deliver a concise political treatise. when he is so much more adept at conveying individual human experience. With a great deal of help from Michael Palin and Robert Lindsay. he created vividly three-dimensional protagonists. who. as we came to realise by the end. were fighting the same battles. against themselves as much as the shady figures manipulating them. With gesture. verbal mannerism and. above all. jokes. the writer delineated the subtleties ofeach personality.

76'l'he List 26 .1 uly -8 August 1991

Murray‘s jokes were punchlines equivalent to pelvic thrusts. the aggressive posturing of a deeply insecure man. Nelson‘s were self-deprecating. neurotic little quips used as defences against a hostile world. In the actions and characters of these two principals. Bleasdale had plenty to say about the effects of power and corruption on the individual. Their personal breakdown had far more dramatic impact than the political breakdown ofthe city.

Bleasdale couldn‘t touch a minor character without giving them a background. a motivation. and a linguisticor physical quirk oftheir own. Sometimes this was a problem. diverting us from the main thread. but usually an advantage. From the chauffeur who wanted to be a fisherman and the researcher laid low by his libido. to the dipsomaniac derelict of a holiday camp host. here were cameos each crying out for a series of their own. This was exceptional television. pushing back the restrictions ofgenre. and challenging the traditional approach to TV drama. Amidst the controversies and recriminations. it should be remembered that ([8]! was also the funniest comedy on TV this year.

()ne series it was a relief to see the back of was Masterchel (BBCI ). Presenter Lloyd (irossman is one of those universally-detested figures from the same stable as Noel Ediiiunds. (iy'les Brandreth. Jeremy Beadle and Esther Rantzen. Why these people have jobs presenting or peak-time TV is beyond any reasoned explanation and will remain an arcane secret for centuries. Perhaps all societies need a focus for their contempt and ridicule. who knows'.’ Marine/ref allows (irossman to both patronise the poor contestants (who are usually pseudish enough to deserve all they get). and indulge his capacity for oleaginous sycophancy with the guest judges. The sight and sound of (irossman and Sir Terence Conran grunting ‘mmmmm‘ and ‘ohlihh' at each other in gastronomic ecstasy while tasting the dishes in the final. was probably the most nauseating thing you'll see all year. The whole series broke new ground in the field ofTV as emetic.

Muriel (iray should perhaps be congratulated for her extended hoax in Art Is Dead. . . Long Live TV (Channel 4). although it's doubtful if anvone ever finds Gray‘s jokes quite as funny as she does herself. ()ur weekly postbag of gallery press

releases would suggest that there are enough ludicrous ‘artists‘ out there not to have to resort to inventing more. Or maybe the point is that she is one of them herself. enjoying a clever ‘coneept‘. at the expense of the bewildered viewer. Whatever the point. she risks being labelled The (iirl Who Cried Wolf. Already there are rumours going round that all those Munros from her previous series were made in Maryhill Primary out ofpapier-mache. And as for those wedding vows. . .

(Tom Lappin)

The List guide to what's on release at your rental store. and onthe sell-through shelves. this lortnight.


I Heaven Tonighti 15) ‘Btiddy ‘s Soiig' territory with a difference. (iuy Pearce (Mike from ‘Neighbours' ) has the Chesney role. playing up-and-coniiiig rocker l’aul 1)ysart. Cnlortuiiatcly his dad

.lohniiy (l'rank llow son) ,

w as a star in the (it ls and seems intent on recapturing the glory days with the return of hisold junkie side-kick Bal. All is set tor tragedy and shattered dreams. but out of the ashes a new dream is born. This liliii isonly marginally better than that last sentence.( l-iisi Independent)

851511101 PS

I Absolute Strangers ( P( i) UK. so it'saquict lortnight. This is one ol those ‘mov ing' 1 \' movies that inadvertently got made lor the big screen. but has svv iltly been made available in its more obvious lot'niat. Marty (Henry Winklerlaiid ' Nancy K1ien(.leiiniter lletrick ) are the pertect couple. avv aitiiig the arrival of their tirst child. l'nlortunately Nancy slips iiitoa coma alter acar accident Marty islaced with the choice of aborting the child or seeiiigliis wife's chances of recovery waiic. At this point a groupofanti-abortionists. the Absolute Strangers ol the title. enter the tray. and Nancy 's life is contested in a seriesot courtroomdramas. lt‘s


based on a true story . and tackles some extremely l sensitive issues. Whether 95 minutes of 1 lolly wood movie is the best forum tor them is a riioot point. however. (First Independent)

