When I was growing up in Chicago in the early 80s, WGN used to show Prisoner Cell Block H each night after the late news. This was a fantastically entertaining Australian soap opera set in a women's prison (the Wentworth Detention Centre).
Prisoner starred Val Lehman as Bea Smith, the toughest inmate in Wentworth who ran the prison from the inside as "Top Dog". This show was tough and gritty and dealt with many graphic issues while maintaining a highly entertaining narrative. This show was always refreshed with new faces (both inmates and guards) and made for great tv.
I hadn't seen or heard of Prisoner since about 1985 after I left Chicago to go to college. Last week while searching through Best Buy for the ECW DVD, I saw the new Best of Prisoner CBH DVD and couldn't believe it. It's as awesome as I remember and my only complaint is as a "Best Of" compilation, the episodes chosen are stand alone entities and I was dying for the next chronological episode. Small gripe though, as Bea Smith is one of the great characters in the history of television.
edit: A question for those in Australia and the UK
I never saw any episodes after Val Lehman left the show at episode 400. Did the show lose it's popularity at the same time? I can't really imagine the show without her, but I know it ran another 275 episodes or so.
Anyway, it's still my favorite show from Australia, with Neighbours being a distant second (Nicola Charles, um wow!).
(edited by NickBockwinkelFan on 8.12.04 0007) "Well, you can't involve friendship with business. It has to be one or the other. It's either business or friendship, or hit the bricks!" --Life Lessons from "The Tao of Bobby the Brain Heenan" Uncensored 2000 preview
"As long as the check don't bounce, I guess he's okay with it!" --Former All Pro Giants LB Harry Carson on Bill Parcells joining the hated rival Dallas Cowboys
It was, overall, a decent show. People who say NBC missed the boat on this one are pretty wrong. This is the type of show that would fly under the radar without a major push, and probably end up being canned six episodes in.