Sunday, 21 April 2019

Thriller: Lady Killer

Yesterday I went to Leamington Spa, which is not far from here but is always an expensive journey because there is someone there with the same taste in TV as me, who keeps selling his or her DVDs to the entertainment exchange, and I keep buying them. Yesterday I bought series 1 of a series I have never heard of before, Rogue's Rock, but which I find I like because it is definitely out of the same stable as Freewheelers, even down to some of the same music. In non-TV I bought the horror film spoof Young Frankenstein, and bought the boxed set of Thriller. I have seen the show before but not for some time and have somehow never blogged about it here.
Thriller is one of those series which is described as legendary by some, and since it is an anthology series, you can often find it described as mixed. Lady Killer is the first episode, and it's excellent, despite embodying virtually everything I dislike in television of this era! For a start the three main characters are played by very familiar faces indeed, and it is a little strange to see Robert Powell with Tara King and Agent 99! What saves the situation here is that both women play roles which are quite different from the roles in which I am familiar with them. Feldon in particular plays a character who very successfully turns the tables on her nasty piece of work husband, played by Powell. He gets the lack of emotion required by his character exactly right, and the calculating way in which he plots is really quite chilling. Thorson's role requires a certain naivety, so of the three my opinion is that her character is least successful because she reminds me personally too much of Tara King's hero worship of Steed. This is of course entirely personal and other people may not see the role like this.
There are other things which tend to put me off usually. Of course there have always been people from all sorts of places in Britain, and that isn't a problem at all, but it normally annoys me when I know that some of the cast are American because that was perceived to make the show more attractive to US audiences. Is that actually the case? My perception from the TV blogosphere is that people from the US love UK TV without the assistance of their compatriots. Apparently there are also people called Anglophiles who love everything British even our tea! It is of course the fact that commercial considerations decided the casting which normally irritates me. It doesn't here though. Also normally I would be very critical of the claustrophobic feel of the obviously set-bound recording, but in this case the claustrophobic feel is exactly right to increase the feeling of danger.
Just one or two criticisms. The first is a plot weakness, because while the episode manages to be gripping to the end, from before the middle it is very obvious that Tanner is going to come a cropper, the only question is how it is going to happen. There are also some weaknesses in his characterisation: a man who marries his second wife without telling her about the first is asking for trouble. I have a criticism of the technical production of the Network DVD boxed set, which is that at the end of each episode it begins playing another episode. Somebody wasn't concentrating when the episodes were remastered and then they weren't checked properly before being released.
In other news it has been a glorious weekend here and I have been bare chested for the first time this year.
Image source

6 comments:

Mike Doran said...

Chicago Calling (The Return!(?)):

To be on the safe side, I rechecked the post from three years back, and my comment from not long thereafter.
That last was my potted history of GB Thriller's history on the US-ABC network, in late-night hours (after the late news, about 10:30 pm Central Time).

My impression at the time was that this series was a co-production between ATV and US-ABC, with the latter organization kicking in at least some of the financing.
This in its turn at least partially accounts for the frequent presence of American stars in many of the shows.
(To say nothing of a few Brits who'd done a few things in the States, but that's neither here nor there …)

I watched Lady Killer and was duly impressed, although seeing Linda Thorson as a femme fatale threw me just a bit.
(Then again, not long ago, I happened to see Ms. Thorson in one of her more recent American movies, a Steven Seagal epic whose title escapes me just now; she was cast as a stern American judge who is taken hostage by death house cons who strap her in the electric chair for a stretch at the finish (Seagal rescues her eventually) - I guess you had to be there …)

I digress; back to Thriller.
I took the opportunity to scan through the DVD set to see what (and who) was available for my future use.
I was taken aback a bit to see that one of the later episodes has an early performance by Bob Hoskins; seeing him with hair was a bit of a jolt …
That's one example to serve for many; I'll guess you have similar experiences with old American shows.

I think I'll stand down before I embarrass myself more.
Happy Easter from Chicagoland!

John said...

Lol thank you!
I would be interested in the name of the show with Linda as a judge, since I want to see what she looks like in an authoritative role like that, some decades after The Avengers. On her commentaries on the Avengers she looks barely recognisable IMHO.

Mike Doran said...

Chicago (Re)Calling:

Full Service Reply:

Linda Thorson's judge turn was in Half Past Dead, a theatrical film from 2002.
This was a Steven Seagal picture, starring America's fattest martial arts star.
Thorson had been in the USA since the late '80s, and as I mentioned before, had become somewhat more angular in face and form since the Avengers days.
In 2002, Thorson was 55, and playing a US Supreme Court Justice who was all for capital punishment, at least until that electric chair thing I mentioned above.
It's not a big role (very large cast here), but there she is - and I guarantee that old Avengers fans most likely didn't recognize Tara King, so there too.

Half Past Dead is available on US DVD, generally as part of Steven Seagal packages.

*Getting older's a real bugger, isn't it?*

John said...

Thanks for replying Mike. Yes it is a bugger! I've looked up the film and wouldn't have recognised Thorson's, largely because of the face shape you mention. I'm delighted to see in other recent pictures not from that film that it looks like she's decided to go grey with dignity though.

Mike Doran said...

Chicago Calling (One More Time!):

Just for the record:

Linda Thorson is now coming up on 72.

And Dame Diana Rigg is now 80.

And Honor Blackman is now 90.

* … and I'm not feeling so hot myself … *

John said...

I know what you mean - Honor would be my model of how to age!
A while ago one of my colleagues asked me what life was like in the sixties. I had to say that since I don't remember it I must have been there!