ORBzine - 2000.03 Television Review - "Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)"

ORBzine - TV Reviews March 2000

Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) [2001]

[ Season 1 ! Season 2 ]

Randall & Hopkirk, Deceased [Season 1, Episode 1] Drop Dead
[Shown Third Week, March 2000]

Yes, 30 years on we get a remake of the Lew Grade ITC show. The intro scene is highly illustrative of the changes in the show; the music may seem reminiscent of James Bond because the composer is David Arnold.

The title duo, now played by comedy partners Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer, are still Private detectives. However, when they are beaten up by their current target [Charles Dance!] they are rescued by Jeanie, now a high-kicking kung-fu babe!

The plot? Well, we know Hopkirk [Vic Reeves] is going to snuff it, and we spend most of the episode looking forward to the big event. We can't wait! And after a series of smartly-executed heart-stoppers, we get our wish.

The new Jeanie, newcomer Emilia Fox , fits in very well and is really one of the lads. It is a wonder that the role did not go to Reeves & Mortimer's usual token babe, Ulrika Jonsson.

On a side note, did you know that the original Jeanie [Annette Andre] moved to Australia and appeared in the first Season of Prisoner: Cell Block H!

In conclusion? Well, on the one hand it is good to see a Speculative Fiction drama on British television again. The last one was .. Gormenghast? By the gods, it seems so long ago!

On the other hand? Well, to start with it is typical of the BBC that they cannot find a decent vehicle for their top comedy duo. Hell, look at what happened to Patrick Kielty, or Hale & Pace! Also, from the line-up of top Guest Stars this show may well turn out to be a new BBC flagship show. But why pick a comparatively crap show like Deceased when they could have had this reviewer's personal favourite, The Champions? Typical BBC - they wanted a jokey comedy rather than good old action-adventure.

Randall & Hopkirk, Deceased [Season 1, Episode 2] Mental Apparition Disorder
[Shown Fourth Week, March 2000]

This week the show actually has a plot to speak of. Jeff tells Jeanie that Marty is haunting him, and she has poor old Jeff checked into a theraputic clinic run by Doctor Lawyer [Hugh Laurie]. On the one hand he gets to meet a gorgeous nympho [Fiona Allen], but on the other hand he is hypnotised by Doctor Lawyer to disbelieve in ghosts. There are 2 potential effects of the hypnotism; firstly, if Jeff does not believe in Marty then the latter will lose his ghosthood. Secondly, the Doctor is using his hypnotized subjects for something sinister!

Marty meets up with Mr Wyvern [Tom Baker], who teaches him some useful skills such as possession, voice impersonation and telekinesis.

Jeanie goes undercover in a casino, to find an embezzler. The Doctor himself is heavily in debt to casino-owner Steven Berkoff!

Randall & Hopkirk, Deceased [Season 1, Episode 3] The Best Years of Your Death
[Shown First Week, April 2000]

Jeanie's nephew has become a refugee from Stepford. His inhuman lack of personality seems due to his new Boarding School, where the ultra-strict Headmaster is Guest-Star Peter Bowles.

Jeff goes undercover there as a teacher, to replace the one who ended up in a jar of formaldahyde in the pre-credits sequence. With the help of Marty, who disposes of the other candidates in various mildly amusing fashions, he gets the job.

The matron [guest-star Phyllis Logan] is even stricter. The school's pupils seem in on the act too, and have some kind of secret conspiracy.

Mr Wyvern has taught Marty the art of Possession, and Marty uses it to take over Jeff's body in an attempt to seduce Jeanie.

Randall & Hopkirk, Deceased [Season 1, Episode 4] Paranoia
[Shown Second Week, April 2000]

A conspiracy theorist is due to make a speach at a Counter-Terrorism Conference, and has a paranoid fantasy that someone wants to kill him. In fact, unbeknownst to him his enemies include a group of amateurish Anarchists, a pair of toffee-nosed twits, a Third World Military Junta, his wife [ Arabella Weir ] and even his mistress [ Angeline Ball ].

Alexis Denisof [ Angel Chronicles ] is Richard Shelley, Chief of Security at the Conference - and for some reason he now has a US accent! He makes moves on Jeanie, the smug SOB.

The writer, Charlie Higson, has a cameo appearance as one of the toffs who plots the theorist's demise.

Vic Reeves has returned to his old material, what Brits call the fart gag . His anal wind can not only move objects, it can stink up a room as well. Apparently the idea came from Higson's associate Paul Whitehouse.

The episode's SPFX are up to scratch - of note is the moving background used in the scenes set in Mr Wyvern's office.

Randall & Hopkirk, Deceased [Season 1, Episode 5] A Blast from the Past
[Shown Third Week, April 2000]

The writer, Charlie Higson, convinced his Fast Show cohort Paul Whitehouse to appear as an evil cockney gangster. Higson himself plays Gomez the bartender in Limbo.

The other notable appearence is Mike Pratt [Jeff in the original series], who gets used in some blue-screen photography.


Randall & Hopkirk, Deceased [Season 1, Episode 6] A Man of Substance
[Shown Fourth Week, April 2000]

A slinky femme fatale hires Jeff to solve a missing person's case. He travels to a tiny English village so remote it is not marked on any maps. As events take a Wicker Man-style turn, it turns out that not only can the town's inhabitants see Hopkirk, but he can actually touch objects!

Gareth Thomas [ Blake's 7 ] is the pub's landlord.

The really frightening thing about this episode is that it is all a townie's version of the countryside. As if Blair Witch Project is not proof enough that city folk should stick to their slums.

This is the last of the series, but Season 2 has been confirmed for 2001!



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