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April 2010

Boy Dominic

cast: Murray Dale, Richard Todd, Hildegarde Neil, Brian Blessed, and Ruth Kettlewell

creator: Keith Dewhurst

390 minutes (PG) 1974-6
Network DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
review by William N. Dyer

Boy Dominic

As a first impression one might think that Boy Dominic is not very good as a programme of its time. But if you are patient and ignore the poor incidental music and the inadequate transcription to DVD then you will find a storyline that will carry you through all 13 episodes of the first season. In spite of being a children's programme it has an excellent cast and journeyman writers and directors who only occasionally, in the series, drop into melodrama but never for long enough to spoil the enjoyment.

This historical drama is set in the early 19th century. It's a tale of shipwreck, betrayal, destitution and revenge. There run two parallel stories through the series. Firstly the tale of Captain Bulman's (Richard Todd) shipwreck, slavery and escape and secondly the destitution of his wife (Hildegarde Neil) and son, Dominic (Murray Dale) rescued by a former shipmate of the captain, William Woodcock (Brian Blessed) who set up Mrs Bulman (Hildegarde Neil) as the manageress of a lodging house, and her faithful maid, Bessie Dearlove (Ruth Kettlewell), as the stoic help. The lodgers lead to many and varied adventures. There is a feelgood ending to the season one.

Made in 1974, it is aimed at children but in the last 35 years the nature and sophistication of the audience has shifted and I'm not sure that today's young viewers would find the programme as entertaining and gripping as the children of that era might. However, I found it to be gripping and enjoyable in spite of my advancing years. The quality of vision and sound are not first rate and this is emphasised by the excellent quality of the still images in the image gallery in the DVD extras.

The show is worth watching as it captures a bygone interpretation of a bygone time but manages to do it in an interesting and enjoyable way. I'm not suggesting that the series is flawless. It is however a ripping good yarn and watching Boy Dominic would be time well spent. You'll get some good old-fashioned classy and clean entertainment.



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