Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) (2000)

BBC (ended 2001)


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Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) (2000)

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Welcome to the Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) (2000) guide at TV.com This is a remake of the 1969 edition of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased). Marty and Jeff are partners in a detective office, but Marty gets killed and helps Jeff from now on in form of a ghost with supernatural powers.
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  • As remakes go, very good. As I understand it there is a mix of stories from the original series adapted and brand new ones from the pen of writer Charlie Higson. You can't tell the difference without knowing, which I choose to take as a sign of quality.moreless

    Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer do good turns as the new Marty and Jeff. They perform consistently and the rapport between them is definitely beneficial to the character of the series.

    The writing is good and the stories are well conceived and executed. They're also quite gory under the veneer of humour and cynicism but you don't notice straight away.

    The humour can sometimes dip a little too low for my taste but I know you can't please everyone all the time and even I sometimes laugh at a fart gag. So don't be put off.

    The best approach to this series would be take each episode on its own merits. If you don't like one, try another.moreless
  • Worse movie ever. Well actually that's being very harsh. After all, I'm sure the production company had put a lot of effort in producing this and trashing it like I am doing right now seems downright unfair.moreless

    Worse movie ever. Well actually that's being very harsh. After all, I'm sure the production company had put a lot of effort in producing this and trashing it like I am doing right now seems downright unfair. However, I can't forgive those who waste my time with something like this. Why did I pick up something called Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) (2000) in the first place?

  • Although not as good as the first run there is certainly a lot of fun to be had with season two... shame the extras offered up are so poor... still you can't have everything!moreless

    Hot on the heels of the first season, I launched straight into the second collection of stories from the following Tuesday evening and straight off felt it was in some undefined way slightly different in tone. For example we are told in the first episode that it is now a year since Marty died and infact our ghostly character has had a wardrobe upgrade with long coats and cravats now embellishing his appearance.

    Admittedly the season opener ‘Whatever Possessed You?’ has a slightly puzzling aspect to the plot however I personally found it most enjoyable with memorable performances on offer from series regular Emilia Fox and guest star Hwyel Bennett as a drunken newspaper journalist. Possession of the living is certainly at the heart of this story with ‘Jeannie’ and slightly amusingly ‘Jeff’ (by Marty) being the best examples in the period hotel setting. Again noteworthy guest staring appearances are on offer in the second episode (‘Revenge of the Bog People’) with both Mark Williams (as dour archaeologist, Doleman) and Anna Wilson-Jones (as Jeff’s former girlfriend Freya) of particular note. An interesting and enjoyable commentary is provided by series Producer/Director Charlie Higson who offers up insight into various scenes and his thinking behind the scripting (e.g. although Freya is a ghost he made it not so apparent by her wearing typical white outfits (Doctor, squash player etc)). We have a nice bit of location filming as the third ‘O Happy Isle’ story takes Jeff and Jeannie to an isolated picturesque fishing village. It’s very much a ‘down amongst the yokels’ type plot with strange gender-changing ‘Tiriseas’ chemicals apparently being added to the local ale. The most noteworthy effect offered up this time is the eventual death of the stories shotgun-carrying villain Berry Pomeroy (with George Baker playing the rustic laird of the land), who is covered in the strange liquid, something that is both horrific and quite possibly mildly fascinating.

    It is a generally held belief that ‘Painkillers’, the fourth episode of this run is the best and it certainly puts up a good case for itself. With a similarity to an ‘The Avengers’ plot, in this case our heroes investigating the machinations of an evil genius running the ‘Pain Corporation’, I found it moved along quite nicely and was therefore a good choice for a three-handed commentary. However whilst Charlie Higson offered some interesting insight the contributions of Reeves and Mortimer were less worthy. Once again it was rather episode specific which although welcome would have been better if those concerned had occasionally taken a much wider view of the series in general. I didn’t immediately make the connection but playing a high-ranking member of the staff to, I felt, great effect we have Dervla Kirwan (the first Phoebe in ‘Goodnight Sweetheart’) whose interaction primarily with Jeff was one of the highlights of the story. The leading guest star, playing the stories principal villain Doctor Evil is distinguish actor (and I Claudius star) Derek Jacobi who successfully achieves his objective of widening his acting experience with a well paced character performance. Lastly of note are two comic sequences, the first of which involves Marty learning from Wyvern how to change his form. Due to his inexperience at this it does go a bit wrong and there are indeed some really good ‘laugh out loud side splitting’ moments to be enjoyed. The final Jeff and Jeannie in a restaurant scene is also very amusing and closes the story on a high note. Personally I found the fifth episode the least engaging of the run not least because of its slightly confusing ‘brothers seeking to inherit fridge magnate Sir Leslie Hortweldine’s millions’ plot. However it does afford you the chance to meet Cope House’s other detective duo, namely ‘Marshall and Snellgrove’, two guys with very different and distinct personalities. Whilst Charley Marshall (Shaun Parkes) is the down to earth working businessman, Colin McFarlane’s Sebastian Snellgrove is a slightly snooty almost effeminate overpowering personality whose seemingly reckless approach to work and, life in general lead to his eventual death. What an extremely unlucky place Cope House must be for those working there!

