Lipstick on Your Collar
Am more than halfway through Dennis Potter's "Lipstick on Your Collar." Interesting effort, one of his late series (the last made before he died in 1994), and the debut performance of one Ewan McGregor.
You can tell, Potter's not as much into '50s rock and roll--his use of songs are clever, even funny, but only once does the song have the same intensity as in anything in "Singing Detective," or "Pennies from Heaven." Significant choice of setting: the nationalization of the Suez, which marked the end of England's reputation as a superpower, and is at one point thought to be the start of World War 3, or the end of the world (This series was made in 1993, seven years before the millenium's end).
Even more significant is Potter's view of women. He has at least one woman in his works that is well-sketched--I'm thinking Bernadette Peters' role in Pennies from Heaven, and Janet Suzman in Detective--but only in "Detective" is there a woman (Suzman) who is on equal footing with the protagonist. Most of the time they're whores or opportunists, usually both. Well-sketched, Potter's too good not to do otherwise...but Suzman makes you realize what he can do with women characters when he puts his mind to it.
It's much better produced than "Detective"--Potter wrote and produced this, and it's said that when he surrounded himself with yes men instead of collaborators his work suffered. You can see the sets are more elaborate, and they have a few optically printed (CGI?) special effects, but it works on only two levels--fantasy and reality--where "Detective" works on four: detective story, real life, childhood, and some meta-level where all three mix and play, with concurrently far more power.
Still, wonderful comedy, funnier and more complex than any recent musical I can think of ("Moulin Rouge," "Chicago," etc.).