2001 – A Space Odyssey – tape 1506

We’re into a bit of a Science Fiction run with these next few tapes, starting with a classic of the genre.

Before I alienate some of you, can we all join together and agree that this era’s MGM studio logo is monstrously ugly?

Now on to the movie.

2001: A Space Odyssey is undeniably one of the most important films in the SF canon. It was a huge influence on many people. I worked with Douglas Adams for a couple of years, and he did mention more than once the profound influence on him of two things – the music of the Beatles, and 2001. Lots more than once, if I’m honest.

I’m slightly younger than Douglas, so I learned about 2001 by its reputation first, reading about it in science fiction magazines, reading Jack Kirby’s magnificently muscular comics adaptation of it for Marvel, and, I think, reading the Arthur C Clarke novel he wrote alongside the film. Clarke’s novel is interesting in that it seems like a novelisation of a movie, since the movie’s screenplay was being developed before the novel, but it’s a simultaneously created piece of work. And in fact, it differs from the movie in many details, even down to the ultimate destination of the Discovery ship, Jupiter in the movie, Saturn in the novel (unless I’m misremembering, it’s been a long time).

So I feel like I had absorbed a lot to do with this film before I ever saw it.

Add to that, the first time I would have seen it would have been on TV. Possibly even the infamous BBC widescreen showing where they decided to superimpose some stars into the black bars at the top and bottom of all the space scenes. I don’t seem to have that version in my collection, which is sad. This one comes from Channel 4, part of their Movie Nightmares season, which we’ve been looking at on a few tapes recently.

All of this, plus the fact that I’d already have seen and totally loved Star Wars before I ever saw it, might go some way to explaining why I think 2001 is just a little bit dull.

Plus, it’s desperately enigmatic, with an ending that’s almost impossible to understand without having read the novel.

So it’s a film I can appreciate, but unlike Douglas, it’s not a film I adore.

So here’s a few observations. Firstly, apart from a lot of second unit establishing shots, all of the Dawn of Man sequence was shot in studios in England, which had been home to Stanley Kubrick for several years. Kubrick famously hated flying, so it’s not surprising he shot even the African savannah scenes on sets in Shepperton and Borehamwood.

I’d love to know the background of this shot where a leopard (or a cheetah?) jumps down to attack one of the primates, who is an actor in a suit. It’s a real big cat, and it really does jump down and seem to attack him. Was it trained to jump like that but as a game? It look dangerous however it was done.

The primate costumes and masks were designed by Stuart Freeborn, who invented a mask mechanism that allowed the actor’s jaw to operate the lips and jaw of the mask in a fairly realistic manner. He’d go on to use the same techniques when creating Chewbacca’s mask for Star Wars.

When the monolith appears among the primates, Kubrick uses music by Georgy Ligeti, which was originally used without the composer’s permission.

The film exclusively uses existing music. Composer Alex North was hired to compose a full score, and that was written and recorded, but Kubrick decided not to use it, and stuck with the music he’d been using as a temporary track while editing. North’s score was eventually released on CD.

Following the monolith’s appearance, and the primates’ subsequent use of bones as tools and weapons, there’s the film’s famous jump cut between the bone thrown in the air by the primate, and a spacecraft in orbit.

The Space Station docking sequence that follows still looks beautiful. The visual effects team, led by Douglas Trumbull, avoided the use of blue-screen, opting instead for shooting as much as possible in camera on the same negative, avoiding the rather obvious matte lines that tended to be the hallmark of bluescreen work in the 60s.

It’s slightly disconcerting to see UK comedy legend Leonard Rossiter playing a Russian scientist, probing Heywood Floyd about his reason for visiting the moon.

During the spaceflight, Kubrick has the cabin crew walking on slippers with velcro on them to stop them floating. I can’t help thinking that you’d be more likely to train the crew to work efficiently and safely while floating, like the do on the ISS. Also notice the strange headgear, a way to avoid having to see that an actress’s long hair isn’t floating.

These sequences were filmed in a giant rotating set, able to rotate fully around. The same rotating set device is used later for the Discovery sequences.

Many of the spacecraft shots were achieved by taking high quality still photographs of the spacecraft, and shooting them over a background on an animation stand. You can recognise these shots because the perspective of the spacecraft isn’t changing as it moves.

