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Light but bubbly 70s series
I should put my cards - not Tarot ones - on the table and confess that my father create this show and wrote three of the six episodes.It is not a show which left him with fond memories. Nevertheless, on watching this recently I enjoyed it. There is a nice balance between light comedy and darker drama. The videotape studio stricture adds a claustrophobic atmosphere. Rodgers and Hempel offer a flirtatious rapport which is fun. The inspector's dress sense is tastelessly 1970s, but deliberately so. The gem episode is Sting, Sting Scorpio based in the Lanes in Brighton where Robert Powell plays a chilling, cold killer. The series feels more like stage plays recorded for TV. Rodgers is mid-point between the wonderful dramatic actor seen in Man in a Suitcase in the 60s and the chubby charm of Fresh Fields in the 80s.
Travelling Man (1984)
Thirty years old and still looking great
I should confess that I am biased as my father created and wrote this series in the mid-1980s. Nevertheless, having recently purchased and watched this thirty years on, I think it is still a wonderful drama series. It offers the three key ingredients which any successful detective series requires: a fascinating but flawed protagonist; a memorable setting; first class guest actors/characters. Leigh Lawson plays the framed ex-cop to perfection, setting off on a series of one-off tales while also searching for both his missing son and the diabolical mastermind who put him in jail for two years. The canals allow the show to have an ever-changing backdrop and dictate the delightfully leisurely pace. Harmony, Lomax's narrow-boat, becomes both his home and his means of transport. Drawing on the Western tradition, it is his horse and wagon. The guest actors are, generally speaking, superb: Colin Jeavons, Tony Doyle, John Bird, Tom Wilkinson, Julian Glover, Morag Hood, Lindsay Duncan, Susan Fleetwood. Terry Taplin steals the 'guest' billing as a surprisingly complex gutter journalist. Travelling Man is both a series and a serial, with self-contained stories and overarching narratives. The fact that one writer wrote every script provides an organic consistency. Private detective, Western, action adventure, drugs...there is a fascinating blend. Twelve of the thirteen episodes are first class. (I enjoyed re-watching the series so much that it inspired me to write a critical guide. The show really is that good.)