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    THE SPIN-OFF

I know there's something seedy going on in "The Gentle Touch"

Willie Oleson

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Although I'd have Frida's goings-on taking place in Amsterdam city for a more accurate description of the tone of this series.
I don't know why, it just feels like that.

I still need to do some E.S.P. to get the DVDs to play but there are no problems during playback.
The soundtrack so far: "Happy House" by Siouxsie And The Banshees and an unknown and uncredited song during a robbery scene.
I've bingd and youtubed various parts of the lyrics but nothing comes up. How terribly frustating.

It's 1980, sex is topical and the film SPETTERS becomes a controversial blockbuster. But that doesn't mean we're entering a more progressive decade. If anything, the 1980s - or at least its pop culture - seems to become increasingly sexless; a moralistic, massive wall of shoulder pads and new ideas of sophistication.
And the way I remember it, that wall will continue to stand until the next generation takes over in the 1990s, and then everything has to be normal and acceptable. That kind of coincides with the fall of the Berlin Wall but I'd be hard-pressed to make a relevant connection, and I don't want to pretend that I actually know stuff.

On the upside, without the curiosity and playfulness of the 1970s, these 1980s episodes can capitalize on the seedy side of it, intentional or not. There's a lot of gays, prostitutes and verboten love affairs in THE GENTLE TOUCH, and it's all presented in a rather grim atmosphere. Well, it is a police drama after all.
Maggie Forbes, with her magnetic screen presence and distinctive Adrienne Barbeau perm, walks a tightrope in order to sell her show.
She can say "fairy" without coming across as homophobic, she has to be a little bit more progressive than her male counterparts, but not too much.
She can't be too feminine but she has to be confident and feminine enough to kiss James "Return To Eden" Smillie in front of her colleagues.
So that's an interesting balance between woman/mother and a police officer (detective inspector sergeant lieutenant whatever - I just never get it right with all these ranks).
In essence, Maggie Forbes is Cagney and Lacey.

Season 2 starts with an updated intro theme, it's much faster and sounds completely out of sync because it suggests a more fun and action-packed cop show in the style of the American cop shows.
It's also the controversial episode about pornography and in particular Maggie's stance on it.
Featuring a pre-special guest appearance by Limahl's Limahl, as if it's not bewildering enough.
Maggie's anti-porn attitude is neatly counter-argued by her male collagues, but without having them come across as a bunch or horny jerkers.
There's no real solution or realization to the story and it just seems like an odd, opionated episode. At the same time there's something liberating about the idea that a lead character is allowed to be so very opinionated, but that's probably my millennial point of view.
There's also a strange sense of denial since The Gentle Touch series couldn't do much story without the "seedy" lusts of its crime & victim characters.
At some point in the episode she fiercely exposes a "bad mother" for what she "is", and the bad mother sort of admits her guilt. It's a difficult and harsh scene and it also shows how easy it is to judge other people without knowing all their personal sh*t.
Again, there's no apologetic insight or turnaround for the lead character, and in fact so uncomfortable that I even considered to abort my complete series watch of The Gentle Touch.
You call this crazy soccer mom rampage "gentle"??

But opportunistic little me spotted the upside in this controversy: the controversy. Suddenly, the very idea that a TV character's opinion could discourage me to such extent became an exhilarating prospect. Bring it on, Maggie Forbes. I'll fight you all the way.

 

Mel O'Drama

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On the upside, without the curiosity and playfulness of the 1970s, these 1980s episodes can capitalize on the seedy side of it, intentional or not. There's a lot of gays, prostitutes and verboten love affairs in THE GENTLE TOUCH, and it's all presented in a rather grim atmosphere.

Yes. TGT seems to come to life when it gets into these areas with episodes like Something Blue and The Meat Rack.



Maggie Forbes, with her magnetic screen presence and distinctive Adrienne Barbeau perm, walks a tightrope in order to sell her show.
She can say "fairy" without coming across as homophobic

Absolutely. She doesn't have to be flowery in her language. She'll speak in words that those around her understand.


she has to be a little bit more progressive than her male counterparts, but not too much.

Although to be fair to her male counterparts, one of them was progressive enough to try Prawn Cocktail crisps before she did.



In essence, Maggie Forbes is Cagney and Lacey.

That's about the size of it.



At some point in the episode she fiercely exposes a "bad mother" for what she "is", and the bad mother sort of admits her guilt. It's a difficult and harsh scene and it also shows how easy it is to judge other people without knowing all their personal sh*t.

