V TV REVIEW
Not a lot of people know this, but Portuguese television shows Wheel OfFortune five times a week. In the past month it has been effortlessly interwoven'with extensive political coverage where every candidate is immaculately Grecian 2000ed and makes sure his party, from the old-fashioned military dictators through to the neo-Trotskyites, has the word ‘Democratic‘ upfront. I believe the election was eventually won by the Wheel Of Fortune hostess, who came the closest to talking sense.
I mention this not merely to add a much-needed touch of cosmopolitanism to a parochial little column. but to point out that despite the temptation to gripe about the likes of the ludicrous Trainer (BBC1),we’re actually rather well-served by our four terrestrial channels in this country, or at least we are until John Major calls an election and Jeremy Paxman takes up 24-hour residence on the small screen.
Take the recent Screen One: Alive And Kicking (BBCl ), a production that achieved two feats hitherto thought impossible: tackling the subject of drug addiction without preaching, and successfully casting ‘comic‘ actors in serious roles. Lenny Henry had his work cut out casting off his angelic image to play the violent and cynical addict/dealer Stevie Smith, but succeeded admirably. Robbie Coltrane had it easier as the delightfully unscrupulous counsellor Liam Kane, who realises that the only way to save Smith is with a regular infliction of pain. ‘You can’t talk,’ taunts Smith. ‘Look at you, you’re hooked on sugar, fags and coffee.’ ‘You forgot one thing,‘ sniggers Kane, literally putting the boot in. ‘Sadism’.
The darkly comic tone was established by a bravura opening sequence (director Robert Young reprising his superb work on GBH) where shots of Smith dealing out street justice to a rival dealer by means of a broken bottle were interspersed with scenes of his junkie girlfriend giving birth. ‘Where’ve you been?’ she asked when he
showed up at the hospital. ‘Traffic’ was the amused reply.
AI Hunter’s screenplay didn’t pull away from showing the full sordidness of addiction, but didn’t fall into the trap oflooking like a public information film either. The junkies were fully-rounded
2 characters, with elements of comedy
; as well as tragedy, struggling with
football training one moment, trying to get a hit from toilet freshener the next. Even with such a broad subject to cover, Hunter found time to touch on other issues. The way his West
3 Indian characters when talking ‘ head-to-head lapse out of the heavy
patois they adopt en masse is just one example of the keen observation and wit that helped make Alive And
Kicking the sharpest play so far in an
exceptionally impressive and diverse '
Screen One season.
I always thought rugger was a gentleman’s game, but ifso. how come Bill Beaumont was trying to look up Sally Gunnell’s skirt in the first of the new series of A Question Of Sport (BBCI)? Rugby Union remains terra incognita as far as this namby-pamby southerner is concerned, despite ceaseless coverage of the Rugby World Cup (Scottish) mainly notable for the TV resurrection of the coke and cardigans man Frank Bough. As for the sport, it seems that teams are complaining because referees are cracking down on ‘rucks‘. Heresy, apparently. All the same, a vital tactic, as displayed to perfection in the Scotland v Ireland match, seems to be knocking an opponent’s brains loose early on, so that his ability to catch the subsequent ‘up ’n’ unders’ is severely impaired. You can see why the game is so popular with surgeons and medical folk: it offers a useful opportunity to drum up some ; xtra business when trade is slow.
The iunkies were fully-rounded characters, with elements of comedy as well as tragedy, struggling with football training one moment, trying to get a hit from toilet treshener the next.
Also keeping himself in work by sheer offensiveness is Auberon Waugh, subject of Waugh Memorial (Scottish) an over-kind, if revealing, biography that looked like it had dropped off the back of the current South Bank Show run and no one had deigned to pick it up. Waugh told us how his life of attacking the working classes began during the war when a party of East End refugees were billeted on his family. Tired of their constant yobbish teasing, the five-year-old Bron told his aunt that they had been eating rat poison and their stomachs had to be pumped. It was a lie he remembers fondly. ‘I don’t suppose it did them any harm,’ he chuckled, ‘and it was my first blow in the class war.’ Somehow you have to have a sneaking admiration for someone who was such a complete bastard from an early age. He’d have made a great Rugby captain. (Tom Lappin)
The List guide to what’s new on the rental shelves and in the shops this lortnight.
