Sex, Lies and Videotape – tape 831

On this tape, Steven Soderbergh’s debut feature, Sex, Lies and Videotape. One of those films whose title alone becomes part of the cultural zeitgeist.

Andie MacDowell is in an unsatisfying marriage, and we meet her talking to her therapist.

She’s married to Peter Gallagher.

Her sister is Laura San Giacomo.

When the movie starts, MacDowell and Gallagher have a visitor. James Spader is an old school friend of Gallagher, and he crashes at their place for a day or two before finding his own place to live.

Gallagher and San Giacomo are having an affair. MacDowell isn’t interested in sex very much. And Spader is only really interested in his ‘art project’ which involves him videotaping women he knows talking about sex.

And that’s pretty much all the happens in the film. MacDowell realises Gallagher is cheating on her, Spader records both San Giacomo and MacDowell, MacDowell and Spader hit it off, and she leaves Gallagher.

I was not a big fan of this film when it came out. I find it hard to like a movie when I don’t like any of the people in it. None of these people are evil, but they’re not very nice either.

Plus, I was deeply shocked by the wantonly brutal destruction of videotape on display.

But I can appreciate there’s a cool aesthetic to it as a film, and I’ve certainly enjoyed plenty of Soderbergh’s other movies.

After this, recording continues for quite a while, with a lot of a movie called Agonia about Tsarist Russia.

Then, this recording stops, and underneath there’s the end of Cinemattractions featuring the video for Prince’s Batdance. I hated that whole album. I thought the inclusion of Prince’s songs into the Batman movie was the ultimate example of tone-deaf corporate synergy. Burton was at least trying to make something vaguely serious, with some distance from the 1966 TV series, and then the corporate heads of Warner Brothers saw a chance to crowbar in one of their artists, and we get Prince songs all over the soundtrack, where they just don’t fit. Prince is bright and poppy, not at all what Burton was trying to do. It’s always annoyed me.

After this, there’s the start of some basketball. I used to play basketball at school, mainly by virtue of being over six feet tall. I’m not a good team player, so I was never brilliant, and I never particularly got into watching it on TV. I just don’t have the sport gene. My sisters got them all, being rabid Watford supporters.

But at least this basketball show has an expert called Mike Shaft, which sounds like another KYTV character.

The tape ends during the game.

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The Mask Of Satan – Lisa And The Devil – tape 901

Here’s a double bill of horror films from director Mario Bava. The Mask of Satan is introduced by the great Kim Newman. If you’re unfamiliar with him, you might think he was dressing up specially for this segment, but that’s how Kim dresses all the time.

It’s another starring role for Barbara Steele, whom we last saw in The Pit and the Pendulum. Here she plays a witch, executed at the start of the film by having a spiked mask hammered into her face. Nasty.

Two Centuries Later a professor and his assistant arrive at the place where the witch was entombed, and find her body, still surprisingly preserved under the mask (which of course they remove).

After being attacked by an unconvincing giant bat, they leave the crypt and meet a young woman Katia, daughter of Prince Vajda, who had heard a gunshot. She bears a striking resemblance to the with from the opening, because she’s also played by Barbara Steele.

Katia’s father, Prince Vajda, is worried about all the old stories. And well he might be as we can see the dead body of the witch slowly returning to life in the crypt.

She’s not the only one, as another victim of the spiky mask emerges in atmospheric style from the grave.

There’s a nice effect late in the film, where Katia grows visibly older in a continuous shot that’s not a dissolve. It’s a clever technique that only works in black and white. The old age makeup is a specific colour, like red, and the actress is lit initially with red light, so the makeup doesn’t show up, and the light is changed gradually from red to blue, making the red makeup suddenly look dark on the B&W film. It’s very effective.

Next, a later and slightly less well regarded Bava movie, Lisa and the Devil. Once again, here’s Kim Newman to introduce it.

As Mr Newman tells us, this is the director’s cut, seen for the first time in Britain.

Elke Sommer and Telly Savalas star in a haunted house movie. Savalas complete with his trademark lollipop.

It’s a bit meandering, punctuated by a few scenes of random violence. The scene where someone is run over with a car over and over again is particularly nasty. And the ending makes no sense at all.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 13th January 1990 – 21:40 (for both films)

After this, there’s a trailer for David Byrne’s True Stories.

Then there’s the start of the final of the World Professional Darts Championship, with odds-on favourite Eric Bristow up against 100-1 outsider, a chap called Phil Taylor.

There’s only the first set of darts in this recording before the tape ends. I wonder if anything became of young Taylor?

Dr Cyclops – The Devil Doll – tape 824

A couple of old horror films on this tape, in a Channel 4 season called It’s Later than you Think. Introduced with a shrunken 4 logo, in keeping with a theme of both these films.

First is Dr Cyclops. A team of biologists travel to a remote location to find Dr Thorkel, who is performing strange experiments with radiation. It’s all a bit Dr Moreau (or possibly Heart of Darkness).

