Month: January 2016

Moonlighting – tape 682

Back to the Blue Moon Detective Agency for more Moonlighting. The first episode here is Between a Yuk and a Hard Place. The agency is extremely busy. And things seem awkward between David and Maddie, so I presume something happened. Checking the episode guide, it’s because in the previous episode, Maddie miscarried their baby, so they’re still dealing with that.

So it’s awkward for a while, until they get stuck in a lift at the end of the day. The muzak is inly slightly annoying, until it starts playing ‘You Must have been a Beautiful Baby’ at which point David loses his temper and destroys the speaker.

Maddie and David

And there’s a ludicrous finale involving a hot air balloon and a cactus field.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 14th March 1989 – 21:00

The next episode here is The Color of Maddie. Not a reference to the Bruce Willis thriller Color of Night, since that was made years after this. A woman’s husband, who went missing ten years ago, shortly after their marriage, has returned, but she’s not 100% sure he’s really him. It all ends in a pillow fight.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 21st March 1989 – 21:00

The next episode is Plastic Fantastic Lovers. There’s a couple of guest stars you might recognise here.

Andrew Robinson, the zodiac killer in Dirty Harry, Larry the ill-fated father in Hellraiser, or Garak in Deep Space Nine, and Jennifer Tilly, from Bride of Chucky.

Jennifer Tilly

Robinson plays a man who has been scarred by cosmetic surgery and now hides his face. He asks for Blue Moon’s help via video, to find proof that he was a victim of malpractice.

As part of the investigation, Maddie goes for a consultancy with the surgeon, who opines “I wouldn’t dream of jeopardising that with something as clumsy as surgery.”

Robinson takes pains to hide his hideously mutilated appearance from anyone, even in his own house. When Maddie and David come for a meeting, he spends it behind frosted glass.

Andrew Robinson behind frosted glass

Rather surprisingly, Robinson is not revealed at the end to only have a tiny scar or something – i guess they just didn’t want to pay out for an expensive prosthetic.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th March 1989 – 21:00

The final episode on this tape is Shirts and Skins. David and Maddie take on the opposing sides of a sexual harassment suit, so it’s boys versus girls. David really was horribly sexist, wasn’t he? Bt he does the right thing in the end.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 4th April 1989 – 21:00

After this, there’s a trailer for Rory Bremner.

then the tape ends.

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Tiny Toon Adventures – The Return Of The Magic Roundabout – Truckers – tape 1230

This tape opens with the end of an episode of Sooty, then Tommy Boyd does some CITV continuity.

Then, an episode of Tiny Toon AdventuresRock and Roar.

Next, a bit more Sooty, then another blast from the Tiny ToonsRent a Friend, Bunny Daze, Fur-Gone Conclusion.

After this, recording switches to Channel 4 for The Return of the Magic Roundabout. This is a rather strange pseudo documentary about the making of a new series of The Magic Roundabout with the original animation, but with Nigel Planer replacing the much missed Eric Thompson. it features Ken Campbell as a hippie.

Ken Campbell

Dave Gilmour credits the programme for Pink Floyd’s prog rock beginnings.

Dave Gilmour

It was a big influence on Roger McGough.

Roger McGough

Roy Hattersley talks about how the programme directly caused Labour’s election win in the 1960s.

Roy Hattersley on The Magic Roundabout

(These are not wholly serious vox pops.)

Paul Morley makes about as much sense as he usually does on shows like these.

Paul Morley

It does, at least, have some archive footage. Here’s Serge Danot, in conversation with Joan Bakewell.

Serge Danot

Ivor Wood, of Postman Pat fame, was an animator on the original show. He talks about how they designed Dougal so he didn’t have to animate four legs.

Ivor Wood

John Craven talks about the programme’s cancellation.

John Craven

Leslie Crowther has no information about the programme.

Leslie Crowther

Michael Grade is dorstepped to ask why the programme was taken off.

Michael Grade

After this, it’s back to CITV, with Glenn Kinsey, to introduce more Tiny Toon Adventures with Hare Raising Night.

