Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > British TV > Thriller > Randall & Hopkirk Deceased: Season One (A&E DVD)

Randall & Hopkirk Deceased


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Episodes: C+



I am one of the biggest fans of British TV, especially Action and Sci-Fi shows of the 1960s and 1970s, but even I was shocked at how wacky and ultimately disappointing Randall & Hopkirk Deceased turned out to be.  It starts as a somewhat serious series about the two detectives of the title, one of which gets killed, but cannot seem to enter the next world, so Martin Hopkirk (Kenneth Cole) decides to stick around and help his old partner Jeff Randall (Mike Pratt) solve cases.  Is this a joke?


Well, no, but it is hard to say how far the humor was supposed to go.  It certainly wants to be like the other action/detective shows of the decade, from genre writer and show creator Dennis Spooner, to composer Edwin Astley (The Saint, Secret Agent/Danger Man), writer Ralph Smart (creator of Secret Agent/Danger Man), to Avengers alumni Tony Williamson, Ray Austin, and even Roy Ward Baker.  Even the titles want to emulate The Avengers.


What should have been played as a more intriguing premise becomes something a kin to a strange American sitcom without a laugh track, but with plenty of British accents.  Within a few episodes, Hopkirk degenerates into a male Samantha from Bewitched, complete with the same “powers” (read bad editing special effects) to appear, disappear, have visitors from the “otherworld” and make objects move in thin air.  Despite the caliber of writers on the show, these shows never develop into the usually reliable, smart television its predecessors did.  The 13 shows in this box are as follows:


My Late Lamented Friend And Partner

A Disturbing Case

All Work And No Pay

Never Trust A Ghost

That’s How Murder Snowballs

Just For The Record

Murder Ain’t What It Used To Be

Who Ever Heard Of A Ghost Dying?

The House On Haunted Hill

When Did You Start Seeing Things?

The Ghost Who Saved The Bank At Monte Carlo

For The Girl Who Has Everything

But What A Sweet Little Room (Director Roy Baker helming the best show here)


Part of the problem is that the previous shows all dealt maturely with the finality of the death of its characters, where here, it is more like Last Action Hero.  Everything is a run-on and the rules for what the world of the dead and what they can do is so incredibly underdeveloped going in, it further destroys any chance of suspending one’s disbelief.  Now I know why this is a cult item that has been so endlessly mocked.  This is the nadir of this era of British genre shows.


Another obnoxious thing is how Hopkirk the dead keeps seeing things Randall does not and Randall never believes him.  It renders the show a bad U.S. sitcom that often reminds one of Mr. Ed and at its worst, the all-time TV disaster, My Mother, The Car.  Shows where only one character can see another are doomed from the start, unless it is a sub-plot, like Big Bird being the only person who could (for many years) see the horse-like Snuffleupagus on the original Sesame Street.  For kids, when handled properly, it can be charming.  For adults, especially mishandled like this, it is infantilizing and pointless.


The full screen picture is a disappointment, with dull color and Video White problems from what are obviously older analog PAL transfers.  Did the producers not realize having Mr. Hopkirk in a white outfit every episode would go yellow on TV?  It is worse here, having a blown-out look when it happens like a 1980s Music Video.  The prints are clean otherwise and medium-to-dark shots hold up much better.  The look of the film is as flat as a sitcom, which furthers the shows many difficulties.  Like The Saint, the bad process effects when the character drive cars are glaringly bad.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound has been given a slight, simple stereo boost, but it still shows its age.  Edwin Astley’s music is forgettable and do not enhance these problematic shows one bit.  The few extras include an unrelated to this series special from the Haunted History TV series on England, a stills gallery, and bio/filmographies on Pratt and Cope, all on DVD 4.


As for the actors, they obviously have talent, but they are limited by the confines of the show.  If they had stuck to Hopkirk being the only one in the undead world and stuck with the world of the living, it could have been great, even addressing the madness power in such a situation could lead to.  As much as it is criticized, Paul Verhoeven’s Hollow Man (2000) went that far, and its still-superior visual effects only enhanced it.  Randall & Hopkirk Deceased could have explored the same territory, the logic next step with such a situation, outlasting any bad visual effects.  Instead, at least in this season, the storylines ands situations were so formulaic; they too were deceased and still roaming the earth.  Too bad.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com