Thorkel is creating minature animals.

But he’s not the kind of scientist to want to share his results, nor is he unwilling to break a few ethical rules, so pretty soon he’s ushered the other scientists into his radiation chamber and pulled the giant switch to shrink them down.

I’m enjoying all the oversized props.

There’s not all that much plot here, but tons of tiny person jeopardy, all in lovely technicolor, which is unusual for a 1940s horror film.

The second film in this shrinky double bill is a Tod Browning film, The Devil Doll. Lionel Barrymore escapes from Devil’s Island with a scientist. They make it to the scientist’s house, where he was experimenting on shrinking animals and people.

His wife has more than a touch of Bride of Frankenstein about her.

The scientist dies, so Barrymore and the wife travel to Paris to try to get his revenge on the bankers who framed him and got him imprisoned. To do so, he dresses up as an old lady, and presents the shrunken animals as toys to entice the bankers.

It’s an odd film – again, the oversized sets are great, but here the plot is slightly more interesting, with Barrymore using his shrunken people to wreak his revenge and clear his name, and it all ends in an astonishingly happy ending (for him at least).

After this, Channel 4 closes down.

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Royal Institution Christmas Lectures – tape 898

On this tape are the first three episodes of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures for 1989, given by Professor Charles Taylor, about the science of music.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 27th December 1989 – 15:55

The next episode has the start cut off – I’m not sure by how much, but most of the episode is here.

I used to like seeing Bryson Gore setting up or participating in the experiments in these programmes, Here he is, right at the top of the dome of the lecture theatre, playing a huge tuning fork against a long wooden pole.

“Get your fingers well and truly wet, and slide them up and down the rod.”

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th December 1989 – 16:20

In the next episode, Professor Taylor plays a love song on a saw.

I’m slightly in awe at all the young people who are asked to participate in these lectures, as they are often asked to play classical pieces, which they play very well. Here’s young Rajan.

And we’re played out by Sarah on a spinet, an instrument she’s very possibly never seen before today. She’s also sightreading. Very impressive.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 29th December 1989 – 16:20

After this, there’s a trailer for an ENO production of Hansel and Gretel, then the tape ends.

The Wonder Years – tape 907

Some episodes of The Wonder Years now. I think the school-based episodes might annoy me a little.

In the first episode here, Math Class, Kevin, usually a good student, is suddenly struggling in Maths. But he’s too scared to actually tell anyone that he’s struggling, and the teacher is no help at all. And his pride prevents him from joining the ‘help group’ for maths.

Kevin is a bit of a dick in this episode. Best friend Paul is doing well in maths, but Kevin can’t even bring himself to ask for his help.

Even the conclusion, where he starts to improve, seems to come out of nowhere.

To make up for it annoying me, here’s a picture of Robert Picardo, who isn’t in this episode enough.

The next episode is Odd Man Out. Kevin and Paul argue over a baseball card. Once again, Kevin is a jerk. He stops talking to Paul, starts hanging out with someone he thinks is dull, and is therefore horrible to him too.

This kid deserves no friends.

Next it’s The Family Car. Kevin is embarrassed at his father’s car, so he gets excited when his dad has to get a new one. He hopes he’ll buy a mustang, but his father doesn’t like the trade-in offered by the salesman.

In fact, he doesn’t want to let the car go. What is it with people and their cars? Especially Americans. I’ve never understood it.

Next it’s The Pimple. An old friend of the family are visiting, and a girl Kevin knew in kindergarten has grown up a bit, so he’s looking forward to the visit.

The awful Ben Stein is a teacher.

But Kevin gets a zit.

Math Class Squared sees Kevin cheating in order to get into the better math class, though why he’d want to since he could barely keep up

This episode guest stars Chris Demetral of Dream On.

In the next episode, Rock ‘n’ Roll Kevin decides he wants an electric guitar.

He buys one, and practises for a week, but he almost gives up when he’s worried about embarrassing himself in front of people.

Next is The Powers that Be. Kevin’s grandpa arrives, played by David Huddleston.

He brings a puppy for Kevin.

After this episode, there’s a trailer for Star Test.

That recording ends, and underneath there’s a short bit from Far From the Madding Crowd. Then the tape ends.

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KYTV – tape 921

Straight into the first episode of KYTV. It’s an all singing opening.

High quality programming

Kenneth Wolstenholme unveils the plaque.

Bob Dylan plays the hits of Kylie Minogue

Obligatory Geoffrey McGivern screenshot as he plays a contestant on Get ’em Off.

There’s a profile of the owner of KYTV, Sir Kenneth Yellowhammer (Angus Deayton), including the touching moment when he trips a little girl over to win at football.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 3rd May 1990 – 21:00

The next episode has the big fight.

There’s a redo of a classic Radio Active sketch – Barker’s of Bond Street, although for this version it’s ‘Martin’s of Bond Street’. Perhaps there was a real shop called Barker’s of Bond Street. It’s a shame because the alliteration works really well.