After this episode, recording continues with the first episode of Truckers, based on the Terry Pratchett novel.

Truckers

It’s a very lush Cosgrove Hall production, beautifully animated and photographed.

After this, recording switches, and this time we get just the end of Tiny Toon Adventures. Had I given up recording that?

Then, Episode 2 of Truckers.

After this, another switch, and another end to Tiny Toons before Tommy Boyd, back on continuity duties, introduces episode 3 of Truckers.

Another sliver of the Toons, before episode 4 of Truckers.

And the same before Episode 5.

After this episode, Tommy is talking to the owner of the biggest autograph book in the world.

Big Autograph Book

After this, there’s the start of an episode of Woof.

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Explorers – tape 689

I’ve clearly recorded Explorers more than once on this tape. There’s a BBC2 logo and the very start of the film before a newer recording kicks in, and we get the end of an episode of Eastenders featuring Ian Beale being very creepy and rapey.

there’s a trailer for Mulberry and one for So Haunt Me.

It’s odd how we had two vaguely supernatural sitcoms at the same time. Well, I’m saying Mulberry was supernatural by I only know it tangentially, so I could be mixing it up with something else.

Then, we have Explorers. A film from the great Joe Danté about a groups of young boys who keep having the same dream, about a strange device, which they then build a find out it’s a way for travelling in space. It’s kind of a cross between This Island Earth and Contact.

It features very early performances from both Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix.

River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke

The device they build creates a force bubble, controlled from Phoenix’s home computer. “It’s only 128K, but that should be enough.”

James Cromwell makes an appearance as Phoenix’s father, a rather scatty science type with an obsession with Werner von Braun.

James Cromwell

They work out that if they form the bubble around themselves, they can fly around in it. naturally, the first thing they do is use it to spy on the girl Ethan Hawke fancies.

They build a craft to use in the bubble. When it comes to naming it, Hawke wants ‘Jules Verne’, Phoenix wants ‘Einstein’ but their cool, cynical friend, Jason Presson, calls it the ‘Thunder Road’.

They take it for a spin at the drive-in, showing a cheesy Science Fiction film created specially for the movie.

Explorers - Drive In

Indeed, the white haired alien is played by Danté regular Robert Picardo.

Danté regular Dick Miller is a helicopter pilot who spots their first flight, and wants to track them down.

Dick Miller in Explorers

When they finally make their trip into space, they’re picked up by an alien ship. After some exploring of the ship, they finally meet an alien. Hawke: “I’ve waited my whole life to say this. We come in peace.”

But to his dismay, the first words out of the alien’s mouth are not some deep words of wisdom, but “What’s Up Doc?” The aliens are actually just kids, out exploring themselves, and they’ve learned English from American TV, so the main alien only ever speaks in phrases from TV or film.

Explorers Alien

This alien is also played by Robert Picardo, well used to being under lots of Rob Bottin’s special makeup effects.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 1st March 1992 – 15:00

After the movie, recording continues with a trailer for Only Fools and Horses.

Then a Tom & Jerry cartoon starts, and the recording stops. Underneath is the end credits of Explorers again – which is odd as it implies that the version of Explorers I recorded over was actually a couple of minutes longer than this one. Interesting.

Afterwards there’s a trail for a drama about amateur dancers, Happy Feet. Then the start of an episode of Neighbours.  The tape ends before the episode does.

A Bit of Fry And Laurie – tape 1286

Here’s the third series of A Bit of Fry and Laurie. In which Hugh serenades Nicholas Parsons with an Elvis song.

Hugh Laurie serenades Nicholas Parsons

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 9th January 1992 – 21:00

After this episode there’s an advert for BBC Comedy videos featuring Fry and Laurie – virtually an extra sketch.

The next episode features an appearance by sketch show stalwart and Ford Prefect himself Geoffrey McGivern. I could probably fill a whole blog just from his appearances in UK comedy shows.

Fry, laurie & McGivern

I had misremembered the cocktails endings being on series four, but they started here.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 16th January 1992 – 21:00

The next episode features a Question of Sport sketch with two of the worst impersonations of Emlyn Hughes and David Coleman.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 23rd January 1992 – 21:00

The next episode features the Red Hat of Patferrick.

