Month: September 2016

Two Fisted Tales – tape 1647

Sometimes I have tapes in my collection which I have almost no idea what the contents are. This is one of them. Two Fisted Tales could be almost anything. Without googling, and before watching, I’m thinking maybe it’s a portmanteau western with some involvement from Robert Zemeckis. Or is that something else?

Well, it’s definitely a “trio of action stories”.

It’s a Carolco production. That could mean anything, frankly, they had a wildy variable output.

Carolco

The titles are a nice montage of frames from the original EC comics on which the movie is based (this is why I think it has a Zemeckis connection, as I think he was involved in Tales from the Crypt).

Two Fisted Tales

William Sadler introduces the first segment. Looks like the Western guess was right as well.

William Sadler

The first segment is called Showdown. And Bingo for the Zemeckis connection.

Executive Producers

This segment was written by Frank Darabont and directed by Richard Donner. A gunslinger is being pursued by a posse, led by David Morse.

He comes to a small town, and Morse is there waiting for him. But the gunslinger, Billy Quintaine (Neil Giuntoli) is quicker on the draw, and shoots him dead. Then, having a drink in a bar, he meets a man peddling a wonder tonic that’s guaranteed to quicken the reflexes and sharpen the eye. He tries it, and starts seeing men he’s killed in the bar. They tell him they’re there to take him with them, into the brotherhood of the gun, all people who died at the gun. But he doesn’t want to go with them, so they vanish, and he finds the bar full of a modern day tour party, with a tour guide giving his history, and saying that he’s reputed to be a ghost, wandering the town.

So he leaves the saloon, faces up again to Morse, and when he kills him again, Morse’s posse guns him down, and he’s welcomed into the brotherhood. How nice to have a happy ending for such a deserving character.

It’s not all cowboys, though, as the next segment is called King of the Road, and stars Brad Pitt as a hot rod driver, doing illegal racing. It’s directed by Fright Night’s Tom Holland.

Brad Pitt

Pitt comes to a town looking for a racer called Iceman. He thinks the local sheriff is Iceman, but he denies it. So Pitt picks up the Sheriff’s daughter at the fast food stand where she works. He puts an envelope of press clippings in his postbox, along with a large spider. One of the featured headlines is rather ungrammatical.

Iceman eludes police manslaughter charged

I guess there’s some kind of revenge motive going on here.

The sheriff pursues Pitt when he’s speeding through the town, but loses him, so he’s horrified when he returns home to find Pitt’s car in his driveway.

Naturally, his daughter doesn’t understand why he’s angry, and Pitt threatens to spill the beans about his racing past, and his pending maslaughter charge.

Pitt asks for a race, holding his daughter as hostage. If the Sheriff wins, he gets his daughter back, if he loses Pitt kills her.

It’s all a bit ho hum. Fast cars have never been my thing, so I’m a bit bored by the mythology around street racing.

The final segment is Yellow and stars Kirk Douglas. He was in the news just yesterday (as I write this) writing about the presidential race. I hope that’s enough of a coincidence to offset any possible ill effects there might be of appearing in this blog. It’s too late for Brad Pitt, whose marriage I have clearly retroactively wrecked.

Also appearing are Lance Henrikson and Dan Aykroyd.

Lance Henrikson Dan Aykroyd Kirk Douglas

Now, there’s something interesting in the music that opens this segment. It’s by Alan Silvestri, and it sounds remarkably like a particular cue from James Horner’s later score for Titanic. The uncharitable part of me wonders if this cue was used by Cameron as temp music, and Horner aped the orchestration, even if the tune is different.

This segment is written by Predator’s Jim and John Thomas, and directed by, you guessed it, Robert Zemeckis.

It’s a war story, set somewhere in France in 1918. It opens with a dry run for Saving Private Ryan, with a large battle full of guns, explosions and stuntmen being catapulted very high into the air. Weirdly, it seems to be being played for laughs. Henrikson is looking for his lieutenant, and keeps asking soldiers who turn out to be dead. The first one he finds who isn’t dead yet lifts his arm to point where the lieutenant is, and his hand is shot off.

Trench warfare

The lieutenant orders a retreat, much to Henrikson’s disgust. He’s played by Eric Douglas, Kirk Douglas’ youngest son, and he’s playing Douglas’ son in this segment.

Everyone thinks the lieutenant is ‘yellow’ so General Douglas assigns him to take a patrol to repair a field telephone line out in no man’s land. He fails to warn his men about a German patrol, so they’re ambushed, and he lies about it to his father when he returns, so General  Douglas court martials him.

