Traditionally. the winter season is when the TV companies trundle out all their big guns to blast us into approving submission as we huddle round the fire cringing at the howls of the polar bears strolling down Broughton Street. For the BBC. though. 1992 looks like going down as the year of the Dodgy Premises if the first episodes of their new drama offerings are anything to go by (and they‘re making a second series of Trainer).
Dodgy Premises is not a reference to seedy lock-ups south of the river. but to those occasions when the writers come up with a fundamentally-ﬂawed cornerstone upon which to construct their edifice. Witness Love Hurts (BBCI) in which we are required to believe that the intensely irritating millionaire plumber Frank Carver (Adam Faith) is a charming. cheeky chappie sort of guy. whereas you know ione Wanamaker had anything to do with writing her own part. she‘d have kneed him in the groin in scene two and left it at that.
Marks and Gran. creators ofthe sublime Shine On Harvey Moon. the half-decent Birds ()f/i Feather and the at-least-irreverent New Statesman have come a serious cropper with Love Hurts. The reliable Wanamaker‘s performance is perfectly fine. a few barbed points are made about charity fundraisers and production values are high. but the whole sorry business collapses around Adam Faith‘s plodding reprise of Budgie. this time sans youthful innocence. and armed instead with a spanner and a load of class-related gags left over from the 70s. Isn‘t it about time that writers realised the old ‘chirpy wide boy pulls bit of posh‘ storyline is dead and buried'.’
In the case of Moon And Son. there isn't even anything remotely worthy to be found on top of the shaky foundations. Starting off with a preposterous idea and piling shoddy writing and laughable plotting on top has resulted in a series (and astonishingly there's another to follow) ofsuch numbing ineptitude
that it threatens to become an instant kitsch classic. The Dodgy Premise is that clairvoyant and astrologer Gladys Moon and her son (geddit‘?) Trevor mooch around southern England and northern France solving crimes by waving crystals around. divining with copper rods or looking for a Taurus suspect with Scorpio rising. rather than wasting time with boring stuff like evidence. If Russell Grant hasn‘t already destroyed any credibility attached to astrology. this series will finish the job.
‘Series creator Robert Banks Stewart wrote Bergerac before this. Get the impressionthe guy just wants an excuse for regular French holidays?’
It's the New Age gone Europe with a vengeance and a script that drips with comic banalities. A personal favourite was when Millicent Martin as the lascivious psychic attempted to chat up the French detective with the memorable line ‘Aren‘t you the dark cheval'.” Series creator Robert Banks Stewart wrote Bergerac before this. Get the impression the guy just wants an excuse for regular French holidays?
Gerry Sadowitz‘s show The Pall-Bearer’s Revue ( BBCZ) might turn out to be another Dodgy Premise entry. The first episode
. would suggest that whoever thought
they could translate Sadowitz‘s talent to the small screen was
i seriously deluded. but comedy isn't ; the stuff for instant judgement and it
seems reasonable to give him a few
' shows to get it right.
George Mackay Brown At Seventy (BBC Scotland) might be a fine show in its own right. and old George just the chap if you're stuck for a
f septuagenarian ()rcadian poet at short notice. but when you want to
join the rest ofthe British Isles watching John Barnes knocking in a hat-trick after 32 games out injured.
: you can take him or leave him.
frankly. When will the SFA come to their senses and allow Scottish audiences the chance to see soccer from down south (or. even better.
: France or Spain)? I think the usual
sort ofphrase is ‘How about it SFA?‘ (Tom Lappin).
Those chilly winter nights getting you down? Nothing on the telly? So what’s new on the video shelves?
