lost_spook: (b7 - deva)
I decided that since I really like doing Fandom Overviews (or Manifestos, but that implies "everyone should watch" and really, they shouldn't), I should do one for everything I like that I haven't already done one for and it would be fun for me and maybe even useful for other people.

We'll see how that goes, but here's one of my latest in new old TV that I think is still worth watching in the 21st C:

Manhunt (1969/70)

"What is war?"/ "War is love..."

What is it? A one-off WWII drama serial set in Occupied France, consisting of 26 x 50 minute episodes, starring Peter Barkworth, Alfred Lynch and Cyd Hayman, with Robert Hardy, Philip Madoc and Maggie Fitzgibbon.

Nina a.k.a. Ann-Marie Poitiers is the sole survivor of a meeting between the British and representatives of various French Resistance groups. As secretary, she has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the names of the Resistance Leaders. London orders that their agent Vincent get her back to England - or shoot her. Vincent also has a newly crashed British airman called Jimmy Briggs who needs returning to London, so the three of them set out across France, pursued by Karl Lutzig of the SS, who is eventually joined in his mission by Abwehr Sergeant Gratz, while the trio of agents team up with an Australian singer called Adelaide who doesn't seem to have made up her mind which side she's on.

What has a tendency to start out as an occasionally tiresome action runaround soon develops into more of an intense, talky, gripping and powerful piece on love and war, and the price of resistance.

Do you really think I want to go on living, if this is all there's going to be? )
lost_spook: (cat)
I said I'd made a post about Enemy at the Door, and here it is. (I'm thinking of doing some more fandom manifesto type posts for old TV I've watched, because they're fun and possibly even useful, if only to inform people of things to avoid. :-D)

So, what is it? Enemy at the Door is a 1978-80 UK drama series about the German Occupation of the (British) Channel Islands in WWII, focusing on Guernsey (and the fictional Martel family). It stars Alfred Burke, Bernard Horsfall and Simon Cadell with Antonia Pemberton, Emily Richard, Simon Lack, John Malcolm, Richard Heffer, Helen Shingler and David Waller. It was created and script-edited by Michael Chapman, produced by Tony Wharmby and written by Michael Chapman, James Doran, NJ Crisp, Kenneth Clark and John Kershaw. There are 2 series of 13x 50 min episodes (26 in all). It is out on DVD (definitely in Regions 1 &2); it is not on YouTube at the moment, though. (It was repeated on Yesterday, a freeview channel here in the UK last year, so it may get another turn.)

If you're not keen on old UK TV, then this obviously isn't for you. If, however, you are, and you are interested in well-written, well-played, low-key drama, WWII generally, or what happened to the Channel Islands in particular, then it may well be. Sadly, it was cancelled before they reached the end of the War, but what there is of it is well worth watching. Also, while it was shown pre-Watershed over 30 years ago (so there's very little they can actually show in terms of blood, violence etc.), it does deal with a lot of difficult subjects (very well generally): execution, imprisonment, depression, multiple suicide attempts, shooting, murder, possible rape, and beatings/interrogations.

Why, you may ask, especially after that cheery list of warnings? Well, it depends. If you want a lot of action and battles and other such fast-moving set-pieces, again, it's not going to deliver. But it explores its historical subject pretty accurately and also takes advantage of that situation to explore the ethical dilemmas of occupation from both sides with subtlety and intelligence and three-dimensional characters, and that's what's so great about it.

You chaps have commandeered my kitchen! )
lost_spook: (Default)
Over Christmas I made a series of "Reasons to Watch B7" posts for Tumblr. I have been promising/threatening ever since to combine them into an LJ post, because non-spoilery introductions to the show are hard to come by. I'm sure there are some, but whenever anybody asks me about it (and sometimes they do) I have nothing useful to say. So, here is my attempt now, (mainly because [personal profile] aralias finally made me remember/encouraged me).

Because Blake's 7 really is one of the greatest shows ever made, but you do need a tolerance for 1970s UK TV, quarries, and unconvincing sfx. Classic Who fans therefore are already fully equipped to appreciate it! \o/

With the rider that these are entirely my thoughts and summaries and not necessarily typical of other B7 fans. Also, please note, if you know nothing about Blake's 7 but already know you want to watch it, then even character names are slightly spoilery. What follows is pretty much as was posted in installments on Tumblr, so apologies to those who follow me there, too.

Lost_Spook's Non-Spoilery Guide to Blake's 7 for the Enquiring Classic Who Fan

Vila: “Where are all the good guys?”
Blake: “You could be looking at them.”
Avon: “What a very depressing thought.”

Because when you have finally watched your way through Classic Who (or all that you can get your hands on) and wonder where you can find your next fix of improbable 1970s SFX, BBC quarries, Terry Nation cliches and Robert Holmes scripts, where else is there to go?

You’ll find familiar actors and props reused regularly. You’ll recognise the names of all the crew (created by Terry Nation, produced by David Maloney, script-edited by Chris Boucher, music by Dudley Simpson, set design by Roger Murray-Leach, costumes by June Hudson, directed by Douglas Camfield, Pennant Roberts, Michael E Briant, George Spenton-Foster etc. etc.)

It’s really the first Doctor Who spin-off - not officially, but Terry Nation wanted to bring in the Daleks (the BBC finally got a moment of revenge and refused permission), Gareth Thomas and Tom Baker wanted their characters to nod in passing in a corridor, and Chris Boucher maintains (and there’s been a PDA novel and audio series on this premise) that Kaldor City (from Robots of Death) is one of those colonies lost on the edges of the Federation and had one of his B7 characters wind up there with Uvanov, Toos and Poul. It kind of makes it the 1970s Torchwood. (Ish.)

Imagine the BBC on a strange endeavour to mash up a Shakespearean tragedy, Doctor Who, Star Trek, the Dirty Dozen, all the WWII Resistance series ever, Robin Hood, and 1984 IN SPACE all in one thing, but with Michelin Men, giant ants, polystyrene rocks, endlessly epic snark, and the most fabulous costumes, and you… probably can’t even, can you?

I came to mock, I stayed to wonder, roll around the floor laughing (that was the Michelin Men), quote all the snark, and find myself unexpectedly being slapped in the face, punched in the gut, and yet thanking the show nicely and wanting only MORE MORE MORE. There are endless shades of grey but the only thing that’s black and white is Servalan’s wardrobe.

Never has anything so fundamentally bleak, cynical and depressing been so much fun.

Please stand by while I attempt to convince you. I’ve reached that point where I have to rewatch it yet again, and I’m thinking I should have more company… Also, there’s supposed to be (*splutter*) a reboot coming up, so if you want to be one of the really annoying cool people who saw it before, now’s the time to jump on board.

Some facts: 4x13 eps made by the BBC (1978-1981). It’s not out in Region 1, which is the big catch, but search YouTube at the moment and you should be okay (but I didn’t say that). The first episode is The Way Back.

Oh, and don’t Google it unless you already know stuff. Really. Do not Google it, do not Wiki it, do not look at fanvids on YouTube and don’t read the reviews on Amazon. You can thank me later.

More under here with pretty pictures! )


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