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Mr. Palfrey of Westminster: The Complete Collection

 NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 64.99
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Product Description

Product Description

He describes himself as "just a civil servant." But in the cloak and dagger world of the British security services, mild mannered Mr. Palfrey (Golden Globe® nominee Alec McCowen, Travels with My Aunt) is an invaluable player in the spy game. A master of counterespionage and a spy catcher extraordinaire, he's smart, discreet, cunning and likes to do things his own way.

His new boss quickly realizes the talents and the dangers of the deceptively charming, utterly ruthless Palfrey. Known simply as "the Coordinator" and splendidly played by Caroline Blakiston (Brass, Scoop), she appoints an assistant (Clive Wood, Pillars of the Earth) to work with Palfrey but report back to her. As always, however, Palfrey has his own ideas.

Alec McCowen plays Palfrey to perfection in this stylish British spy series seen on public television and featuring guest appearances by Julian Glover (The Young Victoria), Leslie Phillips (Chancer), Richard Johnson (The Camomile Lawn), and Deborah Grant (Bergerac).

Due to the age of these programs and the improved resolution that DVD provides, you may notice occasional flaws in the image and audio on this DVD presentation that were beyond our ability to correct from the original materials.

Review

"Alec McCowen plays [Palfrey] to perfection" -- The Times, U.K.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Quietly invincible May 8 2012
Format:DVD
Definitely not a classic 'secret service' figure, but an engrossing one nonetheless. Formidable performances by Alec McCowan, and Caroline Blakiston as his boss.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Most Intriguing Spy Cather Oct. 6 2010
By Marcia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
Mr. Palfrey of Westminster: The Complete Collection
DVD: 3 discs in regular size case with cardboard protector. Excellent Transfer.

Story: Set during the cold war shortly before the Berlin wall crumbled,, Mr Palfrey is a quiet nondescript man wearing a British hat and carrying an umbrella, but beneath that deceptively placid manner Palfrey is describes by his ememies as "a cobra".

A new Coordinator, the first woman, is promoted over Palfey and not knowing him begins by setting him the task proving the man she's chosen is a mole. Palfrey insists on working "his way" stating "I usually find the spy". The plot becomes intriguing as Palfrey ignores her instructions and does his job his way. I don't usually reccommend half hour TV shows even if they did appear on PBS because there's insufficent time to develop the plot, but in this series Palfrey's plots follow twists and turns from Russian defectors to moles or traitors in Westminster. Given that this is a cold war series and we no longer worry about the Russian menace, the series is fascinating as Palfrey maneuvers through the red tape of government, ignores his boss while remaining politically savy and sleauths his way to rooting out the enemy within.

From the box: "He describes himself as just a civil servent, but in the cloak and dagger world of British security services, mild-mannered Mr Palfrey(Alec McCowen) is an invaluable player in the spy game and a master of counter espionage and spy- catcher extaordinaire, he's smart, discreet, cunning .... His new boss (Caroline Blakiston) quickly realizes the talents and dangers of the deceptively charming, utterly ruthless Palfrey.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow and drab Feb. 21 2011
Format:DVD
I have only watched two episodes of this series and will not watch the rest. My husband and daughter and I all found it exceedingly boring. The development of the story line is dreadfully slow and the dialogue is dull. The production values are poor even for the 1980s. The camera work, lighting, sets, sound, editing and even costumes suggest low budget and poor craftsmanship. Overlengthy shots of people doing nothing are meant to evoke the tedium of surveillance - instead they provoke tedium in the viewer. A few good actors cannot rescue this drab series. We are usually huge fans of Thames, BBC and other British productions including Rumpole of the Bailey, To the Manor Born, Yes Minister, Yes Prime Minister and Good Neighbours - all produced in that era, as well as Vicar of Dibley, Chef, Kingdom, Doc Martin, George Gently, Judge John Deed, Poirot, Miss Marple, Midsummer Murder, and countless other series made more recently. The poverty of this offering came as a surprising disappointment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Such a treasure ! Dec 30 2010
By Gabriola TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I had searched for this enjoyable series... off and on, for years... since I first watched the entire selection on PBS. I am thrilled to see it out on DVD.. and purchased the set , immediately. The story lines & plots , are intricate and interesting... with intrigue , humor and some action , without too much violence ( or nasty language). A fantastic series... which is so well presented... with amazing acting !
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SPY VS SPY in believable situations. Suspense/Intrigue that COULD HAVE BEEN July 25 2010
By Harold Wolf - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
If you like watching a spy catch a spy; here's a set to own. It's created in mid 1980s when British spies used floppy disc drives, VHS tape, audiotape, and dial phones. Mr. Palfrey (Alec McCowen-'Travels with My Aunt','Victoria & Albert') is a spy-buster. A hunter of spies within. He's slick & effective--Westminster's ace. The spy activity is believable--not Hollywood super-hero, super-tech, super-action style. Palfrey was a bit stuffy in the 1st season (episodes 1-4) but eventually the dialogue gave him some quick wit adding sprinklings of humor amid the intrigue. Call it 4 1/2 stars, if you must, for age, but it's better than most 21st century spy films.