I just love the model design in this movie, it’s so beautiful.

When we cut to the Discovery mission to Jupiter, 18 months after the discovery of the monolith on the moon, the music for the opening is Kachaturian, from his Gayane ballet suite. In Aliens, there’s a musical cue that sounds extremely similar to this piece, credited to composer James Horner.

At the end of a video call from astronaut Frank Poole’s parents, his father says “See You Next Wednesday.” That line appears in most of John Landis’ movies, as the title of a movie, and always a different movie.

The Discovery section of the movie is by far the most successful, mainly because it introduces the only character in the movie we end up caring about – the computer HAL 9000.

Then, the end of the movie is, frankly, a little boring. The famous ‘stargate’ sequence which sees surviving astronaut Kier Dullea travel through the huge monolith orbiting Jupiter, lasts about 12 minutes, and frankly is too long. At the time, the images were novel, but they’re just images, and their power to move is limited. And frankly, if I hadn’t read the novel, the final sequence where Bowman lives to old age in an upmarket Premier Inn, then turns into a shiny superbaby would make little sense.

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Body Heat – Don’t Leave Me This Way – tape 1545

Over to Sky Movies Gold for Body Heat. It’s written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan, at the time riding high from the success of his screenplays for The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Body Heat is very different from those films, far from family-friendly spectacle. It’s a modern film noir, a film for which the adjective ‘Steamy’ might have been invented, set, as it is, during a heatwave.

William Hurt, pre-Broadcast News, plays Ned Racine, a lawyer in Florida. He’s not a very good lawyer, and represents some low-life clients, as the first courtroom scene tells us. Ted Danson plays the prosecutor, and after the judge tells Hurt off for being badly prepared, Danson says “I’ve underestimated you, Ned, you’ve started using your incompetence as a weapon.”

That evening, he meets Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner) near the beach and strikes up conversation. After she fends off a few clumsy lines, she seems to warm too him.

                                        MATTY
                         You're not too smart, are you? 
                         I like that in a man.

                                        NED
                         What else do you like? Lazy? Ugly? 
                         Horny? I got 'em all.

                                        MATTY
                         You don't look lazy.

But she’s gone quickly, leaving him to spend the next few nights hanging around where he thinks she might be, in order to run into her again. He finds her in a bar, and they hook up. Her husband is out of town, so they drive to her house so Ned can ‘look at her wind chimes.’ That’s not a euphemism.

But when he’s seen the chimes, she tells him he must go, and at first he does, but he can’t stay away, and ends up throwing a chair through some french windows to get into the house. It could seem weird and stalkerish, but she’s inside waiting for him.

She’s obsessive about keeping their relationship secret, in fear of her husband finding out. At one point he goes to the house, talks to who he thinks is Matty, but it turns out to be an old friend of hers. It’s a small slip, be she reassures him her friend only wants her to be happy.

Worse, Matty’s neice comes to stay, and walks in on Ned and Matty in flagrante.

Then, Ned runs into Matty with her husband, Richard Crenna at a restaurant, and Crenna invites Ned to join them. Cue some awkward conversation, and some coded language about the kind of business Crenna does. Matty has already told him that he’s ruthless, possibly criminal, and his conversation on this subject merely cement’s Ned’s certainty that he’s a very bad man.

The next day, Matty comes to his office (making sure his receptionist was out first) and she’s scared. So Ned tells her that they have to kill her husband.

They enlist the aid of young Mickey Rourke, back when he was a beautiful young man. He’s an arson specialist, helping Ned set up the plan. We get a montage of the preparations, along with John Barry’s gorgeously sumptuous score perfectly pitched to heighten tension.

The plan is for Ned to come to the house, Matty would send her husband downstairs, and Ned would whack him over the head. The plan is almost foiled by her husband having a gun she didn’t know about, but the deed is done, Ned takes his body to an old building, stages it to look like he was hit by falling timber in the fire, and they’re done.

They should be home free.

But then Ned gets a call from a lawyer in Miami. He’s received Matty’s husband’s new will, which he says Ned drew up, and would like to discuss some problems with it. This is news to Ned, who hadn’t done any such thing.

The will is not much changed, and was witnessed by Matty’s old friend, who Ned had met earlier, but who is currently not available.

