Network DVD Sale

I’m a bit late with this news about the Network DVD sale as it’s been running for the last 24 hours or so, but the good news is that it’s on until midnight tomorrow, Sunday 8 August, so there’s still time to nab a bargain.

As a (slightly obsessive) TV fan who mourns the loss of quality drama from UK screens, bar the odd Life on Mars or Being Human every few years, Network’s dedication to archive telly is to be applauded. This new sale finally brings a number of box sets and single volume series down to an affordable price for those who might want to dip their toe in classic (or is that “old”?) television.

The real highlights in the sale for me are the two Callan sets, a series I discovered earlier this year and which I’ve been trying to spread the word about for the last few months. I’ve reviewed both The Monochrome Years and The Colour Years so won’t go into detail here, but the black and white Callans are really a must for any spy fans with even a passing interest in the genre: with dark, gritty and multilayered scripts, Edward Woodward and Russell Hunter are perfect foils for each other, while Anthony Valentine threatens to steal any scene he’s in.

Sticking with adventure and intrigue, the recently released 4 Just Men from ITC is the template for many of the genre series which would see them through the 1960s and 70s and which have now fallen out of favour in the UK. Strangers is an often overlooked police series starring Don Henderson as George Bulman, a copper relocated from London to the mean streets of the north of England who has some odd peculiarities. Later seasons would see Taggart’s Mark McManus join the cast.

You can read a rather epic review of World War Two drama Manhunt, which no home should be without, but if you’re looking for something a bit more down-to-Earth then I’d recommend Fox, starring Peter Vaughan and Ray Winstone, and Armchair Cinema which features a wealth of talent – including Edward Woodward, Tom Bell, David Hemmings and more Anthony Valentine – in a number of made-for-TV films.

Other series to consider putting in the basket are Robin of Sherwood, The Sandbaggers, Budgie, Danger Man, Ace of Wands, Big Breadwinner Hogg, Public Eye, The Beiderbecke Trilogy or perhaps some Dennis Potter.

Whatever your budget there’s something worth trying out (did I mention Callan?) and it’s worth taking a punt on something just to see where it might lead you next in your viewing – let me know how you get on.

Head over to Network DVD’s website for the full list and I apologise in advance for any obsessions which may arise as a result…

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