I Postcards From The Edge 1 (15 ) Cocaine addiction. wakingupwithstrangers. ' plummeting reputations. : detoxcliiiies...1iveryday j ocurrences for List v ideo | reviewers. and also the l substance of ( 'arrie l‘iislicr‘s i semi-autobiograpliical, I novel. fairly accurater . rendered in Mike Nichols' movie. Meryl Streep plays a young star using country and western to bolster her crumbling life. She's not helped by her alcoholic iiitiiii. Shirley Maclaine.

lt‘s reasonablyconvincing stuff that tells it how it could conceivably be. and manages to throw in a few slabs ol dow nhome humour along the way (RCA Columbia)

IThe Big Slicer 15) (RCA Columbia)

I Blood Gamesr 15) (RCA Columbia)

I Opportunity Knockst 15) (Guild)

I In The Spirit( Is) (Warner)

IThe First Poweri is) (Warner)

BestotseH through

I lvorThe Engine—The First Story 1 13m {‘99) I Pingu ( BB('£".99)

I Naked Video 2 ( 1‘s) A compilation of some of the better sketches trom the rather feeble BBC

Scotland comedy series. notable only for spawning Rab ( ' Nesbitt. (BBC

from £9.99)

I Lords: The Home 01 Cricket ( BBC £12.99)

I Doctor Who: The Masque DlMandragoraiL.‘)iBB(' 3 from £9.99) 1

I DoctorWho: The Three Doctors ( L7) (BBC from {9.99)

I The Saga Dl Noggin The N09 Well worth a watch if my childhood memories are anything to go by. Noggin was a Dark Ages klutz oflitiiited intellect. who was generally plagued by a bunch of Norsemen with thick (ieordic accents. (BBC £7.99)

I Dad‘s Army- When Did You Last See YourMoney? (l’( i ) ( BBC from £9.99) I Dad‘s Army-Manhunt (CHBBC from £9.99)

I The Flipside Dl Dominick Hide/AnotherSlip For Dominick ( PU ) i BBt‘ £19.99)

I Jude The Obscure i P(i) (1313(‘£l9.99)

I Great Expectations ( l’(i) (BB('£19.99)

I The Barchester Chronicles ( LI ) ( BBC £19.99)

I Three Men And A Little Lady ( 1’( i ) ()n sale for those sad people who want to possess the latest instalment of the cutesy

comedy talc. Ted Daiison.

Steve (iutteriberg and

Sean Penn (slime/y s/iome

Ill/.v'llltl/v't’l are the sweet guy’s entrusted with biiiigiiig up the sickening kid w ho gets all the best lines but can‘t deliv er them vv itliout causing nausea to the innocent

v ieweixA guest apearanec by Hannibal1.ccterinthe next sequel. please guys.( Buena Vista £12.99)

I Fighting Justicei IS) (RCA Coluriibia £111.99) I Renegadesi is)

(RCA Columbia £111.99) I Chances Are ( P( t) (RCA Columbia £111.99) I Super Mario Brothers; Four Adventures ( t ' 1 (Abbey £7.99)

I Lonesome Cowboysi 18) Andy Warhol's films were inevitably more boring than a Peter (irecnaway special. so here they are on video fortch coffee-table set. Lonesome Cowboys has a complete disregard for

logic. characterisation and .

chronology. (MCI-Ii Virgin £12.99)

I Trash ( 18) While Trash displays liberating nudity and a frankness about sexuality . coupled ( Y) with a moralistic view ofsex. (MCI-LG Virgin £12.99) IAndy Warhol 1928—1987 And this was the man responsible. as profiled in a 90-minute Sour/i Bunk Show special. including much previously unseen footage of Warhoil and his cohorts. (MCEU Virgin £9.99)