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Armchair Thriller: Rachel In Danger and
A Dog’s Ransom

Armchair Thriller: Rachel In Danger “Now out on DVD — two
  prime-time anthology
  Armchair Thrillers:
  Rachel In Danger and
  A Dog’s Ransom...”

WHETHER YOU'RE INTERESTED IN HISTORICAL TELEVISION SERIES because they are nostalgic to you or whether you are coming to it for the first time, you should take a look at the Armchair Thriller dramas that are coming out on DVD this month.

First broadcast between 1978 and 1980 by Thames Television, the prime-time anthology Armchair Thriller — notable for the cliff-hangers at the end of each episode — was a big hit (attracting 17 million viewers) and terrified a whole generation. Network is delighted to announce the release of two Armchair Thriller stories, which are available to buy separately on DVD for the first time on 21 January (2008). Reviewed here are the complete, uncut series of both volume 1 and volume 2: Rachel In Danger and A Dog's Ransom.

The opening sequence features the eerie theme tune devised by Roxy Music's Andy Mackay along with a shadowy figure approaching an armchair and sitting down. In fact, this shadowy figure reminded me very much of the original Nosferatu we recently reviewed. Creepy or what!

I thought that Rachel In Danger was the better of the two with the plot holding together quite well. Don't expect the sophistication of today's dramas. Back then, this series was very theatrical and melo-dramatic. That in itself lends a period charm (both were originally shown in 1978).

Directed by the acclaimed Waris Hussein (The Possession of Joel Delaney) and written by John Bowen (Hetty Wainthrop Investigates), Rachel in Danger is a four-part drama. Rachel (Della Low) is a ten-year-old girl from a broken home who travels from Scotland to London to stay with the father she last saw when she was just two years old. But her father, Peter (Neville Jason) has been murdered by Juan (Stephen Greif) and when she arrives in London, there is nobody to meet her.

She is befriended by a WPC (Gwyneth Powell) and when Juan turns up at the station claiming to be her father, Rachel has no reason to believe he is not who he says he is. But then she has yet to discover the body in the cupboard…

The man posing as Rachel's father introduces the girl to a woman called Aiyako (Eiko Nakamura) he says is his wife. But they are actually part of an international terrorist group that is planning to assassinate a member of the Royal Family and the plucky little girl is caught right in the middle of a highly-dangerous situation. Can she lull the imposter into a false sense of security by pretending she still believes he is her father? And to whom can she turn for help when the going gets tough?

Armchair Thriller: A Dog's RansomTHE SECOND DRAMA, A DOG'S RANSOM, is directed by Donald McWhinney (Rumpole of the Bailey) and is also based on a Patricia Highsmith novel and adapted for television as a six-part drama by John Bowen. The dog in question is Tina, an adored white Poodle who is treated by owners Edward (Benjamin Whitrow, Chicken Run) and Gina Reynolds (Zena Walker, The Prisoner) more like a child.

Edward and Gina are an affluent middle-class couple living in Chelsea. Their lives are seemingly idyllic until they start receiving anonymous and strange letters of abuse. Then Tina is kidnapped and the next note they receive is a ransom note.

The police don't seem to want to be bothered with the kidnapping of
a dog, but Oxford-educated PC Clarence Duhamel (Brian Stirner) un-officially offers his help and — with the assistance of his girlfriend, Marion Dowell (Susie Blake), a social worker — he tracks down a sinis-ter sociopath, Polish-born Kowajinski (Leon Eagles).

Clarence is also the subject of homosexual taunts and the fact that he has a girlfriend and regularly stays at her digs doesn't make any differ-ence. That sort of name-calling would not be politically correct in today's society.

But is Kowajinski responsible for kidnapping the dog? Will Tina ever be found alive and well? Clarence becomes as disenchanted with the Police Force as is Marion and her social worker friends. He becomes embroiled with murder and falls foul of a corrupt policeman before he
is compelled to face his destiny.

One of the highlights is the scene where clichéd social workers discuss the Police and social injustice. Very much a sign of the times and — especially in today's troubled times — extremely interesting!

Both of these Armchair Thriller releases will appeal to fans of quality dramas and also previous Network releases such as Thriller and Tales
of the Unexpected.

Network is delighted to announce the release of these two complete and uncut Armchair Thriller stories — Rachel In Danger and A Dog's Ransom (one per disc) — which are available to buy separately on DVD for the first time on 21 January (2008) at an RRP of £12.99 each. Approximate running times: Rachel In Danger 100 minutes; A Dog's Ransom 150 minutes. Screen ratio 4:3. Distributed by Network DVD.

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