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  Directed by
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  Specs
  • Full Frame
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • 10 Teaser trailer
  • Audio commentary - Two episodes
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • 3 Photo gallery
  • Fact file - Minder Dictionary

Minder - The Complete 1st Series

Umbrella Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 550 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Minder was one of the more successful television shows to come out of Britain in the '80s for a few simple reasons. It starred two wonderful characters played by actors with an incredible and infectious working chemistry, with amusing thoughtful and plausible storylines. Even when one of the two eventually left and was replaced, Minder still managed to eke out another three seasons, such was the overall quality of the show. Now released on DVD, the entire debut series is the first of many sets that will hit the shops if the clue on the spines is anything to go by.

Arthur Daley (George Cole) is a small time businessman/get rich quick merchant with a hunger for a shady deal and a quick buck. A man of his position needs a minder, and his is Terry McCann (Dennis Waterman), ex-boxer, ex-con, all round tough but nice guy and ladies’ man. He's quick with his hands when required, but he's also quick with his head, quicker than Arthur usually. Not keen to spend more time inside, he wants no part in anything shady, but hey, he works for Arthur Daley, so his chances of that are limited.

Arthur is ever quick to get into a deal, but doesn't always think far enough ahead about getting out of it when it invariably goes screwy. This is where Terry normally steps in with a bit of biff. Arthur is always thinking of a way to make money out of any situation, but is not the brightest crayon in the box, backing himself as a bit of a wheeler and dealer so long as he has his 'man' with him. He's also rather quick when it comes time for handing over the 'readies', often leaving Terry to pick up the bill.

Arthur is as shonky as half the gear he tries to flog, but remains a rather amusing character. Cole plays the role to absolute perfection, and Waterman is equally as strong. The rapport between the two is obvious right from the start. Their use of rhyming slang, East End jargon, and petty crim-speak is always colourful, and was oft mimicked when I was at school.

The storylines are not overly violent by today's standards, but there is nearly always a bit of biff, or a gunshot or two that probably troubled the censorship board of the day, all quite mild by today's standards. The regular supporting cast including Dave the barman is introduced right from episode one, as is Mr. Chisholm and Mr. Rycroft of the ol' Bill. It's hard to sum up the appeal of the show beyond the characters and the actors that played them, and the well written and comical shenanigans that they battle through, from the shonky deals to the fisticuffs to running from the law. "Trust me, my son."

  Video
Contract

Although this full frame presentation does have a few problems, it is of better quality than I feared it was going to be. Colouring is mostly acceptable, and occasionally really bursts through a little unnaturally and there are some bold reds in the first episode that really leap from the screen, Overall, though, colouring is fine, even if the overall image isn't razor sharp. There are no problems with clarity.

There is some fairly constant but mild grain, and some minor artefacts such as sparkles and dirt, but no where near as many as was feared. There are no problems with colour bleeding and only the mildest instances of noise. Skin tones are slightly earthy, but it matters not. Shadow detail also suffers a little at times, and black levels vary from good to average.

Shimmer is present, but again only mildly. All 11 episodes and extra features are spread over three discs, so space is not really a problem.

  Audio
Contract

As with most television shows of this vintage, there is a serviceable but highly unremarkable audio transfer in glorious Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. Apart from a few crackles in episode three, there are no serious issues. There is some mild hiss occasionally, but is not distracting.

The left and right front speakers carry the same signal, and all is clear, audible and there are no problems with audio-synch. The theme song, I Could Be So Good For You, sounds fine (and is sung by Denis Waterman in the closing credits) and went on to be a certifiable pop hit in the '80s.

  Extras
Contract

Many of these TV show box sets don't get many extra features included, so those we're given here are a bit of a bonus.

Of most interest will be the audio commentaries for two episodes that are provided by George Cole, the original executive in charge of production, Johnny Goodman, and moderated by Jaz Wiseman. Recorded in May 2003, the commentaries are information heavy, varied, interesting and amusing. All the usual ground is covered such as budget, casting, shooting schedules and locations, technical information, and numerous anecdotes and memories. Their fondness for the show is obvious.

Geezers, Guv'nors & Gaffers gives us informative text biographies for actors George Cole, Tony Selby, Nicky Henson, Kenneth Cope and Peter Childs.

Guv'nor's Gallery is a small stills gallery of eight shots, all from the series.

Also on disc one is Umbrella Propaganda, which contains trailers for other British DVD releases of Man About the House, George and Mildred, Bless This House, and Love Thy Neighbour.

Disc two extras kick off with a Guide to Minder Slang which comes in very 'andy, my son. It is quite an extensive list of phrases and you may find yourself trying to memorise a few for use in the office.

There are some more Geezers, Guv'nors & Gaffers included for actors including Denis Waterman, Glynn Edwards, and Derek Jacobi.

Another Guv'nor's Gallery is included and is of similar length and contains a handful of very old looking stills.

Lastly, more Umbrella Propaganda this time for the DVD release of The Saint, Department S and Callan.

Disc three has the second of the two audio commentaries which is of similar quality to the first and features the same team.

Geezers, Guv'nors & Gaffers this time includes biographies for Johnny Goodman, Roy Kinnear and Patrick Malahide, amongst others.

Another short Guv'nor's Gallery of even older looking stills is included here.

And lastly, the final batch of DVD trailers for Minder, Danger Man, and The Prisoner

There are also the original ad caps included that help maintain the original look of the show. This is where advertisement breaks were placed. Some punters will like them, some will not

  Overall  
Contract

Minder fans, and there are quite a few, are in for a treat catching up with this excellent series. The audio and video quality is better than many other TV show box sets of its day, and the extras are a nice inclusion. The show itself is a winner and will keep fans amused for hours.


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      And I quote...
    "“Orright, my son? Make with the ‘readies’ for this little package.”"
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Akai
    • TV:
          TEAC CT-F803 80cm Super Flat Screen
    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
    • Speakers:
          Wellings
    • Centre Speaker:
          Wellings
    • Surrounds:
          Wellings
    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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