Gangsters is a cult crime drama that was made in Birmingham in the Seventies.
Recently, thanks to 7 Inch Cinema, I watched both series back-to-back through Saturday night to Sunday morning, as part of their Gangsters Night.
Watching 11 hours of a TV show through the night in an abandoned warehouse in Digbeth and having only cake to eat is the kind of thing that should come with a health warning.
Also, it's not the most suitable substitute for sleep. But you probably already knew that.
As for the show itself, it's a cracker.
It started as a 'Play for Today' on the BBC, which effectively acted as the pilot for the series. This installment was a gritty, fairly realistic crime show which recalled Get Carter and The Long Good Friday. It follows John Kline, recently out of prison and the assassination target for just about every other character in the multicultural mileu.
The rest of the first series follows in much the same way, with every episode following the basic structure of Kline looks moody-someone tries to kill him-Kline gets away. One thing I was particularly impressed with was that not once (and I saw the whole series, so I can't exaggerate) did the music on the soundtrack correspond to what was on screen.
Woman in a phone box? Epic church organ music.
Man at a train station? Guitar/synth chase music.
Gangsters brutally trying to kill people in a house? Comedy polka.
The consistency of this unconsistency was remarkable.
So far, so cheesy and dated.
But it gets better.
The second series didn't make a jot of sense. My guess is they were commissioned for another series, couldn't believe their luck, and though "Hey, let's have some fun."
It just grew increasingly bizarre and surreal, and I'll just say that by the end of the series Gangsters had successfuly incorporated elements of crime, bollywood, porno, kicthen-sink drama, musical, kung-fu, comedy, slapstick, western, horror and post-modern self-referential writing (the writer of the series appeared occasionally, both as himself and various characters).
Frankly, I admire a programme that has the nerve to keep its options open to such an extent. I can honestly say that I never knew what was going to happen next.
Casual racial slur? Spaghetti Western striptease? Live folk performance?
It also has to be a contender for 'Worst kung-fu training montage of all time', basically featuring the resident martial arse expert 'Red Stick' running a bit and then hitting a tree.
All in all, I'm glad I sacrificed my state of health and mind to watch Gangsters. I couldn't stay until the very, very end, but 13 hours is time enough to spend in a warehouse.
Also at the evening were Birmingham band Pram, who provided some excellent accompanying music of the 70s variety.
Big well done and thank you to 7 inch cinema, for making the warehouse look as seedy as possible and all the rest.