Virtual Murder: A Torch for Silverado

This episode of Virtual Murder is one which really makes me wonder why this show isn't more known because it stars Jon Pertwee, who is surely known to everyone in the cult blogosphere, as an Italian chef (who is Spanish) and the villain of the piece. He does a brilliant job of portraying a man who is utterly barmy, and this comes across in everything he says because of his odd manner of speech, but nonetheless nobody has stopped to think he's insane.

You may think that I'm naughty giving out that he's the baddie right at the start, but so does Virtual Murder, and I think that just underscores that this show is about the atmosphere and the whole story, not just about solving the crime. You've got it, exactly like so many great 1960s TV shows. The details of the investigation are of course entirely psychological and the profile drawn up of Silverado is fascinating.

We don't only see this excellent portrayal of human life in the excellent depiction of the barmy Silverado. But I particularly like the middle aged woman working a chat line wearing one of those overall things that ladies of a certain vintage used to wear to do the housework. I love that she's working the chat line to put her daughter through university and when she gets a call from Silverado she immediately contacts her daughter's psychology tutor. This may seem totally unrealistic, but I'll tell you right now this is about the most Birmingham thing you will ever hear. Instinctually this lady can also tell that he is a nutcase and dangerous, and obviously you can learn as much psychology in her line of work as you can in any academic setting.

There are other wonderful sightings of eccentrics, or possibly eccentric sights, such as the sight of a little girl dressed as a fairy dancing in the remains of a brothel that has just been burned down.

The show also manages to be bloody terrifying because of Silverado's chosen means of closing down brothels, which is arson. Pertwee does a wonderful job of being the cold, unfeeling psychopath who just happens to have a mission to fulfil and kill people.

Like all shows filmed in Birmingham, this episode shows the city in a great light in its use of locations, particularly in settings under the railway arches in Digbeth to portray the knocking shops. All the episodes use the setting of the University to, er depict the university. Baskerville House in Centenary Square is used as the notional setting for the police station: this is called Baskerville after John Baskerville the printer who made the typeface of the same name on your computer, and whose house was on the site. There's a wonderful scene featuring a palm reader on the canal bank in Gas Street Basin. You don't get this much local colour on normal TV blogs.

If you particularly want a criticism it is perhaps that this is rather thin as a crime, and so may not fulfil expectations if that's what you're looking for. It is also possible that since this is a rather unreal show drawing people and situation in larger than life colours, it may be perceived as crossing over into caricature or even stereotype.

Otherwise I continue to recommend this whole series as the best attempt since the 1960s of reproducing the atmosphere of the weird TV I like best.

Well done City of Chester constituency! (Always nice to see a Monster Raving Loony candidate as well).

Proud to be a member of the Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati and the anti-growth coalition. - - - - -

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