The two have a heart to heart the night before the execution. Young Douglas tells him he never wanted to join the army, and never had a choice. Father Douglas tells his son not to worry, that he will ensure all the firing squad are firing blanks, so all he has to do is face the squad with bravery, and fall back into the pit when they fire.

Kirk Douglas and Eric Douglas

Of course, he’s done no such thing, and the squad fire live rounds. There’s a final shot of young Douglas’ hip flask with an inscription on it I can’t quite read. I can make out “To Martin… Courage… Love Dad.” It could be “Take Courage From Your Name” but it’s not a clear picture from this recording.

hip flask

Dour, depressing stories, then.

This was a TV Movie, actually made up of segments from the Tales from the Crypt TV series. Strangely, none of them came from any Two Fisted Tales comics. But at least my initial vague recollections about the movie turned out to be spot on. I don’t think I’ve watched it before, either.

After the movie there’s a trailer for movies in April, but apart from that, there’s nothing else on this tape. A short one today.

Have I Got News For You – Absolutely Fabulous – tape 1692

I’ve missed the start of the first episode here, it’s Have I Got News For You. Guests are Maria McErlane

Maria McErlane

and Jon Snow

Jon Snow

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 10th December 1993 – 22:00

Note that Genome claims this edition featured Victor Lewis Smith and Helene Kennedy. I wonder if there was a last minute problem with the booked guests.

The next episode features guests Maureen Lipman

Maureen Lipmann

And Lesley Abdela

Lesley Abdela

It’s quite remarkable how nasty everybody is about Princess Diana whenever she turns up in clips or in the odd one out.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 17th December 1993 – 22:00

Next, the first episode in a new series of Absolutely Fabulous. Patsy has been involved in a sex scandal.

“Patsy Stone (47)” “I’ll SUE!”

Patsy Stone 47

There’s a cameo appearance by Lady Penelope.

Lady Penelope

And Helena Bonham Carter

Helena Bonham Carter

And Richard E Grant

Richard E Grant

And Germaine Greer

Germaine Greer

BBC Genome: BBC One – 27th January 1994 – 21:30

In the next episode, Death, Eddy’s father has died, and Eddy starts worrying about her own legacy. And there’s a funeral, so inevitably Patsy falls into an open grave. Amazingly, they repeat the joke a minute later as Eddy falls into her father’s grave. I have mixed feelings about this programme.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 3rd February 1994 – 21:30

They go on holiday in the next episode, Morocco. Bubble is dressed as Uncle Sam for some reason.

Jane Horrocks and Jennifer Saunders

John Wells plays an old friend who we meet when he’s literally sexually assaulting Saffron, having mistaken her for a young boy. This is 1994.

John Bird and Julia Sawhala

BBC Genome: BBC One – 10th February 1994 – 21:30

Next, it’s New Best Friend. Eddy is expecting someone to come and stay, Bettina (Miranda Richardson) a noted minimalist.

Miranda Richardson

Jo Brand now works in Patsy’s office.

Jo Brand

As does Meera Syal

Meera Syal

She’s playing some kind of video game – naturally the sound effects are from Defender.

Adrian Edmondson is also there.

Adrian Edmondson

Patsy and Eddy are at the same restaurant but not talking, so they both co-opt the nearest celebrity. For Eddy it’s Lulu.

Lulu

For Patsy it’s Zandra Rhodes

Zandra Rhodes

And Britt Ekland

Britt Ekland

BBC Genome: BBC One – 24th February 1994 – 21:35

Before the next episode there’s the end of Newsroom Southeast. Some weather from Michael Fish. Then an advert for Do The Right Thing, a Terry Wogan-helmed panel show about moral dilemmas.

Then more AbFab with Poor. Eddy is worried about money.

Mark Wing Davey plays her accountant, Malcolm.

Mark Wing Davey

BBC Genome: BBC One – 3rd March 1994 – 21:30

Another snatch of Newsroom Southeast, and weather from Michael Fish before the next episode, and a trailer for Grushko with Brian Cox. There’s also a trailer for Dragnet, the Tom Hanks, Dan Aykroyd comedy.

Then the final episode of AbFab on this tape, Birth, which starts with a fire in the kitchen. Patsy sleeps through it.

Patsy on Fire

Unfortunately, the tape runs out just as the end credits are playing, so I missed whatever the payoff of Saffy’s boyfriend was.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 10th March 1994 – 21:30

A League Of Their Own – Doctor Who – tape 1646

First on this tape, from Sky Movies, it’s A League of their Own. I’d forgotten what a great film this is. Warm, funny, filled with great performances.

