Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Sandbaggers Collection Set 3|
Actors: Roy Marsden, Ray Lonnen, Jerome Willis, Bob Sherman, Alan MacNaughton
Genres: Drama, Kids & Family, Television, Mystery & Suspense
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Cold War warrior flys off into an early sunset
Joseph Haschka | Glendale, CA USA | 05/14/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not since the last episode of LONESOME DOVE have I felt so orphaned by the end of a TV miniseries. Nowadays, finding a quality show is like discovering a diamond embedded in encrusted drain crud.The twenty episodes of THE SANDBAGGERS, first broadcast on British TV in 1978 and 1980, recalls a time when the Cold War was still hot and the West's enemy at least had a national identity, the Soviet Evil Empire, rather than being an amorphous, anonymous, scattered and stateless conglomeration of terrorists that are next to impossible to confront. (At least we knew where to draw battle lines against the Red Army and Navy. Ah, those were the Good Ol' Days, in retrospect.) In any case, the Cold War warrior here is Neil Burnside (Roy Marsden), the Director of Operations for MI6 at its London HQ. Neil oversees a group of specialists, the Sandbaggers, who're available to fly to the world's trouble spots and counter the wicked designs of the KGB and their puppet spy agencies of the Warsaw Pact. The scripted action, however, usually unfolds in the bureaucratic labyrinths of Whitehall where Neil must guard his and his department's backs against the foolish politicians of Her Majesty's Government and the machinations of allied American, French, and West German intelligence services.This last series disc of THE SANDBAGGERS is perhaps my favorite because it includes my very favorite episode, number 16 ("Unusual Approach"). In it, Burnside must personally chaperone his boss, SIS Deputy Director Matthew Peele (Jerome Willis), and Permanent Undersecretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Sir Geoffrey Wellingham (Alan MacNaughten), to a conference in Rhodes. Both Peele and Wellingham are series regulars, but are rarely all in the same room together with Burnside. There's an element of humor as Peele's penchant for sightseeing old ruins and whatnot drives the urbane Wellingham nuts, a state of affairs that almost forces a grin out of the usually stone-faced Burnside as he observes Sir Geoffrey's discomfiture. Concurrently, Neil toys with a supposed-KGB female agent presumably trying to catch him in a honey trap. In the meantime, Neil's colleague in the CIA's London office, Jeff Ross (Bob Sherman), contrives to manipulate the Sandbaggers during Burnside's absence by approaching Sandbagger One, Willie Caine (Ray Lonnen), who's Acting D-OPS, with a request that Sandbagger Two, Mike Wallace (Michael Cashman), infiltrate across the border into the U.S.S.R. to rescue a wounded CIA operative. But Ross has a Machiavellian plan of his own brewing.Perhaps the least appealing on Disc 3 is number 17, "My Name Is Anna Wiseman", in which Burnside inveigles to place an SIS deep cover agent, Anna Wiseman (Carol Gillies), into the Soviet Union so she can make a human rights statement. Burnside? Human rights advocate? Oh, puhleeze! That's like expecting Eastwood's Dirty Harry to espouse suspects' rights under the Miranda Ruling. This episode seemed to me the most artificially contrived of the entire twenty.I've not given any of the three series discs 5 stars because their episodes are not uniformly outstanding. But Burnside deserves 5 stars for being consistently watchable. He's devious, insubordinate, antisocial, chauvinistic, bad-tempered, and arrogant. But he's also clever, extremely capable, perceptive, intensely loyal to his subordinates, and the biggest fictional nemesis the KGB ever had. He's both hero and antihero, and someone the viewer can love and hate at the same time. I shall miss him immensely, especially as the miniseries ended so abruptly with so many questions unanswered and avenues unexplored."
ONLY 3 NOT WRITTEN BY MACKINTOSH!
Elaine J. Campbell | Rancho Mirage, CA United States | 02/29/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Of the seven episodes here, the ones by Ian MacKintosh are vintage, one written by Arden Winch is very interesting, one written by Gidley Wheeler could be mistaken for MacKinnon's writing, and the other, also written by Wheeler, is way below par for the series, missing the intracacies of plot and resembling a propaganda diatribe (entitled "My Name is Anna Wiseman"). It could easily be skipped.The four episodes written by McKintosh are worth purchasing the DVD. They are as fine as those in Sandbaggers 1 and Sandbaggers 2. Be prepared for an abrupt, emotionally devouring ending.There is an odd sequence wherein in 2002 Ray Lonen, who played Caine, and Bob Sherman, who played Jeff Ross, discuss their experiences and memories of the filming of these episodes and some of the cast members. They also shed some light (though darkness is still total) into the disappearance of Ian MacKintosh, and tell us that what he had in mind for future episodes was that Burnside would become C, and Kane would take Burnside's position. How fascinating that would have been had it materialized.So buckle up to say goodby to an outstanding series which, to quote Bob Sherman, "has become a cult." It is quite a journey. An eye-opener into a secret world that few have any knowledge of as to the type of people drawn to this sort of work, or the goings-on behind the very hush-hush scenes."
Finally on DVD! The best TV show ever!
hoegerbooks | Santa Clara, CA USA | 11/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You can't imagine how excited I was to hear that "The Sandbaggers" was gloriously released on DVD! I hope that now this program will receive the long-awaited praise and recognition it richly deserves. Rarely do we see a TV show that recognizes that there are intelligent people out in the audience. "The Sandbaggers" did just that, with excellent writing, excellent acting (Roy Marsden is brilliant!), and excellent direction.I first came across "The Sandbaggers" when I was in junior high in the early 90's (I'm now 24). I absolutely loved staying up late at night to watch the PBS Mystery programs on Fridays. Back then, I'm sure most of the dialogue and plot went over my head, but I still enjoyed the show.An exceptional show such as this might tempt people to do a remake of the series, but let's stop that thought right there. This program's a classic. Let's not tamper with greatness.Due to the poor quality of the original material, the sound slightly fades in and out throughout the DVD series, but don't let that stop you from buying this gem."
An unknown gem.
Tyrell Replicant | 11/07/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As others have stated, this series is the best TV spy drama that no one has ever seen. Series 3 may not be as strong as the preceding ones, but still has some excellent episodes. Anyone who has ever read true life intelligence agent's memoirs (think Spycatcher by Peter Wright), will realise that the focus on political machinations and office "legwork" is far more a reflection of the realities of the trade than James Bond style hi-jinks. If you enjoyed series like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Smiley's People, this is for you."