Favorite Ghost Series: Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)
By Four Walls
December 26, 2015 7:40pm CST
Here's something that'll make you scratch your head. I don't believe in ghosts, yet some of my favorite movies and TV series were centered around specters. One of my all-time favorite TV series is Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), which aired in the U.S. under the title My Partner the Ghost.. It starred British actors Mike Pratt and Kenneth Cope as Jeff Randall and Marty Hopkirk, two London-based private investigators. About 15 minutes into the first episode Marty is killed, supposedly a hit-and-run accident, leaving a grieving widow (played by Annette Andre). Marty returns from the grave to tell Jeff it was murder and helps solve the case, but in the process stays out of his grave past dawn and subjects himself to an ancient curse: "Ye shall not to the grave return until a hundred years be gone." Condemned to roam the earth for a century, with only Jeff able to see him, he helps Jeff in the detective agency. My favorite episodes were "A Disturbing Case" (which was co-written by series star Mike Pratt), "Never Trust a Ghost," "Whoever Heard of a Ghost Dying?," and "A Sentimental Journey." It was filled with that typical British humor (sorry, humour) that I love. The special effects were woeful, however (it was made in 1969). The series was made by ITC studios (best-known for their classic series The Prisoner, The Saint, and The Avengers) and the 26 episodes were syndicated in the U.S. In the early to mid-70s (along with a host of others, such as Department S, The Champions, and The Baron). A remake in 2000-2001 had infinitely better special effects (thanks to computer-generated advances), but paled in comparison, for a number of reasons. First, the stars were the British comedy duo Vic Reeves (who played Marty) and Bob Mortimer (Jeff). They were more adept at comedy than serious acting. Secondly, and more bothersome (for me, anyway), a number of the episodes had storylines that were heavily borrowed, if not downright stolen, from the original series with nary a nod of credit to the original. Thirdly, the show managed to snag one of the great actors in British TV history -- Tom Baker (who played arguably the most popular Doctor in the Doctor Who series) -- and completely waste his talent. Still, the few episodes that had original ideas (instead of rehashing plots of the original series) were excellent (especially "Pain Killers," "Whatever Possessed You," and "Revenge of the Bog People"). It had some potential, but the lack of acting skills on the part of Reeves and Mortimer and the expensive special effects (about £1 million per episode according to the information I read when the series was in production) doomed it from a long run. The original series was issued on region-free DVD by Australia's Umbrella Entertainment in 2005. The remake was issued in the UK only (region 2, which doesn't bother me because I have a region-free DVD player! ), and it aired on BBC America (back before BBC America became "let's rehash what aired on AMC three years ago" ). Part of me would like to see a good remake (with better actors than Vic and Bob...apologies to any UK readers who like them [I do like their comedy shows, but as for acting, they just weren't good]). However, given the way that remakes usually destroy the spirit of the original (as the 2000-2001 remake did), the bigger part of me says to just let this marvelous series rest in peace.
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