It’s World War II and baseball in America has shut down because all the players have joined up to fight in the war. But Walter Harvey, millionaire chocolate manufacturer, wants to do something to keep the league going, so they recruit for women’s teams.

Jon Lovitz makes a memorable impression as the sardonic talent scout looking all over for women to try out for the league. Geena Davis and her sister, Lori Petty, play, and he wants Davis, but doesn’t want Petty. But Davis isn’t interested. So Petty persuades him that if she can persuade Davis to join up, he’ll take her (Petty) as well.

They both make it through the tryouts, along with a varied group of girls which includes Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna.

Rosie O'Donnell and Madonna

There’s a lovely scene where Lovitz (with Davis and Petty) visits another town to look at another girl, Marla, played by Megan Cavanagh, who had been raised by her father, and was a brilliant batter, but wasn’t pretty, like Davis. Naturally, Lovitz passes, because they’re all assuming that people will only want to watch it for the pretty girls, not for sporting prowess, and it’s heartbreaking to see her reaction to the rejection. “Daddy, I’m sorry” and he hugs her.

Davis and Petty are obviously disgusted that Lovitz is passing on her purely because of looks, and they put their bags down, refusing to leave the gym. Then Marla’s father, Eddie Jones, talks to Lovitz.

“I know my girl ain’t so pretty as these girls. But that’s my fault. I raised her as a little boy. I didn’t know any better. But she loves to play. Don’t make my little girl suffer because I messed up raising her.”

Eddie Jones and Megan Cavanagh

Surprisingly for a sports picture, a big theme of the film is people looking after other people. More than once, characters who at first have their own interests at heart, eventually start caring about the people around them.

Tom Hanks is the washed up ball player brought in to coach the team, and he’s only there to add what little star power his name has left, and prefers to spend the games in an alcoholic stupor.

Davis takes charge of actually running the team in his virtual absence, but when he starts to notice how well they’re playing, he starts to get interested again. There’s an amusing scene where he’s trying to signal to the batter to do one thing, and Davis is giving different signals.

Duelling Signals

David Strathairn plays the lawyer who’s given the task of getting the league up and running, and he’s the one who initially tells the women that they have to wear short skirts, and all the publicity is about how girly they all are.

David Strathairn

But when the league is a success, and chocolate magnate Harvey (played, incidentally, by Garry Marshall, the director of Pretty Woman) says that they can restart men’s baseball next year because the war is going well, Strathairn doesn’t want to see the women’s league just abandoned.

Garry Marshall

After a heartbreaking scene where one of the women gets a telegram saying her husband had been killed, Davis is surprised when her husband, played by Bill Pullman, returns unexpectedly, having been injured by a sniper and discharged from the Army. Pullman is smart casting here. Good looking enough to be someone you believe Davis would marry, but also able to play either sympathetic or a weasel. I like it when you can’t make assumptions about characters from the casting.

Davis leaves the team as they are heading off to play in the World Series, and we get a montage of the first games, leaving the series tied up to the last game. Then, all of a sudden, Davis is back, ready to play. “We got as far as Yellowstone Park and just turned around again.”

It seems a bit of an odd choice to have her return as a fait accompli – I wonder if they had a scene with her and her husband and didn’t think it worked?

At this stage, Lori Petty, Davis’ sister, has been traded to another team, because she couldn’t stand being in Davis’ shadow all the time, and of course that’s the other team in the series. So it’s not team against team, it’s sister against sister.

Lori Petty

I’d honestly forgotten what a great film this is. If anything, I probably enjoyed it more now than when I first saw it.

Some trivia. The director was Penny Marshall, who also directed Tom Hanks in Big, and who also played Laverne in Laverne and Shirley, a spin-off from Happy Days created by Garry Marshall – who appears here as Chocolate Bigshot Walter Harvey.

There’s more on this tape, though. We’re off to UK Gold for some Doctor Who and Planet of Fire, one of Peter Davison’s last stories, the first appearance of Nicola Bryant as Peri, and a story that was famously shot on location in Lanzarote.

This leads to some odd choices, like this scene near the start where two characters, apparently on an alien planet, judging by the way they’re talking about fire gods, are clearly in a spacious living room lent to the film crew to film in. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was part of the villa in which a producer stayed.

Living Room

Rather tellingly, this first scene is the only time this location is used. Everything else is either bleak exteriors or a BBC Studio set.

