Month: June 2015

Joe 90 – tape 1829

Here’s a dip into Children’s BBC for some junior spy action. The tape opens with the end of a Felix The Cat cartoon. This new version had theme music by Mark Mothersbaugh, formerly of Devo, now a film composer.

Then, Phillippa Forrester does a link from the CBBC broom cupboard. She seems a little tired, but I guess it is 7:45am.

Then, Joe 90, with the episode Most Special Astronaut. A space station is left dangerously short on air when a restocking mission blows up on launch. There aren’t any more trained astronauts (!) so Joe has to step in, but the world Intelligence Network take great pains to hide him from mission control.

Most Special Astronaur.

Next, there’s more from Phillippa in the broom cupboard.

Judging by the football reference, this is probably 14th May. It’s hard to say, and the Radio Times isn’t any help as it doesn’t distinguish episodes.

Then, Hijacked, where Joe has to take on a dangerous arms dealer with no qualms about killing a little boy.

Hijacked

 

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 14 May 1994 7.45

Another very short intro from Phillippa Forrester before the next episode, Colonel McClaine, in which Joe has to convince two military drives that he’s a colonel, and guide them as they transport dangerously unstable explosive aross some very rough terrain. I think Gerry Anderson’s writing team really loved The Wages of Fear as this is the plot from that film, and they’ve done it before in Thunderbirds.

Colonel McClaine

 

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 21 May 1994 7.45

There’s more Felix and a little bit of the broom cupboard before the next episode, The Fortress. Joe goes camping.

The Fortress

 

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 28 May 1994 7.45

Before the next episode, more Felix, and another short burst of ms Forrester. Then, King For a Day, in which Joe has to black up to pretend to be a young Arab King in waiting.

King for a Day

 

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 4 June 1994 7.45

That’s the last episode of Joe 90 on this tape, but this recording runs on for quite a bit longer. Here’s more of Phillipa Forrester.

There’s an episode of Prince Valiant, with what sounds like a theme tune by Mister Mister. There’s a trailer for Activ-8 and Parallel 9, then Phillipa introduces Round The Twist.

After this, Phillipa bids us goodbye, and Parallel 9 starts. Here’s the introduction.

This recording finishes during this show, but underneath there’s an older recording, with snooker between Steve Davis and Steven Hendry. The tape ends after five minutes of this.

 

Robocop – tape 1952

When I saw the title on this tape, I must confess I was happy. It’s been a while since I’ve watched Paul Verhoeven’s masterpiece.

Sadly, it will continue to be a while, because this is the TV spinoff. And it’s as bad as I remember.

In the first scene, Robocop has to enter a siege building, take out some bad guys, then capture the chief bad guy. He does this without actually shooting at anyone – he drops a chandelier on one, topples a cupboard on another, and the chief bad guy has the bomb detonators shot out of his hands (without injury) before being pushed out of the front door at speed in a wheelchair.

This is Robocop as written by Roy Clarke as a Last of the Summer Wine episode.

The main plot concern’s Cliff De Young as a scientist who has developed some kind of AI system that can control everyone who works for the city. The head of OCP is adamant that they have it ready in time for the ‘Shareware Expo’. Whatever that is.

The secret behind the AI system is that he’s been using human brains to build it, kidnapping homeless people from the streets. There’s a cute kid who’s escaped from family services who witnessed one of them being picked up, but the police don’t believe her.

At one point, Robocop declares that the retina of a dead person holds an image of the last thing they saw, an idea that was hokey back when Dario Argento used it in Four Flies on Grey Velvet.

And the use of human brains has an unexpected side effect, when the personality of the last subject – De Young’s former assistant – becomes part of the system and manifests as a hologram.

Neurobrain

This is a double length opener, and it feels like it. There’s a lot of things that happen – Robocop gets ‘killed’ at one point, and later gets given amnesia. But the whole feel of the piece is off.

This was written by the same writers as wrote the movie, so it’s difficult to pinpoint quite where it went wrong. Part of the problem is the show’s desperation to avoid the kind of violence the movie revelled in. Robocop never kills anyone – I’m not even sure he shoots at a single human body. All the action sequences play like a videogame that has just discovered physics and deformable levels, as Robocop shoots at the environment to defeat the baddies. I wonder if this was a studio mandated change – it feels like it.

The other problem with it is the general tone. The movie was funny – very funny – but it was a vicious satire, and all the actors played entirely straight. The actors here seem to be playing to the comedy, tongue in cheek.