The big fight is rather badly matched, as the English opponent was the winner of a competition whose name was picked out of a hat by Nerys Hughes.

In a warm up bout, it’s John Conteh vs Dot Cotton.

Frank Sinatra (Philip Pope) calls the Bingo numbers.

There’s not enough letters to spell Round One

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 10th May 1990 – 21:00

It’s a look back to the war years.

Anna Daptor tells us all about her uniform. “Isn’t that a lovely pattern?”

Lynda Baron talks about her war memories.

There’s a clever piece (I’m guessing originally from the radio series) where they play the ‘unedited’ version of Chamberlain’s speech, and it’s brilliantly done.

I wonder if the phone number for Sofa Shop was a real number?

Philip Pope plays Hitler

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 24th May 1990 – 21:00

Next, it’s coverage of the royal wedding everyone is talking about.

Only Wong Computers go Binky Bonky Binky.

Helen Atkinson Wood’s Anna Rabies was a pitch perfect impersonation of Anna Raeburn.

I like the way the show takes the tired cliche of the Japanese tourist taking photographs, and inverts it, making the joke about the ignorance of Deayton’s Mike Channel

Another Geoffrey McGivern sighting, play the churchwarden of the church where the wedding is happening. Here being interviewed by Michael Fenton Stevens as the wonderful Martin Brown.

Geoffrey Whitehead plays a bishop.

Music at the ceremony provided by Gums n Spittle.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 31st May 1990 – 21:00

It’s time for Challenge Anna, as Anna Daptor has to find a spleen donor for a dying man in less than 30 minutes.

Another telephone number – different from the Sofa Shop one, although both are 515 numbers, so I’m going to assume they were a safe number to use for the London exchange.

Special mention here for Geoffrey Perkins, not often seen on screen outside KYTV but a massively influential writer and producer, who died tragically young. He’s been involved in a huge amount of my favourite TV, right back to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

 

Despite this show being based on Challenge Anneka, they’ve also done a scarily accurate recreation of the Treasure Hunt studio. That’s Sara Crowe as Debbie, who knows a surprising number of facts about Dorking.

A lovely meta moment when Anna Daptor is looking for people to help, and one of the people she approaches is none other than Anneka Rice herself.

Martin Brown is also running around, trying to get the dying patient to the hospital.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 7th June 1990 – 21:00

After this, recording continues with a trailer for Naked Video and for The Travel Show.

Then, the tape ends during with the start of the BBC Design Awards with Muriel Gray.

The Batman – Hit And Run – tape 905

First on this tape, another serial from the 40s, The Batman. It’s just a bit racist.

In this one, there’s no special batmobile. Alfred just drives him around in a regular car.

Episode 12: Embers of Evil

They do actually describe the villain as a “sinister Jap spy”.

Chapter 13: Eight Steps Down

The Batman costume in this is truly awful.

Chapter 14: The Executioner Strikes

The villain menaces our heroine with a diabolical hairdressing machine.

Chapter 15: The Doom of the Rising Sun

After this, recording switches to BBC Two for Hit and Run. Ruby Wax goes to a ‘randomly selected’ place to talk to people. Today, “Notingham”

Although I don’t think she gets there. She meets a friend who was in investor in Radio Caroline, his friend who is the Lord of somewhere or other and is the most boring person imaginable, and then an artist who like painting naked women, and doesn’t believe in monogamy. He’s not a bad painter, and at least Ruby got to keep her clothes on. All his paintings seem to have him in them like some kind of creepy uncle.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 16th January 1990 – 21:00

There’s a trailer for Saturday Night Clive.

Then, this recording stops. Underneath there’s the very tail end of credits for a movie, and music that sounds like Pino Donaggio. I looked up one of the names, and his only credit is in The Fan, a slightly schlocky stalker movie from 1981, and sure enough, it had music by Pino Donaggio.

Incidentally, the eponymous Fan is played in that movie by a young Michael Biehn.

There’s a trailer for new Drama for the 90s on LWT.

Then there’s this.

Nice punctuation there. It seems to be part documentary and part art project. Very odd.

Then there’s this. A trailer for something called Yellowthread Street which I have no memory of. I presume it was an import, but I’ve no idea. Nope – checking iMDb and I find it was a Yorkshire TV production that ran for a single series.

Then there’s a news bulletin that dates this as the morning of 31st December 1989. The news of the day was quite dull, consisting of statements from politicians, but there’s a review of the year that’s fairly packed with historic events, like the images of people climbing over the Berlin Wall after the fall of the communist East German government, and the shocking pictures of the Chinese troops crushing the pro democracy student protests in Tienanmen Square. All we tend to see of that is the student in front of the tank, but here there are hundreds of troops charging the protesters and shooting at them. It’s quite terrifying, and I can see why the Chinese government likes to pretend it never happened.

Here’s the whole thing, along with ad breaks, for posterity.

The tape ends just after this programme.

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