But there’s a problem, a technical issue with the language of the will, which renders it invalid, and as a result, Matty’s husband died intestate and everything went to Matty, and not split equally between her and his sister as his original will intended.

Ned knows that Matty was the one who redrew the will, but he can’t say anything without incriminating both of them, so he has to go along with it.

But now he’s free to see her, and admits even to Ted Danson and the local police detective, old drinking buddies, that he’s going to see her. They advise him strongly not to, telling him she’s dangerous, and a suspect in her husband’s death.

But he persists, and as the investigation continues, various bits of evidence starts appearing that might implicate Ned, and he discovers that Matty knew about an old case of his where he’d messed up a will, something she had claimed to know nothing.

Then Mickey Rourke, in police custody on another matter, tells him that a beautiful woman had come to him asking if he could rig another incendiary device. Shortly after, Matty phones him to tell him that her former housemaid, who had taken her husband’s glasses, a vital clue, had left them for them in the boathouse, and he has to collect them.

So he waits at the house for her. He’s now convinced he’s just a patsy for her, but when she turns up, she assures him she’s still in love with him. And to prove it, she goes to the boathouse. Which explodes.

Finally, we find Ned in jail, but he’s still trying to piece together what happened. A body was found in the boathouse, the dental records matched Matty’s records. But what if, Ned argues, his Matty had stolen her old schoolfriend’s identity even before she had married Richard Crenna, her friend had found out, which is why she was there that night, and his Matty had murdered her and left her body in the boathouse, while she escaped to live on a tropical island. But that would be too far fetched, wouldn’t it?

Next on this tape, from BBC1, Don’t Leave Me This Way, which is a sequel to A Masculine Ending which we looked at some time ago. Janet McTeer and Imelda Staunton return, what could be better?

New to this story is Pamela Salem, someone big in publishing.

Jerome Flynn is someone from her past, I think. He’s certainly been following her, and he’s very nasty to the young man who accompanies her to a book launch who turns out to be her son.

She does a bit of late night safecracking, stealing cash and a notebook from someone’s safe.

Returning from the first film is Bill Nighy as McTeer’s ex.

Sandra Neil (Salem) turns up on McTeer’s doorstep needing a place to stay for a couple of days, as something’s happening with her water. Or drains.

This is a pain, but things take a mysterious turn when she’s found dead in a car which had gone off a cliff in Suffolk.

Ian McNeice is Oscar Ghilardi, who’s investigating Sandra’s death. They meet at Sandra’s funeral.

Loretta (McTeer) goes back to her flat, and discovers a teddy bear left by Sandra. And it’s filled with cash, obviously from the safe. She’s not sure what to do with it, or to whom to entrust it, so she goes to see Bridget (Staunton).

While there, they are visited by Sandra’s young daughter, Lizzie, played by a very young Rebecca Hall (Maya Hansen in Iron Man 3) because they befriended her at the funeral and told her she was welcome to get in touch with them at any time.

Looking through some photographs taken at the book launch, they show her some photos of her mother, and point out that her brother Felix was in them too, but she can’t see him. When they point him out she tells them that the boy in the picture is Paul Elvin, a schoolfriend of Felix.

The actual Felix is played by Richard Dempsey (from the BBC’s Narnia adaptation), who has discovered that his mother is having an affair with Elvin.

Elvin himself visits Loretta to tell her that Sandra had intended to go with him to Australia on the morning after she died. He also tells her that Felix had been threatening both him and his mother.

And Felix, having been missing for a few days, turns up at the house of a family friend, George Saunders, played by John Fortune, who brings him back to his father, who we find burning his wife’s clothes, and the money from inside the teddy.

Aside – remember Mercurycard phone booths?

Felix is taken somewhere by a doctor and Lizzie is worried about him. Then, while having dinner with Oscar the detective, talking about the case, they learn that Paul Elvin has died, drowned in a lake.

It’s starting to get a bit tense, and Oscar warns Loretta and Bridget against investigating on their own, but Bridget can’t help herself and goes to investigate the health club that Sandra was involved in. The man who runs it is Jerome Flynn’s Dad, so they’re obviously prime suspects, but when they talk to her, Flynn tells her that he saw someone else at Loretta’s flat, and saw the same person in Suffolk, at Sandra’s holiday home.