The Red Hat of Patferrick

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 30th January 1992 – 21:00

The next episode seems to feature a guest appearance by Jeremy Clarkson, complaining about Jane Eyre.

Not Jeremy Clarkson

Fry & Laurie & Jo Unwin do Countdown

Fry & Laurie do Countdown

One of the better sketches of the series, Neddy and Jack.

Neddy and Jack

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 6th February 1992 – 21:00

In the final episode on this tape, Ooh Gary Davies introduces The Bishop and the Warlord

Ooh Gary Davies

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 13th February 1992 – 21:00

After this episode there’s a trailer for Moving Pictures and Silverado, then the recording finishes.

Thunderbirds – tape 1246

This tape opens with the end of Top Gear (the older, rubbish one) and a trailer for Friday Night Programmes.

Then, Thunderbirds and The Mighty Atom. On a press tour of a new nuclear power plant, the spokesman tells the reporters that “nothing can go wrong”

Cut to a familiar figure lurking round a corner.

The Hood

Naturally, before too long, things are exploding. The Hood (for it is he) failed to get the plans for the reactor (which he appeared to be acquiring by photographing the outside of the buildings) but he vows to get them.

I love their Skype terminals. I wish Skype would really have the big ‘Sound Only Selected’ image on non-video calls.

Sound Only Selected

After the plant explodes, an atomic cloud is drifting across the country, threatening major cities, but luckily it disperses, so panic over, obviously. I wish nuclear pollution worked like this in the real world.

Melbourne Saved

12 months later, they’ve built another one. That’s impressive work, but I guess it is the future.

We get to see John relieving Alan on the space station – not that we get to see John actually back on Earth. Bt it’s nice is does actually get a break now and again.

Three and Five

The Hood infiltrates a government briefing on a top secret device – ‘The Mighty Atom’ – a fake mouse which can photograph anything. His disguise in impenetrable. Nobody would think that was a wig.

The Hood's disguise

I always love how clearly labelled everything is in the Thunderbirds world.

High Explosive

The two chaps running the new atomic reactor are very proud that the whole thing is run by just the two of them, but this causes a bit of a problem when The Hood is able to walk round the whole plant setting up high explosives to blow it up. Some security might have been an idea.

Lady Penelope is visiting Tracy Island, and is keen to join in on a rescue, so she goes with Virgil in Thunderbird 2.

So, while the boys are busy rescuing, she’s sitting in TB2, so when the fake mouse is sent in to take pictures, all it gets are pictures of her being afraid of a mouse. Girl Power!

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 25th October 1991 – 18:00

The next episode, Vault of Death, opens with some atmospherically foggy shots of London, as Parker and Lady Penelope are breaking into the Bank of England. No, they haven’t gone to the dark side, they’re performing a real-life penetration test of the bank’s security.

So the bank fit a brand new vault, complete with a vacuum system that sucks all the air out. Naturally, someone gets trapped in there, so it’s up to International Rescue to get him out.

Meanwhile, Penelope and Parker are meeting with the head of the Bank of England, but when the emergency arises, He has a key to the vault, but Parker seems reluctant to take them back to the bank. He explains that an old prison friend of his has escaped, and had vowed to break into the vault, so he’s sure this emergency must be his friend, and he doesn’t want to get him into trouble.

So Penelope drives. Cue much hilarity at how bad a driver she is. Girl Power!

The boys try to get into the vault from underground, from the disused tube tunnels.

Going Underground

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 1st November 1991 – 18:00

More Top Gear before the next episode, and a trailer for Friday programmes.

Then, Operation Crash Dive. Clearly the team liked their model of the Fireflash aircraft, so it features here again.

Fireflash

Fireflashes keep crashing, with no sign of the crashed planes at their reported positions. And Alan (who’s actually on duty on T5 this time) notices that their reported position doesn’t match the position he’s tracking them to.

