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V TV REVIEW

Channel Hopping

the Great British Lugubrious issue? (Ofcourse you do.) Well,

Roger Lloyd Pack and Warren

of the Kingsley Amis adaptation,

on the grim cynicism, bartender. Older readers may remember a

eyes and hangdog-who’s-been- kicked-one-too-many-times expression first penetrated the national consciousness as Jack

: grotty bar and his free-and-easy

be the role model for every other screen copper up to The Bill‘s

Midlands Serious Crime Squad, quite a few off-screen coppers as well).

Regan pegged Thaw as a

peg him as a rough-diamond

from Beowulf, Lewis, you

remained. Regan shags lots of barmaids and doesn’t relate to

next series for the full story) and

towards his dim sidekick. Morse ditto. Both dripped weltschmerz

Remember we were talking about

Character Actors‘ Hall Of Fame last

Clarke could do with some company, and who better than John Thaw, star

Stanley And The Women (Scottish), oozing cragginess and misanthropy in healthy measures, and don’t stint

pre-Sweeney John Thaw, but I doubt it. The man’s greyish jowls, bleary

Thaw’s latest incarnation, courtesy of Central TV, is Amis’s initially passive Stanley Duke, at the centre of a (fe)maelstrom of vindictive, shallow and manipulative women. At first this strikes you as lazy casting. Central’s equation seems to be that Duke is a cross between Regan’s Cockney brashness and Morse’s vulnerability and both have the requisite misogyny. In fact, Duke is Michael Caine in middle-aged Alfie mode, in every respect, from the South London draw], to the glib voice-overs. Caine was presumably too expensive and Thaw (who, before the series went out, made a point of disowning Amis’s sexual politics) makes the best ofa difficult role, although his worst enemy is the scriptwriter who keeps getting him to reprise his previous incarnations.

Thus Duke is given a vintage car (Morse), a sexual past (Regan), a tendency to take the piss out of the Welsh (Regan), a nice line in understatement (Morse) and a fondness for the hard stuff (both). In the face ofsuch material, it‘s a remarkable achievement that Thaw manages to make Duke appear as a three-dimensional and even sympathetic character in his own right. He’s got another three episodes to convince us that Duke isn‘t a detective, honest. After the credits had rolled, an announcement came up for those of us who would like to know more about schizophrenia. Thaw must have been tempted to get on the helpline himself.

Regan, foul of mouth, unorthodox of procedure and wide ofcollar. If it was Dennis Waterman’s Sweeney hairstyle and sartorial outrages that finally killed the 705, it was Regan’s clipped expletives, his bird in every

interviewing technique that were to

Burnside (and in the case of the West

rough-diamond hard man for several years, before Morse came along to

aesthete. The transformation from mouthing ‘We’ve got this toe-rag by the balls, Carter’ to ‘It’s a quotation

undereducated oaf‘ was a startling one but some vital Thaw elements

women very well. Morse lost the love of his life a long time ago (check the

doesn‘t relate to women very well. Regan was impatient and arrogant

from every enormous pore, although Regan would probably have no truck with ‘that Kraut rubbish’, and Morse would correct your pronunciation.

‘Both dripped Weltschmerz from every enormous pore, although Regan would probably have no truck wit .

Morse would correct your pronunciation.’

It’s early days yet, but already your readers’ poll replies have shown a remarkable fondness for Drop The Dead Donkey (Channel 4), the topical comedy set in a TV newsroom. It’s difficult to fathom why, as apart from a healthy bitchiness and irreverence, there’s little of substance in the current series. In the most recent episode we were invited to laugh at a crudely-drawn stereotype of an American evangelist, spiced up with the occasional weak gag about Carol Thatcher or Salman Rushdie. The topical stuff is admittedly sharper than the execrable Spitting Image but interrupts the flow of the plot rather jarringly, making it apparent that the gags have been pasted into gaps at a late stage. The newsroom characters are unconvincing stereotypes who stand woodenly in ‘react’ poses while someone else is speaking, and are all rather too normal to be convincing as TV journalists. A darker streak is urgently required to prevent this becoming a mish-mash of hasty one-liners and feeble plot devices. (Tom Lappin)

“that Kraut rubbish”, and \‘ 47”

V VIDEOS

The List guide to what’s new on the rental shelves and in the shops this fortnight.

Rental

I Godlatherlll (15)The third (and final?) instalment of Francis Ford Coppola‘s Corleone epic fails to match the potency of the previous episodes, despitcsevcral scenes of breathtaking directorial virtuosity. Al Pacino portrays Michael Corleone hitting mid-life crisis. trying to legitimise the family business. and spending long dull scenes in church trying to come to terms with his past deeds. Andy Garcia provides the love and violence interest as Pacino‘s sparky young nephew who definitely has more of the old Corleone blood running through his veins than Pacino‘s own son who is training as an opera singer ferchrissakes. Less successful is Sofia Coppola making her screen debut as his daughter. who was cruelly but justly ridiculed by the critics. Moody. slow. and somewhat overblown. Coppola‘s epic proved a disappointment when compared with its predecessors. but is still more than a cut above the average. (CIC)

Mini.

l.\Rll\ll\(l

I The Whereabouts 01 Jenny (PG) One ofthosc true story TV movie type

releases. although this is a

tad superior to most. Ed

O'Neill plays the divorced

owner of a San Francisco

bar and devoted father of

Jenny (Cassy Friel). Unfortunately Jenny has been placed in the FBI

federal witness protection programme along with her

mother and mum‘s drug- dealer boyfriend Bobby.

The film follows O'Neill's

struggle against bureaucracy and the

courts to regain custody of

his daughter. (Odyssey) I he said. she said( 15) (Cl(‘)

I Dragon Fire (15) (CIC) IThe Lookalike(15) (CIC)

I Vesllge 0i Honour(PG) (CIC)

I Murder101 (15)(C1C) I Murderous Vision ( 15) (CIC)

I Out For Justice ( 18) (Warner)

Bestoisen through

ITwin Peaks ( 18) More adventures in the surrealism trade as the ongoing release ofthc entire saga continues apacc. Dwarves dance,

J ulee Cruise croons. Leland Palmer does a spot of both . . .(Screen International £12.99 per tape).

I Danton (PG) Andrzej Wajda‘s highly acclaimed and award-winning film stars Gerard Depardieu as Danton. the most colourful and charismatic leader of the French Revolution. Set in 1794 when Paris is in upheaval. Danton has just returned to the city after self-imposed exile to confront his rivals. The most immediate threat is Robcspierrre. played by Wojciech Pszoniak. who is determined to purge France ofall who threaten the Revolutionary Government. The film uses the personal struggle between the two men as a foreground to a wider political context with a great deal of modern significance. Depardieu delivers a passionate performance worthy of the atmospheric photography and powerful score. (Artificial. Eye £ 15.99).

I The Big Blue (15)(Fox £19.99)

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The List 6- 19 December 1991 75