    Ever wondered what happened to our heroes secretary Felia, last seen in season one’s ‘Mental Apparition Disorder’? Well in the sixth episode Jeannie receives a phone call from her asking for their help in finding her kidnapped son. From a series continuity point this seems to be a good move, however there is a problem. Unfortunately Jessica Stevenson was unavailable to reprise her role and the character was recast with familiar name Pauline Quirk. Pauline makes a good attempt of trying to portray Felia however (as is probably typical with any recasting) I feel she is unable to effectively replicate the same distinct dour emotionless demeanour that Jessica successfully imbued the character first time round. This story entitled ‘The Glorious Butranekh’ is certainly a brave step for the series setting the plot basically around East European mystical legends however I personally enjoyed it. Special mention is due to the set design of where Felia first sits down and talks with Jeff and Jeannie, quite an elaborately decorated area which later in the episode finds Jeannie fleeing ahead of a hail of bullets. Mentioning Jeannie reminds me also of the effective fight sequence that Emilia Fox and Anna Korwin (as Anna Rublov) engage in. Turning my attention to ‘Two Can Play at That Game’ and I felt there were a number of Doctor Who story related similes with this rather creepy seventh and final episode in the classic series revival. First off when ‘Boyles Department Store’ lit up as Jeff and Jeanie approached I immediately thought this is just like ‘The Fantasy Factor’ (‘The Ultimate Foe’) however whilst the Sixth Doctor was faced with dealing with Mr Popplewick/the Valeyard no such foe immediately faced our duo. Their passage through the store was monitored in a similar way, I thought to the watcher in the Exillon city (‘Death to the Daleks’) or indeed the figure that John Koenig and his team find on entering the sealed chamber on the planet (Space 1999, Season Two episode ‘The Immunity Syndrome’). Lastly the final dramatic scene is played out in a manner similar to that which the First Doctor, Steven and Dodo faced in ‘The Celestial Toymaker’, however with a more sinister modern twist to it. Aside from this the episode does feature guest starring roles for Eleanor Bron (‘Kara’ from ‘Revelation of the Daleks’ here playing a boarding house manager) and (totally in keeping with his variety background) Roy Hudd as an old style music hall entertainer who both crop up in a rather surreal and ghostly ‘end of pier’ location in which Marty finds himself suddenly trapped in.

    This time round all we get in the way of extras is a poultry two commentaries (although it could be argued that there are seven episodes instead of the previous release’s six), the best no doubt having gone to the first season. It is a shame that there is not more on offer for this second batch, like perhaps a comprehensive photo gallery culled from all thirteen episodes but it’s still an enjoyable collection. Admittedly not as strong as the first season this second batch of episodes is fine entertainment although with experimental plot format sidestepping in ‘The Glorious Butranekh’ it is certainly not hard to reason why a third run was not commissioned. Because of that and the distribution of extras the first season makes the better choice however season two should not be unduly discounted. With engaging regular and guest cast performances (including Tom Baker and Emilia Fox), imaginative plots, comedy, drama and a sprinkling of special effects into the mix this is a two series Cult TV classic revival that is worthy of re-evaluation and I would firmly recommend it to anyone who is looking for enjoyable escapist BBC entertainment.

  • An update of the 1969 classic series, the remake featured eye-popping special effects but suffered from too many episodes and scenes copied from the original.

    When someone decides they are going to remake a movie or a TV series they are begging for comparisons to the original. That is inevitable. Furthermore, there is an exceptionally fine line that must be walked: one cannot duplicate the original (lest the criticism be, "Why even bother?"), nor can the remake destroy all of the qualities of the original.

    In the case of the 2000-2002 BBC series "Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)", the problem is the latter. The series is a remake of the 1969-70 series produced by ITC starring Kenneth Cope and the late Mike Pratt as the ghost of private investigator Marty Hopkirk and his surviving partner Jeff Randall, respectively. For the new series, the comedy duo of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer were cast to fill the Cope and Pratt roles. The basic premise (a murdered private detective returns to get his partner to solve the murder) is the only part of the plot from the original that remained intact. Everything else was altered, and not always for the good.

