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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

'Baffled'! DVD: Unfairly Failed Leonard Nimoy Drama Pilot

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[EDITOR'S NOTE: This Australian produced DVD will not play in a standard U.S. DVD player. You will need a Region-Free international player.]

These thoughts regarding the recent Australia-based Madman Entertainment DVD release of the 1973 Leonard Nimoy TV movie "Baffled!" is the first of what will be numerous posts on titles in the "the Britannia film collection." This extensive collection primarily consists of films based on British television series. "Benny Hill" and "Till Death us do Part" are two of such programs that are better known in the U.S.

The following YouTube clip of a promo. for "Baffled" wonderfully showcases the '70slicious elements of the film.

"Baffled" opens with Nimoy's Tommy Kovack in the middle of a NASCAR-style race in Pennsylvania when sudden Gothic images of an English manor house prompt a spectacular crash. A subsequent television interview in which Kovack discusses the images brings him to the attention of British ESP expert Michele Brent. Susan Hampshire of the long-running classic British series "Monarch of the Glen" plays Brent.

On contacting Kovack in a charmingly amusing scene, Brent convinces him that his visions are not all in his mind. She also asserts that they are premonitions and ultimately convinces him to travel to the manor house to prevent the viewed harm. The immediately clear entertaiingly subtle chemistry between these characters alone makes one lament that "Baffled!" never became a series.

On arriving in England, the pair quickly meet American movie star/ex-wife of a British actor Andrea Glenn, played by Vera Miles of "Psycho," and the seeming devil child Jennifer. This pair, who are the stars of the aforementioned visions, are newly arrived co-guests of Kovack and Brent at the house.

The ensuing investigation produces further evidence both of the presence of an evil force in the house and Andrea being the target of a nefarious plot. The manner (no pun intended) regarding how all this plays out makes for good creepy atmospheric '70s style fun. Nimoy using the same dry wit in portraying Kovack that he brings to Spock greatly enhances the fun. One disappointment is that Kovack never utters the phrase "fascinating."

The summer camp continues with visions that Kovack experiences during his investigation aiding that effort, Jennifer terrorizing Andrea, and Brent and Kovack finding themselves in "Hart to Hart" style peril.

Other awesome elements include Brent trying to train Kovack to focus and otherwise better utilize his visions, taking full advantage of setting the story in an old English country home, and an unintentionally hilarious climatic mental showdown.

A scene at the end in which Kovack experiences a vision that lacks any connection with the manor house or its occupants provides a frustratingly teasing glimpse of the potential of "Baffled!" the series.

The DVD extras include the U.S. version, which is slightly longer than the U.K. version, of the film and the trailer for "Baffled." Hearing a slight variation on the standard pronunciation of "Nimoy" makes that teaser especially fun.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Baffled!" is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

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