Doctor Who – Kinda. Episode One

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It does seem astonishing that Kinda ended up bottom of the 1982 DWM Season Survey poll. Although it’s easy to argue that Kinda’s theme and subtexts wouldn’t have necessary engaged the (I assume) largely teenage readership of the magazine (no surprises that the straight-ahead thrills of Earthshock were much more to their tastes) it does appear that contemporary Doctor Who fandom also regarded Christopher Bailey’s story with less than open arms.

Although Kinda did have its supporters, some fanzine reviews at the time were also fairly negative and you do get a sense that those who praised the story were well aware they were ploughing a rather lonely furrow. The puppet snake was then and will probably forever be a source of irritation and embarrassment for a section of the audience, although it’s never bothered me (and for those who still haven’t learnt to forgive, forget and love the snake, they can always use the nice CGI option on the DVD).

Initially Kinda seems to be operating on fairly normal lines. The concept of a planet where the seemingly primitive indigenous population face unwelcome and seemingly technologically superior visitors is a familiar Sci-Fi trope whilst the fact that Sanders (Richard Todd) and Hindle (Simon Rouse) are decked out in vague military uniforms (and in Sanders case, a pith helmet as well) means that the parallels to the British Empire are as obvious as they’re unsubtle.

In their early scenes, the characters of Sanders and Hindle operate as familiar archetypes. Sanders is bluff and gruff (albeit with a faint sense of humour) whilst Hindle comes across as a humourless by-the-book martinet.  The third member of the team, Todd (Nerys Hughes) possesses a questioning nature, thereby providing her with an overview that the others (especially Hindle) lack.  Given her scientific background this isn’t surprising though (especially since the hand of Christopher H. Bidmead was on the tiller – at least initially).

So it’s clear that when the Doctor enters their world he’s going to have one ally (Todd) and one adversary (Hindle) with Sanders possibly wavering in-between these two positions. Numerous Doctor Who stories feature an authority figure who complicates the Doctor’s progress, but whilst Hindle certainly fulfils this standard role it’s his highly unstable nature which is strikingly original.

The first discordant note is struck after he demolishes Todd’s laboratory in a fit of pique. It’s a very childish act which nobody in their right mind would have carried out (so serves as an early pointer that all is far from well with him).  After Sanders heads out into the jungle, leaving the Doctor, Adric and Todd at his mercy, it’s not certain precisely what will happen next …

When Bailey was originally commissioned, Nyssa wasn’t part of the TARDIS crew, hence the reason why she’s written out (bar brief topping and tailing appearances). This is a shame, as with a spot of rewriting she could have taken on many of Todd’s responsibilities (both are questing scientists after all).  But Nerys Hughes formed such a good rapport with Davison that it’s impossible to complain about the way things turned out.

Kinda is often referred to as Tegan’s story, although it’s striking how minimal her involvement is. If you added up all her scenes during the first two episodes it’s doubtful they’d reach five minutes, she spends episode three asleep and only comes to life again during the final instalment where she returns to fulfilling her more traditional companion duties (and is consequentially less interesting than previously).

In this first episode she’s trapped in a strange netherworld, menaced by the mysterious Dukkha (Jeff Stewart). And even though Tegan only features in a handful of scenes, they’re all deeply unsettling.

TEGAN: Am I dreaming you, is that it?
DUKKHA: Are you?
TEGAN: Or imagining you?
DUKKHA: Possibly.
TEGAN: Then I can abolish you, can’t I?
(Tegan closes her eyes then opens them again.)
DUKKHA: Puzzling, isn’t it? And by the way, one thing. You will agree to believe in me sooner or later. This side of madness or the other.

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Howards’ Way – Series Two, Episode Thirteen

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Although Tom’s been ever-present throughout series two, he’s not exactly been front and centre of too many storylines.  The final episode of S2 somewhat makes up for this, as the fallout from the Lynnette’s break-up becomes the key theme.

Tom’s been haunting the yard every day, desperately searching for a reason “why” the catamaran broke up.  Avril believes he’s simply torturing himself (“three days of prowling around in a hair shirt”) but Tom needs to understand.  To this end he visits Mrs Travis, which is an understandably awkward encounter.    When she tells Tom that she feels sorry for him, it’s a statement that can be taken several ways – but the meaning becomes clear after she serves a two million pound writ on the Mermaid yard.