One of the two is Peter Wyngarde as Timanov, although the young man he’s advising appears to be called Malcolm. Maybe this is set on Earth, and Lanzarote is actually a secret hotbed of human sacrifice. (Checking iMDb it seems he’s called Malkon, but I doubt I’ll be able to hear anything by Malcolm from now on).

Peter Wyngarde

Meanwhile, two men are climbing up a hill made of some kind of volcanic rock, expecting to find their God Logar at the top. When they get there, there’s nothing there. “Logar is a myth” they say, looking quite happy that they’re not being consumed in a wrathful fire or something.

On the Tardis, The Doctor and Turlough are still a bit blue, because last episode Tegan left. Something’s up with Kamelion, the shape changing robot that’s such a hard prop to work with that it spends most if its time in any story it’s in sitting or lying immobile. This time it’s lying down, and connected to the Tardis data banks.

See Kamelion

Peri is on holiday, actually in Lanzarote, with her stepfather Howard, who’s working on an archaeological dig. Peri is bored, and she’s decided to leave the island and visit Morocco with a couple of ‘nice English guys’, but Howard is a bit of a controlling kind, and leaves her stranded on a boat so she can’t get to the airport.

Peri tries to swim to shore, but gets into difficulty, and Turlough saves her from drowning, taking her back to the Tardis to recover.

Back on the planet, the people are having a crisis of faith. Timanov has to convince the people that the God Logar is real, but the men who climbed the mountain of fire saw nothing there.

So he asks for a sign, and handily, there’s a big spurt of flame behind a grill that somehow is enough sign for them.

In the Tardis, Turlough looks through Peri’s bag of stuff, and sees a strange artefact that she took from the boat that was found with all the archaeology stuff that’s clearly not old, and has a symnbol on it. Turlough has the same symbol on his arm – a symbol we saw earlier, on the arm of the young prince on the planet.

Turlough's mark

The Doctor returns, because he’s been tracking the device, and it’s moved. Turlough tells him he found it on the shore.

Peri is having flashback dreams – I get the feeling Howard was a horrible person – and Kamelion shapeshifts into Howard – thankfully with his top on this time.

The device causes the Tardis to travel to the alien planet. It’s arrival is noticed, as they seem to be expecting ‘The Outsider’

The Doctor and Turlough go wandering outside leaving Peri with Howard/Kamelion, who starts talking like a villain. “The Tardis is at least mine.” Then he transforms again, and it’s only the bloody Master, Anthony Ainley, complete with unconvincing moustache.

Anthony Ainley

The Master has trouble controlling Kamelion, so Peri gets out, with an important part of the Tardis. Master/Kamelion pursues, but occasionally becomes a silver version of Howard.

Silver Howard

Howard/Master/Kamelion is found by Timanov, who naturally assumes he’s the outsider. All the while, the rest of the settlement find The Doctor and Turlough, and assume they are the outsider. They have technology from Turlough’s home planet Trion. Turlough orders Malcolm to take him to where Malcolm was discovered as a child. It all links back to Trion.

Peri finds Turlough and Malcolm in the Trion ship. Meanwhile Timanov has returned with the Master, and of course The Master orders all unbelievers burned.

Because they share matching marks, Turlough thinks Malcolm is his brother. And he uses the mark to persuade Timanov to let the Doctor into the Tardis.

Kamelion/Master takes Peri into his own Tardis. But the Master himself isn’t there – he’s in some other room, and clearly not in control of the Tardis.

But he’s still got the Tissue Compression Eliminator, which can shrink things down. It always looks like a sex toy to me.

Tissue Compression Eliminator

The Doctor thinks the Master needs the healing blue flame emerging from the volcano. Turlough is still keeping secrets about why the planet was important to Trion. And Peri gets away from the Master and into his Tardis, where she decides to look into the strange black box he was so worried about. She thinks it’s the control box. But no – when she opens the box, she finds, inside, a tiny Master.

Master in a Box

She knocks over the box, releasing the Master, and she then chases after him with a shoe, which sounds like the greatest thing ever, but is actually flat and dull. The Master gets away because Peri suddenly sneezes. Twice.

Turlough finally reveals why he’s nervous about making contact with the Trions – his father was a prisoner, he fought on the wrong side of a civil war.

The Master is able to use the blue flame to revive himself to full size, but he’s still in the flame when it turns yellow, and the Doctor just watches as it burns him up. Quite a dark move for the Doctor, but sadly typical of this era, with Eric Saward as script editor.

