A Welcome Stroll Down Memory Lane
, 13 Sep 2013
Despite much of the BBCs past now being available on DVD, a substantial amount of its less-celebrated stuff still remains locked away in its archives, and I always assumed this early 90s serial would be one of those destined to never see the light of day again. I certainly remembered watching it with great anticipation when it was first broadcast in the early 90s as it featured a couple of actors from the recent serial Capital City that I had much enjoyed. Certain parts of this dark and intriguing drama about skeletons in the closet strongly remained in my memory, but there were other things about it I had forgotten about, such as who played the main protagonists chum, and how the whole thing actually ended. So having mused it would be good to watch it again someday, I was pleasantly surprised to discover it had actually been given a DVD release, and therefore the opportunity to refresh my memory. The chum turned out to be played by Jeremy Northam, who has gone on to much bigger things since then. Here he plays a cold and arrogant medical student (and later successful doctor), and is excellent throughout. Main man Douglas Hodge is not quite so strong as his less-confident and malleable chum who inherits a country house where their plans to start up a carefree commune go awry, but then again unlike Northam he has to display a much wider range of emotions, from immature youth to under-stress and paranoid family man. Some of the supporting actors are somewhat wooden, but perhaps the most striking performance is by Hodges Capital City colleague Saira Todd as the mentally-unhinged fly-in-the-ointment who gate-crashes the party and triggers tragic events. Its interesting watching this over 20 years since it was made, seeing just how much times have changed in the interim. The tale flashes back and forwards between the then-present and a past 10 years or so earlier, and yet due to todays misty-eyed nostalgic obsession with the punk and disco era of the late 70s, the affluent power-dressing early 90s now actually seems more distant! The 70s scenes are quite an eye-opener, in that they involve plenty of naked flesh that would probably never be seen if re-created today. Also there are hints of a bromance going on between the two chums despite supposedly being straight guys something that would have seemed quite provoking at the time, but less so now. Another sign of those times is the supercilious approach of the police pursuing their investigations: would they really try and intimidate and browbeat people to confess to their suspected crimes in the way they do here? It seems unlikely and over-dramatic in todays p. c. (sorry!) climate, but then again I remember being given similar treatment by plod in my younger days, and my misdemeanours were nothing compared to whats going on here. Overall though, an excellent serial and a great trip down memory lane that I would think many of my now-middle-aged peers would also enjoy, even if they never saw this when originally broadcast. There is also a first-class haunting soundtrack, that unlike the series itself will sadly probably never be commercially released, and as an aside, if you see it then keep an eye out for blink-and-youll-miss-them appearances from a couple of guys who have since become much more familiar faces.
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