It’s fascinating to see how Avril and Jack deal with this crisis.  To begin with, Jack is convinced there was a design flaw in the catamaran – he maintains that you can’t simply become a skilled boat-designer overnight, it takes decades of hard work, not months or years.  Avril is initially more supportive, but she’s the one who decides they have to serve a writ against Tom and suspend him as the Mermaid’s designer.

She believes that she’s acting in everybody’s best interests – if the worst comes to the worst then at least they have a chance of salvaging the yard.  It’s telling at this point that she tells Tom that Jack shouldn’t have to lose his yard (he instantly picks up on the comment that it now appears to be Jack‘s yard).  And at this point Jack does something of an about turn.  Although previously he was dismissive of Tom’s design, he now supports it and is reluctant to side with Avril.

But side with her he does and the writ is served.  It’s a throwaway moment but it goes to prove that for all his bluster, Jack Rolfe isn’t quite the buccaneering individualist he often claims to be.  Although he made a half-hearted attempt to convince Avril that they needed to stand by Tom, not isolate him, in the end she got her way.

It’s easy to see the sense in Avril’s actions – at this point, with a question mark hanging over the Lynnette, it seems logical that Tom steps away from the design board, but he believes her true motives are quite different.  Charles has invited Avril to take over as managing director of Relton Marine and she’s accepted.  Oddly, we don’t see Avril tell Tom this (it’s only reported second-hand).  It’s a little hard to understand why such a key scene like this wasn’t played out.

If Howards’ Way has an unconscious theme, then it appears to be that successful career women are required to sacrifice any hopes of a successful personal relationship.  We’ve already seen this with Jan and now Avril seems to be heading the same way.  Tom is convinced that Avril accepted this new job at Relton in order to rekindle her relationship with Charles, whilst she maintains that it was the only way to safeguard the Mermaid’s future.  It’s hard to side with Tom at this point, meaning that his character flaws (jealousy as well as the previously seen desire not to heed other’s advice) are now quite pronounced.

As with the end of series one, the fate of the Mermaid hangs in the balance and we’ll have to wait until the S3 to see how things play out.

Abby’s story seems to have reached a natural conclusion.  Her time with Curtis is terminated very swiftly (again this is something important which happens off-screen).  He asks her if she’d like to go up to Birmingham with him, as he has to show the red-card to a man who kicked his dog to death.  Abby clearly didn’t realise precisely what would happen (presumably she thought he’d just give him a severe ticking-off).  Instead, Abby tells the ever-sympathetic Leo that Curtis viciously attacked the man, continuing to kick him even after he was unconscious.  It proves that Leo was right all along to be suspicious about Curtis, although he’s mature enough not to crow about it.

The Abby/Curtis relationship is of special interest because it’s the reason why Abby discovers that Charles is her real father.  This is done in a slightly contrived way though – Polly is concerned about Curtis and asks Charles to do some digging on her behalf.  That’s reasonable enough, but then she asks Charles to visit Abby and tell her what he’s uncovered.  If he does so then it seems obvious that Abby’s going to put two and two together (Charles Frere’s not the sort of person to pop around doing good turns like this for anybody).

Why didn’t Polly do it?  It’s true that her relationship with Abby is strained, but they’re at least speaking at present (Abby didn’t leave home this time because of a spat with her mother – it was more about making a bid for independence).

But she doesn’t and Charles does, leading to the inevitable conclusion.   Given that she despises Charles and all he stands for, it’s no doubt something of a shock, but that’s not the major plot-point here.  Rather, it makes Abby finally understand that she shouldn’t have given William away, since it’s exactly the same mistake that her father made with her.  So she sets off for America, to be reunited with William and a possible marriage to Orrin.

This could have served as a fairly tidy ending to Abby’s story, but as we’ll see that proved not to be the case.  Although it’ll be a little while before we see her again.

The other major event in this episode concerns the death of Claude, mown down by a speedboat (a pity the man steering it wasn’t looking in the right direction).  Although it doesn’t operate as a cliffhanger (in the way that Lynne falling into the water at the end of S1 did) it’s still highly dramatic.  Lynne sheds more than a few tears (that’ll be the last we see of Tracy Childs until the sixth and final series) and even Jan is a bit teary-eyed.