Fiery End

Turlough’s exile has been lifted, so he gets to go back home, leaving the Doctor with only Peri for company. I really like Nicola Bryant, but I think Peri was poorly written. She was a throwback to the helpless screamers that we thought we’d left behind, and coming after Nyssa and Tegan definitely felt like a backward step. That she was then also partnered with Colin Baker’s equally misconceived ‘psycho’ Doctor only made it worse. A shame, and a waste of a good performer.

Then there’s the start of an episode of The Goodies. Graham wants to launch a rabbit into space.

Bill Oddie and Rabbit

There’s a cameo appearance by the Tardis – either it’s shot strangely, or it’s very off-model.

Tardis in the Goodies

Sadly, the tape comes top an end during the commercial break.

Adverts:

  • KFC
  • Ferrero Rocher
  • Debenham’s
  • Daily Mirror
  • Biactol
  • Shout
  • trail: Doctor Who – The Caves of Androzani
  • trail: When Eight Bells Toll
  • Kingsmill
  • Crunchy Nut Cornflakes
  • Pantene
  • Oxy 10
  • Super Fresco

Microsoft DevCast – tape 1706

Well, today’s my birthday, and here’s something a little out of the ordinary.

These days, if you work in the tech space, you’re used to umpteen webcasts of product launches, tech conferences, what have you. Heck, I’ve done them myself.

But what about in the olden days? Back when the internet was barely more functional than Prestel, the World Wide Web was a fad that would never replace gopher and ftp, and Windows for Workgroups was the cutting edge of networked operating systems.

I’m not sure about the exact date of this but looking for similar videos on the internet it looks like this was December 1993.

Let’s delve into the awesome technology on offer, and learn that times may change, but tech people rarely do. The presentation, especially in the introduction, is probably stiffer than it would be these days, as we’re all more used to having to present, but some things never change – like having to read out a powerpoint slide of the intended goals of the presentation at the start.

Devcast Goals

I’m going to be most interested to see if my favourite tech video phrase was in use back then – “I’m going to go ahead and <do something>” – it’s used all the time in tech video today. Was it around in 1993?

The first part looks at quite a complex application built on top of Excel. You can tell the era of software by the screen resolution, and especially by the design – it’s all relentlessly skeuomorphic – check out that clipboard.

Skeuomorphic Clipboard

Plus, the square Exit button with the icon on it is a dead giveaway that it’s a 90s VBA app.

Another clue as to how old this is is the occasional mention of Cobol – they were trying to appeal to a lot of businesses still running their systems on mainframes and Cobol.

Here’s the list of tools used to build applications. Note that it’s still OLE 2 – the transition to COM was yet to come.

List of tools

Visual Basic for Applications is brand new here.

VBA

Either this developer doesn’t know the digits of Pi, or he doesn’t know how to round numbers…

Not Quite Pi

Yay! about 40 minutes into this (41:49 in the video timecode) while demonstrating creating a pivot table in Excel, the developer says “I’m going to go ahead and select a SQL Server database”. That phrase has been in common parlance at Microsoft (and presumably elsewhere) since at least 1993.

On an additional note – Pivot Tables were around in 1993. For some reason I thought they were a lot newer than that. But I confess to being very bad at using Excel. I generally only use it to get data out of it.

He’s saying it all the time now. And the demo is not working very well, as he can’t log in to SQL Server.

Also, when he gets it working with a local database, he keeps getting a pop-up which he keeps just dismissing, which looks like an error.

Selection is too large

It’s just warning that Excel can’t preserve Undo data for a given operation (machines had so little memory in those days) but it’s not really the kind of thing you want whole demoing.

Just as an aside, I was curious about “I’m going to go ahead and do something” as a stock phrase for doing demos. How old might it be?

Well, there’s a very famous demo, made in 1968 by Douglas Englebart, where he demonstrates some brand new innovations like on-screen menus, control by a mouse, and networked computers. It’s become known as The Mother of all Demos, and it’s rather remarkable.

Not only does he demonstrate these amazing innovations, some of which would take a decade or more to reach the mainstream, but there he is on screen, his face superimposed on the computer screen, wearing his headset. He invented the YouTube let’s play almost 40 years early.

But what interests me is buried in the demo, where he’s actually talking to a colleague showing part of the system, and it’s the colleague who uses that phrase for the first time, quite late in the demo.

He actually uses the phrase three times in his part of the demo. So I suspect it was a common stock phrase even at that time. Amazing.

Back to the DevCast, and I have to say, I’m getting distracted from Eric Wells’ excellent demo of WOSA by his frankly magnificent monobrow.

