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The Singing Detective
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Cast:Jon Amiel, Michael Gambon, Patrick Malahide, Janet Suzman

To call the late Dennis Potter a brilliant scriptwriter understates his amazing accomplishments: He completely redefined television, opening up imaginative possibilities beyond anyone's wildest dreams. Potter's sometimes hallucinatory and always multileveled stories fluidly meshed fantasy and reality, and THE SINGING DETECTIVE is the richest and most profound of them all. This visually stylish six-part series focuses on the memories, writings, and feverish deliriums of noir novelist Philip Marlowe, played by the astonishing Michael Gambon. Suffering from the debilitating skin disease psoriasis (which plagued Potter himself) and stuck in a joyless hospital ward with a cast of strange characters, he loses himself in remembrances of his troubled boyhood and caustic marriage, as well as in an elaborate, highly cinematic detective tale starring himself as a singing P.I. As usual in Potter's work, characters lip-synch to popular songs from the '30s and '40s that comment ironically on the action. In addition to Gambon, Alison Steadman, Janet Suzman, Patrick Malahide, Bill Patterson, Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, and Imelda Staunton deliver fine performances in this absorbing, disturbing, and beautiful television drama. Karen Backstein

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