Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 17. 19th July 1972
The possibilities of colour television are almost endless and therefore (by Keith's Law) infinitely ridiculous. Take, for instance, the BBC's latest colour comedy The Gnomes of Dulwich. In this we see the poor man's Tony Hancock (Terry Scott) and the half wit's Arthur Lowe (Hugh Lloyd) attempting to turn a five minute sketch into a full series. The horrendous gnome make-up helps them to a new nadir of banality as they mix thinly veiled and ill directed satire with the kind of low camp humour which went out with Christmas crackers. In the first episode, the gnomes held a stop-work meeting to protest the influx of plastic gnomes made in Red China. With many a ho-ho-ho and elaborate aside they managed the difficult feat of balancing boredom with tastlessness. Perhaps we've had too many good comedies from BBC lately (Milligan Dad's Army and even Up Pompeii) or perhaps its just that these two should have been chained to the end of the pier where they belong.
The best thing on television is still Softly Softly / Task Force which has recovered superbly from a very bad start. With incisive scripts and consistently brilliant acting from Stratford Johns (Barlow) and Frank Windsor (John Watt), this series is one of the very few "musts" of the week. The series is all the more remarkable when one considers that each episode is recorded in one day. The studio scenes are run in order, with the film sequences dropped in as required.
The NZBC's Pukemanu II proceeds according to schedule and could produce a few pleasant surprises. It should be much better than the first series in almost every department and at least two of the scripts are excellent.
First, second and third prized for naivety, pseudery, cheek and downright cant must surely be awarded to the Americans. The Bold Ones, The Partridge Family, Marcus Welby and The D.A. are typical examples of the viscous crap served up (with a side-salad of "meaningful realism") night after night at peak viewing. Having said that, it must be admitted that one of two American shows have redeeming features. Unfortanately the NZBC has decided that these should be screened in the afternoon, when only layabouts like us can see them. Watch for Then came Bronson (above average) Easy Rider formula with good acting from Michael Parks out of James Dean) and also Matt Lincoln Community Psychiatrist minus Freudian shit handles credible problems of minority groups). This last show is a sort of McGovern-style Wozek and the episode I saw on July 4 had some superb moments.
Something must be done about Tuesday night's program. Only Coronation Street and Gallery relieve the tedium as a plethora of unmitigated hog wash swills across the screen. How about this: Partridge Family, Alias Smith and Jones, Tuesday Trimming, Love American Style. Yes, it is a commercial night - but all the same.
Beaton by Bailey gave us a delicious taste of life in high-camp London. Half the queens of high-society arabesqued across the screen in fifty minutes of riotous send-up. Even the title managed to be a send-up. Such amazing camp trendies as the Earl of Litchfield and Mick Jagger rubbed shoulders with comparatively respectable "names" including Cyril Connolly and Lord David Cecil. But the duo which really took the wafer were Truman Capote and the lady (?) editor of "Vogue". How anyone could have taken this astounding yet totally unpretentious piece of nonsense seriously quite escapes me. But, that being so, why was it shown very late on a Sunday evening? Perhaps some guilty consciences in the Programme Purchasing Department?