Dempsey & Makepeace: The Complete Third Series Review
Following the posting of my review of the Season One boxset of Dempsey And Makepeace in April of this year, Dempsey Princess - who runs a fan website at http://michaelbrandonsociety.bravehost.com/index.html, which I'm happy to plug - asked why there weren't more screenshots of Michael Brandon. Granted, my particular view of Dempsey And Makepeace is that my memory of it lingered in no small part to the presence of Glynis Barber but it's a fair question. Actually, it's a very good question as in watching this third season, it's obviously, and in spite of the co-credits, Michael Brandon's show.
It's true that Glynis Barber is there throughout but the show has much more interest in Dempsey's deep cover tactics than in the upper-crust Makepeace's slumming it in the Met. After all, it's Brandon who gets to put on the disguises, including an utterly daft moustache in The Burning. It's also Brandon who best raises Spikings' temper, blood pressure and the need for some time off. And finally, it's also Brandon who the camera clearly loves, particularly in the way he handles a gun, stands off against ne'erdowells and mixes with gangland bosses. He might cut an ineffective Cockney milkman - his accent suggests that Hackney is situated near to the Bronx - but watching him is so very much more exciting than Makepeace chatting to Tarquin at a society dinner party.
But it remains a show concerned with both of its lead stars and given that by this time there was a romantic attachment between them, their onscreen chemistry is much improved. Indeed, the scenes between them, rather than anything concerned with the crime fighting, are often the most enjoyable ones with some great moments between them, particularly in the verbal stepping about one another in the opening minutes of The Prizefighter. It remains, then, a cop show with much romance behind it and probably explains why it has so many female fans who wouldn't have considered watching The Professionals in spite of the presence of Lewis Collins. Although the presence of Glynis Barber was the deciding factor in my own decision to watch it.
The Burning (50m26s, 48m54s): What drove Dempsey out of New York in the first place comes back to haunt him when he's involved in a shootout. Alone in a warehouse with one of the killers, he's told, "This is from Coltrane!" and for a moment, he's back in the New York docks at the very moment he realised he was being set up. Arranging his own funeral, Dempsey goes deep cover to investigate a crime link between a London gang and the assistant commissioner of the New York Police Department. But his infiltration of the gang goes wrong when he's told to take part in a bullion robbery or Makepeace will be murdered.
Jericho Scam (48m55s): On their way to their own wedding, Dempsey asks the driver to tune in to the police radio, taking a detour in the Roller to break up a robbery. When Dempsey is then framed for a crime he didn't commit, Makepeace must put her career on the line to save him.
The Prizefighter (50m39s): On the way home from a romantic evening, Dempsey and Makepeace find a body in the middle of the road. Investigating, they find it's the body of a prize fighter but Spikings says that he has no interest in the death of a boxer. Until, that is, they tell him that the bag of £50 notes that he was carrying were all counterfeit. Spikings' interest is piqued and asks Dempsey and Makepeace to investigate.
Extreme Prejudice (47m28s): Dempsey and Makepeace are once again called upon to go undercover to break up an arms dealer suspected of supplying weapons to terrorists. But with plenty of gang fodder prepared to get in their way, will they find the arms dealer before he completes a major shipment of weapons?
Bird of Prey (46m10s): With the crown setting in place the trial of a major drug dealer, prosecuting barristers are frustrated when the chief witness withdraws her testimony. When Spikings asks Dempsey and Makepeace to investigate, they discover that the reason for her change of mind is the kidnapping of her daughter. What Dempsey and Makepeace need is the help of one from their past, Lyman (Nick Brimble), who they'd last seen swearing his revenge.
Out of Darkness (46m32s): A man obsessed with Makepeace (Quadrophenia's Garry Cooper, who was a bad 'un even as he led Jimmy astray with a drugs deal that went wrong )kidnaps an innocent women, demanding that Harry meet with him. At first, Harry refuses but when Swabey threatens to kill his hostage, Spikings orders his team to do whatever is necessary to save her life.
The Cortez Connection (47m04s): Once again, Dempsey's old life comes back to haunt him when an old girlfriend, Simone (Susannah Fellows), arrives in London to meet up with him. But she comes at a bad time, not only for his relationship with Makepeace but as he's in pursuit of a South American cocaine dealer who's hoping to set up business in London.
Mantrap (46m22s): Dempsey and Makepeace break up a gang but find that the hunters are now hunted as a trap is set to deal with the detectives. With the gang of jewel thieves and bank robbers closing in, Dempsey must turn to an ex-con for help, one who Dempsey originally put away .
Guardian Angel (50m59s): When Dempsey is almost shot dead during a police investigation, Makepeace resigns from the force. Joining with Joyce Hargreaves (Kate O'Mara), Dempsey continues with his work but, without Makepeace, doesn't feel the job is quite the same.
Much like the first season, Dempsey & Makepeace does look much better than other British cop shows of the same era such as shows The Sweeney and The Professionals but doesn't look as good as early-to-mid-eighties American shows like Knight Rider and The A-Team. However, for anyone with some knowledge of how British shows are appearing on DVD, Dempsey And Makepeace doesn't look that bad, appearing sharper and with less print damage than it might have done. However, there are spots and other faults visible on the print and the image is noticeably soft but one doubts, given the limited budget of the show, if much else could have been done with it.
The soundtrack is in 2.0 Mono and is fine, with there being some background noise but not enough to really complain about. In keeping with many other Network releases - in fact all other if I'm not mistaken - there are no subtitles.
Tales Of The Unexpected - The Finger Of Suspicion (26m38s): Michael Brandon and Glynis Barber made occasional appearances in the likes of Tales Of The Unexpected during their time off from Dempsey And Makepeace - their starring in the Dennis Potter-written Visitors was one such instance, coming after Dempsey And Makepeace. This sees Brandon cast as a retired American safe-cracker living peacefully in a Middle-Eastern country and married to Soroya (Lucy Gutteridge, not Glynis Barber who doesn't feature at all). Arrested and accused of a crime that he didn't commit, Brandon sits in a police cell content in the knowledge that he will be released. But as he tells the police that they can't touch him, violence has visited his home.
Tales Of The Unexpected - The Dead Don't Steal (25m59s): The episode from the thriller series with a twist is one that stars Glynis Barber (no Michael Brandon) as air stewardess Lillian Brett. Enjoying her affair with her married boss Ken Johnson (Nicholas Ball), she appears to be living a carefree life but when she tells Johnson that she's ending their relationship and wants nothing more to do with his drug-smuggling operation via his air freight business, he lashes out in anger, killing her. But then Sylvia Brett (Barber) arrives in Johnson's life, which quickly begins to unravel.
Sunday Sunday Interview (3m59s): The awful Gloria Hunniford chats to Glynis Barber about her forthcoming role in Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None... in this excerpt from a show first broadcast on 20th December 1987. Oddly, Barber says that she and Brandon were simply good friends in spite of the rumours. Like Peter, one can hear a cock crowing as she does so.
And so it ends. It didn't last particularly long either with three comparatively short seasons making up the entire show. Unfortunately, due to it falling off my review radar, we're missing the show's second season but it is, if my memory serves me well, very much the same as the two seasons that bookend it. In that respect, this is a decent show to collect and one shouldn't be at all surprised if a nine-disc boxset is forthcoming from Network in the near future. There, one can follow the meeting, the falling in love and the leaving the Met as a couple of Jim Dempsey and Harriet Makepeace, untroubled by any serious police procedures intruding on their love affair.