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Bergerac - Complete Box Set (DVD)

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Genre: Television / Suitable for 12 years and over / Actors: John Nettles ... / DVD released 2009-12-14 at 2entertain / Features of the DVD: Box set, PAL

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      12.11.2012 16:26
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      One of the best cop series from the BBC

      Bergerac the Complete Collection consists of 9 individual three disc sets featuring all the unedited episodes of the TV series which was shown from 1981-1991. The series was a BBC TV production in association with Channel 7, created and produced by Robert Banks Stewart. The blue eyed John Nettles is the main actor in the series; he plays Detective Sergeant Bergerac of Jersey's Bureau des Étrangers. Other actors come and go throughout the series apart from Terence Alexander who plays the part of the bubbly Yorkshire millionaire, Charlie Hungerford.

      Brief Breakdown of episodes

      Series 1 Episode 1-10

      Here we are introduced to Jim, a recovering alcoholic and divorcee returning to Jersey in the Channel Islands to go back to duty to find that his job may be in jeopardy. He's a bit of a toughie with a no nonsense attitude, drives a burgundy Triumph Roadster vintage sports car, not particularly rule bound and doesn't get on with his boss, Barney Crozier (Sean Arnold).

      In the first episode we find that an old friend and colleague have been killed. He needs to find out why and who did it. The following episodes are all individual cop stories involving Jersey, the island in the sun where people go to spy, smuggle and dodge paying tax. Now a free man being divorced from Charlie Hungerford's daughter, Debbie (Deborah Grant), he finds himself attracted to a French tour guide, Francine Leland (Cécile Paoli). Jim still has fatherly duties as his daughter Kim (Lindsay Heath) is growing up quickly and is close to her father although his time is frequently taken up with murder, blackmail and robberies on the island.

      Feature length - 535 minutes

      Series 2 Episode 1-9

      Oh dear, Jim doesn't seem to have much luck with women. He's single again in this series although he soon becomes acquainted with financial adviser, Marianne who is played by Celia Imrie. As with his French girlfriend who went before, Marianne seems to have a knack for helping him track down criminals. Family members are involved in series 2, his daughter, Kim is kidnapped, ex father in law, Charlie gets involved in politics and it seems he has a few hidden secrets that could cause him harm and his ex-wife befriends an Indian faith healer who people can't wait to exploit. The glamorous, over the top Diamante Lil and Agony Aunt is back on the scene who loves to mother Jim and give him friendly advice on his love life and information about the island's baddies.

      Feature length - 497 minutes

      Series 3 Episode 1-10

      He's a bit of a maverick, our Jim and always likes to go his own way. His brooding personality and rebellious ways have got him suspended from the Bureau but it doesn't stop him meddling with the French police, trying to catch a beautiful jewel thief, mixing with inside informers concerning a mini crime wave in Jersey, and pretending to be an aged rock star. There are rumours that he has been drinking again but his ex-wife doesn't believe them. Debbie comes to the rescue and tries for another reconciliation.

      Feature length - 518 minutes

      Series 4 Episodes 1-10

      Barney Crozier now holds the title of Inspector Crozier. Jim doesn't dislike the guy but he always seems to be in conflict with him. Jim refuses to do it Crozier's way and drives around the cliff tops of Jersey pursuing hardened criminals in his own dogged way.

      He's in love again with the lovely estate agent, Susan Young (Louise Jameson). Since his marriage break up he hasn't found the right woman who will put up with his devotion to being a cop and love him for who he is. Perhaps he has hit the jackpot this time. I'm not so sure, along comes Phillipa Vale (Lisa Goddard), the sensuous and rather attractive jewel thief who keeps getting away.

      Feature length - 553 minutes

      Series 5 Episodes 1-9

      There's a bit of everything in this series. We start with a man walking around naked who has lost his memory, life threatening messages to his Jim's ex-wife, animal rights protestors freeing monkeys, a right wing organization threatening the beautiful Phillipa, a disappearing financier and a mason who falls down dead. No wonder Jim is beginning to look old.