Robocop himself is played by Richard Eden, and it’s noticeable how different the performance is from Peter Weller. He’s much jerkier, which I think looks worse. Smooth moves look better for this character.

I think the blame for the faults in this show might have to be laid at the feet of the Director, Paul Lynch (who directed Prom Night back in the day). The dialogue itself sounds OK most of the time, but the delivery is too often accompanied with a wink. Its just trying too much to be a comedy. And that doesn’t work for this story.

The first episode is called The Future of Law Enforcement, by the way.

The next episode opens with a cartoon, Commander Cash.

Commander Cash

 

He’s raising funds to maintain life support for thousands of brain-dead veterans in cryogenic storage.

In this episode, Prime Suspect, Robocop is accused of killing a televangelist.

The next episode, Trouble in Delta City, where a diet pill causes an outbreak of criminality. And the police get a new weapon in their fight against crowds – a foam which makes people slip around a lot.

After this episode, recording continues with the start of an episode of Picket Fences. Which has Zelda Rubenstein in its regular cast.

Zelda Rubinstein

The tape finishes during this show.

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    Pedigree Chum Peter Davison
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  • trail: The Firm

Seinfeld – tape 1970

First on this tape, the Seinfeld episode The Handicap Spot where the gang park George’s car in a handicap parking place, and when they return there’s an angry mob waiting.

The Handicap Spot

 

Next episode is The Junior Mint where Jerry can’t remember his girlfriend’s name, even when she says it rhymes with a part of the female anatomy. And there’s a mishap with a Junior Mint at an operation.

The Junior Mint

That’s the last episode recorded on this tape, but the tape runs on, so let’s see what delights Sky Television have for us this evening.

First, there’s Richard Jobson on The Movie Show, looking at OutbreakMuriel’s Wedding and Once Were Warriors. Here’s the Outbreak segment, with interviews with Dustin Hoffman, Wolfgang Peterson and Rene Russo.

After this, there’s an episode of Raven, about a surfing detective who does kickboxing to relax, probably. It was created by Frank Lupo, creator of the A-Team

At the start of the next programme, a family gather around the TV to watch their favourite programme, Monsters.

Monsters

I don’t recollect this show. It looks like an anthology show, along the lines of Tales of the Darkside. Indeed, the production company is Laurel, who made that series. This episode was written by Batman writer Paul Dini.

Next is an episode of The Edge, a show I’ve never seen. It’s a comedy sketch show, featuring, among others, Jennifer Aniston, Julie Brown and Wayne Knight.

Jennifer Aniston

It has interstitials by Bill Plympton.

The Edge Interstitials

Credit spot: One of the writers on this show is Charlie Kaufman.

Next programme here is The Adventures of Mark and Brian. Two men with bad mullets pretend to join the army for this reality show. They are Los Angeles disc jockeys, according to iMDb.

Mark and Brian

Those hairstyles wouldn’t pass muster.

Rounding off this tape is the start of Hitmix Long Play, some pop videos to fill up the schedule.

adverts:

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A Very Peculiar Practice – tape 1968

After the sight disappointment recently that Game On wasn’t very good, it’s nice to be reminded what Andrew Davies can actually do.

A Very Peculiar Practice is set in a modern university (described as ‘New Brutalist’) and Peter Davison is a young GP taking up a new post as a Doctor in the university’s health centre.

The centre is staffed by a lot of awkward characters who all seem to be at each other’s throats over the various office politics in play. Graham Crowden is the elder statesman, who takes Davison’s one refusal of a drink as total abstension; David Troughton (son of Patrick) is Bub Buzzard, a social climber who’d be happy to cut treatment for faculty family members to cut costs; and Barbara Flynn is Dr Rose Marie, for whom every problem has a root cause in the patriarchy.

Dr Rose Marie

Davison tends to play to type, as a very diffident, nervous new boy. The idea of having to give a speech to all the freshers gives him anxiety dreams. He’s also a bit of a snob, although he’d like to think he isn’t.

There are some guest stars of note. Hugh Grant plays a charismatic preacher in one of his first TV roles.

Hugh Grant

Timothy West plays a frightening professor.

Timothy West

The Episodes on this tape are the first three in the series: A Very Long Way From AnywhereWe Love You, That’s Why We’re Here and Wives of Great Men.

After the third episode there’s trailers for A Sense of Guilt, Comedy, and Miss Marple. Apart from that, there’s no extras on this tape at all, as I was extra ruthless with the pause button on the VCR, despite it being on UK Gold.