Eric Wells

Next demo is by Randy Kath, who is, I think, more nervous than anyone else there. But his demo goes OK.

Randy Kath

Remember in the 1990s when all powerpoint slides looked like this?

1990s Powerpoint

Apparently, For Each was a new construct in VBA.

For Each

Kavi Singh is building a communications module, and “I’m going to go ahead and…” are almost the first words he uses. He has the fun of sending a fax.

Kavi Singh

The final demo in this section, and the first name I recognise – because it’s a very big name indeed. Here’s a 26 year old Satya Nadella, then a Technical Marketing Manager, now the CEO of Microsoft.

Satya Nadella

He gets the fun of showing how to talk to an AS400 mainframe.

After this demo, they ask for questions. “Please feel free to get to a phone wherever you are and give us a call.” No online questions, and no assumption of mobile phones in 1993.

Call in questions now

So it’s either time for questions, or we’re getting a Microsoft Westlife tribute band.

Microsoft Westlife

After a brief pause and an advert for the Microsoft World Open, a competition for the best business solutions, we’re back to the demos. Here’s Steve Bridgeland, who’s looking far too cheerful to be demonstrating a product like Microsoft Project, a tool that still makes me shudder from the times I’ve tried to use it.

Steve Bridgeland

Next, the launch of a product I definitely did use rather a lot at the time, Visual C++ 1.5. remember that this was quite a long time before Visual Studio joined up all the development environments together. Scott Randell is the developer showing us round the new version. He’s going to build a business object before our very eyes.

Scott Randell

Denis Gilbert is very proud to announce the release of Visual C++ 1.5. This version seems to be aimed at 16 bit development, so it wouldn’t be the version I would have used, as our PC application at that time was 32 bit only – I’m happy to say I missed all the pain of developing for 16 bit windows.

Denis Gilbert

There’s quite a long presentation at the end on MSDN – remember what it looked like in 1993 – when CD ROM was a rarity.

Old Style MSDN

The final demo is of the brand new Access 2.0 features, by John Betz.

John Betz

The whole thing ends with an endearingly awkward set of high fives by the presenters.

High Fives

If you’ve got 4 hours to spare on some developer history, here’s the whole thing.

Murder Most Horrid II – tape 1652

Before the first programme, the end of some old-school Top Gear, looking at a rally race somewhere cold. The kind of story the new Top Gear was never remotely interested in.

There’s a trailer for Laurel Avenue.

Then, Murder Most Horrid starts a second series, with Overkill, written by Steven Moffatt, and Dawn French is in a very dark place.

Noose

Before she can carry out the deed, she’s interrupted by Amanda Donohoe.

Amanda Donohoe

Donohoe is some kind of assassin, and isn’t particularly sympathetic to Dawn’s intentions. But whoever her enemies are, they know she’s there, shoot up the hotel window a bit, then tell her she has to present herself to them in an hour or else she’ll be brought there.

So she has a proposition for Dawn. “So far in my professional I have killed well over fifty people.” “Oh, so you’re a social worker too?”

Dawn has to pose as her to help kill her target before he can kill Donohoe.

Yay! It’s Geoffrey McGivern.

Geoffrey McGivern

Donohoe’s targets are Peter Vaughan and Colin Salmon.

Peter Vaughan and Colin Salmon

It’s a typical Moffat farce, which ends with almost everybody dead, which is an advantage of this programme’s format. Very dark, but funny too.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 3rd March 1994 – 21:00

After this programme, there’s a trailer for Absolutely Fabulous, Then recording switches to the end of another Top Gear and an appearance by Young Clarkson.

Young Clarkson

There’s a trailer for From A to B: Tales of Modern Motoring.

The next episode of Nurder Most Horrid is Lady Luck written by Paul Smith and Terry Kyan, creators of Colin’s Sandwich.

Sean Gallagher holds up a bank, then hijacks Dawn French in her car to escape the police. She ends up helping him a lot more than he expects, until the final twist.

Sean Gallagher and Dawn French

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 10th March 1994 – 21:00

The next episode is A Severe Case of Death by Chris England. Dawn plays a housekeeper to an old country doctor.

A severe case of Death

She does a certain amount of medical practice herself. “He’s got something I like to call influenza.” “Oh my God he’s got something Latin.”

Timothy West is the doctor, not a very good one, and charging a lot for his services.

Timothy West

But he dies of shock on learning his son has died at sea. French is (of course) dismissed, but she hatches a plan to continue practising medicine.