The clues fall into place, and Bridget identifies the Suffolk man as George Saunders (Fortune), so she, McNeice, and a convoy of policeman, half of them drunk after a Police dinner, driving at speed to Suffolk, because young Lizzie has also gone there.

So has Loretta, who doesn’t know anything about George’s likely involvement, but she also learns that Lizzie has also gone to Suffolk, so she goes to find her, and George Saunders is also there.

The truth about what happened emerges when Lizzie’s father also arrives at the house. He and Sandra had argued, when Sandra told him that she intended to go to Australia, and she would take Lizzie with her. He hit her, she fell and hit her head, and he called his friend George who pronounced Sandra already dead, so they set up the car accident to make the best of the situation. But Saunders had lied to Sandra’s husband, and she was still alive. Flashbacks also tell us that she had been previously having an affair with Saunders, and that Lizzie was really his daughter, hence his attachment to the family, and his anger at her for having the affair with Paul Elvin.

There’s a bit of chasing around, Lizzie runs off into the dark, Saunders drives off, but comes up against the tipsy police convoy, and he ends up driving off the cliff as well.

Like the previous film, this is one that succeeds more down to the ensemble of fine actors, and Morse-inflected scenery than the details of the story. Again, there’s not a huge amount of detection going on, with most of the information being given to the protagonists by those involved, rather than being discovered by them, but you do care about the characters, and I wouldn’t have objected to a whole series featuring them.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 30th May 1993 – 21:00

After this, recording continues with a steamy trailer for the Sean Bean/Joely Richardson starring Lady Chatterley.

Then, an episode of Heart of the Matter which looks at ‘a new dilemma for the Church of England as it prepares for women priests.’

It’s interesting to see the justifications of the priests who oppose women priests. One priest says “there are already signs that the Church of England isn’t going to be a pleasant place for those who disagree. People are already being asked about their intentions, whether they wish to go to Rome, or resign from the ministry, how are they going to cope without their parishes, there are some calling for the removal of the financial provisions measure, so as not to allow for any financial support for those who are leaving. It’s not the sort of thing to dwell on before going to sleep at night.”

Then the interviewer (Joan Bakewell) says “hurtful, isn’t it?” and he replies “one feels discriminated against and unwanted.”

Irony is clearly not amongst the strengths of CofE clergy training.

Snark aside, it’s actually quite horrible to hear “In any diocesan affairs, they could expect to have dealings with women priests, so their own strict beliefs would keep them from such contamination.”

I’m half convinced that the Reverend Stephen Trott here is actually a character being played by Chris O’Dowd.

And to think, all these arguments were effectively silenced as soon as The Vicar of Dibley was first broadcast.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 30th May 1993 – 22:35

After this, there’s a trailer for Battle of the Atlantic – 50 Years On.

Then there’s the start of a programme about that battle, For Those in Peril. It talks to some of the people who were involved, on both sides, including a couple of famous faces, like Jon Pertwee

And Jim Callaghan

The tape ends after about five minutes of this programme.

Strictly Ballroom – tape 1543

Continuing my larceny of intellectual property, here’s what appears to be another tape recorded off the hotel TV feed on a trip to Harrogate. It has the same telltale noise at the start, some black to lead in, and a movie certificate, which videos didn’t tend to do.

It still vaguely amuses me to see the Rank logo, in all its old fashioned greatness. Bombardier Billy Wells, that is, bashing the gong.

Strictly Ballroom opens with a red curtain, supposed to invoke the feeling of seeing something in a theatre. Indeed, Baz Luhrmann’s first three films, following this with Romeo + Juliet and then Moulin Rouge, became known as the Red Curtain Trilogy.

If you’ve never seen it, Strictly Ballroom is a sort-of mockumentary about the ballroom dancing scene in rural Australia. It’s not quite This is Spinal Tap which was shot entirely as if it were a documentary. This is still a fictional movie, with no sense that the characters are being followed around by a film crew, but it does include the occasional ‘vox pop’ talking heads, especially in the opening sequence which brilliantly sets up the premise of the film, establishes its vivid colour palette, and lets us know what our hero is up against.

Our hero being Scott Hastings, a young ballroom dancer, groomed for the dance since he was six years old, and not content to dance the same way as everyone else. His ‘flashy, crowd-pleasing steps’ in a local competition shock the old guard of the local ballroom dancing community, and his partner quits because she can’t go along with his rampant rule-flouting.