Once Upon a Time in the West – tape 1966

This tape opens with the end of a programme called Myths and Memories of World War II. Afterwards, there’s a trailer for the next episode. Then there’s a trailer for Monday Night programmes.

Then, as part of the Cinema 100 season, Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time in the West. I have to admit, I’m not a fan of Westerns, so I don’t think I’ve ever watched this epic. Plus, the sound on this recording is pretty bad, so I don’t think I’ll be watching now. I just sat through The Big Blue for you, what more do you want?

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 25 June 1995 22.00

After the film, there’s a trailer for Rio Lobo with John Wayne.

There’s a trailer for Gaytime TV.

Then , recording continues with The Trial of OJ Simpson, one of a weekly review of events in the infamous trial.

BBC Genome: BBC Two England, 26 June 1995 0.40

And because I feel like I might be shortchanging you by skimming this tape, here’s a trailer for the Saturday Night Armistice, plus a Monday Night trailer, and the BBC2 closedown. Please remember to turn of your television set.

The Fugitive – The Big Blue – tape 1960

Movie time now, with two movies on this tape, one a firm favourite of mine, the other one I’ve still yet to watch.

The Fugitive didn’t have to be a good film. Films based on old TV properties have a chequered past. Dragnet was pretty lacklustre, and I don’t know anyone who liked Sgt Bilko. So The Fugitive could have gone either way. But director Andrew Davis had just made the one proverbial good Steven Seagal movie in Under Siege, and the casting was top notch, with Harrison Ford as Richard Kimball, the husband wrongly accused of his wife’s brutal murder, and Tommy Lee Jones as Gerard,  the US Marshal who has to track him down.

But the real reason this film is so good has to be the script, by Jeb Stuart (one of the writers on Die Hard) and David Twohy, who would write Pitch Black, and also wrote the highly entertaining Warlock. Their script is full of lovely moments, especially among Jones and his team. You can tell that despite his barked orders and gruff manner, he cares about all his team.

The story is credited to Twohy alone, which implies that he was the original writer, and Stuart was a rewriter.

By the way, this film has six credited film editors. I wonder if it had a compressed post-production schedule.

The opening of the movie is cleverly structured. It cuts between Kimball’s interrogation by police, and the trial, back to the night of the murder. It’s a good structure because it assures the audience of his innocence, so we can share in the injustice in his conviction.

Then we cut to Ford in shackles, on his way to prison, in a bus full of other convicts, when an escape attempt goes wrong and the bus ends up across a railway track, leading to one of the film’s big setpieces, as Kimball escapes the train just in the nick of time. The effects here are very good, a nice mix of miniatures and (I’m guessing) some front projection.

Fugitive Train Smash

After another breathless chase in the drains of a dam, Kimball eludes Gerard after a face-to-face confrontation – almost their only one in the movie. Then the film settles down a bit – although there’s a nice fake-out where we’re led to think that they know where he is, set up a raid on the house he’s staying in, then it turns out it’s one of the other inmates who escaped from the bus.

The tone of the movie then changes, as Kimball turns detective himself, searching the hospital records for a trace of the one-armed man who killed his wife.

There’s a couple of famous faces at the hospital – Glee’s Jane Lynch plays a colleague of his.

Jane Lynch

And Julianne Moore plays a doctor at the hospital in which Kimball is hunting for the one-armed man.

Julianne Moore

And, of course, the one-armed man himself is played by Andreas Katsulas, Ambassador G’Kar off of Babylon 5.

Andreas Katsulas

 

After another tense cat and mouse scene where Kimball is almost caught by Gerard, he finds his way to the one-armed man’s house, and finds evidence that links him with a drug manufacturer. From there he traces the conspiracy to a surprising source close to home. He overcomes the one-armed man in a good fight in a train car, then goes on to confront the true mastermind behind his wife’s murder, leading to a tense encounter on a hotel roof and i the hotel laundry – always a good location for a chase, with lots of things to hide behind, and the potential for severe injury in industrial equipment. Poor Joe Pantoliano gets a steel girder in the face for his troubles during this sequence.

There’s an odd fireworks sequence, towards the end of the credits. It doesn’t appear to have any narrative function, and it’s only 20 seconds long. Perhaps they liked it so much they couldn’t bear not to use it.

After The movie, recording switches, and we get the end credits of Tonya and Nancy: The Inside Story.

