THE INVISIBLE MAN (1984) – This was a British television miniseries version of the H.G. Wells science fiction story and was originally aired in 6 episodes of 27 minutes each. It was later edited and repackaged as 3 episodes running 50 minutes each.
Brian Lighthill directed this excellent series which emphasized period detail – well, except for the studio lighting, of course. That aside, if, like me, you’ve always wanted to see faithful adaptations of all Wells’ works set in their original era, you will especially love this production.
Pip Donaghy shines as the madman Griffin and conveys a true sense of danger behind his envelope-pushing scientific brilliance. Much of his performance rests on his terrific voice-acting, naturally, but he is always convincing. Continue reading
If you enjoyed Robert Shaw’s freebooting turn as the pirate Red Ned Lynch in the 1976 movie Swashbuckler you’ll love him as Captain Dan Tempest in this series from the 1950’s. Shaw was equal parts Errol Flynn and Jack Sparrow on the program, which featured him as the captain of the Sultana.
Tempest and his crew were former pirates pardoned and sent to sea as pirate hunters and as privateers against the Spanish, but they still found time to foil the sinister machinations of corrupt British authorities in the Bahamas, Jamaica and elsewhere. Fans of derring- d0 who are bored with the countless retellings of the Robin Hood story are sure to embrace the crew of the Sultana and their rousing adventures.
All 39 episodes of this series are available on DVD and offer a terrific mixture of storylines:
You want tales of our swashbucklers coming to the aid of the oppressed? The Buccaneers featured Captain Tempest and his crew raiding a slave ship then buying the slaves’ freedom with money from the slave ship’s own coffers.
You want semi- historical adventures featuring real- life Buccaneers? This show had episodes with figures like Blackbeard, Woodes Rogers and the famous female pirate Anne Bonney. Continue reading
(This blog post is dedicated to my sister Debbie, who first introduced me to the Sherlock Holmes stories, which led me to the Raffles tales. )
RAFFLES (1975-1977) – A. J. Raffles, the master thief and star Cricket player was created by E.W. Hornung – the brother-in- law of Arthur Conan Doyle. As all Raffles fans know, A.J. and his bumbling assistant Bunny Manders were intended as a tongue in cheek criminal answer to Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.
The camaraderie was similar, the Victorian to Edwardian Age setting was similar, the use of the sidekick as a device to have the expert character explain things to the reader was similar and good GOD, was the unintended homo-eroticism similar.
Raffles was portrayed by a long line of suave, debonair actors, from John Barrymore in Silent Movies on up through David Niven and others in Talkies. In my opinion, this 1970s British television series served up the best rendition of the iconic character.
Anthony Valentine perfectly embodies the sly, charming bon vivant whose public fame as a first-rate Cricket player helps conceal his secret avocation as a master jewel thief. Christopher Strauli does the best that any actor can be expected to do with the thankless role of the baby-faced, naïve and often inept sidekick Bunny. Continue reading