I Kindergarten Cop ( 15) Arnie Schwarzenegger’s attempt to become a family favourite was slightly less-than- convincing in this so-so comedy. The muscle-bound Austrian plays a cop assigned surveillance duties at a nursery school. Plenty of sickly kids making smarass comments. the requisite love interest and a script that goes strictly for laughs do not prevent Arnie from looking comfortable only in the action sequences. (CIC) I Hamlet (PG) ‘To be or not to be' went the trailers for this surprisingly watchable Hollywood Bard adaptation. Mel Gibson plays the Prince Of Denmark with a slight Bondi Beach twang admittedly. but it‘s a half-decent attempt, with some lively action sequences if not a great deal of psychological suspense. (20:20 Vision)
I Son Of The Morning Star (PG) (Odyssey)
I Everybody Wins ( 15) (MCEG/Virgin) IAmityvllle Curse ( 18) (MCEG/Virgin)
IThe Doors (18) Val Kilmer is Jim Morrison. to the extent of being such a disgusting and offensive slob that you wish he‘d peg out long before the final reel. It’s a spirited retelling of the Doors myth, with lots of music and drugs and stuff. seriously undermined by director Oliver Stone’s old-hippy reverence for the overrated tub oflard that was Morrison. (Guild)
I Scenes From A Mall (15) Woody Allen in someone else's film shock! It's a bit ofa turkey actually, with Allen playing opposite Bette Midler as a middle-aged couple falling out at the mall. A tired comedy ofmanners, all insults and inﬁdelity. with some overplayed attempts at social satire. (Buena Vista)
I Defending Your Lite (15) (Warner)
IThe Company 2 ( 15) (Warner)
I Blood Oath ( 15) (RCA/Columbia)
I Soda Cracker (15) (RCA/Columbia)
I Homer And Eddie ( 15) (MCEG/Virgin)
I Love, Lies And Murder (18) (Odyssey)
Best of sell through
I Monsieur Hulot's Holiday (U) Classic Jaques 'I‘ati comedy for aficionados of the French Chaplin (ie not funny. but worth name-dropping with a knowing grin when in the company of would-be film buffs). (Connoisseur £14.99) I Voyage 01Terror(15) (Odyssey £19.99) I Some Mothers 00 'Ave ’Em-The Job Interview (PG) Everybody"s favourite beret and mac-wearer. Frank Spencer. is reprised for your tape-heads. courtesy of Michael Crawford. (BBC £10.99) I Only Fools And Horses-The Yellow Peril (PG) (BB(‘£10.99) I Only Fools And Horses—The Long Legs 0i The Law (PG) (BBC £10.99) I Red Dwarf Ill-Backwards (PG) (BBC£10.99) I Red Dwarf lll-Timeslides (PG) (BBC £10.99) I Blackadder's Christmas Carol (PG) Yes it's that time of year again when thoughts turn to curmudgeonly misanthropes like Ebenezer Blackaddcr aka Rowan Atkinson in a scatological Yuletide yarn. (BBC£10.99)
I Madonna-The Real Story The story of Ms Ciccone from humble beginnings to In Bed With taking in her musical career and the men in her life. Tacky. (Wiencrworld£10.99)
I Breakfast at Tiffany's
I Bab C. Nesbltt's Seasonal Greet (PG)The tone stays lavatoriai in the oft-repeated Rab Xmas talc. (BBC £8.99)
I Monkey Business (U) Knockabout Marx Brothers comedy.(ClC £12.99)
I We're No Angels ( 1:?) (CIC £12.99)
I Blake‘s Seven—The Keeper/Star One (PG) (BBC£10.99)
I Blake's Seven- Aitermath/Powerplay (PG) (BBC£10.99)
I Teenage Mutant Hinia Turtles (PG) The first and worst Turtle tale. with the not-so-lovable amphibians eating pizza and saying ‘Cowabunga‘ with irritating frequency. The less imaginative parents will be packing their offspring‘s stockings with this one.
(MCEG ’Virgin £12.99) I Andy Warhol Collection 1 (18) Featuring the famous syrup-wearer's Flesh And Hear. (MCEG’Virgin)
I Andy Warhol Collection 2 (18) Collecting together Trash. Lone some Cowboys and a profile of the legendary soup-lover. (£14.99)
(MCEG. Virgin £14.99) I Lenny Kravitz Video Collection ( MCEG/Vir gin £14.99)
I Iggy Pop-Kiss My Blood (18) (MCEGNirgin £7.99)
I Sex With The Stars ( 18) (MCEG/Virgin £10.99)
IA Cry For Help ( 18)
I GBH Episodes 1-3 (18) A welcome release for the most talked-about TV series ofthe year. Alan Bleasdale‘s script is by turns hilarious. moving and pointed. with excellent performances from Michael Palin and Robert Lindsay asJim Nelson and Michael Murray. whose political confrontation rapidly turns personal. (MCEG/Virgin £19.99) I GBH Episodes 4-7 (18) (MCEG/Virgin £19.99) I The Fabulous BakerBoys (15) The Bridges brothers star as the musical siblings hitting it big but falling out over chanteuse Michelle Pfeiffer. Divertingif lightweight, with excellent vocal chores handled by Ms Pfeiffer. (MGM/UA) I Goodbye Mr Chips (U) (MGM/UA)
70 The List 25 October — 7 November 1991