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Thursday, 5 February 2009

Minder, Five

Did we like it?
It's a long time since our viewing eyes visited Five (they've got a new logo since we last stopped by) but we were curious to see this much-advertised revival of the 1980s ITV comedy-drama hit (a show that largely passed us by back then). It wasn't a delight, but it wasn't a disaster. We may come by again.

What was good about it?
• The two stars formed a good partnership. Shane Richie as Arthur Daley's nephew Archie has the right sort of cheeky sparkle for a minor villain and Lex Shrapnel has the right sort of brooding menace as his sidekick Jamie. Just like George Cole and Dennis Waterman achieved in the old days.
• We didn't have to wait too long for a car chase. It didn't exactly reach thrilling speeds, but at least it ended with that classic comedy cliché when the taxi door apologetically crashed to the floor. (The subsequent fight, with Jamie taking on two thugs in suits, was embarassingly ridiculous, though)
• Archie and Jamie's battle against nasty property developers was a worthy cause that had us on their side.
• Lex (the grandson of Deborah Kerr, no less) looked very fetching in a combination of white vest, black pants and red socks.
• Archie’s stumbles with the English language (eg “This is not a time for levitation!” and "I am somewhat bereaved by that comment, Jamie") were made convincing by Richie.
• The reworking of I Could Be So Good For You, without the raucous vocals of Dennis Waterman, was a big improvement.
• John Henshaw as the corrupt councillor, no doubt added so there was at least one non-London voice on the show.

What was bad about it?
• This was very much just a remake rather than an attempt at reinvention, even though times have moved on. BBC1's Hustle has now occupied the same strata of London's dodgy dealing society with more style, more wit and better characters.
• Archie's relationship with a police – they turn a blind eye to his nefarious activities when it suits them – seemed very dated.
• The lack of extras on London's streets made it look a bit cheap (which it probably was).

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