Review for Hine: The Complete Series
What a treat. I love seeing old series that I've read about but never dreamed would see the light of day like this one. So many from this golden age of TV drama have disappeared, missing presumed wiped, and whatever is left in the archives would be deemed barely marketable by anyone other than an archive TV special interest distributor like Network TV. We owe them dearly. So let's start by professing profound thanks for what we are about to receive.
Snippets from TV Times, April 3rd, 1971
Anyone who appreciates series like 'The Plane Makers' and follow-on drama 'The Power Game' will know what to expect from this Wilfred Greatorex creation. Conceived, produced and partly written and directed by the man responsible for those two series, 'Hine' follows a similar vein - though a little more risqué perhaps. We were nudging into the gritty realities of the seventies by now, evidenced in part by the approach and quite literally by the mix of monochrome and colour episodes here; a direct reflection of strike impact at the time.
Barrie Ingham (The Caesars) stars as Joe Hine, an international arms dealer with a confident and superior swagger, not dissimilar to Sir John Wilder in 'The Power Game' or Hadleigh in 'Gazette' or I guess even Jason King, a trait that seemed popular in drama at the time.
It's essentially a soap opera based around arms dealing, with lots of intrigue, double-dealing and last minute negotiations - as well inevitable ponderings about the morality of it all.
Hine is a loner (bar his faithful assistant, an Eton educated toff learning the ropes, and his PA) in a multi-billion-pound market dominated by a handful of monolithic corporations. His closest rival is arms firm Pendles, where Astor Harris (Paul Eddington) is head of weapons sales, but we also see plenty of conflict between Hine and civil servant Walpole Gibb (Colin Gordon), an official at the Department of Arms Disposal Overseas.
Forced to form duplicitous alliances, and to comply with maddening governmental red-tape, we see Hine as a man who, despite having precious little moral-fibre, being the driving force in setting up deals and seeing them through. He is portrayed here as morally reprehensible (and Ingham does a fine job of that) though had this aired a decade or so later, he could have been the very model of Thatcher's Britain. A lovable rogue perhaps.
Episodes show Hine going from his swinging London apartment to airport in his chauffeur driven Jag, to the middle-east and Africa, to the homes of Princes and dignitaries back to the UK in relentless efforts to make a deal happen. Which isn't easy. Not when there's bribery, blackmail, kidnap and diplomatic double-dealing to contend with. Which keeps it interesting enough.
There are occasions where the hour slot drags slightly and interaction and dialogue stretched beyond acceptable tastes for such things today but that was then and this is now after all and this was high-drama on a shoe-string. Indeed there is some pretty dreadful keying afoot on occasion to give the illusion of exotic locations though most of this is steadfastly studio-based with little movement beyond dialogue.
Unfortuantely, despite no less than 5 full pages dedicated to the series launch in the TV Times, it just never quite got the response that had been hoped for and a second series was never made. Maybe the handsome rogue was too reprehensible to be lovable? I'm sure many sensibilities were hurt in its viewing at the time and far from delivering moralistic blows to its principle protagonist, it showed the man getting richer and richer by the episode. A truth perhaps but not a formula for successful TV.
To be fair, Hine does get his come-uppance in its final episode but perhaps, by then, everyone had switched to the other channel. Such was the choice back in the day.
Picture quality is highly variable though let's face it, no one's going to buy this to test out the clarity of their 3D 56" Plasma TV. Audio levels are disappointingly low on the check discs and I hope this is something that will get fixed before release. You'll be pumping up the volume to hear it and jumping out your skin when you turn it off and normal broadcast TV resumes. An easy fix in mastering and an unusual oversight from the usually excellent Network mastering department.
Overall, an excellent series and a very welcome release - every bit as good as 'The Power Game' in my view - so well worth picking up.
I've listed the episodes airing dates and titles below if such a thing is of interest.
Series 1 (Add Episode)
Episode # Airdate Title Rating
1 1x01 07/Apr/1971 Rifles Are Dangerous N/A
2 1x02 14/Apr/1971 Abominable N-Men N/A
3 1x03 21/Apr/1971 Whats Wrong with Right N/A
4 1x04 28/Apr/1971 Sterile Weapons N/A
5 1x05 05/May/1971 Caviare and Chips N/A
6 1x06 12/May/1971 Missiles for Sale as New-One Owner N/A
7 1x07 19/May/1971 The Old School Noose N/A
8 1x08 26/May/1971 Little White Lady N/A
9 1x09 02/Jun/1971 To Have and to Hold N/A
10 1x10 09/Jun/1971 Comrades in Arms N/A
11 1x11 16/Jun/1971 Survival of the Creeps N/A
12 1x12 23/Jun/1971 Everything I Am N/A
13 1x13 30/Jun/1971 The Big Package N/A
Your Opinions and Comments
I enjoyed reading your comments on HINE. What I would like to know is how many of the episodes are in Black and White and what are the episode titles. It would be great if you could place an * (asterisk) by the episode titles which were Black and White.
Can you tell me how much of the actor Ronald Lewis is in the episode the old school noose many thanks