10 episodes, each about 50 minutes. SUBTITLES have been added for those who like using them. Plenty of British stars join the series as guests.

Series 1-Episode 1 ONCE YOUR CARD IS MARKED
Palfrey's surprise new boss is female, known only as the Coordinator (Caroline Blakiston-"The Forsyte Saga","Wives and Daughters","Scoop"). Palfrey must find and secure a diplomat, Mr. Springer, believed spying for Soviets. A spy or scapegoat?

1-2 THE HONEYPOT AND THE BEES
Air Vice Marshal Conyers (Richard Johnson-"The Robinsons"), defense official, & a young Czech girl disappear. The Coordinator assumes there's a supreme security risk.

1-3 THE DEFECTOR
Palfrey cautions the Coordinator about announcing a Russian author's, Volkov (Julian Glover-"The Young Victoria","Wish Me Luck") defection. Is it just a trap since the KGB gets involved? Also Yelena (Deborah Grant-"Bergerac","Crown Prosecutor"), a Russian acquaintance of Palfrey gets into the scene.

1-4 A PRESENT FROM LEIPZIG
A Russian 13th Century icon is found by the Coordinator even though never reported stolen. Why? And why is an E. German visiting a Brit industrialist?

Series 2-Episode 1 FREEDOM FROM LONGING
Blair (regular, Clive Wood-"London's Burning","Press Gang") is called in to help investigate Martina (Estelle Kohler-"The Main Chance"), a Czech woman with who he once had an affair. Is she a Russian spy? Palfrey questions Blair's involvement. Martina's breasts get exposed for a few seconds, the only reason for the box warning.

2-2 RETURN TO SENDER
Returning after defection to the Soviets, spy Rupert Styles (Leslie Phillips- "Chancer","Ruth Rendell Mysteries") is assigned to Palfrey for silencing. As always, Palfrey has his own way of doing things. Nikolai Baliev (Clive Francis-"Poldark","Sense and Sensibility","Lipstick on Your Collar")is involved. Excellent episode.

2-3 MUSIC OF A DEAD PROPHET
Palfrey is assigned to sabotage a book publication revealing a 1950's Iranian assassination. Of course it's a gov-cover-up. What to do?

2-4 OFFICIAL SECRET
Palfrey is to stop a past government man from telling the media that there are continuing double agents at work in Britain. Yelena is a defector under state protection. McNair (David Quilter-"Grange Hill","Lilies") is responsible for her safety. There is an omelet-size bit of romance.

2-5 SPYGAME
Palfrey's trailing a space engineer, Madison (David Baxt-"We'll Meet Again")that the CIA believes is spying for the Soviets. A computer connected "Star Wars" battle game leads to clues and suspects.

