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The Singing Detective (1986)

Cast: Michael Gambon, Michael Gambon, Patrick Malahide, more...
Director: Jon Amiel, Jon Amiel
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: BBC Warner
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Television, British TV, TV Drama, British Drama, Neo Noir, Drama TV, UK, Musicals, Miniseries
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

With the notable exception of Pennies From Heaven, The Singing Detective was the best-known TV miniseries project of the iconoclastic, darkly humored Dennis Potter. A reworking of Potter's first novel Hide and Seek, the six-part series starred Michael Gambon as crime novelist Philip E. Marlow. Suffering from a hellish skin-and-nerve disease called psoriatic arthroparthy (a painful infliction which ultimately killed the real-life Potter), Marlow was confined to a hospital bed, where under the influence of numerous prescription drugs he began to imagine himself as the hard-boiled hero of his latest detective novel. While trying to solve a difficult case, Marlow continually drifted backward in time to his childhood in the Forest of Dean, occasionally bursting into song to express his emotions. As fantasy and reality merged into one, Marlow was forced into a tortuous session of self-analysis and personal discovery. Virtually everyone in the cast was seen in double and triple roles, including nominal leading ladies Alison Steadman and Joanne Whalley (aka Joanne Whalley-Kilmer). The series earned two BAFTA awards (the British equivalent of the Emmys), one for Best Actor to Michael Gambon. After its initial BBC1 run from November 16, to December 21, 1986, The Singing Detective was shown in the United States via public and cable television, where it picked up another award, the prestigious Peabody, in 1989. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Disc One contains episodes 1-3:

  • Skin
  • Heat
  • Lovely Days

GreenCine Member Ratings

The Singing Detective (Disc 1 of 3) (1986)
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7.70 (84 votes)
The Singing Detective (Disc 2 of 3) (1986)
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8.00 (66 votes)
The Singing Detective: Bonus Disc (Disc 3 of 3) (1986)
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8.53 (30 votes)

GreenCine Member Reviews

FYI: disc three is all bonus material by jwilliam August 2, 2003 - 12:26 PM PDT
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful
Just a note regarding the disc contents: disc three is comprised of all bonus features; the actual Singing Detective episodes are on discs one and two.

Potter's masterpiece by underdog April 24, 2003 - 1:35 PM PDT
8 out of 9 members found this review helpful
Pure and simple, one of the greatest pieces of writing ever screened on TV. This was one of those films (series) that made me want to be a writer for the screen, and anyone who is interested in the art of screenwriting should watch the whole series, too. But don't think this is all academic -- The Singing Detective is enormously entertaining and moving, an enthralling program. Michael Gambon's portrayal of the Potter-like (and cleverly named) Philip Marlow is astounding because he manages to play him on so many levels, as suffering, ailing writer, lonely man, noir-ish detective, keeping all those balls juggling in synchronicity. (Joanne Whalley is quite good, and sexy, too, as the nurse who takes care of him.) The series has humor and pathos in equal balance, and brilliantly woven all throughout a collection of classic songs. (Rumor has it that an American feature version is in the works, with Robert Downey Jr. Might be good, but I can't see it matching the original.) This BBC original is not just worth waiting to rent... frankly, it's worth owning. Unparalleled.

More reviews for titles in this product:

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