It’s interesting how Claude’s fight for life is intercut with Jan bustling around, preparing to launch Claude’s collection.  The undeniable impression given is that the fashion world seems even more trivial when matters of life and death are being decided elsewhere, but in Jan’s defence she was unaware of the accident.  It seems a little strange that nobody decided to tell her how seriously ill he was (or even that Claude was in hospital) although this does give us a moody final scene as Jan, together with Leo (who’s travelled down to London to break the news of Claude’s death), both sit alone amongst the discarded clothes and rubbish from the fashion show.

The mood, as so often this year, is broken by leading into the end credits and the warbling of “always there” but no matter.  Series two built nicely on the first, with a largely stable cast of returnees.  The third series would see a little more fluidity amongst the regulars, with several notable absentees and some heavyweight new arrivals ….

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Howards’ Way – Series Two, Episode Twelve

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Abby decides to leave home again.  This concerns Polly, who – rather out of nowhere – has suddenly developed a strong interest in her daughter’s welfare.  Compare and contrast this to her attitude from S1.  Back then, after Abby snuck out to Southampton in the middle of the night Polly reacted with calm indifference (even pretending for a while that she was away with friends).  But now she’s somewhat frantic after Abby stays out for a single night.

When Abby does return, it’s basically only to pack and to give her mother a brief (and rather sketchy) summary of her plans.  She’s going to move to Southampton again – initially with Curtis (although that’s something tactfully not mentioned).  For once Polly seems keen to talk, but Abby isn’t.  So their relationship remains one of total non-communication.

Elsewhere, Jack is still being pursued by Mrs Davis-Seegram.  Even though she doesn’t turn up in person, simply the mention of her name or a phone call from her is enough to give him the shakes.  Glyn Owen was tailor-made for this sort of material.  There’s something rather wonderful about seeing Jack (after receiving an expensive present from her) airily informing Bill that “she’s wasting her time. There’s no way any female is going to get on top of Jack Rolfe”!

The punchline, of course, is that as he’s speaking he’s on his way to answer the phone.  No prizes for guessing who it is.  Jack’s tone instantly moderates from aggressive to conciliatory (bringing to mind Captain Mainwairing’s telephone conversations to his wife Elizabeth).  He later tries to pull a sickie (coughing down the phone) to try and wriggle out of a dinner engagement, but to no avail.

If Jack’s not running scared from Mrs Davis-Seegram then he’s clashing with Tom and Avril.  Charles’ successful takeover of Relton Marine could have huge implications for the Mermaid (possibly the new Relton board will decide not to continue producing the Barracuda).  Jack’s not bothered, he says they’ll simply go back to producing wooden boats.  Even though Tom and Avril both tell him that the market for wooden boats isn’t there anymore (and he himself, given how few have been produced in recent years at the Mermaid, must know this to be true) he continues to maintain a relaxed air.  He’s not under the influence of alcohol, so it’s probable that – Macawber like – he just expects something to turn up.

Jan’s being a little more understanding this episode.  She rushes over to see Kate (although she can’t resist telling her mother that she’s had to put back her meeting with the PR men until the afternoon in order to do so).  Kate explains that she needs to sell her house in order to pay off her debts and Jan asks her to move in with her.  This is an ideal solution which Kate gladly accepts.  But there’s also the vague sense that Jan still has her business head on – after Kate offers to pay her way, Jan doesn’t demur and later admits that it could work out financially in her favour.  Some people might not want to charge their elderly parent for board and lodgings (especially when they’ve had to sell virtually everything they own) but Jan is clearly made of sterner stuff.

There’s a small hint of the way the series will develop next year, after Sir John refers to a business deal he previously organised with Charles’ father.  Charles doesn’t react terribly well to this and we’re left with the very strong impression that his father is an equally successful businessman who’s exerted a strong influence over Charles’ life.  So whatever Charles does now, he does so in his own way – comparisons to Frere Snr are clearly not welcome.

There are two major developments in the Leo/Abby relationship.  For the first time we hear both of them express, in part, their feelings for each other (although frustratingly they don’t do so at the same time).  Abby tells Leo that “you know, no matter how much I try to deny it, I realise now you mean a hell of a lot more to me than just a friend”.  This isn’t something that Leo can respond to – verbally at least – so they part with a brief kiss on the lips and a hug.