Thunderbirds 1, 2 and 4 are sent to the coast nearest the crash site, so we’re treated to some comical Irish bumpkins.

Gordon gets to do some rescuing. I like the ‘LightType’ device he uses to give messages to the crew trapped in the cockpit.

LightType

Rescue goes smoothly, but the mystery remains as to why the Fireflash crashes. The Tracys write a letter to the International Air Ministry offering to fly the craft, with a Thunderbird alongside to observe what’s going wrong. No email in the Thunderbird world.

The close the whole of London Airport for Thunderbird 2 to land, because of security. They sure to get a lot of consideration from the authorities for a private, some might say shadowy, organisation.

They manage to discover that each flight had been sabotaged by a man in the engine bay. Once again, I’m astounded that an airport that would close down entirely just because International Rescue are landing would not have enough security to spot a saboteur on three separate flights.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 8th November 1991 – 18:00

Lastly on this tape, oddly devoid of an on-screen title, The Perils of Penelope, opens with the launch of Sunprobe, a rocket designed to fly into the sun.

Then we move to Paris as Penelope meets with an old friend, Sir Jeremy Hodge, who had helped International rescue when it was starting up. At her meeting someone tries to poison her. Sir Jeremy was working on the revolutionary new fuel process used in the Sunprobe, and his colleague Professor Borrinder has disappeared on a train journey to Anderbad.

Later, Penelope and Sir Jeremy are trapped in a cellar filling with gas. As Sir Jeremy pounds on the door he shouts “I Say! Open this door at once. We’re British.”

Given the title of this episode, it should come as no surprise that the climax involves Penelope tied to the tracks of a railway – although in this case she’s suspended in the path of a monorail, a modern variation.

Penelope in Peril

There’s a brilliant shot at the end of the last-ditch rescue – Virgil shoots down the ropes holding her up, then jumps down to protect her. It’s almost moving. Did Virgil and Penelope have a thing going?

Virgil Protects

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 15th November 1991 – 18:00

After this episode, there’s a trailer for The Dream Machine.

Then the start of Delia Smith’s Christmas. The tape stops shortly into this.

 

Victoria Wood – As Seen On TV – tape 1284

This is a rerun of the first series of Victoria Wood As Seen on TV. It’s like the opposite of Thompson – a sketch show entirely written by its star, but which works completely. I think it’s just the comic sensibilities – Wood has always had a style that’s very reminiscent of a surreal Alan Bennett. And let’s not underestimate the presence of Julie Walters, who can play virtually anything, and be funny about it.

There’s not much I can write about this, apart from it’s fabulous. The writing is sharp and tight, and the production matches it. The faux documentaries are all shot on 16mm, matching the style of the time, and Acorn Antiques is a masterpiece of production. Not only is the acting just wooden enough, the blocking of the actors is always funny, the cameras are always not quite in the right place, and the microphones in shot are just there for the briefest instant. It’s teetering on the edge of being over the top, but never quite falls over it, making it a joy to watch and rewatch.

Acorn Antiques

The documentary in the first episode features a lovely performance from Jim Broadbent as A Fairly Ordinary Man.

A Fairly Ordinary Man

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 17th January 1992 – 21:00

The next episode sees the first appearance of Patricia Routledge as Kitty, a bit of a reworking of a character Julie Walters played in their LWT series, Dotty. And, I suspect, the major inspiration for Roy Clarke creating Hyacinth Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances.

Kitty

There’s also a duet with Denis Lawson.

Denis Lawson and Victoria Wood

It also has my favourite Susie Blake announcement. “We’d like to apologise to viewers in the North. It must be awful for them.”

Susie Blake

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 24th January 1992 – 21:00

The next episode has a lovely song with a full brass band, which has more than a hint of Peter Skellern.

Brass Band

The dcumentary To Be An Actress has a scene that’s always remained with me. Mary Jo Randle plays an aspiring actress, Sarah, and during a workshop audition, the director gives them some instruction. “We’re going to play leapfrog… with a difference. You’re Hamlet. You’re Hinge. Brackett. You’re a bottle of milk. Marie Lloyd. Milton Keynes.” And turning to Sarah, “And you’re Lady Godiva.”

