So, I stumbled across a bunch of fanzines from the 80s-90s-00s at a Goodwill and I have been in hysterics reading some of the stories. I thought some of the stuff on AO3 was out there. They’ve got nothing on a Greatest American Hero/Incredible Hulk team-up or Magnum P.I./Dynasty/Hulk or even Knight Rider/Hardcastle & McCormick.
Also, we should be thankful we have places to share our work online.
If you grew up watching 70s or 80s genre shows like:
Six Million Dollar Man, Bionic Woman, Starsky & Hutch, The Professionals, Bergerac, Miami Vice, or Magnum P.I.
you’re the right audience for co-writers Julian Barratt & Simon Farnaby 2017 comedy “Mindhorn.”
[ETA: In UK theatres and available now on Netflix US!]
The basic storyline (no spoilers here):
Actor Richard Thorncroft (star of an old, once-popular action show called Mindhorn) is dealing w/ a stalled career when he’s called on to pretend to be his old character in order to help police on The Isle of Man to capture a baddie who thinks the old show and its hero are real.
The film lovingly mocks the stylized conventions of genre shows without ever mocking fans for liking them. It’s a television fans’ film in that respect, and made by people who genuinely like genre TV (with and without irony). Though the film’s cast, aesthetic and location are from the U.K., the humor is transcontinental and the film references both Hitchcock and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
Much of the comedy comes from contrasting Mindhorn’s heroic capers with actor Richard Thorncraft’s panic over growing old and feeling lost and invisible. Though Thorncroft is self-important, racist, sexist, and a terrible actor, he’s played by musician/comedian/actor/writer Julian Barratt with a sensitivity that keeps him from being a wholly unlikable buffoon (imagine Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau in Blake Edward’s “The Pink Panther,” only more frail and human.)
Thorncroft tries everyone’s patience, but on some level his persistence is admirable, and you’re given fleeting glimpses of a man who is, inside, perhaps aware of his deficits but still plowing thru life as is for lack of any idea how else he might live.
Barrett’s cowriter Simon Farnaby plays Thorncroft’s stuntman/rival. he and Barratt have an easy, fast patter. Essie Davis (The Babbadook) is Thorncroft’s quick-witted ex-flame. And Russell Tovey (Being Human) is, as always, very good as the Mindhorn superfan Melly.
The direction by Sean Foley balances fast-paced action scenes full of guns, chases, and physical comedy with quieter moments that reveal Thorncroft’s abject terror facing the vestiges of a life, love, and career that went on without him.
There are nice turns from Kenneth Branagh, Simon Callow, and Alan Partridge as well.
Fans of The Mighty Boosh won’t miss this one. But it’s not just for Booshlrs.
Younger TV fans who missed the 80s should enjoy the film as well. My 9 year old is already planning a rewatch.
My lock screen and background never change. They are Magnum P.I.G. Private Investigator Guy) and my Doctor Who Universe All Star logo design. Been listening to the Bishop Briggs ep A LOT! It’s awesome. And I’m rockin’ my Bat Country tee today.
Too tired to tag anyone, so do the thing if you want to do the thing.
If you watched the season-six finale of Archer and guessed that Sterling’s aviators were not only a nod to Magnum P.I., but also an indicator of the story for season seven, well, you deserve a prize. Be it a weekend at Poovey Farms or a romantic evening in Dr. Krieger’s van, you should get something for being such a genius, because the intelligence agents behind FX’s celebrated animated series were certain no one would get it. Rather, we were all expected to have quite the “A-HA!” moment when Archer’s spectacular shot-for-shot remake of the Magnum P.I. opening credits premiered on Monday, and it was definitely a hell of a way to kick off February for those of us living in the Danger Zone.