    For example, in the original Marty was an insanely jealous and devoted husband to wife Jean. On more than one occasion he had to be reminded that Jean was now his widow, NOT his wife. In the remake, however, Marty’s fatal encounter with an automobile occurs on the day BEFORE his nuptials with Jeannie Hurst. This makes the jealous streak that Marty displays in “Drop Dead” and “Mental Apparition Disorder” appear false and forced. Additionally, the Marty of the remake does not possess the fidelity of the original. In the original’s episode “A Sentimental Journey”, ghost Marty complains to Jeff about having to investigate the happenings in a sleeping car while a woman is undressing. He goes so far as to cover his eyes with his hand to prevent seeing anything. In contrast, the “new” Marty thinks nothing of having sex with a seductress in “A Man of Substance”, but later in the series (in the episode “O Happy Isle”) orders Jeff to kiss Jean so the jealousy Marty feels will cause a scream loud enough to shatter glass. It is hard to accept.

    Another major difference between the two is the manner in which Marty learns what he can do as a ghost. In the original’s “But What a Sweet Little Room”, for instance, Marty discovers that he can rattle Jeff’s coffee cup by using “vibrations”. In the remake, however, Marty has a tutor, Mr. Wyvern (played by Tom Baker). The interactions between Marty and Wyvern seem more for comic relief and not-too-subtle foreshadowing (for instance, the scene in “Mental Apparition Disorder” when Wyvern for some reason is teaching Marty how to impersonate someone else, which later leads to Marty impersonating Dr. Lawyer) than integral parts of the series. (Almost as if to confirm this, when BBC America aired the series and edited the episodes to allow for more time for commercials, a number of scenes with Wyvern were cut – and hardly missed.) In the first two episodes of the second season, Wyvern appears for a TOTAL of less than five minutes, confirming that this role was not expanded enough.

    One positive difference, however, lay in the special effects. In 1969, an effect known as “Pepper’s ghost” was used to make Marty appear to pass through walls. For the disappearance, the other actors had to hold their position while Cope walked off set. Items moved by the ghost were moved by wires – and very poorly hidden wires at that. (One unintentionally funny moment in the original is in “All Work and No Pay”, when Jeff says there are “no wires” to account for the items that flew around Jean’s apartment, yet in the scene when the furniture is moving the wires are obvious.) The remake had the advantage of computer technology, and this was used to maximum effect. Special effects reportedly cost £1 million per episode, but they were so exceptional they were worth every penny. Marty would dissolve into a vapor or become an electrical charge in a phone line. One particular enjoyable effect was in “Whatever Possessed You”, when Marty, after being worked over by another specter, collapses on the floor into a pile of protoplasm.

    For me, the worst problem with the remake was its blatant stealing of ideas from the original series without as much as a nod of gratitude or acknowledgement of the original’s writers. The credits listed the producer and creator as Charlie Higson. No mention was EVER given to Dennis Spooner, the creator of the original series. Some of the similarities could be in the eye of the viewer (for instance, the general theme of “Paranoia” reminds me of the original series’ episode “The Ghost Who Saved the Bank at Monte Carlo”: set in a hotel, where three different groups of people are all chasing after a book, with the only difference being that no one died in “The Ghost Who Saved…” while the body count was very high in “Paranoia”). Other episodes or scenes, however, are too obvious: the “ancient curse” from “My Late Lamented Friend and Partner” that shows up – word for word -- in “Drop Dead”, the estrangement between Marty and Jeff’s relationship in “It’s Supposed to Be Thicker Than Water” is also in “Two Can Play at that Game”, the poker scene from “The Trouble with Women” is duplicated in “The Glorious Butranekh”, and Jeff momentarily dying in “The Smile Behind the Veil” revisited in “A Blast From the Past.”

    When the show relied on ORIGINAL ideas, however, it could be stellar. The second season featured five excellent episodes that relied on unique plots instead of rehashing scenarios from the original series. “Painkillers” is the highlight of the entire series. “The Best Years of Your Death” from the first season showed the promise the series could have fulfilled had it spent more time standing on its own feet. Vic Reeves also turned in a superlative dual performance as Marty and Marty’s father Larry in “A Blast from the Past”.

    A combination of the expense of the special effects and poor ratings killed the remake after 13 episodes, half of the series run of the original show. It would have been interesting to see if the series could have continued to improve with original scripts instead of retreads of the first version.