      Series 6 Episodes 1-8

      With all the stress of being a cop you would think Jim could play it by the book but no, he's still that unorthodox Detective Sergeant who loves winding his boss up. He's just hanging in there with his relationship with Jersey's favourite estate agent although the more dedicated to his work he becomes the more of a turn off he is for dear Susan. Our unrelenting jewel thief, the Ice Maiden returns, who definitely has a soft spot for the blue eyed Jim and Charlie becomes as determined as ever to make another million and at the same time influence the local police.

      Series 7 Episodes 1-8

      Oh yes, those wrinkles are appearing around Jim's eyes. He's definitely a troubled man; things aren't going right at work. The social climber, Barney Crozier has been promoted again and seems to have lost the plot as far as Jim is concerned. Jim fears that the Bureau is in deep trouble. Susan has started to see someone else and the relationship is heading for a fall. Charlie is still around with his dodgy deals that are just about legal; these keep Jim busy enough to keep his mind off love and the Bureau.

      Feature length 520 minutes

      Series 8 Episodes 1-10

      Jim returns to work after a long break and finds that his former girlfriend, Susan has been found dead on the Jersey shore. All the evidence leads to drowning but he knows this can't be the case as she was a strong swimmer. At this stage our detective is getting rather cheesed off with life in Jersey and disheartened with the Bureau des Étrangers. After a trip to Provence in France and being introduced to a French beauty with the name of Danielle (Thérèse Liotard), his heart has started fluttering again.

      Feature length - 618 minutes

      Series 9 Episodes 1-10

      Has Jim Bergerac really settled down living in France with Danielle, picking grapes off the vines and driving a tractor in the midday sun? Life can't get any more idyllic than this. We are convinced that Jim has given up being a detective until the phone rings and he hears Charlie's voice on the other side.

      We have a new Chief Inspector at the Bureau, a bit of a stickler for tidiness. He isn't too fond of Bergerac acting out the part of a private detective and thinks he is a nuisance interfering with cases that he doesn't have anything to do with. This doesn't bother Jim; he carries on as usual without the force behind him and travels to Brittany and Provence to solve intriguing cases.

      Please note that from Series 4 - 9 there is a Christmas Special included.

      My response

      My son bought this box set for his dad for his birthday in August. We have always liked John Nettles and watched the complete series three times now. We saw the original series on English TV and then when we lived in France it was showing there with sub titles. Even though we both remembered most of the episodes it was still great to watch them all over again.

      I think you all know who John Nettles is but for those who don't; does the name Tom Barnaby trigger anything? He was the main character in Midsomer Murders played by John Nettles.

      Bergerac was created by the same director/producer who created Shoestring. When Shoestring ended the BBC wanted another cop programme to replace it. Banks came up with a series involving a complex character who was born on the island of Jersey, dedicated to his profession, disregarded orders and drove an outlandish sports car.

      There is something very appealing about the young Jim Bergerac. He is good looking, fit, energetic and has a way with people if not with his superiors. He was born on the island, knows it inside out and worries about its demise.

      In the first series we see him returning from therapy. We know he has been an alcoholic but what I would have liked to have seen would have been some introductory footage of what he had actually been like as a drunken cop, father and husband. There are a few reference points throughout the series about his alcoholism but I think it would have been better if we had had an initial introduction.

      Main Characters

      John Nettles is super and enigmatic all the way through the series. I don't know what it is whether it is his broodiness, awkwardness with women, rugged good looks or fit body. He was very handsome when he was young and still is as an old guy. His character does change throughout the series from the young determined, rebellious cop to the guy who wants to have a normal relationship to a complex person who loses his way, personally and professionally. He can be obnoxious and stiff necked especially with his dealings with Crozier and other high ranking officers in the Force but all the time you are rooting for him and want him to get one over on them. I can't fault Nettles on his acting - he even is good as a drunk which must be the hardest role to act out.