We later see Leo clear the air with his mother and for the first time in a long while they have a quiet, considered conversation where both listen to the other.  It’s here that we learn precisely what Leo feels for Abby (a shame he couldn’t say this to her face though).  “It’s like she’s got a hold on me and I can’t let go. Can’t seem to walk away. When Orrin was over here, I tried but I couldn’t. If she ever needed me, I was always there. Now she’s seeing this other person and I’m still there. I don’t want to be, but I am”.  I’m rather warming to young Leo.

Ken tries to win Jan back with a takeaway Chinese meal.  This is presented as the height of sophistication – so either the mid eighties rated fairly low in the culinary stakes or it’s just another example of Ken’s lack of class.  He throws in a cod Chinese accent as well, so I favour the latter over the former.

Jan’s not interested in a reconciliation and once again she doesn’t have a clear reason why.  Ken’s convinced that she dropped him as soon as he started to have financial problems, which she denies.  But the reason why she’s cooled – the divorce with Tom hasn’t yet come through and she’s not ready to settle down anyway – didn’t seem to bother her before.  It’s hard to feel sorry for Ken, but if Jan wasn’t interested in a long-term relationship, why did she let their affair develop?  Possibly it was simply because she was vulnerable after her marriage imploded.

The prototype of Tom’s catamaran, Lynnette, has been purchased by Mr and Mrs Travis (Ian Collier and Pamela Salem).  Introduced in the previous episode, they seem like a perfectly nice couple (it doesn’t hurt that they’re played by familiar television faces) which makes the ending of this episode even more jarring.  Tom receives the news that there’s been an accident – Lynnette is lying in pieces in the water and we then see a blanket placed over the dead body of Mr Travis with his shocked wife looking on ….

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Howards’ Way – Series Two, Episode Eleven

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Episode eleven opens with Curtis Jaeger lurking in the shadows.  It quickly becomes apparent that the men he’s tailing are part of an illegal dog-fighting ring.  This affords us a rare glimpse into the seedier side of Tarrant life as we see Curtis keeping tabs on a crowd of baying men, all of whom are urging one of two dogs to rip the other’s throat out.

Previously Leo had cast the methods and motives of Curtis in a very unflattering light, but there’s no doubt that his actions here (breaking up the fight by himself and taking one of the dogs) was a brave – if foolhardy – move.  He later explains that the police didn’t show up, which makes his one-man crusade a little more understandable, but had he been caught then it would have been him (rather than the dogs) on the receiving end of some considerable punishment.

He manages to escape with nothing more than a few cuts and bruises and is surprised to find Abby waiting for him at his flat.  The sight of his bloodied (not his own) face obviously stirs some animalistic instinct deep within Abby as within moments they’re in each others arms.  It’s an interesting touch that these two scenes are intercut with Leo on the phone, trying and failing to contact Abby.

Shortly after we’re witness to the delightfully awkward sight of Leo and Polly both waiting for Abby to return home.  We later learn that Leo’s been there for an hour and given the fact that he and Polly have precisely nothing in common it must have been an excruciating period of time for them both.  When Abby finally does arrive, Polly is at her acidly polite best – berating her daughter for being so late and then adding that “you really ought to be more considerate.  You know how he likes to keep tabs on you”.

Leo and Abby’s relationship, whatever that might be, has hit a rocky patch.  If he’s ever entertained the hope that it might develop into something deeper than friendship, then her comment that “you’ve been a good friend to me, I’ve appreciated it, you’re kind … ” implies this isn’t going to happen.  He cuts her off short (telling her not to be patronising) and things roll downhill from there.

Curtis Jaeger is the problem, although Leo does seem to be concerned more about Curtis’ character and suitability for Abby, rather than viewing him as a potential love rival.  So at present Leo and Abby seem to very much be cast in a brother/sister mode, although the next episode does suggest otherwise.

Gerald and Polly are also concerned about Curtis, although in Polly’s case it’s more a question of social standing ….

If Polly makes herself scarce, then Gerald does at least make an effort to diffuse the situation by offering Leo a drink (the classic HW solution to all of life’s ills).  Leo doesn’t take up the offer, but it’s another nice moment which shows how Gerald cares for Abby (the way he embraces her after Leo leaves is another sign of this).  It’s impossible to imagine Polly ever having such a tactile relationship with her.

Leo has another flashpoint later on, this time with Jan.  She’s once again condescending and dismissive (wondering if Abby’s still got him “wrapped around her little finger”).  When Leo opines that her mother has little or no interest in him, it’s notable that she doesn’t answer straight away – instead it’s Kate who protests.

