The X Files – Michael Moore’s TV Nation – Taxi Driver – tape 2056

This tape opens with the end of an episode of One Foot in the Past In Ruins.

There’s a trailer for King’s Row. And one for tonight’s episode of Michael Moore’s TV Nation. Plus an intriguing caption trail for a Peter Capaldi series I don’t remember in the least.

Runway One

Then, an episode of The X-FilesLittle Green Men. It opens with a monologue by Mulder about the Voyager golden record, featuring the mellifluous tones of Kurt Waldheim, then Secretary General of the UN, previously an actual Nazi, bidding welcome to any alien civilisation. It complains about all these attempts to listen to the universe being shut down, and we see a mothballed lab suddenly springing to life and replaying the Waldheim soundtrack. It’s an interesting opening.

The X Files have been shut down. Deep Throat was killed at the end of the last series, and Mulder and Sculley have been reassigned to boring cases.

But Mulder’s tipped off, and does a bunk to the Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico which, in the X-Files universe, has been shut down – we presume that its only job was to listen for alien signals. In the real world, it’s still a working radio telescope, doing all the kinds of astronomy that such an observatory does. But the X Files never really cared much about science.

Or computing, it seems, as Sculley boots up Mulder’s computer, whose boot screen is a DOS directory listing, but which pops up a dialog prompt when Sculley clicks with the mouse.

X Files Computer

They can’t even be bothered to match the foley keyboard clicks with what’s appearing on the screen. (His password is ‘TRUSTNO1’ if you’re interested.)

We also get to see a flashback to Mulder’s sister’s abduction, which happened when he was watching a news report on the Watergate case.

And we meet Cigarette Smoking Man.

Cigarette Smoking Man

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th August 1995 – 21:00

After this, there’s a trailer for Taxi Driver later. And for Room 101.

And there’s an episode of Michael Moore’s TV Nation. Mike phones up a telemarketer to ask some questions, sets off loads of car alarms outside the house of the manufacturer of car alarms. And hires an ex KGB spy to investigate whether former president Richard Nixon was actually dead.

Janeane Garofolo looks at the private beaches of Greenwich Connecticut.

Janeane Garofalo

Louis Theroux looks at Jerusalem Syndrome – where American tourists visit Jerusalem and decide to stay, often thinking they are reincarnations of biblical figures.

Louis Theroux

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th August 1995 – 21:45

After this, a trailer for King’s Row. Then a trailer for an evening of programmes about the IRA ceasefire.

Ceasefire Night

Then, another film in the BBC 100 season for a century of cinema, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. 

BBC 100 Taxi Driver

This one has an introduction by the film critic Philip French.

I’m always a bit thrown when the film leaves De Niro’s crazed loner Travis Bickle, and we meet Cybill Shepherd as the object of his desire, and Albert Brooks as her nerdy coworker. Suddenly it threatens to be a charming screwball comedy for a second.

Albert Brooks and Cybill Sheperd

Shepherd is working for the election campaign of the local senator. Bickle sits outside the office staring at her. Then he comes inside and volunteers. He won’t talk to Brooks, only Shepherd. “Why do you feel you have to volunteer to me?” “Because I think that you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.”

He’s basically every screwed up, hormonal gamergater. There’s even a scene earlier of him cajoling a woman to smile.

Jodie Foster is remarkable as the child prostitute that Bickle turns vigilante to save, after his attempt to assassinate the Senator goes nowhere. He wants to make some kind of fiery, violent gesture to make his life meaningful, and it doesn’t seem to matter what it is.

It’s not a favourite film of mine. It’s one to appreciate in historical context than to enjoy. I’ve never been a huge fan of DeNiro, and I have this niggling feeling that, as good a director Scorsese undoubtedly is, he’s nowhere near as good as he thinks he is.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th August 1995 – 22:30

There’s a trailer for Blue Velvet after this. Plus trailers for The X Files and TV Nation. Then weather with John Kettley.

More trailers, for The Fisher King and Room 101.

Then, the rest of the tape runs out during an episode of The Trial of OJ Simpson. This is something I didn’t pay a huge amount of attention to at the time – I thought his guilt was fairly obvious, and the circus around the trial was the worst aspects of celebrity culture. But after the recent dramatisation of the trial, it’s interesting to go back to the original events, disappointing though real life always is after drama.

The title sequence rather reminds me of the titles to Murder One. There’s vaguely similar music, and it’s all blurry black and white. Definitely inspired by that.

This week’s events include discussion of the tapes of police officer Mark Fuhrman, which contained several racist statements, and which the defence wanted to use to suggest there was a motive for the police to plant evidence against Simpson.

That week, OJ Simpson himself wanted to sue all the people selling T-Shirts and memorabilia with his face on.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 29th August 1995 – 00:30

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3 comments

  1. I was interested to see the ad for Runway One, (which was a TV Movie not a series btw) because it has completely disappeared off the face of the earth! It is my mission to find it! It is not available on any media and only a few stills from the film have ever been released!

    1. That still was the only part of the trail on this tape. I’ll definitely mention it if it comes up on any other tapes – there might be a full trailer somewhere.

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