One of my favourite scenes of the series: that speech about "The System", and "cosy, expensive, white, Anglo-Saxon ghettos". It works so well because of Maggie's perspective at that moment in time.



so uncomfortable that I even considered to abort my complete series watch of The Gentle Touch.

Oh wow.


Suddenly, the very idea that a TV character's opinion could discourage me to such extent became an exhilarating prospect. Bring it on, Maggie Forbes. I'll fight you all the way.

And I'll cheer you fighting her all the way, Willie.
 

Willie Oleson

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Even though the story itself doesn't suggest it, it is possible to put her Something Blue crusade in a wider context.
She couldn't prevent Steve's father from being killed, she's now both father and mother and she still has to do risky stuff herself.
Maybe it's not uncommon for people who are feeling a little helpless that they become disproportionately fussy about the few insignificant things they can control, in this case keeping the girlie magazines and videos away from 16 y/o boys.
It can also be a reaction to all the horrible things she witnesses on-the-job, determined to keep her private life completely devoid of such seediness.
that speech about "The System", and "cosy, expensive, white, Anglo-Saxon ghettos".
While discussing their faux-noble intentions over a pâté de foie gras!

The Rapist storyline is a traditional whodunnit, including the intentionally misleading clue. When the rapist turns up in her own car he starts to speak in a creepy, hissy voice. It was not the surprise but the voice that startled me.
There's also a funny scene when he throws her to the other side of the room as if she were a doll.

At first I wasn't sure if I had watched this series before even though I feel I've always known Jill Gascoine. Dutch wiki doesn't mention broadcasts in Holland but in what kind of world do we live if things only truly happened if it's indexed on the internet.
I instantly recognised son Steve - and doesn't he look like Benedict Cumberbath? - and a Dutch release of TGT season 1 confirms that the series was shown here as well.
I guess I didn't watch it religously and there are so many other things from my youth that I simply can't remember.
 

Mel O'Drama

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It can also be a reaction to all the horrible things she witnesses on-the-job, determined to keep her private life completely devoid of such seediness.

Yes, what she says indicates this. She talks about "identifying the remains of your child dead from drugs while still in his teens" and the "runaway daughter rotten with venereal disease because she's been on the game for the last year" .

But I think you're right about the experiences of her personal life colouring how she responds when it comes to trying to tackle the preventative stuff.



When the rapist turns up in her own car he starts to speak in a creepy, hissy voice. It was not the surprise but the voice that startled me.

It is really creepy. Watching this scene is one of my earliest TV memories because that hissy voice really got into my young psyche.



I guess I didn't watch it religously and there are so many other things from my youth that I simply can't remember.

It'll be interesting to see if there are particular scenes or episodes that are familiar to you as it goes on.
 

Willie Oleson

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End of series 2.

I would not recommend this series to anyone who's interested in very intriguing crime stories. Sometimes they don't even show it and then they start talking about this or that person who may have done something wrong.
There's also a lot of quasi-coincidental intertwining of seemingly unrelated events and persons.
I guess they prefer to cut to the chase and focus on everything that's happening as a result of the investigation - and that really works for me. In fact, it's what I had hoped it would be.
Of course it has its moments of suspense but it never feels very necessary.

The antique bookstore couple is similar to the doctor's couple from series 1. They are innocent, but the damage is done.
All these supporting/guest characters don't have a lot of screentime to tell their story or portray something unique about their character, so when they do it has to be instantly effective - and it never disappoints.

I also like Steve very much. A bit of a goody two-shoes but very watchable in everything he does.
Another mystery tune was playing on their TV, it sounds like Funky Town meets M's Pop Muzik. I didn't get enough lyrics to search for it, assuming that it wasn't exclusively written for the TV-show-within-the-TV-series, in other words, not taken from a commercially released recording.

But I'm going to take a little break because EMPIRE season 5 has arrived, and soap opera trumps everything.
 

Willie Oleson

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It feels kinda curious that the first episode of series 3 references DALLAS when, after a substantial hiatus, I had watched two Dallas episodes only a few hours before I watched this GENTLE TOUCH episode.
 

Willie Oleson

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And then there's a young actress with the most Unused Dynasty Name, Sylvestra Le Touzel.
And it was even more surprising to find out that there's nothing obscure about her; according to her IMDB profile she's been in almost everything.

They're beginning to play cover versions now: Bee Gees "Massachusetts" and The Police "Message In A Bottle" (or was it Walking On The Moon?)
 
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