A Young Country Doctor

She poses as West’s son, for whom he had already written a letter of recommendation to the suire of another village, John Fortune, who accepts the letter but doesn’t have much time for doctors, and dismissed the last one because ‘he was a fake’.

John Fortune

All’s going well, although she does start falling for the squire, which could be awkward. And then the old doctor’s son turns up, alive, and insists on living with her and taking all her money.

Things get worse when Brian Hibbard (of the Flying Pickets) turns up demanding money with menaces, as the real Doctor Adams had run up a rather large bill with their employer.

Brian Hibbard

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 17th March 1994 – 21:00

The next episode is We All Hate Granny written by James Hendrie. Dawn French is the hated Granny, with Vistoria Wicks (Sally Smedley from Drop the Dead Donkey) as her daughter.

Victoria Wicks

James Fleet is the son-in-law.

James Thrift

Their children are astonishingly rude. When Granny gives them hand-knitted piglet toys, they throw them out of the window in disgust.

Thrift has lost his job, and being an ancient 44 years old, has trouble getting a new one. But Wicks knows that Granny is actually very rich, as she has shares in a large number of successful companies, so they’re just waiting for her to die.

Granny does start to win over the children, though.

But the parents can’t stand it, and waiting for Granny to die is too much, and they move to actively trying to kill her.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 24th March 1994 – 21:00

Next, it’s Mangez Merveillac by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman. Dawn French plays Verity Hodge, a beloved food writer, whose famous account of her time in provincial France doesn’t match the reality of the people who were there.

Her book is a massive success, but things go a bit wrong for her when people want to visit the village, as they might discover that she slightly overstated the charms of the village. So she gets the villagers to massively remodel the village.

Merveillac

Soon the tourists start arriving in vast numbers, including Kevin McNally and his family.

Kevin McNally

But then Patricia Hayes arrives as Dorothy Templecombe, who wrote the recipe book used by the Patron of the hotel Verity stayed in, and who recognised all her recipes in Verity’s book.

Patricia Hayes

This episode has about three different twists, whicb is impressive.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 31st March 1994 – 21:00

The final episode in the series is Smashing Bird by Jon Canter. It’s a London Gangster story, with quite a cast.

Dawn French plays a nightclub singer, due to marry Ray Winstone and move to Spain.

Ray Winstone

But on a bank job, where Winstone was the getaway driver, he’s killed when his car explodes.

Hywel Bennett is the gang kingpin.

Hywel Bennett

David Bamber (off of Chalk) is his right hand man.

David Bamber

Mark McGann is Winstone’s former best friend.

Mark McGann

It looks suspiciously like the gang engineered Winstone’s death to stop him and French leaving, and in particular, to keep French there to skivvy for the gang.

Then, they “get word” that a rival gang in Spain killed Winstone and tell French that she should kill the rival gang as revenge. Of course, it’s another stitch-up.

But she pieces together the clues and realises that they were lying about what happened. She wants revenge, but finds she’s not really a killer. Then she finds a way to get them to do the work for her.

And there’s a last surprise cameo from Michael Elphick at the end.

Michael Elphick

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 7th April 1994 – 21:00

After this episode, recording switches to Channel 4 and an episode of Home Improvement. The two older brothers are being horrible to their younger brother, mainly because Tim Allen is an awful father. His solution is to frighten the life out of the two older kids.

Then, talking about dysfunctional families, there’s an episode of Roseanne. I like her sweatshirt.

She Who Must Be Obeyed

This is mid-vintage Roseanne, when Tom Arnold was still listed as an executive producer, and Sarah Chalke was playing Becky. It’s Thanksgiving, and Becky offers to do all the cooking.

After this, recording stops, and underneath there’s this.

Charlie Drake

It’s Charlie Drake delivering a monologue from a dustbin. Also appearing are Norman Beaton and Stephen Rea. If I had to guess, I’d say it has the aroma of Samuel Beckett.

Stephen Rea and Norman Beaton

A quick search in Genome and it’s Endgame, probably the broadcast from February 1994 given the first programme on this tape is from March, and would have been taped over it. Most likely a repeat of The Day TodayBBC Two – 24th February 1994 – 00:00

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Film 94 – Steven Spielberg on Schindler’s List – tape 1683

This tape starts with the end of Catchword, a BBC quiz programme that was likely concocted as a competitor to Countdown. It’s presented by Paul Coia, a daytime TV regular.

There’s a trailer for The Menendez Trial.

Then, a BBC2 repeat for Film 94 in which Barry Norman reviews the following films:

I’m amused by Barry’s comments about Pierce Brosnan’s penchant for light comedy in Doubtfire. “He would have made a splendid James Bond in the Roger Moore style.”