Leo’s clearly carrying a fair amount of pent-up emotion, but it’s hard to disagree with the points he makes.  We’d earlier seen how Jan had interrupted Lynne and Claude’s honeymoon (she’s fretting over her new collection) whilst her justification for not paying attention to her son is somewhat dubious.  She tells him that her life recently has been a dismal failure, so the business is a chance for her to salvage some self-respect.  Once again, it’s very hard to empathise with Jan.

Elsewhere, Charles’ attempted takeover of Relton continues. But Tom seems to have been paying very little attention as only now does he seem to understand there’s a very real possibility that he and Avril (but especially Avril) might shortly be working for Charles Frere.  And that’s not something he’s too pleased about.  Nor is he chuffed to learn that Jack’s using a twenty year old design for Mrs Davis-Seagram’s boat – as the Mermaid’s designer in chief, he considers it to be a breach of etiquette.

Kate decides to sell her cottage and for once she needs Jack (rather than the other way around) to act as a pillar of strength, luckily he’s more than up to the task.  Ken continues to make googly eyes at Sarah, which she reciprocates.  It’s made plain that her husband’s one and only love is power-boats, so crafty Ken spies an opening …

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This Is Jinsy – Series Two. Simply Media DVD Review

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Welcome to the island of Jinsy (population 791).  From their vantage point in the Great Tower, the vain and incompetent Arbiter Maven (Justin Chubb) and his long-suffering assistant Sporrall (Chris Bran) attempt to keep island life running as smoothly as possible. This is made easier by a handy gadget – the tessellator. It’s a multi-function device which not only monitors the residents at all times, but also has a handy nozzle to download products, a slot to pay fines and a screen which displays adverts, entertainment and propaganda.

Although the pilot was broadcast on BBC3 in 2010, when This Is Jinsy was picked up as a series (two runs were broadcast in 2011 and 2014) it went to Sky Atlantic. The fact it was hidden away on a pay television channel could explain why the show never became mainstream, although even if it had appeared on a terrestrial channel it might just as easily have remained a cult curiosity.

Given its surreal nature, there were inevitable comparisons made to Monty Python, although The Prisoner seems a much closer fit (an isolated community under observation at all times, with a mysterious never-seen overlord – here it’s the Great He). It also has a touch of The League of Gentlemen, although This Is Jinsy’s world is warmer and far less cruel.

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Justin Chubb & Chris Bran

What impresses about the series is the list of top-drawer names who guest star across the run of episodes (continuing the trend set in series one). Particular highlights include Stephen Fry as Dr. Bevelspepp, who has to tangle with Maven’s wig when it develops a mind of its own, and Derek Jacobi as Robunce Barnatty, the oldest resident on the island. Elsewhere, Eileen Atkins, Rob Brydon, Olivia Coleman, Phil Davis and KT Tunstall are amongst the other familiar faces who pop up whilst Jennifer Saunders can be heard, but not seen, as the Voice of Miss Reason – dispensing words of wisdom from the depths of the tessellator.

Although each episode tells a self-contained story, the tessellator is a handy device which allows the narrative to be interrupted for public service messages or songs.  And it’s the songs which are This Is Jinsy’s trump card – annoyingly catchy, once they’ve embedded themselves into your brain it’s almost impossible to remove them. Below is one such example, Vegetable Tricks.

The songs and other skits allow Chubb and Bran to dress up (often as women) but occasionally they’ll step aside to let someone else take centre-stage. Rob Brydon, crooning Female Badger, is a definite highlight, as is the appearance of KT Tunstall (who also appeared in series one). In series two she entertains with the song Mittens.

Let’s take a quick trot through the eight episodes which make up series two.

Intelligent Hair finds Stephen Fry on fine form as Dr. Bevelspepp.  The central theme – a historic wig used in an arcane Arbiter’s ceremony takes on a life of its own and grows to enormous size – should give you a clue about precisely what sort of series this is.

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Stephen Fry

Maven is anxious to get his accounts sorted in Acco! The problem is that all the island’s accountants have gone feral – little better than animals – and this tricky situation isn’t helped when he refers to them as Accos, a slang word which is also a terrible insult. Luckily Maven is able to strike a deal with the Chief Accountant (Ben Miller) but unluckily it involves the Chief Accountant’s daughter Berpetta (also played by Ben Miller).