There’s a pause. A cut to an older, distinguished actor, staring at her. And she starts reluctantly taking her top off. “Three hours later, Sarah got the job.”

It gets a huge laugh, but it’s always made me uncomfortable, since I imagine this is not far away from the reality of being a young woman starting out acting.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 31st January 1992 – 21:00

In the next episode, they clearly spent a bit of money on the doctor’s surgery, as they use it in several sketches.

The documentary is On Campus about a young music student. As her parents wheel a chest freeer into her room she says “I’m not sure where it should go until I put my Simon Rattle posters up.”

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 7th February 1992 – 21:00

Next episode features guest appearances from both Denis Lawson and Maureen Lipman.

Maureen Lipman in Victoria Wood

There’s an astonishingly young looking Felicity Montagu in a documentary about private school.

Felicity Montagu in Victoria Wood

And there’s a marvellously rousing closing number to mark the end fo the series.

Closing Number

Except it isn’t the end of the series, there’s one more episode to go.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 14th February 1992 – 21:00

In the final episode, Gretchen Franklin from Eastenders makes a brief appearance.

Gretchen Franklin in Victoria Wood

Susie Blake: “Oh I don;t like things in Black and White. I just hate the fact that someone could walk in while you’re watching a black and white film and they might think you can’t afford colour.”

Kitty: “The first day I met her she said ‘I’m a radical feminist lesbian.’ I thought ‘What would the Queen Mum do?'”

Patrick Barlow appears as director of a stage musical of Bessie Bunter.

Patrick Barlow

“Two days and a bottle of scotch later, we finished Bessie! A day to write the show, and a day to think up the exclamation mark.”

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 21st February 1992 – 21:00

After this, recording continues with a trailer for My Sister-Wife with Meera Syal.

Then, the start of Arena on the legal case that arose after the production of Six Degrees of Separation. This looks like a terribly mannered documentary, in which one of the lawyers involved also plays Jack Nicholson, and where Jonathan King is a talking head. There’s only 9 minutes of this before the tape ends.

Computer Visions – Tin Toys, Knick Knacks And Algorithms – Don Quichotte – The Making Of Don Quichotte – Moving Pictures – tape 1277

Here’s a great afternoon on Channel 4. As part of their Four-Mations series, they showed these four programmes on the then new area of Computer Graphics.

First is Computer Visions, presented by Sharon Seehan and her CGI partner Ray Tracy.

Sharon Sheehan and Ray Tracy

It’s a mixture of showcase of the current state of the art, and some interviews with key figures in the CG world, including the pioneer James Blinn.

This is a good representation of the state of the art in the late 80s, but the narration does it no favours, sounding stilted and patronising. If you replaced it with a classic Horizon voice like Roger Mills or Juliet Stevenson it would be fine.

In Tin Toys, Knick Knacks and Algorithms, John Lasseter talks about the early Pixar shorts, at a time when Knick Knack was their latest.

After this, a short film, Don Quichotte, followed by a much longer Making of that film, which suffers from having the French animators dubbed over.

The Making of Don Quichotte

It’s a bit workmanlike, and about six times longer than the actual short film.

Following this, we move to BBC2 for Moving Pictures with Howard Schuman. In this episode, there’s a profile of Steven Soderbergh, while he makes his difficult second film, Kafka.

Steven Soderbergh

It’s a very honest report, especially when Soderbergh talks about the first rough cut being ‘a trainwreck’.

Terry Gilliam gives his assessment of Delicatessen.

Then, a piece on the Thomas family, who created the Carry On Films, The Doctor films, and the next generation who produced The Last Emperor.

Here’s Gerald Thomas, father of the Carry-on.

Gerald Thomas

Ralph Thomas, pictured with a poster from one of his films.

Ralph Thomas

And here’s young whippersnapper Jeremy Thomas

Jeremy Thomas

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 14th December 1991 – 21:10

The tape ends just as the next programme, Nic Roeg’s Eureka, is starting.

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