The Singing Detective

( 5 )

Overview

The original BBC production of Dennis Potter's acclaimed television play gets a long-overdue DVD release in North America in this well-appointed release. The Singing Detective has been transferred to disc in the full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono. The dialogue is in English, with optional English subtitles but no multiple language options. Bonus materials include commentary tracks from director Jon Amiel and producer Kenith Trodd, a documentary on the life and...
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Overview

The original BBC production of Dennis Potter's acclaimed television play gets a long-overdue DVD release in North America in this well-appointed release. The Singing Detective has been transferred to disc in the full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono. The dialogue is in English, with optional English subtitles but no multiple language options. Bonus materials include commentary tracks from director Jon Amiel and producer Kenith Trodd, a documentary on the life and art of Dennis Potter, a little-seen interview with Potter, a gallery of production photos, and profiles of the leading cast members.
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Special Features

Commentary by director Jon Amiel and producer Kenith Trodd; "Dennis Potter: Under the Skin": An exclusive documentary on the life and career of Dennis Potter; A rarely seen interview featuring Dennis Potter's personal recollections of The Singing Detective; Four-page booklet featuring an exclusive essay by esteemed critic David Bianculli; Photo gallery; "Points of View" articles; Cast bios; And more
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Karl Williams
Sometimes impenetrable, often heartbreaking, The Singing Detective (1986) was one of the finest programs ever produced for television (the six-hour BBC miniseries was released theatrically in the United States). It and another British television miniseres, Pennies From Heaven (1978), are considered the masterworks of writer Dennis Potter, who brought his obsessions with the era of the 1930s and '40s to life in Brechtian style, creating characters tortured by their painful pasts and grim presents who often broke, paradoxically, into joyous singing and dancing to the catchy, sunny popular songs of the time. Michael Gambon, delivering a nuanced, acerbic performance, stars as the crime novel writer Philip E. Marlow, suffering from psoriasis so acute that he cannot lift a pen and is confined to a hospital where he nevertheless attempts to mentally work on a screenplay version of his most successful book, "The Singing Detective." Marlow is in such enormous pain, however, that his ruminations become hallucinogenic daydreams, blurring the line between his fictional story, his real-life childhood, his predilection for pop music of the Great Depression and World War II periods, and his hospital stay. The blending of these preoccupations leads to characters from his book wandering into his ward, and events from his novel ending up as memories from his past (or is the other way around?). Like most of Potter's work, The Singing Detective is semi-autobiographical (it is also a loose reworking of his first novel, 1973's Hide and Seek). Like Marlow, Potter suffered from acute psoriasis that left him occasionally isolated and unable to work, or to even lift a pen. It seems little coincidence, then, that Potter's fictional counterparts were often miserably confined in some way or secluded from society. Potter is never quite that easy to understand, though: his isolated heroes are also manifestations of the writer's recurring, larger theme of man bound by the decaying physical, but soaring in his mind and spirit, through song and dance, verbal badinage, or the imagination. Though the complexity of the story's elliptical structure and its alternately cynical and sentimental tone would have perplexed many directors, Jon Amiel mastered Potter's material, rendering a work of real depth and lack of pandering, something rarely found on any screen, large or small.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/15/2003
  • UPC: 794051169921
  • Original Release: 1986
  • Rating:

  • Source: Bbc Warner
  • Time: 7:30:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Michael Gambon Philip Marlow
Patrick Malahide Mark Binney / Finney / Raymond
Janet Suzman Nicola
Alison Steadman Lili, Mrs. Marlow
Jim Carter Mr. Marlow
Bill Paterson Dr. Gibbon
Joanne Whalley Nurse Mills
Imelda Staunton Nurse White
David Ryall Mr. Hall
Gerard Horan Reginald
Leslie French Mr. Tomkey
Ron Cook First Mysterious Man
George Rossi Second Mysterious Man
Kate McKenzie Sonia
David Thewlis Second Soldier
Niven Boyd Soldier
Technical Credits
Jon Amiel Director
John Harris Producer
Rick McCallum Executive Producer
Dennis Potter Screenwriter
Kenith Trodd Producer
Ken Westbury Cinematographer
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Scene Index