One person who admires his dancing is learner Fran, played by Tara Morice. You can tell from the way she’s introduced that she’ll probably be the ugly duckling that blossoms into a swan.

She persuades him to teach her to dance better, and tells him she can be his partner. He’s uncertain – she’s a new dancer, he’s been dancing since he was six, but they embark on a training montage.

Things go wrong, though, when, at the dance where he’s going to first dance publicly with Fran, his parents and the local dance promoter try to get Scott paired up with another prominent dancer, Tina Sparkles, whose partner is retiring ‘due to commitments to his landscape gardening business.’ Scott and Fran learn this plan at the same time, before Scott can tell them he intends to dance with Fran. Scott is torn – Tina’s a champion, and he’s been working towards winning the Pan-Pacific championship since he was six years old.

Scott’s mum and the rest of the studio pressure Fran into leaving, hoping Scott will ask Tina to be his partner, but he goes to find Fran instead, who’s gone back to her family, who are Spanish. Her father is very gruff, asking what she’s been doing with Scott, and when he says they’ve been dancing, the father demands Scott shows them a Paso Doble. He does, and Fran’s family start laughing, then her father shows Scott how the dance should be danced, and it ends up with Fran’s grandmother teaching them both to dance it better, more authentically. It’s a charming inversion of the usual trope of the unsupportive family.

Of course, there is still an unsupportive family, but it’s Scott’s, and now they bring out their last weapon – they tell him about his father, who used to be a great dancer, but when he danced in the Pan-Pacific championship he used his own steps, and lost the championship, a loss that almost destroyed him. They persuade Scott to dance with his former partner at the championship, and win it, for his father.

Cut to the Pan Pacific Championship, and Scott’s dancing with Liz, not Fran. Fran’s angry. “What about a life lived in fear.”

Then Scott’s father tells him what really happened years ago. He never danced in the Pan Pacific Championship because his wife was persuaded by Ballroom Bigshot Barry Fife to dance with another dancer, and dance the regular steps. They didn’t win anyway.

Scott finds Fran, asks her to dance, and the climax is a marvellous sequence where the villainous Barry Fife tries to stop them dancing by cutting off the music, Scott’s father starts rhythmically clapping, joined by Fran’s family, and others in the hall, as Scott and Fran dance, the music is restored, and the dance ends to rapturous applause. Then Scott’s father asks his wife to dance, and soon everyone in the whole auditorium is on the dancefloor dancing along to ‘Love is in the Air’.

It’s a perfect little film, finding the ludicrous and the beautiful in equal measure in this slightly silly pastime that can nonetheless be gloriously passionate. I love it.

Broadcast News – tape 1547

We’re having a mini movie marathon at the moment. This one, at least, as not recorded under dubious circumstances (see yesterday) as it’s from ITV. No, really, it’s true.

Aside: What the hell are they thinking squashing these bumpers vertically? Quantel picture stretching was all over the place in those days, and it’s horrible.

It’s a good thing the film is good. This recording isn’t, though. It’s wobbling a bit, and the sound has a horrible buzz on it, which sounds like bad tracking, or possibly dirty heads. I’ve tried to clean the recording heads on my VCR regularly as I’ve been archiving these tapes, but sometimes the tape itself just has dodgy sound.

I’m cheating and watching it on a streaming service.

Holly Hunter is a news producer. She’s serious and driven, cares passionately about serious news, hates the trivialisation of news.

After giving a talk on the subject, where her serious points about the news were overshadowed by a film of a domino topple, she meets William Hurt, who tells her he liked her talk. He’s a news anchor, but he’s conscious that he’s not that smart, and doesn’t always understand the news. He’s basically everything that she hates.

Oh, and he’s just got a job in her newsroom.

Albert Brooks is the nerdy intellectual reporter, and her best friend. He’s also in love with her but can’t tell her.

This is a film full of lovely moments. There’s the frantic last-minute editing of a news story, and Joan Cusack’s run to the broadcast gallery with the tape.

The special bulletin about airstrikes in Libya, where Hurt has to anchor, and Hunter has to guide him through the newscast. Brooks phones in information from home, and Hunter feeds it to Hurt, leading to my favourite line, and one I use all the time, as Brooks says “I say it here, it comes out there.”

The two men who are there to demo a potential new theme for the news.

It’s so good they even reprise it during the end credits.

Hunter tells her boss off when he won’t use Brooks for the report. He says “It must be nice to think you’re always the smartest person in the room.”

She replies “No, it’s awful.”

Jack Nicholson makes an appearance as the bigshot New York anchor. Hurt’s star-making story is a piece on date rape – a new phenomenon at the time, even Brooks is sneery about it. “You’ve really blown the lid off nookie.” But Nicholson’s anchor has an interesting reaction to the piece, a long pause before he carries on. My personal reading is that he’s a Bill O’Reilly type, guilty of exactly that kind of harassment. Later, there’s a very odd scene where he visits the Washington newsroom, and Joan Cusack introduces herself to him, in a very pointed way, suggesting they have a history. I reckon he’d harassed or assaulted her at one point.

Brooks gets a chance to anchor the weekend news, and ends up in the most horrendous flop sweat.

The newsroom lays off a large number of people, and Nicholson comes down to show solidarity. But not too much solidarity.

“It’s a brutal layoff” he says to the station chief.

“You could make it less brutal by knocking a million or so off your salary.” replies the chief.

As he’s laying off an older staff member he asks “If there’s anything I can do for you?”

“Well, I certainly hope you’ll die soon.”

And Hunter’s outrage as she realised Hurt had faked crying for his reaction shot in the date rape news report.

The only things I don’t like about it are Hunter’s frequent ‘crying breaks’ where she takes some time out of her busy schedule to just sit and cry. Not over anything specific, it would seem, just random crying. I just don;t understand that.

And Albert Brooks comes very close to being the awful ‘nice guy’ who turns on the woman because she won;t go out with him. He doesn’t quite fully go there, but he’s close a few times.

After the film, recording continues for a few minutes with the start of an episode of Prisoner Cell Block H.

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Howards End – tape 1515

This looks like another bit of video piracy, judging by the amount of black screen before the film starts, the lack of any TV idents, and the slightly glitchy quality of the video. I wonder if it’s from the same time I recorded Reservoir Dogs in a hotel?

Howards End always confused me, as I assumed it was based on the Sunday evening BBC serial about yachtmakers.

But no, this is a Merchant Ivory period film about class. Emma Thompson plays Margaret Schlegel, whose younger sister Helen (Helena Bonham Carter) becomes briefly engaged to young Paul Wilcox, whose family owns Howards End. They break it off almost immediately, because the two families aren’t on the same social level.

When the matriarch of the Wilcox family, Ruth, played by Vanessa Redgrave, briefly stays in a flat opposite the Schlegels, Margaret resumes her acquaintance, and Mrs Wilcox is much taken with her (as well she should be, it’s Emma Thompson for heaven’s sake). Margaret tells her that she will soon have to leave her own house, where she has lived since childhood, because the lease runs out in 18 months.

But Ruth is growing ill, and succumbs to her illness.

But she’s written a note, intended to be a will, granting ownership of Howards End to Margaret Schlegel. Hopkins and the rest of the Willcoxes are outraged, and they burn the letter.

Also entering the story is a young man, Leonard Bast (Samuel West) who is a bookkeeper, and rather poorer than the Schlegels. Through a mixup with umbrellas he meets the Schlegels, and they take a shine to him, wanting to help him out. When they meet Mr Wilcox (Hopkins) he gives them the advice that the firm Bast works for is likely to fold before long, so they suggest he finds another post before it happens.

Mr Wilcox has taken a shine to Margaret, and asks her to marry him. His children aren’t happy, especially with the irony that she will, after all, get Howards End herself, as their mother had intended.

Hopkins is truly horrible. On being told that Bast has found another post, at a very reduced salary, he says that his previous employer is actually quite safe now. Young Helen chides him for his poor advice, upset that Bast is now in reduced circumstances because of his advice. Wilcox waves off such sentimentality. “The poor are poor. We feel sorry for them. But there we are.”

At the wedding of Wilcox’s daughter Evie (Jemma Redgrave) Helen Schlegel brings the Basts up from London, having discovered them on the brink of starvation, his new banking position having been downsized.

Things get more embarassing when Mrs Bast recognises Wilcox, having had a fling with him when she was much younger. He’s mortified, and almost breaks off the engagement with Margaret out of shame. But she persuades him it’s in the past.

Helen and Bast become involved, and she then disappears to Europe, losing contact with the family, until she finally returns with the news that she’s pregnant.

The Wilcoxes are the kind of people who demand to know who the father is, so they can sort it out, and when Bast travels to Howards End, where Helen is staying, young Charles Wilcox confronts him, starts beating him with a sword, and drops a bookcase on him. Bast dies, and Charles is convicted of the murder. And the story ends with Mr Wilcox setting his final will, giving Howards End to Margaret on his death, thus she ends up with what she should have had years ago.

This is a fine film, with lots of great performances. Vanessa Redgrave is perfect as the aging matriarch, Emma Thompson is never less than perfect, and Hopkins is born to place these horrendous, puffed up types, consumed with their own importance at the expense of anyone else. I do get frustrated with the appalling lack of humanity of the characters in films like this, but I feel that’s the point of the story. I can’t criticise a film

There’s nothing else on this tape, and definitely no real clues as to the source of this recording. There’s a strange upside down 3 showing faintly in the black that precedes the film, but I’ve no idea what it represents.

Star Trek – The Next Generation – tape 1505

Back to Sky One for another packed tape of Star Trek The Next Generation.

First up is Aquiel. A landing party visit a space station to find it abandoned. Crusher finds cellular residue, the remains of one of the crew. The only lifeform there is a small dog. We’ve all seen The Thing. Throw it out of the airlock.

The cellular residue matches with the eponymous Aquiel. There was another lieutenant on board, and Aqiel’s logs suggest they didn’t get on, so he’s got to be a prime subspace.

Geordi gets the job of decoding Aquiel’s logs. A seasoned TNG watcher knows what’s coming, and sure enough, as soon as he sees her picture, he goes a bit gooey. Geordi really needs an actual girlfriend.

It’s all a little mysterious. They can’t find the logs of the other lieutenant, and there’s traces of Klingon DNA. But when they contact the Klingons, they are a bit angry at the accusation, and they can prove it – by returning Aquiel to the Enterprise.

Now suspicion falls on Aquiel, and naturally Geordi wants to protect her.

Crusher is still scanning the cellular residue, when suddenly it starts morphing.

It becomes a perfect replica of Crusher’s hand. Again, we’re definitely in Thing territory.

They realise that there’s a shapeshifting creature at large, and it might be Aquiel, or the Klingon who is also suspected of being involved.

But we all know who it really is, and sure enough, the little dog soon turns into an unconvincing amorphous blob, which Geordi has to kill with a phaser.

The next episode is Face of the Enemy which has a killer teaser, as Troi wakes up to find that she’s suddenly a Romulan.

Carolyn Seymour off of Survivors plays the Romulan Captain.

This is a great episode for Troi. Although I note it does basically kick off with someone putting a roofie in her drink and controlling her body without her consent. But she’s remarkably good at the undercover stuff, presumably her empathy being a big help, so I’ll forgive the dubious setup.

The next episode is called Tapestry. Picard has been seriously injured, so he suffers a near death experience. Of course, it’s Q.

Q takes Picard on a trip through his life, so we get to see cool things, like Picard in one of the classic Trek uniforms.

What is it about ‘futuristic’ versions of games like pool, that they have to be clearly much worse than the originals. Look at the state of this, it looks ridiculous.

Q shows Picard what his life would have been like if he hadn’t been stabbed through the heart as a young cadet. He ends up a junior officer on the Enterprise, not outstanding. Of course, he’s horrified.

The moral of this story appears to be that it’s good to be a hot-headed teenager who gets stabbed through the heart because then you get to be captain of a starship. A lesson we should all learn.

The next episode is a crossover with Deep Space Nine, Birthright part 1. There’s a guest appearance from Dr Bashir.

He hooks up with Data to investigate a piece of equipment found in the Gamma Quadrant, but when they apply power, it zaps Data with an energy burst. Data has hallucinations in which he sees his creator, Dr Soong.

Worf is contacted by an alien who tells him his father is alive, held captive in a Romulan prison camp. Of course, this is appalling to Worf, because no Klingon would allow himself to be captured, it would bring dishonour to his whole family, the usual Klingon bollocks.

But he decides to go to find his father. But the Klingons in the camp tell him his father did actually die at Khitomer, and when he tells them he will rescue them, they refuse, because they are too ashamed to leave.

And he has to stay.

Frankly, I’m not surprised they’re ashamed, having to wear such fluffy dressing gowns.

I’m afraid I pretty much zoned out during this two parter, but you already know my antipathy towards Klingon bollocks.

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Spielberg and the Dinosaurs – Over The Rainbow – tape 1504

First on this tape, Spielberg and the Dinosaurs, a behind the scenes look at Jurassic Park.

This was, according to Genome, from 12th July 1993. According to iMDb the film was released on July 16th.

My memory of that time was that, prior to the film’s release, there were very few glimpses of the CGI dinosaurs. So if I’m correct, there won’t be as much footage of the full motion dinosaurs as in the making of we saw a little while ago, which came out after the film’s release.

Sure enough, we see a few things, like the herd of gallimimus, which were in the trailer, but when they play the classic brachiosaurus scene, we get all the reaction shots, but only the barest hint of the dinosaur. But there’s also a small glimpse of the CGI T-Rex, so it’s a bit more than I remember seeing.

For the second time in two days, here’s Michael Crichton.

We also hear from Laura Dern

Sam Neill

The always wonderful Jeff Goldblum

Sir Richard Attenborough (what on earth are they thinking with the drop shadow on the caption here?)

And, naturally, Steven Spielberg

There’s a lovely moment where he talks about Laura Dern’s character not being a screaming heroine, and refers to his wife Kate Capshaw, who screamed “for almost 90 minutes of the two hours of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It was no way to build a character. I thought it was at the time but I was wrong.” Some refreshing honesty from someone so powerful.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 12th July 1993 – 19:00

After this, recording switches to another programme already in progress, a documentary looking at what the problems would be having a real Jurassic Park, as scientists and zookeepers talk about managing large, dangerous animals.

There’s some interviews from the Jurassic Park crew as well, including this one with Steven Spielberg, where you can see Dennis Muren in the background.

This was a Channel 4 production, but there’s no clue what the title was from what I’ve got here. Could have been Equinox. It was followed by the Tour De France, though.

After this, recording switches to LWT, and a programme I had forgotten even existed, Over The Rainbow. It’s a sitcom starring Angeline Ball and Bronagh Gallagher from The Commitments, and written by that movie’s screenwriters, Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais.

This episode is called Only The Lonely. It’s set in Brighton. Angeline Ball, as Finnoula, lives over the pub, the rainbow of the title. Her husband Neil has just got out of jail, but finds his best mate Spence living in the flat with Finn, and she asks for a divorce.

He’s naturally upset, hints at suicide, then, later, is brought back to the pub soaking wet, having been fished from the water.

Hilarity ensues when we learn, at the end of the episode, that he had jumped into the water to save a little boy who had fallen in. Jokes about suicide. They’re always funny.

Still, it’s good to see Clement and LaFrenais aren’t afraid to present diverse lifestyles. Or perhaps they’re just big Morecambe and Wise fans.

Oh, and just to underline how much this is influenced by The Commitments, the girls are in a pub band.

The next episode is I Write The Songs. Spence and Neil are trying to write songs, but they’re rubbish. Spence is even cribbing lyrics from old albums.

Next it’s Red, Red Wine. I detect a trend in the episode titles.

Selina Cadell makes an appearance as Neil’s probation officer.

Next it’s Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood. The band play at a big country house, and Finn gets a fan letter from the house’s owner, or so she thinks.

When she returns the next morning, the two men in her life are horribly jealous. But his Lordship is a little younger than they thought.

That’s the last episode on this tape. I’ll be honest, it’s an LWT sitcom, with all that usually entails. Sadly, it’s no Hot Metal. It has a very Men Behaving Badly vibe – smart, capable women lumbered with ineffectual, barely sentient blokes – but the leads don’t have the charm of Clunes or Morrissey. And I don’t understand the logic behind deciding to make a sitcom with two of the stars of a huge hit movie, then basically sideline both of them in favour of two utterly anonymous men whom we really don’t care about. This is a waste of both Ball and particularly Gallagher, who gets almost nothing to do. A great disappointment from two usually great writers.

After this, recording continues for a time with Kinnock – The Inside Story. It looks like an interesting programme, but there’s only ten minutes of it. Then the recording ends.

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