Category: Reviews

Here are a number of old reviews I wrote for the Tachyon TV website. They haven’t been updated and so may contain errors and outright falsehoods. Hopefully some of them are still entertaining.

Damp Patch

Spooner’s Patch on DVD

In the 1970s, the public’s perception of the police began to suffer. The revelations about corruption in the Metropolitan Police in particular were very damaging, and this was reinforced by an increasingly harder edge to the fictionalised representations of the force on television. The Sweeney is an obvious example, but while its lead characters Regan and Carter sailed close to the wind, they generally came good in the end, and indeed the climax of the series featured Regan trying to clear his name of corruption.

It was Les Blair and GF Newman’s controversial 1978 series Law and Order that, if not the first, was the most high-profile show to portray police corruption as a widespread fact of life, but its influence led to…

Bog Robbers

Villains on DVD

Villains is a relatively obscure drama serial that was made by London Weekend Television in 1972. It’s also one of the best and most surprising television DVD releases in many years. Not only is it a programme of real power and complexity, but as far as I’m concerned it’s also the key “lost text” of British crime drama in the 1970s. The traditional evolution of this genre usually focuses heavily on the role of Euston Films and Thames Television starting with Mike Hodge’s 16mm experiment Suspect, through Special Branch and The Sweeney and culminating in the sophisticated quasi-art house Out and Fox and the populist comedy-drama of Minder. While that lineage still holds, Villains demonstrates not only that Thames and Euston held…

Blue Remembered Hills

Doctor Who: Planet of the Spiders on DVD

Jon Pertwee’s final season may not be very popular nowadays, but to be young at the time was very heaven. For a start, you couldn’t get away from the programme in those days. Only two episodes into The Time Warrior, and the BBC showed the omnibus repeat of The Green Death. Just to mix things up a bit more they later stuck an unscheduled repeat of The Sea Devils right in the middle of the first run of Planet of the Spiders. This particular perfect storm of Who was the moment that my infant brain was fatefully reprogrammed and a lifetime of sad fandom set in stone. As if that wasn’t enough, at…

Something’s Cooking in the Kitchen

Doctor Who: The Ark on DVD

The Ark was the final Doctor Who story made with John Wiles as producer, and over the years his era has become known for two things; off-screen he got on so badly with William Hartnell that they tried to get each other sacked/killed, and onscreen the majority of stories he produced were dark, mordantly funny, and typically concluded with innocents being ruthlessly slaughtered. Such is his forbidding reputation among some fans, you get the impression that if he hadn’t resigned, by the time Season Four came around he would have been planning Doctor Who: A Serbian Film. The Ark though, shows that there was more to the Wiles era than harsh realism. The story is more obviously aligned to mainstream…