Inspector Jack Frost, possibly David Jason’s finest creation, lasted for seventeen years and in a slow but almost elegiac two-parter, ITV brought the curtain down with Jack walking off hand-in-hand with a new wife and happiness into the sunshine. No doubt a few tears were shed and the ratings will take a dip but there is the prospect of the odd Christmas special.
It was difficult to watch old Frostie solve his last case, a typical mix of puzzle and danger to his life and limb. The big surprise was the killing off of his faithful sidekick Sergeant Toolan whom I finally found out he was actor John Lyons. For a moment I spared a thought for Superintendent Mullett played by Bruce Alexander. For trivia fans, the title of the final show was If Dogs Run Free and David Jason was the executive producer of the series.
The hype for the Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg produced 10 part mini-series is huge and the costs gone into millions of dollars to make Pacific bigger than Band of Brothers. This time there is a strange mix of documentary with filmed action, but for over an hour it was hard to distinguish the soldiers from the others in the ferocious war scenes in a dark jungle. Yes, there is a cast of mostly new young faces and there is a strong sad sense of the awfulness if not the pointlessness of war and that the Yanks were no angles in the killing business.
But why oh why put it out with a double episode on Sky Movies Premiere. Yes it has another iconic theme tune that is as familiar and as heart-tugging as the Band of Brothers theme. Tom Hanks calls it – an under the helmet – view of war but will it hold British and European interest as it did Americans who are still soul searching about the war in Afghanistan.
Ashes to Ashes is back for its last series and its pretentiousness is still there with its time warp storylines that I just ignore and enjoy a good cop show with a strong central character Gene Hunt. He roars into the opening credits in the iconic red Quattro and guns down some baddies. The sound track pumps out ride of the Valkeries and Alex Drake in red boots is back from the dead. Don’t ask. I don’t even know which time period they are still in, the costumes don’t tell you much, the soundtrack misleads and the cars are crazy. T.V. screens still talk to Drake who dresses like Shakespeare’s Sister meets Wizard of Oz and after all that it settled down to being a standard case of a kidnapped schoolgirl in a blue van. Still, its got buckets of attitude, flash gits who look like they were in The Sweeney and Philip Glenister is barking as the Neanderthal copper Hunt.
They should have left Drake, the dishy Keeley Hawes stay in a coma but hey babes you can’t have everything. Let’s do the time warp again!
One of the Easter treats on TV was the BBC4 documentary on Johnny Mercer the legendary song writer. BBC4 have been working their way through the American songbook and this Clint Eastwood produced programme was top class. It was easy bluesy, dreamy songs that spanned decades and many shows and many memorable radio and movie moments. Mercer wrote the lyrics for over 1,500 songs and his work influenced generations who may never have known his name directly but remembered his songs oh so well.
Performers such as Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Barbara Streisand, Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Nat King Cole and Andy Williams just made musical magic as they sang his songs and Frank Sinatra made his bar room tunes of melancholy so famous. Mercer became an alcoholic but still subscribed to family values and adopted children to share his and his wife’s happiness. They write songs differently these days.
The big TG4 Easter event was the Gradam Ceoil Awards from Wexford Opera House with presenters Aoife O’Tuairisc and Daithí O’Sé who seems to be favourite to take over presenting The Rose of Tralee and a great job he would make of it. Mighty man!
This Irish music programme celebrates and commemorates all that is was and will be excellent in our native music. Aidan O’Donnell the fiddler won Young Musician and Dermot MacLochlainn played Easter Snow as those who passed away such as Liam Clancy were remembered.
The music was powerful from Sean Potts, Liam O’Flynn, the amazing fiddler Mairtín Hayes, Cathal McConnell and The Boys of the Lough.
Do a little Tuesday surfing on the digital side and seek out Duncan Bannatyne’s Seaside Rescue on Virgin 1. He puts his Dragon’s Den enthusiasm and expertise into rescuing some declining English seaside attractions. He began with a seedy paint-peeling boating pool and café complex in Ramsgate, Kent and he has to give the owners a kick up their metaphorical bums to get them to tidy up the place and spread a little happiness. It was hard work and some of these places look and seem defeated. I saw it in Blackpool last year; the contrast between bright success-chasing places and down-at-heel sad, sad places lost to dreams and vanished Holiday makers. You will like Bannatyne’s no nonsense approach.