Posted: 05/16/2010

 

Minder: Season 1

(1979)

by Jef Burnham



Coming to DVD on May 18, 2010 from BFS Entertainment.


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Former boxer Terry McCann finds himself working as a minder (or bodyguard) for two-bit hood turned used car salesman, Arthur Daley in this one-of-a-kind series, often heralded as one of Britain’s best. Minder surprises its viewers with a wholly unique combination of comedy and drama that is at once your average droll sitcom and well-crafted, action-filled crime drama.

Both the series’ comedy and suspense draw from Arthur’s constant leasing out of Terry’s services to his many gangster friends. As such, each episode finds Terry employed as minder by one of Arthur’s associates, all of whom are in far more trouble than Arthur would have Terry believe. Inevitably, Terry finds himself way over his head in their criminal affairs, but, with the right combination of street smarts and brute force, he just might be able to keep himself, Arthur and their associates alive long enough to make a few quid.

The series walks a very fine line with its schizophrenic blending of comedy, action and suspense, but succeeds only because of the high production value. Beautiful 16mm film stock gives the series a grainy, cinematic feel; and the comedy is unaccompanied by laugh track, preventing the occasionally substandard joke from undermining the tension provided by the criminal element. Also, the series’ cinematographers are surprisingly adept at utilizing television’s 1.33:1 frame, creating a depth of field that adds substantial weight to the reality of Terry and Arthur’s world, as does the writing staff’s nonchalant approach to their use of profanity, sex, and violence.

The only real problem I had with this season of the series at least, is that it is extremely episodic. As a result, I never felt compelled to keep moving forward once an episode had ended, since each story is wrapped up neatly, leaving us with a definitive sense of closure. Still, with its uniquely schizophrenic style, Minder makes for a fascinating watch.

The 11 episodes of season 1 are presented here in a 3-disc set with no special features. Season 2 will be released concurrently.

Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.



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