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Minder was a successful programme broadcast on the UK’s ITV network that ran from late October of 1979 to the beginning of 1994.  It was made by a company called Euston Films and consisted of 106 50-minute episodes (10 series) and two extended features (85 minutes and 100 minutes).  Clear Vision Video have provided a DVD containing the first three episodes from the second series – originally broadcast in the year of 1980.

Minder Series 2 Part 1 of 4
Series
Arthur Daley (George Cole) is a small time London crook and second-hand car dealer who always has some dodgy deals going on.  To aid in his dealings he employs a so-called Minder Terry McCann (Dennis Waterman) who’s a jailbird and ex-boxer as protection.  His work usually involves a punch or two to protect Arthur each episode, plus some extra work that Arthur plans for him but that he doesn’t have any idea about – until later (after agreeing to do something).

From the previous paragraph you could be thinking that this television series could be somewhat serious in nature, but it is in fact quite the opposite.  Each episode contains many moments when you just can’t help but giggle from the situations that Arthur places Terry in and the quick-witted one-liners that Terry uses in rebuff.

In this DVD we see the first three episodes from the second series, the first is entitled “National Pelmet.”  National Pelmet is all about horse racing and antiques.  The story revolves around some replica statuettes that Arthur is trying to flog, a horse that Terry has to look after and an important race that the horse must be a part of.  Along the way we discover that Terry’s job isn’t going to be as easy as you think it may have turned out to be, especially with the horse’s rather smelly habits!

The second episode, called “Who’s Wife is it Anyway?” has Arthur visiting an old friend at hospital who has been seriously injured in an apparent car accident.  Terry is placed in charge of protecting Arthur’s friend’s colleague after it was discovered that the accident may not have been an accident.  Arthur of course goes around selling expensive dodgy watches for a knockdown price, the only problem is they don’t work.  Well anyway, this episode hides some important information that is only slowly revealed as it progresses.

Finally, we have the third episode, called “You Lose Some, You Win Some.”  Arthur meets up with a Maths teacher who has been frequenting the local casino with a gang of students and aquantances.  Apparently he has discovered a new method of beating the system and is trying to take advantage of it before all the casinos in his area ban him.  Arthur, as you can imagine has likened this teacher’s scheme and offered Terry’s services to protect the gamblers from the casino staff who aren’t exactly the friendliest bunch.

George Cole was the perfect choice for the character Arthur Daley, given his past roles as shady characters.  Dennis Waterman who stayed on for several series’, provided a name that the public of the time could identify with (he had only just finished with the Sweeney).  Of course another important point of Minder was that it has featured lots of now famous British actors – this DVD even has a dedicated section that highlights the guest appearances on an episode by episode basis.  These elements plus the quality scripts, helped to make this series last as long as it did.

Minder Series 2 Part 1 of 4
Video
This appears to be the 4:3 framed version that was first broadcast on ITV.  Minder was shot on film rather than video and when transferred, it was unnecessarily cropped into a smaller 4:3 frame.  This resulted in approximately 5% to 10% of the screen being removed.  ITV later did a 16:9 version from series four onward for their digital channels that was cleaned up and showed more of the original picture - but not all.

As I said, this seems to be the version that was originally broadcast in 1980 and hence suffers from the scratches, grain and other artefacts that have appeared over time.  It is a pity Clear Vision Video didn’t do some sort of processing during the transfer to clean up the image.

Audio
It is of course of the mono variety, which was commonplace in the early ‘80s.  No real disadvantage though, as the theme tune for example sticks in your mind for ages when you first hear it.  And you’ll immediately recognise it in the future if you were to ever hear it in passing.

Listen out for the tune half way through the third episode, it is like listening to an old RPG game on a Sega Megadrive whilst watching the telly – it just doesn’t seem to fit the scene.  But I guess it must have been considered futuristic in its time.

Extras
I was quite surprised when I first loaded this disc up; given that I never normally purchase DVDs of television series’, I just assumed that an old series like this would be just given the ‘bare-bones’ treatment.  This was not true for this release, instead you get a few fairly nice features.

Firstly, the menus are animated with video that runs whenever you move the cursor over the appropriate option.  Secondly, there is both an episode and chapter selection section – with the option to read up further about each episode that was featured on the disc.

More significantly there is a Famous Faces feature that shows a small clip from each of the episodes with an accompanying clue.  All you have to do is guess which famous British actor the person being highlighted is.  There were quite a few in this disc.

Finally, there is a sort of promotional section that attempts to get you to buy the next disc in the series by showing clips within the menu of the next three episodes in the series.

Minder Series 2 Part 1 of 4
Overall
When I was first given this disc for review, I was a bit sceptical as to whether I would like it – given as I could easily watch one of Granada’s channels on Sky for the repeats.  However, after spending the morning adding a new feature to the site, I found watching the three episodes on this disc to be a welcome break from Tom’s constant whinging for new features!  Maybe I like the disc because my cable set-top box has been broken for the last week and it has been the only television programming that I have seen all week, I’ll never know.

Well anyway, I did like this disc and found both the drama and the comedy to be an excellent combination.  My only complaint being that the episodes felt too open (or uncompleted) at the end, this could just be because I am used to seeing American programmes that tend to feature ‘closed’ ends, so it isn’t a major point.  Yeah, I recommend buying this, you’ll probably like it.


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