NO EastEnders DVDs, But....
By Larry Jaffee
Derek Martin's eight years in EastEnders as Charlie Slater may be
his most visible television role, but three decades earlier he was
star of a four-part drama series about the British judicial system
called Law and Order, now on DVD in the U.K.
It's nice to see Martin in a job other than driving a taxi, and
seems somewhat disconcerting for him to be a detective since the
female members of the Slater family usually find themselves on the
wrong side of the law.
The series also features Peter Dean (EastEnders' Pete Beale) as
the series' principal criminal Jack Lynn.
In 1978, Law and Order was seen as a seminal TV breakthrough,
examining corruption from the perspectives of the police, the
criminal, the solicitor (lawyer) and the prisoner.
Law and Order first shows the investigation of a crime from the
police's point of view, then what went wrong from the criminal's
perspective, and so forth.
Martin's character is Inspector Fred Pyle, who commands respect
from his colleagues, many whom refer to him as the "Guv," another
departure from the beaten man we know as Charlie Slater. In one scene,
he psychologically convinces a suspect he has no choice other than to
cooperate with the authorities and turn evidence against the guy
they're really after. He plays on the guy's desire not to be banged up
again, leaving his children without their father.
The suspect eventually agrees that he doesn't really have any
choice; it's a foregone conclusion that the court will find him
guilty—even though the evidence isn't as cut and dried as the police
claim it to be.
If you have a DVD player that can handle PAL Region 2 discs, it's
well worth a purchase through Amazon.co.uk.
After playing Grant Mitchell on and off for about 15 years, as
well as doing other TV characters ranging from similar hardmen to
costume drama to an actor pathetically trying to live up to his tough
reputation (Extras), it's interesting that Ross Kemp has won his best
reviews for U.K. reality television.
On my Virgin Atlantic flight in mid-April I stumbled upon Kemp's
series Gangs, in which he infiltrates a neo-Nazi group in Russia.
Although, he doesn't let them know that he abhors what they stand for,
you have to wonder why they would allow such a camera crew trail them.
Kemp in Afghanistan is a two-DVD set and telecast on UK satellite
service Sky in 2007. The Times of London called it "Unforgettable. An
exemplary new documentary series." The Sun said it's "an eye-opening
documentary about the harsh realities of war."
In both Gangs and Kemp in Afghanistan, the actor throws himself
in extremely dangerous situations, making the view wonder whether he
really has a death wish.
In Afghanistan Kemp is at his best describing the action with his
asides to the camera, while sniper gunfire flies overhead.
Shoreditch is a legendary British indie film that serves as a
cautionary tale of why actors shouldn't put their own money in movies.
It had a miniscule U.K. box office take. Meanwhile, on Amazon.co.uk I
found a Portuguese copy in English.
In any case, producer/star Shane Richie (the Queen Vic's new
publican Alfie Moon) stars in this timewarp of a film about the
history of an East End building that once was home to a swanky
nightclub, circa WWII.
The resident diva falls in love with the married owner (Richie),
who promises her that he will leave his wife. The movie moves back and
forth between yesteryear and the 21st century when an heir finds out
family secrets and about this inherited property.
The film is not great, but not as bad as its reputation.
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