Tom Brook talks to Julia Roberts about her ‘comeback’ movie The Pelican Brief.

There’s a brief obituary for Telly Savalas.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 25th January 1994 – 17:30

After this, we get part (not all) of an interview with Steven Spielberg in the Face to Face series, with Jeremy Isaacs. Here’s the whole thing.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 31st January 1994 – 23:15

There’s another bit of Catchword.

Then, more from Barry Norman and Film 94. “Meanwhile, and so as not to neglect the Cahiers du Cinema crowd, we have Wayne’s World 2

There’s a location report on Shadowlands.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 1st February 1994 – 17:30

In the next episode, Barry looks at:

As part of the review of In The Name of the Father, Barry rakes director Jim Sheridan over the coals over a few fictionalised elements in the movie. This is a slightly shameful example of the kind of ‘balance’ that’s slightly nonsensical. Barry himself describes the film as not to be missed, and yet he has to ask Sheridan about two or three examples where the film chooses drama over pure fact, simply because the film clearly makes the political and judicial world look really very bad indeed.

There’s also an interview with Tom Hanks, and a look at his role in Philadelphia. It’s rather mind boggling to hear them talk about whether ‘a mainstream audience’ would watch a movie about a homosexual man with Aids.

There’s also an obituary for Joseph Cotten.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 7th February 1994 – 23:10

The next episode (we’ve missed last week’s, in which he reviews Schindler’s List) has reviews of

There’s a location report on Romeo is Bleeding.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 21st February 1994 – 23:25

Before the next episode, there’s the end of an episode of Take Me Home, followed by a trailer for the next episode. Then there’s a trailer for Twins.

Then, a special episode in which Barry talks to Robert Altman about his career and films, on the release of his new film Short Cuts.

BBC Genome:  BBC One – 28th February 1994 – 23:10

Before the next episode there’s the end of another episode of Take Me Home followed by a trailer for The Detectives.

Then, another Film 94 with Barry Norman reviewing

There’s a location report from County Wicklow, of Widow’s Peak. There’s also a brief Obituary for John Candy, and for Melina Mercouri.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 7th March 1994 – 23:15

After this, there’s an extra programme, Steven Spielberg on Schindler’s List, in which he talks about his film, and we also hear from some of the survivors of the Holocaust saved by Oscar Schindler.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 8th March 1994 – 23:15

After this, there’s a trailer for Dragnet.

Then there’s the start of Spielberg’s Duel. The tape ends shortly after the film starts.

The Late Show With David Letterman – The Outer Limits – tape 1690

Here’s a few random episodes of The Last Show with David Letterman. For some reason these episodes were on a German language channel, so they are interspersed with German trailers.

First guest is Marv Albert, a US sports person.

Marv Albert

It’s a very awkward interview – they both seem to be having fun, but he keeps cracking jokes that don’t land at all in the studio.

Dave’s Mum is reporting from Lillyhammer and the Winter Olympics.

Dave's Mom

There’s music from Sinead O’Connor

Sinead O'Connor

The final guest is the wonderful Ricky Jay, who does some sleight of hand, including at one point getting his trick slightly wrong – he was supposed to cut four aces, but he cut two jacks and two queens. Interesting.

In the next episode, the first guest is Garry Shandling.

Garry Shandling

Music from Sting.

Sting

Then Nigel Mansell, at that time driving Indycar. He’s surprisingly funny.

Nigel Mansell

Next episode features Geena Davis

Geena Davis

and Aerosmith

Aerosmith

They run out of time for their final guest. These shows are rather badly put together. Far too much time with Dave doing his stupid gags, at the expense of the guests.

After this, there’s an episode of the classic Outer Limits, with The Zanti Misfits, a tale of alien ‘misfits’ (or criminals) being shipped to Earth as a penal colony. Humanity has been ordered to accept the misfits, under threat of devastating attack.

They have to keep the landing area totally clear of people, but of course someone breaks through the corden. It’s a young Bruce Dern, a bad boy and the woman who has run off with him, Olive Deering.

Bruce Dern and Olive Deering

The army have to try to assure the Zanti that they aren’t there deliberately. But the Zanti definitely don’t like him creeping around their (surprisingly small) ship so they attack him.

Zanti

 

The army have no choice, once the Zanti start attacking, to kill them all, and they are told by the Zanti home planet, that this was the plan all along.

After this, there’s most of an episode of Hill Street Blues before the tape ends.

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