Day: June 5, 2016

Golden Years – tape 1460

This tape opens with the programme already in progress. It seems like a fair amount of plot has happened already. Frances Sternhagen and Keith Szarabajka are married, but he’s getting younger. It’s got something to do with a science lab where a clumsy scientist is wandering around, accompanied by ‘comedy’ clarinet music.

Frances Sterhnhagen and Keith Szarabajka

The clumsy scientist, who was copying secret documents, gets blown up in his car. There’s shenanigans afoot. I think, judging by what’s happening, this is somewhere around the fourth episode of the series. Sad to say, this show bears all the hallmarks of the kind of cheap cable TV shows that proliferated in the 90s – ill-judged ‘comedy’ interludes, cheap-sounding synthy scores – making it hard to really engage with the drama, such as it is.

At one point, Szarabajka and Sternhagen are driving, with Felicity Huffman, the young FBI (?) agent who’s protecting them, and they’re both singing what I believe is one of the worst ‘happy clappy’ hymns ever written.

The lord said to Noah: there’s gonna be a floody, floody
Lord said to Noah: there’s gonna be a floody, floody
Get those children out of the muddy, muddy
Children of the Lord

The next episode starts with an interminable sequence where the police are told to open fire on the parked car our heroes had escaped in. This must take up about 15 minutes of screen time, until it’s revealed the figures in the car are scarecrows labelled Curly, Larry and Moe. This is a slow moving programme.

Stephen King himself makes a cameo as a bus driver.

Stephen King and Felicity Huffman

For some reason, Channel 4’s advert caption calls this The Golden Years. Not sure why.

The Golden Years

This really is interminable. They take what seems like ten minutes of screen time for the scientist to requisition an extension lead for his equipment, including the same ‘joke’ about filling in lots of forms, played out twice. And a five minute scene where two people are looking

And at the end of this episode, suddenly, Szarabajka starts glowing green, and time starts going backwards (or possibly forwards, it wasn’t clear).

Keith with the glowing green eyes

As I’m watching this, getting more and more bored, the annoying music has made me wonder if they were aiming at the same kind of soundtrack as Edge of Darkness. It’s guitar based, but just a bit too perky to really match up to Kamen and Clapton’s classic score.

But thank goodness for Frances Sternhagen, whose performance here reminds me why it’s always a delight to see her name in the credits for something. In a show where almost everyone else seems to think they’re acting in a bad sitcom, she’s delivering an honest and credible performance.

In the first genuinely surprising twist, while the heroes are trying to escape with their blind daughter, the bad guys actually kill her guide dog.

In the last episode, they hide out in what seems like a commune. One inhabitant is called Captain Trips – a name familiar to King readers. Things at the commune take a very nasty turn when the Captain phones the bad guy to tell him where they are, and pretty soon there’s a bunch of army and police with rifles surrounding the house – in a suburban street. After several of the hippies are ginned down, and even more are trapped in a burning house, our heroes escape through a tunnel. but are pursued by the chief bad guy, a man so violent that it’s a wonder he hasn’t been shot dead by a member of his staff before now.

Then, when all seems lost, Szarabajka starts glowing green again, holds Sternhagen close to him, and the fade away – presumably going back in time to relive their youth, although the programme doesn’t stretch to actually showing us that. And the bad guy gets shot in the back by Felicity Huffman, which is about what he deserves.

And as far as I can tell, the interminable sub-plot with the scientist trying to recreate his experiment, went precisely nowhere.

Shockingly bad, I’m afraid, and I speak as a fan of King’s novels.

After the last episode, the recording continues with a short film, Goodnight Norma… Goodnight Milton…, a rather grotesque cartoon about two people getting ready for bed.

Norma and Milton

Recording stops just after this film.

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