I Hudson Hawk ( 15) Bruce Willis plays the tap-dancing cat burglar of the title. released from jail and blackmailed into stealing three Leonardo Da Vinci treasures. So far. so reasonable. but then a few threats of global destruction are thrown in. the gags get cornicr and the whole film collapses into a messy combination of action thriller and wacky comedy. (20:20 Vision)
I Prayer Of The Rollerboy (15) It's the near future and a post-nuclear world is ravaged by a gang of yobbos on superpoweer roller-skates. Listen. it could happen! And all you‘ve got is weedy Corey Haim to protect you. Spectacularly daft action thriller that deservedly stiffed at the box-office. (First Independent)
I Naked Gun Z‘A-The Smell Of Fear( 15) Endearing sequel slapstick from Leslie Nielsen and the old Airplane gang with the usual plethora ofhit-or- miss sight gags and poor taste one~iiners. (CIC) I The Page Must Die ( 15) Another one of those fat- bastard-(’atholic-in-a- frock movies Robbie Coltrane knocksoff in his sleep. This Comic Strip-originated spoof fails to capture either the energy or comic invention ofsome of their earlier films. (RCA‘Columbia)
IThelma & Louisei 15) ()ne of the most popular releases of last year. Ridley Scott‘s ‘feminist road movie' stars Susan Sarandon and Geena Davies as a disenchanted housewife and waitress hitting the open road in search ofadventurc and a temporary respite from their unsatisfying lives. They inadvertently leave a trailofmurder and mayhem in their wake and a tragic climax is inevitable. It‘s a powerful and thought-provoking tale. although Scott doesn't allow the message to obscure the entertainment value. (Warner)
I Mermaids ( 15) (MCEG Virgin)
ITill lliissed Ya (PG) (Warner)
I Class Action ( 15) (Fox) I Marked For Death ( 18) (Fox)
I Tod llot To Handle ( 15) (Buena Vista)
I The DbiecthBeauly(15) (Buena Vista)
I A Kiss Before Dying ( [8) (CIC)
I They Came From Outer Space ( PG) (CIC)
I Red Wind ( 18) (CIC)
”" ' "EILLA"
I Deadly Surveillance ( 15) (First Independent)
I Happy Together( 15) (Guild)
I An Inconvenient Woman (15) (Odyssey)
I Robin Hood — Prince 0i Thieves (PG) Everything I Do I do in a rather dodgy Nottingham-on-the- Colorado accent. Costner is Crap as the medieval philanthropist but the film is surprisingly redeemed by a hilarious supporting cast of hammy British actors dredging up all those regional accents they picked up in rep. Mike McShane plays Friar Tuck as the traditional fat buffoon and everything is rather jolly. with Sean (Tonnery turning up just ir time for a happyending. (Warner)
3; - in
; . .g I Vincent And Theo ( 15 ) A distinctly 'European' film (already seen in two parts on TV) from Robert Altman. tracing the relationship between Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo. played by Tim Roth and Paul Rhys. Both brothers indulge in heavy drinking. bouts of madness and suicidal impulses. and both die in tragic circumstances. (Island World£i~l.99)
I Beautiful Dreamers (15) John Kent Harrison‘s directorial debut is a thoughtful. soft-centred tale ofthe 19th century mental-health pioneer Maurice Bucke whose life was transformed by the American poet Walt Whitman (played by Rip Torn). Literate and affecting. (Island World £14.99)
I Let ll Be All Flight On The Nighl(18) Some ofthe entertainment world‘s most objectionable performers (Jim Davidson. I Iale And Pace. Bernard Manning. Jim Bowen et al) perform their raunchier material in aid ofchariddy. (Wienerworld £10.99)
I Pallas (PC) A swift chance to watch all ofthe rather cheeky Royal Family spoof shown on (‘hannel 40ver Christmas. Not as funny as it should have been but plenty ofgiggles all the same. (BB(’£I().99)
IZ CafS(I’(i) All together now: Der der der. de-der der der der. A sort ofolls Bill that spawned several spin-offs. this was the cop series that took the genre one step on from lovable old (ieorge Dixon and closer togritty reality. It looks dreadfully dated nowadays but should provide more than a pang or two of nostalgia for the over-30s. (BBC £lll.99) I Rosemary Conley’s Whole Body Programmez Suffering from post- (.'hristmas I-‘at Git Syndrome'.’ Work off the excess lard with diet queen Rosemary. (BBC £10.99)
I Fitness Wins ()r. if you prefer. the British Army. (BB(‘£lil.99)
I Doctor Who— Cavele Androzani (PG) (BBC £10.99)
I Doctor Who- Roboltti) (BBCL‘lllwﬂ
The LiEI-LI:-3T)—Jainvuﬂaryi 59