Katy Brand guests in Double Duck as Madame Astrasline, a psychic who obtains her readings from a basketful of rats. When she foretells Maven’s assassination, he needs to find a dead-ringer to take his place (fortunately there’s one close at hand). Elsewhere, the tessellator keeps us up to date about a nasty outbreak of femininity in the lower parishes. But luckily for the male residents this can be rectified with a dose of Rob’s Burly Water (“now available in beefcake and butch”).

In Penny’s Pendant, Maven and Sporrall tangle with Miss Penny (Eileen Atkins), the island’s imposing etiquette teacher. Atkins is splendid as the sinister Miss Penny (her chat with Cecil, a giant mute rabbit, is another of those unique Jinsy moments).

Nightly Bye. The island celebrates the forbidden festival of Nacken – but Maven is kept in the dark about it. This episode is simply an excuse to have many more silly songs than usual, but that’s fine by me. Amongst the delights is Rob Brydon as Rex Camalbeeter, a man who likes nothing better than dressing up as a female badger and then singing about it.

In The Speckled Pom-Pom, Maven is convinced that a group of islanders are sending covert messages to each other, via ‘textile messaging’.  He has a ready-made suspect, Mr Lovely (Stephen Mangan), and encourages a reluctant Sporrall to assist him in his crusade. There’s another edition of Sandy’s choice (“a talent competition judged by a dog”). KT Tunstall joins in with a touching song all about mittens, but what will Sandy think of it? Will it be a “Woof” or an “Enoof”?

The population on Jinsy is strictly controlled, so when – in Population 791 – it exceeds the required number, Maven is ordered by The Great He to dispose of the island’s oldest resident, Robunce Barnatty (Derek Jacobi).

In the final episode, The Golden Woggle, Maven, after taking tea with a former Arbiter, Jenkins (Phil Davis) and his wife Joan (Olivia Coleman), is dismayed to learn that Jenkins never handed back the official woggle after his reign came to an end, meaning that all this time Maven has been making do with a make-shift one.  He vows to retrieve his rightful woggle from Jenkins, but he’ll have to brave Joan and an awkward parrot first.

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Alice Lowe and Chris Bran

Although This Is Jinsy doesn’t lack for star quality, series creators and writers Justin Chubb and Chris Bran more than hold their own.  The relationship between the pompous Maven and weary second-in-command Sporrall is a familiar sitcom one (think Mainwairing and Wilson in Dad’s Army) which works to good effect here.

Maven and Sporrall have two other regular characters – Trince (Geoffrey McGivern) and Soosan Noop (Alice Lowe) – to bounce off.   Trince is a dry academic, played to perfection by McGivern (the original Ford Prefect) whilst Soosan is the third member of a curious love triangle (she’s besotted with Maven, he ignores her, whilst Sporrall pines for her).  The likes of Greg Davies and Janine Duvitski in small but regular roles are further plusses, as is the strong cast of Jinsy Players who tackle different parts from show to show.

Originally released on DVD by Delta in 2014, This Is Jinsy – Series Two has been brought back into print by Simply Media.  It’s essentially the same as the previous edition (four episodes of around 23 minutes duration per disc, no subtitles, two of the briefest special features you’re ever likely to see and a short photo gallery) so if you have the Delta DVD there’s no particular reason to upgrade.  But if you don’t want to buy a second-hand copy of Delta’s OOP version, then this new pressing should be most welcome.

Possibly we’ve seen the last of the residents of Jinsy.  I hope not though and maybe this re-release might spark a little more interest in this unforgettable, idiosyncratic and very, very silly comedy gem.  Nightly Bye.

This Is Jinsy – Series 2 is released by Simply Media on the 15th of May 2017.  RRP £19.99.

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Howards’ Way – Series Two, Episode Ten

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The character of Curtis Jaeger continues to drive a wedge between Abby and Leo.  Like Orrin before him, he’s a character who somewhat shuts out Leo’s access to her.  Leo’s dislike and distrust of him is again made plain within the first few minutes.  Abby’s crusading spirit still burns – that she’s reading a book on animal experimentation and Jaeger is an activist who’s keen on action not words, suggests the course that this storyline will take over the next few episodes.