Side #1 -- Disc 1
1. Skin [10:46]
2. Under My Skin [10:26]
3. Grease [14:51]
4. Bones [9:14]
5. Toots [21:29]
6. Credits [1:38]
1. Heat [11:32]
2. Nut House [10:52]
3. Purple Passage [9:13]
4. Might as Well Be Spring [9:39]
5. The Detective [10:59]
6. Credits [15:11]
1. Lovely Days [9:39]
2. The Black Land [11:39]
3. Vamp Till Ready [15:41]
4. Things That Creeps and Crawls [15:50]
5. Thinking Boring [8:30]
6. Credits [1:38]
Side #2 -- Disc 2
1. Clues
2. Visiting Time
3. All About the Plot
4. In the Script
5. The Finger of Suspicion
6. End Credits
1. Pitter Patter
2. Visiting Time
3. Word Games
4. You Always Hurt the One You Love
5. Night
6. Credits
1. Who Done It [13:56]
2. Standing on Your Own to Feet [10:07]
3. Songs on the Stairs [12:48]
4. Blood [16:24]
5. Loose Ends [21:30]
6. Credits [1:37]
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Menu

Side #1 -- Disc 1
   Play All
   Episode Selection
      Episode 1 - Skin
      Episode 2 - Heat
      Episode 3 - Lovely Days
   Commentary
      Commentary: On
      Commentary: Off
   Subtitles
      English: On
      English: Off
Side #2 -- Disc 2
   Play All
   Episode Selection
      Episode 4 - Clues
      Episode 5 - Pitter Patter
      Episode 6 - Who Done It
   Commentary
      Commentary: On
      Commentary: Off
   Subtitles
      English: On
      English: Off
Side #3 -- Disc 3
   Points of View
   Close Up: Dennis Potter
   Photo Gallery
   Arena: Dennis Potter
   Filmographies
      Michael Gambon
      Jim Carter
      Jon Amiel
      Imelda Staunton
      Dennis Potter
      Bill Paterson
      Patrick Malahide
      Alison Steadman
      Joanne Whalley
      Janet Suzman
      Kenith Trodd
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Essential viewing

    A groundbreaking series that transcends genre. At once a psychological thriller that questions the boundaries between the unconscious and reality, a hilarious critique of medicine, a spoof of film noir, and a one-of-a-kind musical. There has been nothing like it before or since. Outstanding performances from Michael Gambon, as well as the "who's who" of British acting in other roles. Bravi!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Potter's (and television's) masterpiece

    Imaginative, moving, funny, profound, multi-layered and endlessly fascinating - the greatest drama ever created for the television medium. And not only for Dennis Potter's script, but also because of the wonderful realisation of it by director Jon Amiel and producer Kenith Trodd. Seeing this when first broadcast in 1986 was a privilege akin to being present at the premiere of a Shakespeare play. Its release on DVD is long overdue - now let's have the rest of Potter's work on DVD, please.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 18, 2013

    This is an absolutely brilliant work of drama -- it works on so

    This is an absolutely brilliant work of drama -- it works on so many levels and is so engrossing and unique.  I agree with the reviewers who call it a masterpiece.  With all due respect, the reviewer who this give 1-star and complained that the music was a  "non sequiter" and such is being downright foolish.  This is a sophisticated piece of work, and the point  of view constantly shifts between the present reality, flashbacks which may or may not be real, and a fantasy world inside the protagonist's head (but acted out on screen).  

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    What's singing got to do with it?

    Yes there is singing in this show but it is a non sequiter. I managed to get half way through only one of three disks in this DVD set before abandoning all hope. You will like this show if you enjoy a pointless story with endless scatological language, blasphemy, and all manner of voyeurism. There is seemingly no plot, just the vehicle of a cranky bedridden mystery writer and his pornographic imagination. This is the worst value I have ever received for my entertainment dollar.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews