Max Headroom – tape 710

On this tape, three episodes from the US series Max Headroom, a spin-off/remake of the original single-episode UK version that launched the character as a host of a Pop Video show.

In the first episode here, Deities, Edison has moral qualms about exposing a sham religion channel. Gregory Itzin makes a brief appearance working for the Religion channel.

Next it’s Grossberg’s Return. Former Network 23 executive Ned Grossberg returns working for Network 66. There’s an election going on, and in this world, politicians are elected by viewing figures of the networks that support  them. A bit like America, really.

An early appearance from Rosalind Chao off of Star Trek, as a rookie reporter who gets footage of a rival politician having an illicit affair.

And representing Babylon 5 in the green corner, Andreas Katsulas plays one of the Network 66 executives.

The next episode is Dream Thieves. An old reporter rival of Edison’s is selling his dreams to a small TV start-up, and dies in the process. He’s called Paddy Ashton, which I always hear as Paddy Ashdown, so that’s a bit odd.

It’s nice to see semi-regular character Blank Reg return in this episode, played by W Morgan Sheppard.

I quite enjoy these episodes, but they really are crying out for a remaster, as the NTSC post production on this is as murky as hell. That’s assuming they shot it all on film, and that anyone bothered to keep the negatives. For such a heavily designed show, it’s a realy shame that the picture quality lets it down.

After the last episode, Channel 4 closes down.


  • Abbey National
  • Ariel
  • Twix
  • Thomson Local Directory
  • Tango
  • Kwik Fit
  • trail: Farenheit 451
  • Qualcast
  • Bold
  • Inxs – Kick
  • Bourjois
  • Halifax
  • Dairy Crunch
  • Currie Motors
  • Ariel
  • My Stepmother is an Alien in cinemas
  • Thomson Local Directory
  • Miller Lite
  • Simple
  • Daz
  • AA Autoquote
  • Anytime joke line
  • Tartar Control Crest
  • Wella
  • trail: Friday on Four
  • Buster on Video
  • Coca Cola
  • London Weekly Advertiser
  • Kodacolor Gold
  • Clannad – Pastpresent
  • Tartar Control Crest
  • Daz
  • TV Times
  • Keep Britain Tidy
  • London Weekly Advertiser
  • The Singer and the Song
  • VW
  • The Mortgage Corporation – Barry Norman
  • Taboo/Mirage
  • BP
  • Mississippi Burning in cinemas
  • London Weekly Advertiser
  • Have You Locked Your Car?
  • trail: The Story of Merseybeat

It! The Terror From Beyond Space – Roseanne – The Groovy Fellers – tape 656

Today, something a little less highbrow. It’s It! The Terror From Beyond Space.

It starts with a landscape – it’s Mars, where a space mission crashed, and there was only one survivor.

There’s a strange scene right at the start, where reporters are briefed with much the same information as the initial voiceover gave us, and when he announces that the sole survivor is being brought back to face trial for the murders of the rest of his crew, all the reporters leap out of their seats and rush out of the room, so I hope he’d finished.

On the ship, the survivor, Carruthers, is grilled about what happened. He’s told them that creatures of some kind murdered the rest of the crew, but they’re convinced he murdered the crew to maximise his chances of survival until rescue.

But there’s definitely something nasty lurking on the ship.

It’s not long before it starts bumping off the crew. A couple go missing, and they go looking in the ship’s vents – you can see the inspiration this film was on Dan O’Bannon’s script for Alien.

It makes short work of their weapons.

I’m confident in saying that HR Giger had no part in the design of It!

This is the second tape in a row where somebody uses a blowtorch as a weapon. If that isn’t a massive coincidence, I don’t know what is.

In the end they also have to open the airlocks to solve the problem.

And, perhaps because the makers had no faith in the viewers understanding the story, we’re back with the boring guy explaining the plot to reporters again. These really feel like stupid studio additions.

After this, recording switches, and it’s the pilot episode of Roseanne. I didn’t even know I had this.

Look how young they were.

So, so young, even Sara Gilbert

In fact, so young that DJ is played by a completely different actor, Sal Barone,

Talking of young, it also features a very young George Clooney, who clearly hasn’t realised how good looking he would be with sensible hair.

Next, it’s The Groovy Fellers. A programme that exists only because Jools Holland swore on live TV. It’s gimmick is that Rowland Rivron plays a Martian. Not a homicidal Martian like in It! which is sad, because that might have made it more interesting.

In pace of being interesting, they have a Rolls Royce with a cut down roof. I don’t know why this is supposed to be interesting, but this is something they went on about a lot in publicity.

They meet an old photographer, but we’re given no context to his background. We’re apparently supposed to know him because he was on The Tube.

They visit a couple who live near a power station.

Then they travel to a castle in Scotland and attend a party full of posh people.

This really is tiresome in the extreme. A show that’s not interested in anything or anyone.

After this, the very start of It’s Showtime at the Apollo and the tape ends.

In the ad breaks, there’s a Greene King IPA advert featuring (I think) Neil Innes.


  • Canada
  • Comet
  • Centerparcs
  • Anchor Butter
  • Brook Street – Lois Maxwell
  • Greene King IPA – Neil Innes
  • Diet Pepsi – Michael J Fox
  • Sellotape Double Glazing Film
  • Penguin
  • Bic Microglide
  • Sanatogen
  • Mr Kipling
  • Lamot
  • Mail on Sunday
  • American Express
  • The Marquee 30 Legendary Years
  • Bernard Matthews Turkey Drummers
  • Ireland
  • trail: thirtysomething
  • Ikea
  • Carlsberg
  • Brook Street – Lois Maxwell
  • Metro GTa
  • Federal Express
  • Selfridges
  • trail: The Abduction of Kari Swenson
  • Lunn Poly
  • Greene King IPA – Neil Innes
  • Cadbury’s Dairy Milk
  • HIV and drugs
  • Nat West
  • trail: The Harp in the South

Eureka – tape 798

On this tape, BBC2’s Film Club presents Nicolas Roeg’s Eureka. A very strange film, with a chequered history involving changes in studio management, and lacklustre releasing. The introduction, by Nigel Andrews, features interviews with Roeg himself, his producer Jeremy Thomas, and the writer Paul Mayersberg. It’s a bit longer than these introductions usually are, but it’s interesting to hear about the problems with the film’s release.

As for the film itself, it’s another Roeg film that I can appreciate, but don’t enjoy very much.

Gene Hackman plays a man who finds gold in the Yukon, and becomes the richest man in the world. We first meet him while he’s prospecting, with two other people, who he’s now attacking, yelling “I’ve never made a nickel from another man’s sweat” after the other man has apparently suggested 50/50 split of anything they find. Being introduced to the character in this circumstance doesn’t make me warm to him.

He does strike gold later. I’m not convinced the film’s representation of a gold mine being discovered is entirely factually accurate.

The film cuts to many years later. Hackman has a grown up daughter, played by frequent Roeg collaborator and sometime wife Theresa Russell.

His wife is Jane Lapotaire.

There’s another appearance from Joe Pesci, playing a dodgy Miami businessman, who wants Hackman to invest in his business.

Mickey Rourke, back when he was young and beautiful, plays Pesci’s fixer.

Rutger Hauer plays Theresa Russell’s husband Claude. Hackman hates him, and that drives the basic animosity of the plot.

After a lot of family drama, a bit of racist voodoo dancing, and lots of shouting, Rourke and his men, including Joe Spinell, murder Hackman in his home. It’s hugely violent, including the profligate use of a welding torch to burn him.

After he’s dead, Hauer is on trial for his murder, because he was at the house too. One of the lawyers is played by Norman Beaton.

It’s definitely another film filled with people I really don’t like, doing unpleasant things to each other. I’m not overly surprised it wasn’t a hit.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 9th September 1989 – 22:35

After this, there’s a look ahead to Programmes on Sunday. Interesting to note that Moviedrome was already running. I had thought it effectively replaced Film Club.

Then BBC2 closes down.

Roger Rabbit and the Secret Of Toontown – The Making Of Moonwalker – Film 91 – tape 637

After yesterday’s rather lacklustre offering, here’s something much more interesting. First, from Thames, Roger Rabbit and the Secret Of Toontown, a behind the scenes look at the making of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a film I think has rather fallen out of the collective memory, despite being very good. Perhaps because it didn’t become a franchise.

This is a very good programme, looking at all the things that went in to making the movie, and which also looks at the history of animation, and blending animation with live action.

It includes plenty of contributions from the cast, crew, and also some veterans of animation.

Joanna Cassidy presents the programme.

Director Robert Zemeckis

Executive Producer Steven Spielberg

It’s nice to see some of the greats from the history of animation, like Ward Kimball

The great Chuck Jones, the man behind Looney Tunes.

The director of Animation on the movie was Richard Williams. He’s an interesting choice, as he didn’t have any huge blockbuster movies behind him. I knew of him because he’d been part of Bob Godfrey’s The Do It Yourself Film Animation Show, and its associated book, which I still have. My guess is that, because the film had to work with both Disney and Warner Bros characters, they couldn’t use someone who was fully within one camp or another. Williams had always worked independently, so I guess he would be more trusted to look after all the characters. Just my theory, though.

The real star of the movie was Bob Hoskins. Again, interesting casting. He’s a high profile actor, had plenty of starring roles, but wasn’t massive. He’s the guy who was going to play Al Capone in De Palma’s Untouchables until De Niro became available. But in Hoskins they got an actor who could give a performance, but could give that performance with absolutely nothing else in the scene. If you’ve seen any of the footage of Hoskins before the animation was added, you’ll know how hard it must have been to give a convincing performance, especially in the days when they didn’t have the option to replace his body with CG to make it match. He had to do it all.

Friz Freleng is another name you’d be familiar with from the Warner cartoons. He talks about making films which combined cartoons with live action.

Kathleen Turner talks about playing Jessica Rabbit.

The programme even talks to the puppeteers, who had to manipulate the real world objects that were held by the animated characters – again, no CGI, everything was attached to rods, which were then covered by the animated figures. David Alan Barclay is pictured in the puppeteer’s usual domain – under the stage.

They did use an inflatable Roger Rabbit in rehearsal to figure out where the camera needed to point.

Dick Van Dyke talks about Mary Poppins, and dancing with penguins.

Gene Kelly famously danced with Jerry the mouse, and made another movie called Invitation to the Dance which had him dancing with animated figures. To persuade the studio that it was possible, he had to ask his friend Walt Disney to talk to them and tell them it could be done.

George Gibbs, who’s done physical effects for the Indiana Jones movies, demonstrates some of the rigs they built to stand in for the characters.

The shots of Hoskins driving what will become Benny the Cab, with the actual driver sitting behind him all in black, are more scary than what’s in the finished film.

Frank Marshall was producer, and also directed a lot of second unit. He talks about shooting the nightclub scene, which had dozens of animated characters walking around, interacting with the live action props and actors.

Another veteran of Indiana Jones, Robert Watts, talks about the nightclub set, how it’s lit and working 24 hours a day, with several different crews working to get all the shots necessary for the sequence.

Roger himself, Charles Fleischer, talks about finding the right voice.

Lou Hirsch played Baby Herman.

The real Betty Boop, Mae Questel, reprised her role here.

Mel Blanc supplied voices for all his Looney Tunes characters. His son does a pretty good Bugs Bunny too.

Ken Ralston of ILM talks about the sheer scale of the effects work needed for the movie, more shots than several other movies combined.

After this, recording switches to BBC2, and the end of Mission: Impossible.

Then, The Making Of Moonwalker, a slightly odd behind the scenes look at Michael Jackson’s slightly odd movie. It looks, on the face of it, like a standard behind the scenes puff piece, but several of the interviews seem a lot more candid than I would expect.

It’s a strange movie, not an awful lot more than a few music videos strung together with the barest of stories, and it has some surreal parts, like when Jackson is chased by a bunch of Claymation characters.

Jackson’s manager, Frank DiLeo, is featured a lot, talking about how hard it was to fit the filming around a huge, 17 month world tour.

The film is mostly centered around the song Smooth Criminal. During the shooting of this, some famous faces turned up to watch Jackson perform, including Gregory Peck.

And Robert De Niro. These were such ‘snatched’ shots that the filmmaker was obviously so pleased to have got that they had to include them

David Newman had to write the screenplay, from Jackson’s story ideas. Superman III is used as an example of his other work, which doesn’t help him, I think.

Colin Chilvers directed the Smooth Criminal video section. He talks about being slightly surprised by what was in the finished film. If his name is familiar, it’s probably because he’s done special effects on loads of movies, including the original Superman.

Given hindsight, I feel worried for the the three child actors in the film.

Joe Pesci says he got the job because he owed Frank DiLeo money. “Isn’t that how everybody got this job?”

One of the reasons I think this is a slightly unusual film is that they address issues like the film not getting a US theatrical release. That’s not the kind of thing puff pieces talk about.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 4th January 1989 – 18:50

Next, an episode of Film 91, so we’re skipping by a few years. I presume I was looking for tapes with space on the end, and this one came up.

This episode has reviews of the following films:

There’s a report on how the hollywood movie newspaper Variety has contributed a lot of slang to the English language.

There’s also a brief tribute to Tony Richardson, and some book recommendations for Christmas.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 19th November 1991 – 22:55

The next episode has Barry Norman’s verdict on the following films.

There’s a report on Amblin’s new animation studio set up in the UK, to produce An American Tail: Feivel Goes West.

Can I just point out how long co-director Phil Nibbeline’s neck is.

There’s also brief tributes to Klaus Kinski and Anton Furst, who died in that week. Furst was a particularly sad loss, at 47.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 26th November 1991 – 23:00

The next episode see’s Barry Norman looking at the following films:

Tom Brook talks to Angelica Huston about The Addams Family. There’s also a look at new videos on release.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 3rd December 1991 – 23:05

After this, there’s a trailer for Omnibus looking at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Then, the tape runs out during a concert by Tony Bennett, Watch What Happens.


LA Law – Bite the Ballot – Anything more would be Greedy – tape 764

First on this tape, the last episode of Season Three of LA LawConsumed Innocent. Grace is prosecuting a Jerry Springer/Jeremy Kyle type, after someone was killed by a mob after his programme. The host is played by JT Walsh.

Armin Shimerman plays a man whose snake swallowed a prize pig.

Another familiar face is Don Opper, playing the man who killed JT Walsh’s guest. You might remember him as Max 404 in Android.

After this episode, recording switches to Channel 4, and a one-off political comedy show by the South African playwright Pieter-Dirk Uys. It’s his one-man show featuring lots of different South African characters, and, to be honest, there are very few jokes.

After this, an episode of Anything more would be Greedy. This is the final episode, Georgian Silver, so I won’t have a clue what’s happening.

Robert Bathurst plays a politician.

Stephen Fry plays a more senior politician.

This is a rather turgid drama about business in the 80s. It’s written by Malcolm Bradbury, and I get the feeling that he hated every single character in it. Plus, it’s shot on video, and as a result it looks terrible. Flat, low contrast, ugly pictures, and all the characters are dressed in 80s power suits. Plus, there’s a character called Jonquil, which must qualify as some kind of crime against media.

The tape ends right after this. Quite disappointing, as I wanted to find a hidden gem here.

BAFTA Awards 1989 – tape 832

On this tape, it’s the BAFTA Awards 1989 although I think the awards were presented in 1990. It’s on ITV, so Michael Aspel takes presenting duties.

The first award of the night is presented by Angela Lansbury, for Best Drama Series/Serial.

It’s won by Traffik and producer Brian Eastman and writer Simon Moore accept the award. Simon Moore takes the opportunity to have a go at the News of the World TV critic. “The review is short and went as follows: ‘Traffik, Monday, 10pm. Sprawling drug drama leaves viewers in coma.’ I only wish I could write as well as that.”

Next, Dame Wendy Hiller presents Best Single Drama.

The winner is The Accountant, accepted by Les Blair, Geoffrey Case, and Paul Knight.

Next it’s Best Factual Programme, presented by Sebastian Coe. It’s won by Edward Mirzoeff for Forty Minutes, who declines to give a speech.

The writers award is presented by Diana Rigg.

The winner is Andrew Davies.

John Gordon Sinclair presents the award for Best Short Film. It’s won by The Candy Show. No speech.

Brian Walden presents the award for Best News coverage.

It’s won by Steve Selman for coverage of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

Best Light Entertainment Show is presented by Bea Arthur

It’s won by Clive James on the 80s, and accepted by Elaine Bedell

And Richard Drewett, Clive James’ longtime producer.

Clive James is there in the audience with Jerry Hall.

Best Foreign Television Programme is presented by the Chairman of Bafta, Kevin Billington

The winner is Marcel Ophuls for Hotel Terminus. He gives a nice nod to the BBC for presenting his work in full (four and a half hours).

Next, Jeremy Paxman presents the Flaherty Documentary award.

It’s won by Kevin Sim for Four Hours in My Lai.

Best Children’s Programme in Entertainment or Drama is presented by Toyah Willcox. It’s won by Maid Marian and her Merry Men. No speech.

Best Children’s Documentary or Education programme is presented by Chris Tarrant. It’s won by The Really Wild Show. No speech.

Ruby Wax presents the award for Best Short Animated Film. It’s won by Nick Park for A Grand Day Out (referred to here as ‘Nicholas Park’). He doesn’t get to make a speech.

David Suchet presents the Huw Weldon award for Best Arts Programme.

It’s won by Art in the Third Reich, accepted by Peter Adam.

Julia McKenzie presents the award for Best TV Music. It’s won by Christopher Gunning for Poirot. No speech.

The Richard Dimbleby Award is presented by Melvyn Bragg.

The winner is Kate Adie.

Best Comedy Series is presented by Warren Mitchell.

It’s won by Blackadder Goes Forth. It’s accepted by John Lloyd, Ben Elton, Richard Boden and Richard Curtis.

Ben Kingsley presents the award for Best TV Actress.

It’s won by Diana Rigg for Mother Love.

Felicity Kendall presents the award for Best TV Actor.

The winner is John Thaw, for Inspector Morse.

The award for Best Light Entertainment Performance is presented by Frankie Howerd.

It’s won by Rowan Atkinson for Blackadder Goes Forth.

That’s it for the TV awards, the first Film award is Best Adapted Screenplay, presented by David Puttnam. The winner is Christopher Hampton.

Jodie Foster presents the award for Best original Screenplay.

The winner is Nora Ephron for When Harry Met Sally, live by satellite.

Bill Cotton presents the Fellowship Award.

It’s presented to Paul Fox.

After a break for the news, we’re back to the awards, and Stewart Copeland presents the Best Film Score award.

It’s won by Maurice Jarre, accepting by Satellite from LA.

Joss Ackland presents the award for Best Supporting Actress. He’s disappointed that the winner, Michelle Pfeiffer, isn’t there to accept it. “I don’t get to kiss her?”

Emily Lloyd presents the award for Best Supporting Actor.

It’s won by Ray McAnally. He died before this ceremony, so it’s accepted by writer Jim Sheridan.

Richard Harris presents the award for Best Actress

It’s won by Pauline Collins for Shirley Valentine

Best Film Actor is presented by Angela Lansbury (again).

The winner is Daniel Day Lewis.

Presenting the award for Best Director is William Hurt.

The winner is Kenneth Branagh for Henry V. He’s live by satellite from Japan, and they ran out of time on the satellite before he could finish his speech. Probably because the programme was overrunning. Sending video across the world was so hard in 1990.

Sean Connery presents the award for Best Film.

Winning for Dead Poets Society are Peter Weir and producer Steven Haft

Finally, Princess Anne introduces the final awards of the night. The tartan is a reference to a rugby match that day, and she opens her remarks with the comment “I was at Murrayfield.”

The Desmond Davis award goes to John Lloyd.

It’s a nice speech, particularly when he has to apologise to Princess Anne for Spitting Image making her life a misery. And there’s also a spirited defence of the BBC.

The winner of the Michael Balcon award for achievement in Film goes to Lewis Gilbert.

Finally, Richard Attenborough presents a special award, granted because this is Bafta’s 21st Birthday.

The recipient is Dame Peggy Ashcroft.

That’s it for the awards, and the recording finishes just after the ceremony.


  • trail: The Match




Capricorn One – tape 873

Well now.

Today’s tape contains Capricorn One. I fear my attitude to this film was irrevocably set by a column in Starlog magazine about it. It was an angry opinion piece about how disgraceful the whole premise of the film was, and how it impugned the work of everybody who works on the space programme.

As time has passed, I’m also tending towards the theory that a lot of people saw this film when they were quite young, and have misremembered it as a documentary, and that’s why we have moon landing deniers.

So forgive me if I might not cut this film as much slack as I like to do with this blog. As somebody who believes that the moon landings were one of the greatest achievements of humanity, anything that labours under the premise that we’re not smart enough to do it isn’t going to be my favourite thing.

The film opens with an unmistakable Jerry Goldsmith score, as a rocket launch of a manned mission to Mars is in its final stages. Just before launch, the astronauts are unexpectedly told to leave the capsule, and taken away from the launch site.

The rocket, now without any passengers, takes off as if nothing’s wrong. It’s a sign of how cheap the film is, that the launch is only ever seen on monitors, obviously using stock footage. It’s a film about faking a mission to Mars, and they can’t even fake a rocket launch.

The astronauts are flown away from the launch. They’re played by James Brolin (father of Thanos), Sam Waterston, and, um, OJ Simpson.

The three astronauts arrive at a secret facility, where they are briefed by Hal Holbrook, the big cheese at NASA. He gives a big speech about how important the mission is, and how it can’t be seen to fail, otherwise the President will just cut the programme altogether. Then he tells them that the life support system that had been built wouldn’t be able to keep them alive for the whole mission, because of the contractor cutting corners – capitalism, eh? – and they couldn’t take the risk of scrubbing the mission.

Then he takes them next door, where they learn the plan, to fake the transmissions from the flight, and on the ground on Mars, on a movie soundstage.

On its own, this is a pretty batty scheme, but when Brolin expresses his unwillingness to go along with the plan, Holbrook tells them that all their families are flying home on the same jet, and if he doesn’t give the all clear, it will blow up. He’s literally a Bond villain.

Cut to two reporters waiting outside the house of an astronaut’s wife. It’s Elliot Gould and Karen Black. This film is not lacking for star power.

Brenda Vaccaro plays James Brolin’s wife. I’m struck by how she uses the phrase “I’m very excited, and proud”. It reminded me of the use of the similar line in Apollo 13 where all the wives have the same phrase to trot out for the cameras.

In Mission Control, controller Robert Walden has spotted an anomaly. “As if the TV signals are closer than the capsule.”

The time comes to broadcast the first steps on Mars. They have to cue slow motion live when he jumps from the ladder to the surface. I don’t quite understand why they are actually doing the thing live, though, since there’s no communication to the mission because of the time delay.

The controller who’s directing the fake landing is James B Sikking

Controller Walden plays pool with reporter Gould, bitching about how his report of anomalous data was dismissed. “Those broadcasts couldn’t have come from 300 miles away” he says.

The fakestronauts are on a break, and discussing whether to continue with the subterfuge. Brolin wants to reveal what’s happened, blow the whistle. The others are unsure. And as they’re discussing it, in the gallery, Sikking is listening. He warns Holbrook that Brolin might blow the whole gaff. So when they do a live link-up between the astronauts and their wives, a hand is hovering over the ‘Interrupt’ button while he’s talking to his wife. But he’s a good boy, and doesn’t spill the beans, he just promises to take his son to Yosemite ‘like last year’.

Elliot Gould is trying to find the NASA controller Walden, who has dropped off the grid. When he turns up at his address, the woman there tells him it must be the wrong apartment complex. She’s played by Barbara Bosson. But Gould insists it’s the right apartment as he’s been there plenty of times, as Walden is a friend of his.

But when he gets inside, it’s all different, and the woman has mail there addressed to her.

He leaves, and when he drives away he discovers his brakes have been but. Not only that, but it appears the throttle is stuck on full, the gear shift doesn’t work, and the key just pulls out of the socket. It’s a pretty comprehensive sabotage of the car, so full marks to the NASA engineers who solved that problem. It’s not quite the CO2 scrubbers scene from Apollo 13 but we must take whatever crumb of comfort we can from this mess.

The time comes for the crew to reenter the atmosphere, and they’re taken on a plane to the fake landing site. But the instruments in Mission Control show a problem with the heat shield.

The astronauts are taken somewhere, and Brolin realises they are literally dead men. If they were to reappear now, the whole conspiracy would be revealed. They escape and steal a jet, but they have to ditch in the middle of the desert, so they each head off in three directions, so there’s a chance that one of them will find a town before NASA find them.

There’s a scene where Brolin’s wife, Brenda Vaccaro, is reading Dr Seuss to her young son, and it’s heartbreaking. A lovely performance. The next day, Gould visits her, after he’s rewatched the conversation between her and her husband, where he mentioned Yosemite. He asks why she reacted that way and she says that they went somewhere else that year, a place called Flat Rock.

Gould visits Flat Rock. It’s an ‘authentic frontier town’. Someone shoots at him. When he returns to see Vaccaro, she shows him home movies of their trip to Flat Rock, where a movie was being filmed. “He couldn’t understand how something so fake could look so real.”

In the desert, Simpson and Waterston both get found by the NASA black helicopters, so I guess they’re both dead. Brolin is surviving by eating snakes. Meanwhile, Gould is digging around, much to the annoyance of his editor, David Doyle (Bosley off of Charlie’s Angels). His editor doesn’t like him because he’s ‘ambitious’. But at least he bails him out of prison when the feds arrest him for drug possession.

Gould finds the abandoned airbase where they filmed the landings, finds a clue, then hires Telly Savalas and his plane to look for astronauts. It’s a big desert, but maybe they’ll get lucky. Savalas keeps calling him a pervert. I think it’s supposed to be ‘character’.

They get lucky. They happen to fly over a remote garage at the exact same moment the black helicopters of NASA arrive. Both assume Brolin must be in there, absent of any actual evidence he is. But he is, and he eludes the nasty NASA men, just as Savalas is landing his plane nearby, slow enough for Brolin to run to jump on the plane. The improbability of every element of this scene would need an extremely strong cup of tea to calculate.

There follows a chase between cropduster and helicopters, during which, Brolin, a man who has been walking through a parched desert for days, is hanging on to the wing. In a film which stretches credulity at frequent intervals, this one throws credulity into the event horizon of a black hole and stretches it to infinite breaking point.

But, thanks to Telly Savalas’s flying and his ability to fire crop spray at helicopters, they escape. While this is happening, Brolin’s wife and son have been sitting at a funeral for the three astronauts. To give the film its due, the President’s speech here is actually really well written, assuming they were going for pompous, fatuous and empty, which I really believe they were. He even uses the word “limitlessness”. It’s very clumsy. This funeral must have gone on for a long time, because the wife was leaving for the funeral at the time Brolin was at the garage, because he phoned the house and we saw them leaving. Yet, while the President is still droning on, there’s been time for Brolin to have done all the aerobatics with Savalas and Gould, then flown to somewhere near where the funeral is taking place, catch a car, and drive to the funeral. Because he and Gould arrive during the president’s speech, and run in increasingly slow motion towards the funeral. I hope the freeze frame isn’t because in the next second, he was gunned down by secret service agents, like the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Also, I’m fairly sure the slo-mo run wasn’t planned while they shot, because it wasn’t actually shot in true slow motion, the frame rate was slowed down in the editing, which makes it feel a bit clunky.

So, no, my rewatch hasn’t softened my heart to this film. Its premise still offends me mightily, and the execution is often nonsensical. It’s just not a good film, and I resent the kind of anti-science attitude it stands for,

BBC Genome: BBC One – 11th December 1989 – 22:40

After this, there’s the weather, and a public information film.

Then BBC1 closes down.