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A Teenage boy with a passion for all things nerdy! Expect a lot of Doctor Who, Cult/Horror Movies, Literature and Novels, History, Comic Books and random thoughts. Posts published weekly on a Friday evening. DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the items reviewed on this site and i also do not own of the pictures (unless stated so). If you own one of the photos and wish for it to be removed contact me at this adress: Super.pig@live.co.uk. However all of the written work is my own and is protected under copyright law.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Edge of Darkness (TV 1985)

More often than not when an individual begins to watch, read or even listen to a piece of entertainment that has achieved mass acclaim and approval, it’s difficult for expectations to be met. When I sat down to watch ‘Edge of Darkness’, I knew that it had won Six Bata’s and was nominated for a further five, that the BFI had called it the fifteenth greatest British Television Programme, that the Radio Times had claimed it was one of the top 40 TV programmes and that Channel 4 had named it the third best TV Drama Ever. Naturally then I expected a lot from what is essentially a six episode mini-series capitalising on the fears and paranoia of Thatcher’s Britain, a period in which I have only textbook knowledge, not having been alive to experience it myself. The fact that it lived up to my expectations and gripped me to the point that I had to marathon the whole thing in one day shows that unlike a great deal of BBC productions of the time it still stands up as a tense, dark and intelligent thriller. Indeed aside from perhaps one of the best things the BBC has ever made, I think it’s one of the best things my eyeballs have ever had the pleasure to witness. 

One of the many compliments that Edge of Darkness receives is that it’s never what you expect it to be, it starts off as your standard thriller with Bob Peck’s extremely likable northern Copper, Eric Craven witnessing his Daughters murder at the hands of a man he put behind bars years before. Immediately the programme leads you astray allowing you to second guess the plot and for a brief period of time following the beats as you have predicted them, with Craven moping for his lost daughter and the plot staying firmly rooted in police drama. Then Craven finds a gun and a Geiger counter in his Daughters room and in a brilliant piece of plotting we discover that not only are these two items radioactive but his Daughters body is as well. From there we enter the world of a conspiracy thriller and from there a world of mysticism, and ecological messages. It’s an odd hotch potch made all the more remarkable that it never fully switches to one, managing to be all five at one time. It shouldn’t work. All laws of fiction dictate that it really should collapse before it even gets a chance to fully stand, not only does it work however it works perfectly and away from its brilliant plotting and writing every aspect of the production defies you to find fault with it.

To begin with one has to wonder if anybody else could play Craven as well as Bob Peck does, if you know anything about Hollywood remakes you’ll know that Mel Gibson tried in 2010 but the less said about that the better. Peck is truly a remarkable actor and I must confess I find it slightly upsetting that his most famous piece of work away from this and a truly remarkable theatrical career is essentially a minor supporting role in Jurassic Park. However even that demonstrates what power the man had, when showing this to a friend they recognised him immediately which is nothing short of amazing considering he cannot of had over fifteen minutes of screen time in that film. In Edge of Darkness you can see every single thought in Cravens head just by a minor movement in pecks eyes and his character arc, considering how much it changes over the course of the six episodes never confuses or causes question. There’s one particular moment in episode four at which his character has a breakdown, something which often seems hard to achieve realistically on Television. In what appears to be one-take, Peck delivers easily one of the most memorable moments in the whole show and something which sticks in the mind long after the episode is over.

Despite Peck very deservingly stealing the show, Edge of Darkness is awash with famous character actors delivering some truly wonderful performances. Of course Joe Don Baker’s, Darius Jedburg really should of come across as odd and out of place in what is essentially a very dark and gritty thriller. Instead he’s one of the most likeable and entertaining characters not only in the whole show, but ever- Channel 4 awarded him 84th greatest TV character in 2001, not bad considering he’s a supporting character in a six episode television drama from 1985! My two favourite characters however have to go to Pendleton and Harcourt, played with such dry wit and tongue in cheek sarcasm by Charles Kay and Ian McNiece that you can’t help but love them. It seems that every line they utter deserves to be put on a T-Shirt although my favourite has to be ‘I thought I ordered Oat Cakes’. Keep your eyes peeled for cameos by Zoe Wannamaker, Hugh Fraser, John Woodvine and Tim McInnery to name just a few!

The production design and direction is equally perfect. Shot entirely on film, Edge of Darkness rivals many Cinematic Productions of the time in terms of its look and feel. One episode in particular, episode Five: Northmoor, has moments that would not look out of place in a James Bond film and really manages to keep audience belief tension to a max in its fifty minute run time. Indeed I think without a doubt I can say that Northmoor is one of the best episodes of a Television programme I have seen ever, perfectly building the Tension up to its thrilling climax. If I had to level any complaints at Edge of Darkness it might be that the final episode, the one directly following Northmoor, Fusion, slows the pace down but it replaces it with such a downbeat morbidity and pessimissim that you can’t help but love it!

There’s not really a lot more I can say about Edge of Darkness. I could go on praising it for days on end, something which is very easy to do considering I haven’t even given brief mention to the amazing soundtrack by Eric Clapton and Michael Kamen. However I feel that maybe I should leave some things unspoiled and in this its 35th anniversary year, if you haven’t seen it do yourself a favour and go and watch it. If you have- watch it again, after all it's six episodes manage to justify the use of a TV licence all on their own.

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