Jaeger is a mildly unsettling figure.  Although dressed somewhat scruffily, he’s well spoken and articulate – although this clash still means that he seems out of place in the Urqhuart’s tastefully designed house.  His brief meeting with Polly serves to discomfort her.  He asks if her bag is crocodile, she says that it is and asks him if he likes it.  He responds that he likes crocodiles.

Polly and Abby continue to live in completely separate worlds.  This is highlighted when Abby attempts to find out again who her real father is, whilst Polly at the same time is wittering on about Lynne’s forthcoming marriage.  That neither are listening to the other reinforces the reason why Abby is so keen to leave home again.

Jan’s hard-edged business nature is explored once more.  Her relationship with Ken has cooled considerably of late – this might be because she’s still annoyed at the way he hired thugs to beat up Leo, but it seems more likely that she’s unhappy that he’s not been able to put money into her new venture.  He spells this out to her and she doesn’t contradict him, which is telling.  “I never made conditions Jan.  I helped you when I could. And I can’t now. I’m sorry. Well, I thought what we had didn’t depend on business. You’d have slapped me down if I thought otherwise. And now I’m being punished because I can’t help, because I don’t see it as good business. How the hell is that supposed to make me feel? Was that all I was good for?”

But lest we feel too sorry for Ken, there’s a sense that new horizons are opening up.  He meets Mark Foster and his wife Sarah (Sarah-Jane Varley) to continue discussions on a new business venture.   Although we were introduced to Mark last episode, it’s abundantly clear now that Sarah is the one who makes all the decisions (she does most of the talking whilst he cradles his drink).  Sarah’s a very attractive and confident businesswoman who knows her own mind and instantly catches Ken’s eye.  The look on his face makes it clear that he might not be adverse to explore pleasure as well as business ventures with her ….

But he’s not totally given up on Jan and attempts to bring an unlikely ally (Kate) on his side.  Given that she’s never hidden her contempt for him, he seems to be on a hiding to nothing with her.  But Ken dangles the possibility of a full-time job at the boutique in front of her eyes and then asks her if she’ll talk to Jan on his behalf.  This is maybe a more emotionally honest Ken than we’ve seen before, and Kate seems impressed.

But hard-edged Ken is never too far from the surface.  Shortly afterwards he meets Dawn, who suggests they might resume their relationship.  “Look Dawn, you did me a favour. I’m not mean. I’ll give you a finder’s fee. Five hundred quid. All right? But that’s it. Nothing else. There’s no going back. No more lovey-dovey stuff. That’s all washed up”.  This would be Dawn’s final appearance.  Sally Farmiloe, who died of cancer in 2014, would later hit the headlines when her affair with Jeffrey Archer become public knowledge.  Obituary.

Charles’ stealthy acquisition of Relton Marine is gathering momentum.  He currently owns about 13%, with Sir John suggesting that once he’s got 20% he should make a public offer.  Where could the reminder come from?  It’s suggested that since David Lloyd owns 3% he might be open to an approach.

Tom’s been absent for most of the episode, only popping up some fifteen minutes before the end.  Maurice Colbourne makes up for it with a wistful speech to Lynne, as he remembers the way things were.  “What a busy life we had in those days. Houses, boats, school, work. No chance to sit back and enjoy it all. Still, I suppose it’s the same for most people. Pity.”

There’s a couple of onlookers cooing as Lynne leaves the house for the wedding ceremony (“doesn’t she look lovely?”).  A bit of a mystery as to who they might be (neighbours, friends?).  No matter, as we’re soon at the church where all the women are decked out in some mightily impressive hats.  Kate’s is very large and therefore eye-catching, whilst Abby’s is possibly not the most flattering – it seems to have been designed to obscure as much of her face as possible (if she chose it herself it’s possibly a subconscious statement that she didn’t want to be there).  Leo’s the best man, although we never had a scene where Claude asked him, nor do we see him fretting about the responsibility.

It’s a nice touch that the car carrying Lynne and Tom to the church passes a bustop where Dawn, suitcase on the ground, is waiting for transport to take her away from Tarrant.  Shame about the organist hitting a few bum notes as Lynne walks down the aisle – perhaps they should have gone for another take or at least dubbed over that part.

There’s not a dry eye in the church as Claude and Lynne repeat their vows.  The happiness continues afterwards, although this is intercut with a wistful Avril, standing on the sidelines and unable to join in with the family celebrations.  So Claude and Lynne look set for a long and happy life together.  Hmm, I wonder how that will pan out?

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