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Category:    Home > Reviews > Adventure > Courtroom Drama > Spy > Action > Espionage > British TV > The Flockton Flyer – Season One (1976 – 77/VCI DVD) + Garrow’s Law – Series One (2009/Acorn Media DVD) + MI–5: Volume 8 (2009/BBC DVD)

The Flockton Flyer – Season One (1976 – 77/VCI DVD) + Garrow’s Law – Series One (2009/Acorn Media DVD) + MI–5: Volume 8 (2009/BBC DVD)


Picture: C/C+/C+     Sound: C/B-/C+     Extras: D/C/D     Episodes: C+/B-/D



Here comes three different British TV shows from different companies of different time periods.


The Flockton Flyer – Season One is a family friendly show for children in particular about the grand old train of the title is revived and it line is alive again.  The Carter Family finds themselves having more fun and getting involved in more adventures and wackiness than they could ever imagine, but this is not made in a condescending manner.  We get six half-hour episodes and they are not great, but not bad and pleasant viewing.  Patrick Mower (Callan) leads the cast and some familiar British character actors do surface, though Gerald Harper (Adam Adamant Lives!, Gazette) is not here despite being listed as so on the DVD case.


Even better is Garrow’s Law – Series One, which is another British courtroom drama, but this one is set in 18th Century U.K. and the teleplays are totally believable in this respect.  I also liked the casting that includes Andrew Buchan as Garrow, Alun Armstrong, Lyndsey Marshal and Rupert Graves.  We get all four episodes on two DVDs, running an hour long and though that sounds like too few for a whole season, the writing is so good you’ll see why.  This is a nice break from all the tired police procedurals we have been getting for too long.


That trend has even affected related shows like the BBC hit MI–5, which I was not a big fan of to begin with, despite it being a spy show.  You can see our various takes on the show in the following links:


Volume Four


Volume Six



Now we are somehow on Volume 8 and the show has decided to start imitation 24 (a cancelled show) making it long in the tooth and past its time.  I have since lost track of the characters (who I could never remember, but at least recognized the actors) and unless you start at the very beginning of the series, will likely have little idea as to what is going on.  This is a three-DVD set.


The 1.33 X 1 image on Flyer was shot on professional PAL analog tape with some 16mm outdoor shooting, but is softer than it should be, though some shots look good and the locations can be nice.  Video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, PAL cross color, faded color and tape damage are among the issues.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the other sets look newer and better, yet they both are HD shoots and have their weaknesses and softness of their own kind throughout, along with motion blur and depth issues.  MI-5 is more stylized to its disadvantage.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Flyer is also weak and a few generations down, though some audio sounds good.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the other sets are newer recordings and can sound better, but Law is the big surprise with healthy Pro Logic-type surrounds that come from better recordings than expected.  MI-5 is even slipping up on its audio.


Extras are not on Flockton, but Law has text cast filmographies, stills section, text Garrow biography and a behind-the-scenes featurette that runs about 20 minutes.  That leaves MI-5 offering two behind-the-scenes featurettes and audio commentaries on select episodes.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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