2-6 THE BAITED TRAP
Coordinator is tipped off by a Soviet that there is a double-agent, namely Bob Sanding (Jim Norton-"The Boy in the Striped Pajamas","Nanny"). Palfrey is assigned to check it out, even though palfrey is wary. Nikolai (2-2) rekindles contact with Coordinator, for what ends?

I apologize for the review length. There is a lot of spy story in this set.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars real life spying July 9 2011
By Michael Dobey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
The acting in this show is spot on when it comes to the way things really are often in spying. Sure they are adventurous spy games but for many of them it's not so glamorous at all. Mr. P has a digny office and a boss that reminds me of maggie thatcher. The cases are realistic and unlike a field operative in a foriegn land there is little action to be had. The show moves slowly just like reality often. The plots are reallife too. Thames was a company that made shows for itv which was the bbc's main competition for many decades. Thames and all brit tv was shot on video tape and that's the case here. This continued until the late 80's when it all went to film finally.
The show is very slow and each story plods on as it would in real life at least in 1984-86. They technology is of that time and so are the cold war worries. It's interesting to remember that the terrible cold war would be over in 7 years only! Noone in 1986 could see this happening! These type of spy stories are very much real ones that had played out over and over through the decades and for people to complain about how slow they were shows that they have no REAL KNOWLEDGE of spycraft. Sure they were some gunfights and big operations but mostly men ran little ops trying to ensare the other side. A good case of this is the story of the defecting author. IS he for real?
and obviously even if he isn't it's not a huge victory for the soviets to plant a man who will later return and say the west sucks. But that is how things really were back then! Each little op was such a thing. Of course at the time of this show it was only just revealed about the evil american turncoat who was working for the soviets for money. The people who died because of him were all soviets too. In such a world of spying even little victories of any kind were tried. THis show has a bureacrat for it's lead! that's not usually done. But fans of action films or high drama who can't take slow plodding spy work , which is most of it usually , may want to avoid this one.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Much More Than I Paid Oct. 26 2010
By Stanley Cooper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Every So Often You Watch Something New That Is So Well Written and So Well Acted By Everyone
In All Of The Ten Episodes//Each Episode Is A Gem/The Director Knew What He Was Doing With The Pacing/I Still Can't Get Over How Great This Series Was///I Don't Know Why They Only Did 10 Episodes//I Could Have Watched Another 90 Episodes/I Wonder Why Only Ten/By The Way I am So Glad That They Added Closed Caption(Subtitles)If Anyone Of You Who Like Spy Dramas// Then
you Will Find Mr.Palfrey Completely Fresh And This Is Really Something To Watch//
Stanley Cooper Jupiter Florida
zoundz@bellsouth.net
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! Nov. 30 2011
By Mario Zejan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Excellent. If you like spy stories; don't miss this. Complex stories with unexpected endings. Intelligent plot and interesting characters. No action, just a very good plot.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Spycatcher With a Difference Sept. 25 2011
By John A. Korchok - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This was an excellent series with a total of ten shows, released in 1984 and aired by PBS in the U.S. in the late 80s. They only ran the shows one time. Too bad! It was the last series written by George Markstein of Danger Man/Secret Agent fame. The situation is of a very small department under the indirect control of an unnamed English female prime minister (hmmmm, who could that be?). This department tackles Mission Impossible-style tasks that cannot be carried out by official means, but they do it with a staff of three (Mr. Palfrey, his secretary and his side-kick, Blair) and no high-tech gizmos or budget. How do they do it? Their "dirty tricks" are way more tricky than dirty. Both their subjects and their audience are taken on a ride, often with a surprise ending. My favorite episode was "Return to Sender" about a Russian double-agent who has decided he wants to return home. Mr. Palfrey assignment is to stop by any means necessary. Just when you think you're going to witness the agent's demise, the team's mastery of psychology saves the day.
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