Eighties TV Season: Scully Episode 1

This is the first in a projected series of posts about 1980s TV shows. I will try to pick ones which haven't appeared here before and at least introduce them, even if I don't think they merit repeated posts.

I have been seeing the DVDs of this show in shops and market stalls for literally years and avoiding it because it looks like a show about football. However I have given it a go and as soon as I started the first episode I knew it would have to appear here because it's an absolute joy.

Honestly I odon't know what is wrong with advertisers because the impression given that this is a show about football, or even heavily featuring football, is absolutely wrong. The show's Wikipedia page has a better go at representing what it is about by describing it as a television drama with some comedy elements. One thing is certain: if you're football-mad and think this is the usual aspirational tale of a young lad who makes it in football you will be disappointed.

I suppose the problem is that if you're putting a DVD in a box and want the box to represent what the show is about it would be well-nigh impossible to represent this show on a box. 

What it is is a show about a schoolboy called Francis Scully who, it is true, does want to be a professional footballer. I shoudl stress that the show is about him, rather than the football. It is about the problem he describes as keeping seeing things, and these are dramatically depicted in the show. For example, we see him with his probation officer and we see the probation officer change to Kenny Dalglish (manager of LIverpool at the time), to an ape, and then back to the probation officer. We see the probation officer talking to Scully about drama and how Scully played a dwarf, so we see his imagining himself as Snow White (pictured), and so on. Another example is when he walks out of school and they send the cavalry after him, only of course what we see is literal cavalry. So it is really a rather surreal drama about the life of this lovable Scouser, his aspirations, and the way all this interacts with his inner visions. You see what I mean about this being impossible to depict on a DVD box.

I don't have an answer to this in that it's a question of marketing, description and public perception and there isn't an easy public-friendly way to describe this show. I still think the designers have picked the wrong images to sum up this show and wonder whether its depiction may be why it hasn't hit the cult TV world much.

As it happens this show is written by legendary TV writer Alan Bleasdale, who wrote Boys from the Blackstuff, The Monocled Mutineer, amongst others which have never appeared here because they are all heavyweight TV shows, quite different from the lightweight stuff I watch. If you had asked me knowing that Bleasdale wrote this I would not have expected the light touch utter surrealism here. In fact I'm wondering whether I've wrongly estimated him, but can't face watching Boys from the Blackstuff again, having lived through the eighties myself.

Basically, if you like the sort of TV I do you will love this show and roar with laughter at it. You'll also like it if you've ever wanted to see your day dreams become real in front of your eyes.

I only have one major criticism here which is that Andrew Schofield, who plays Scully, was 25 or 26 when playing a schoolboy in this. Other actors are definitely of school age and the difference shows, so you need to suspend some disbelief here. 

Highly recommended.

Proud to be a member of the Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati and the anti-growth coalition. wesayenough.co.uk - tactical.vote 

This blog is mirrored at culttvblog.blogspot.com and culttvblog.substack.com (where you can still subscribe by email if you want). There is an index to posts on the Substack version at https://culttvblog.substack.com/p/index-to-posts

If you want to support me and this blog, you can buy me a coffee or a box set at ko-fi.com/culttvblog