The Black Hole – Hooperman – tape 645

Disney’s attempt to join the 70s SF wave was The Black Hole, a plodding, portentous and ultimately pretentious movie, but which had some nice special effects, and a solid score from John Barry.

All the ingredients are there – spaceships, evil scientists, killer robots, cute robots, some gorgeous matte paintings and effects, but it all just sits there, lumpen and inert, never really engaging you. All the characters are earnest and serious, and even the attempts at humour, mostly revolving around the battered robot Old B.O.B., don’t really spark. And the film falls totally apart towards the end, where it reaches for significance like 2001, but instead just lapses into muddy metaphysics and biblical metaphor. Not to mention scenes where huge flaming fireballs (in space?) crash through the ship where the characters are running, but nobody seems to worry that they ought to suddenly be in a hard vacuum.

The whole thing feels like cargo-cult filmmaking. Someone (several someones, gong by the writing credits) looked at Star Wars, copied lots of elements from it and hoped to achieve the same thing, without really understanding what made Star Wars work for the audience in the first place.

All that said, I do have a certain affection for it, mainly because when it was released, a friend of my father, knowing I liked Science Fiction, gave me a press pack for it, which contained loads of black and white lobby stills (it was common at the time for cinemas to display stills from forthcoming movies in the cinema lobby, along with posters) and press release material, gushingly describing the movie, its stars and makers. I was always disappointed that the resulting movie was so unrewarding.

Following the movie, there’s Hooperman, with a christmas episode, which is followed by a trailer for Poirot, which sounds like it’s trailing the first ever episode. Some ads are followed by a trail for Cilla Black’s New Year’s Eve show (guest starring Julian Clary) then a news bulletin. The Lockerbie bombing is the lead story.

Ads:

  • BT
  • Seagram – in a strange anti-drink driving advert entitled The Mourning After.
  • Andrews Answer – strapline: The new answer to the Morning After – awkward juxtaposition of ads there.
  • Allied Sale
  • Philips CD-Video – amazingly, this was a thing, though never a very popular one here.

  • Citroen BX – Joe McGann and someone I recognise but can’t put a name to.
  • Capital Gold radio – a great new radio station
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