Finney (1994)

 “The fact that your husband wants to become a christian isn’t in itself a sign of mental illness.”

Finney is a 5-hour, 6-episode made-for-British television film that follows the struggle for power between various crime families in the North of England.

finney2Finney begins with the brutal murder of the violent Finney family Patriarch and godfather of crime, Irish Tucker Finney (Clive Russell), and this brings prodigal son, jazz musician Stephen Finney (David Morrissey) back to Newcastle. Following the murder, the family gathers for the funeral followed by reading of the will. Tucker Finney, who was a cruel, harsh man in life, continues to run his family even after his death. He leaves almost his entire estate to daughter Lena (Melanie Hill), while to Finney, the eldest son, he leaves a run-down abandoned cinema. Youngest daughter Suzie (Angela Lonsdale) inherits one of the family’s legitimate business concerns, a hotel, and the explosively unpredictable youngest son, Tom (Andy Serkis) is cut out of the will.

Stephen Finney, considered to be the only sensible member of the family by the local constabulary, left Newcastle and his wife and two children many years earlier. Since then, he’s pursued a career in jazz, and he’s hardly successful. When he learns of his inheritance, he decides to convert the ramshackle building into a jazz club, and he enlists the support of his ex-wife, Carol (Pooky Quesnel) to help. Gathering friends and jazz players, Finney sees the jazz club as a way to repair his life, so he sets to work on the restoration. But there’s a slight problem; the building is considered squarely in the territory of rival gang, the Simpson family, headed by Bobo (John Woodvine) and Bobo Jr. (Christopher Fairbank).

While the first episode set the scene for the rest of the drama, and was therefore a bit slow, Finney becomes increasingly more intense as the episodes unfold. The story follows Lena’s efforts to track down and kill her father’s murderer while establishing herself as her father’s successor. Since the area’s criminals are used to being led by a man, Lena has to establish herself as every bit as brutal and fearsome as her father–not an easy task. Meanwhile Tom spirals out of control, and Stephen Finney, despite his best efforts to remain separate from the taint of crime, becomes involved in the family business through a turf war as loyalties clash with his moral code.

Well acted, and well-plotted, if you are into British crime dramas, then Finney is for you. Nothing too brutal, this is more about character against the backdrop of British crime. Some of the flashbacks are repetitive and drag on a bit, but there’s a marvelous sequence in the ghost train at a local fairground. Solid entertainment for fans of British television. From director David Hayman.

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Filed under British, British television, Crime

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