Am going through "The Singing Detective" again. I first saw it on PBS on a tiny 14 inch set with dubious color (it was secondhand), and I thought it was fantastic, maybe the best TV I've ever seen. Seeing it on DVD on a big screen, oh wow...
Ashamed to admit I'm using close-captioning, but Potter's words are such lovelies, I can't help not wanting to miss any of it...
Oh, Michael Gambon is a great actor. Absolutely. Up there with De Niro, Pacino and what have you.
When I finished the first disc (three hours), I ran through the commentary. A few gems:
Jon Amiel mentions Patrick Malahide's pithy summation of "Singing Detective:" "It's a psychological case study told as a detective thriller, then set to music."
Amiel also says of Gambon that the producer wanted Nicol Williamson (who's brilliant as Merlin in "Excalibur"), but that he insisted on Gambon because Williamson would have gotten Marlow's (the protagonist) sarcasm and eloquence and anger, but he'd never have broken your heart. Which Gambon does without the least sentimentality.
Finally, Amiel says of their first read-through of the script with the cast that, after the last line of dialogue was uttered, instead of the usual congratulations or compliments there was complete and utter silence. Amiel turned to look at Dennis Potter who was white as a sheet. Then Potter muttered: "Christ, I never realized how close I cut to the bloody bone."