Sunday, 27 January 2019

Gideon's Way: Boy with Gun

Gideon's Way is a series I have never seen, and am only just starting today with this episode, since I found it is available online. I actually came round to this series in a rather roundabout way. I have been watching Budgie, a show I know for a fact I watched several years ago, didn't like at the time, but thought I would give it another go. It strikes me as very old fashioned because of the way Adam Faith speaks cockney, even Cockney rhyming slang - old fashioned because Cockney has largely given way to London Multicultural English out here in the real world. The other cockney sparrow I could think of on TV was Ben in Dr Who, played by Michael Craze, which led me straight to Boy with Gun.
The plot goes like this:
A tale of boys gone wrong. Chris Kirk (Howard Knight) has been mothered too much but his father, Police Surgeon Doctor Kirk (Anthony Bate) is overbearing. When cornered by three leather-coated, knife-wielding yobs who want to steal the shotgun his father bought him, Chris shoots one. Believing he has murdered him, he goes on the run and meets a boy who has escaped from Borstal. They go to his brother's place so he can arrange their escape from the country but the shot boy's father (George Sewell) finds out and wants to kill the kid who shot his son. A powerful story filmed mainly around London's East End. Also features Michael Craze as Vince Kelly, Michael Standing as Chaz Kelly and Royston Tickner as Charlie Berry.
 Of course this is a story which would be done very differently now. I actually laughed out loud at the scene of Chris Kirk's arguing about him. It sounds like a joke - mum wanting their son to be a girl so she dresses him up as one, and dad wants to toughen him up, so takes the not-immediately-obvious action of buying him a gun. Nowadays of course, this plot would either end in the boy growing up to treat women with respect and being in touch with his feelings, or else they would identify as non-binary and pansexual, thereby annoying both his parents. Frankly with parents like his, it's no wonder Chris went off the rails in the sixties - if he hadn't he'd have needed years of psychotherapy.
Unfortunately the presence of the gun means there is a whacking great hole in the plot of this show from the start. If one of the ruffians had had a gun, that would have made sense. But even fifty years ago if you are a doctor you know there are laws around where guns can be possessed. The events of this show simply would have happened. At one point the boy actually walks down a railway line next to a train, holding a gun. No. It's not credible.
On the other hand, the sheer unlikelihood of the plot gives this episode a feel of the later series of The Avengers (remember this is the only Gideon's Way I have seen). Perhaps the self-conscious Cockney-ness of the characters is also part of the unrealness? I'm hazarding a guess, but imagine the cockney wide boy act was as real at the time as the generic Northerner image of anyone North of Cockfosters. Tell a lie, there's also an excessively Irish Irishman.
The episode is tightly plotted, if incredible. My real criticism is of using very familiar actors but that's a personal thing.
I will stop now, me old China, it's tea time.

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