Then we have The Big Blue, Luc Besson’s film about divers. Jean Reno and Jean Marc Barr are boyhood friends, both free divers. Rosanna Arquette is an insurance agent (possibly a loss adjuster, it’s unclear) who meets Barr in the arctic, then contrives to meet him again in Sicily where the world champion free diving is taking place. Reno is the world champion, but wants Barr to compete, for some macho competitive reason. He also falls for Arquette, but she prefers Barr.

Griffin Dunne pops up in a small role, to remind us that Rosanna Arquette has been in better films.

Griffin Dunne

 

The film consists of the two divers competing in the world championships in several places over an unspecified period of time. Nobody says anything of consequence, or indeed does anything of consequence, until the depths they dive to become too deep for the human body to tolerate.

Luc Besson, the director, might as well have made The Big Yellow, in which two men compete in pissing contests in various picturesque towns in Europe, and the overall effect would have been the same.

There are dolphins, though.

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Babylon 5 – tape 1962

Here’s another random dip into Babylon 5, perhaps the worst show to watch random episodes. Our last look had the start of season one, so here’s some episodes from near the start of season two. Commander Sinclair (the ever-so-slightly wooden Michael O’Hare) has been replaced by the slightly cuddlier, but equally gravel voiced Bruce Boxleitner. He played Tron, you know? And, trivia fans, Peter Jurasik (Londo Mollari) was also in Tron – he played a character called Ram.

The first episode here is Soul Mates, one of the few season two episodes not written by series creator J Michael Straczynski. This one’s written by Peter David, a well known comics writer who also wrote several Star Trek The Next Generation novels.

the main plot is Londo’s Acension plus 30 years – some kind of Centauri milestone, so he’s asked the Emperor if he can divorce two of his three wives. He summons the three of them to the station so he can decide which to keep.

Elsewhere, Talie Winters’ ex husband appears, and tells her he knows a way to remove her telepathic powers, so she can quit the Psi-Corp. He’s played by Keith Szarabajka, who used to have a recurring role on The Equalizer, and is one of those actors who you like seeing pop up in various TV shows.

Also, Ambassador De’lenn has a bad hair day, so she and Commander Ivanova bond over hair products.

Timov

The next episode, The Coming of Shadows, sees the visit of the Centauri Emperor to the station. G’Kar isn’t happy. He plots to kill him at a reception, but before he gets near, the Emperor collapses from a pre-existing condition. He asks Dr Franklin to take a message to G’Kar – that he is sorry for the way the Centauri has treated the Narn.

Meanwhile, Londo asks Morden for his help in destroying a Narn outpost, and has a prophetic dream.

Londo's Dream

 

Garibaldi is visited by an unknown man, bearing a message from none other that Commander Sinclair, telling him about the Rangers.

 

By the end of the episode, the emperor is dead, as is the Centauri Prime Minister who was loyal to him, and the Narn have declared war on Centauri

This is what we used to call an arc-heavy episode, with most of it affecting the long-term story. There’s nothing here that doesn’t resonate further down the series.

Next episode is one of the less interesting ones. It’s GROPOS, which stands for “ground Pounders” – footsoldiers, basically. 25,000 soldiers come aboard the station under the command of General Franklin, played by Paul Winfield, who is also the father of Dr Franklin.

Paul Winfield

The crew form various bonds with the guest troops, which makes the end of the episode rather heartbreaking, as the friends they made all died in the first battle of the mission they were on. As that great philosopher Boy George told us: War. War is Stupid.

The next episode is All Alone in the Night. Sheridan decides to take a ship out to investigate a routine problem. “What could go wrong?” he says. Does anybody in the real world ever say that non-ironically? Naturally, something does go wrong, and he’s captured and put in a cell with a Narn and forced to fight.

Delenn is summoned back to Minbar, where the Grey Council decide whether she should remain on the council. They throw her off the council, but, when she returns to Lennier she “feels very positive about this.”

Sheridan has a prophetic dream while in captivity. They’re always a bit lumbering and mannered. David Lynch did the dreams better on Twin Peaks.

Prophecy Dream

At the end of the episode, General Hague tells Sheridan that he believes that President Santiago was murdered, and hints of a conspiracy.

Following this episode, there’s an episode of Deputy Dawg. It’s The Pink Flamingo, a family friendly retelling of John Waters’ cult classic. (This may not be true).

Then, Channel 4 News starts, leading with “The multi-billion pound crime of the 90s, mobile phone cloning, that the law here is powerless to combat.” I’m presuming this was in the analogue days when it was easier to sniff the signals.

The tape finishes during this broadcast.

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  • trail: The Big Breakfasst
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