      The late Terence Alexander was the actor who played Charlie Hungerford. He died in 2009. Charlie appears in nearly all the episodes and is a loveable character with roguish traits. He is Jim's ex father in law and generally has a good relationship with him. Charlie became more dominant as the series developed and towards the end seemed to get irritated very quickly and bad tempered but there was something comical about him.

      Sean Arnold is excellent as Barney Crozier, a detective desperate to get to the top. He loved to creep to higher officials and would do anything to win a case. The dumb Superintendent and maverick cop is a bit of a cliché but good fun all the same.

      Deborah Grant comes and goes in the series and I did notice how her character changed. At first she was a stuck up, bitter divorcee who then turned into a bit of a slapper. She always seemed to be in bed with some loser and as you can imagine this riled Bergerac. Her character change was a bit too dramatic and realistically this wouldn't happen.

      The first French girlfriend was pretty but hopeless as an actress and so embarrassing. Cécile Paoli didn't last long playing the role as Francine. She was soon written out of the script as was Celia Imrie.

      Louise Jameson who played Susan was probably present throughout the series for the longest. I wasn't sure about her role. She always seemed such a drudge and didn't have any go. Her clothes were certainly memorable, a good look back at the 80s and 90s.

      My favourite women in the series were Phillipa Vale and Danielle, both strong women with a sense of humour. At one stage I wanted Bergerac to fall in love with Phillipa and then when he found Danielle I thought they were a perfect match and was upset when she ditched him and we never saw her again.

      Lack of continuity

      I am a great believer in continuity and when this doesn't happen in a series I get upset and frustrated. As much as I love the series, Bergerac, the producer failed on this basis. Although it may not be his fault, I think having so many different writers doesn't help. Each episode in every series is an individual story. They do not hang together and we often see characters come and go without any explanation. Take the female characters for example, he falls in love in one series but at the end of that series we never see the break up and it is never mentioned again in following episodes. When he fell in love with the second French woman, Danielle, it was all lovey dovey and we thought that this was the girl for him. He had fallen in love again. Suddenly, he moves back to Jersey to become a Private Detective and sets up an office in Charlie Hungerford's building. We only see Danielle once again and then she disappears. It's only in the last episode (Christmas Special) that we find out he has been jilted and he is back on the bottle again.

      The same thing happened with Diamante Lil and the Ice Maiden. These two women dominated the earlier series and then disappeared without any real explanation.

      Don't get me wrong the plots are very good and have some great twists in them but I would have liked more continuity.

      Other points of interest

      It was interesting for me to see the Portuguese connection on Jersey with all the manual workers, waiters and maids being from Portugal. I noticed that a lot of the villas resembled villas in the Algarve. At the time I lived in the Algarve a few people had moved from Jersey to set up bars and restaurants there. I can see why, the beaches and the lifestyle of the residents were very similar although I don't think Bergerac was a good advertisement for Jersey back then with the amount of crime that went on, it seemed like a den of iniquity.

      George Fenton was the composer of the soundtrack and you will have seen his name on the credits of a lot of TV series at the time. I love the original opening theme which incorporates reggae and accordion but then it changed a few times and lost its impact. Some of the guitar instrumentals throughout were good for the time and I always thought Fenton was excellent at creating evocative copy tunes of that era.

      I have been watching this series for over 3 months now and really have enjoyed every minute of it. There are a few flaws in character development and continuity, picture quality is poor on the earlier discs, due to archive footage but nothing to worry about. It's still a great series and a lot of fun to watch.

      I think my son paid £45 for the complete series from Amazon. The discs are beautifully packaged in a handsome, sturdy black box with Bergerac embossed in gold writing with a map in black of the island of Jersey. I know it is a lot of money to pay out at once but if you like Bergerac, Jersey or cop programmes in general then I think this is worth it. We have had many hours of enjoyment and will watch it over and over again.

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