Friday, June 29, 2012

On not getting Eddie Shoestring

John Crace wrote today's box-set review for the Guardian and chose the 1970s series Shoestring.

Shown in 1979 and 1980, it starred Trevor Eve as Radio West's 'private ear' Eddie Shoestring and launched his long and successful career as a television actor.

Crace writes:
I must be one of the few people who watch Trevor Eve in Waking the Dead and think: "What's Eddie doing here and how come he's got so large?"
I feel much that way myself.

And I also share much of Crace's reaction in seeing the show today:
So when I heard the first series had been released on box set – apparently there had been issues over music copyright – I grabbed at it. And, second time around, I was surprised by how dated it felt. Not in the details, such as the landline telephones, Eddie's orange Cortina, his half-tied tie and all those typewriters, because I expected that. But in the pace and character of the stories. 
What I had remembered as fast, grimy realism now felt languid, gentle and unmenacing: the baddies were like cartoon characters and the violence really wasn't very violent. In just about every episode, Eddie is jumped by dangerous thugs. Then, before anything much can happen, we cut to Eddie back home, nursing a small cut on his lip.
Except that I think Crace misses part of the show's original appeal here.

Because Eddie Shoestring was always a bit of a fantasist. He had suffered some sort of breakdown while working in computers and his new image as a Philip Marlowe figure - stalking the streets, not of Los Angeles, but Bristol - was his way of coping. He life as a private detective did not represent an exploration of the real world so much as an escape from it.

So Shoestring never was grittily realistic, In fact, like many fantasists, Eddie drew people into his world.

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