Month: January 2018

The X Files – tape 2229

On this tape, a couple of X Files episodes from Season 3 on Sky One.

First, Oubliette. A young girl (played by a pre-Firefly Jewel Staite) is kidnapped by a photographer’s assistant, and a previous kidnapping victim collapses at the same time across town, saying the same words as the kidnapper.

The next episode is Revelations featuring R Lee Ermey as a preacher who gets killed by a strange man. He pretended to bleed from his hands as part of his service, and Mulder says that there’s a serial killer who’s travelling the world killing fake stigmatics.

A young boy in town starts bleeding from the hands at school.

There’s also an appearance by Horror legend Michael Berryman.

He says he’s there to protect the boy from the killer. When he dies, Scully suddenly becomes the believer, as she thinks he’s not decomposing – an ‘incorruptible’ body.

Scully thinks she’s now the one protecting the little boy.

There’s rather a gruesome ending, as the killer falls into a paper mill.

After this, recording continues, with most of an episode of Star Trek The Next Generation – Parallels. Quite a fun one, I think, but it’s not all here, so it doesn’t really count. The tape ends before the episode does.

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TV60 – tape 2254

This tape opens with the end of Antiques Roadshow.

There’s a trailer for Modern Times.

And a trailer for The Royal Variety Performance.

Then, a ‘star studded evening’ celebrating 60 years of BBC televison in Auntie’s All Time Greats (which I have erroneously listed as TV60 in my database) a set of awards celebrating the best of the BBC.

It was held, appropriately enough, at Television Centre. They even set up a red carpet.

It’s still jarring to watch these things and to see someone like Jimmy Savile pop up.

The first award is for Best Situation Comedy Performer, presented by Michael Palin.

The clip they use for AbFab is the one with a young Idris Elba.

And the winner is David Jason.

Stephen Tompkinson presents the award for Favourite Comedy Performer.

The winner is Victoria Wood.

There’s a segment from the first show broadcast from TV Centre, along with French and Saunders playing two dancers reminiscing. Always lovely to see TVC on the TV.

The next award is for Favourite Light Entertainment Series, presented by David Frost.

The winner, quite rightly, The Morecambe and Wise Show.

Julie Walters presents the next award, for Favourite Actor.

Accepting from Beverly Hills, Colin Firth.

There’s a specially recorded segment of Acorn Antiques, introduced by the peerless Susie Blake.

Robert Hardy presents the award for Favourite Drama Serial

The winner, definitely benefiting from being the most recent, is Pride and Prejudice. Alison Steadman and Julia Sawhala accept.

Penelope Keith presents Favourite Comedy Series

Another worthy win for Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, accepted by her and Julie Walters.

Then, one of the programme’s most amazing coups – a birthday greeting from the famously reclusive Neil Armstrong.

Lenny Henry does The Henry Report.

Nigel Hawthorne presents the award for Favourite TV Actress.

The winner is Patricia Routledge. I’d like to think this was partly due to her appearances on Victoria Wood’s shows as Kitty.

There’s a greeting from David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson.

In a compilation of documentary moments, there’s a clip from The Duty Men that was almost exactly like the Fry and Laurie spoof. “Trouser! Trouser! Trouser!”

Barbara Windsor presents the award for Favourite Situation Comedy.

Not sure this result really holds up – it’s Men Behaving Badly. I guess that was the most current. Morrissey and Clunes accept the award.

Caroline Aherne presents the award for Favourite Presenter, in character as Mrs Merton.

The winner is Desmond Lynam, another person benefiting from still being on the TV.

Frank Skinner and David Baddiel (with a brief appearance from Statto) talk about sport.

Much Loved Personality Noel Edmonds presents the Favourite Popular Drama award.

This one was controversial even at the time, because it was won by Doctor Who, at a time when the show wasn’t even on air, especially because it beat the BBC darling Eastenders. The award was accepted by Sylvester McCoy and Peter Davison (Nicola Bryant, with them in the audience, declined to go up on stage).

Ben Elton presents Favourite Light Entertainment performer.

There’s a clip of Terry Wogan with Meat Loaf that I remember watching.

The winners, again, Morecambe and Wise.

The final award of the night is a special award, going to Ronnie Barker.

Here’s the whole thing (minus a couple of clips that BBC Worldwide blocked).

BBC Genome: BBC One – 3rd November 1996 – 19:00

After this, there’s a trailer for Absolutely Fabulous and Clive Anderson All Talk about his interview with Mikhail Gorbachev.

Then the recording ends just before the news starts.

Beyond Bedlam – tape 2228

Remember when Craig Fairbrass was a leading man? One of those puzzling moments in the movie zeitgeist. About the only thing I can really remember him in is Cliffhanger, where he was one of John Lithgow’s henchmen. That’s good casting, Fairbrass is a henchman type.

But go low budget enough, and suddenly Craig Fairbrass is the kind of name you might pick as your leading man, as in today’s offering, Beyond Bedlam. It’s directed by Vadim Jean, who got good notices for Leon the Pig Farmer and decided to choose as the subject of his follow-up, a little known horror novel by ‘Harry Adam Knight’ – who was actually a pseudonym for writer and critic John Brosnan. Brosnan wrote a regular column for Starburst magazine, famous for some contrary opinions, but always worth reading, and he wrote a couple of excellent books about movies, in particular The Primal Screen and Movie Magic.

It’s not such a bad idea, though, to make a low budget horror film – it worked for Sam Raimi and Clive Barker. So how did it turn out?

It’s not starting well. After a prologue that seems to involve people sleeping, and a man on fire jumping out of a window, we meet our star, Craig Fairbrass, staring at a man in silence. He then walks out of the room, walks all the way down a long corridor (long enough for the rest of the credits to play out) then stops, look moody, and then walks back down the corridor, and returns to the interrogation room.

It’s the least dynamic titles sequence I’ve seen.

He then talks to a man from a Just For Men commercial (or something similar – I can’t place him but I recognise his face).

“Cracked the weasel?” he asks him, and I’m hoping this isn’t a euphemism.

Fairbrass is called to a case – the burning man from the opening of the movie, which turns out not to have been a dream.

The victim’s downstairs neighbour is Elizabeth Hurley, so she’s interviewed by Fairbrass.

She didn’t like her neighbour’s music, but that’s not really motive for murder. But Fairbrass gets really interested when he discovers that Hurley is doing psychological experiments on Keith Allen, a murderer with whom Fairbrass has a (so far undisclosed) past.

There’s a fair number of familiar faces in the supporting cast. Samantha Spiro plays Fairbrass’s partner.

Annette Badland plays a nurse at the institute where Hurley works.

Hurley isn’t a particularly good scientist. In order to determine that the treatment she’s giving Keith Allen has no side effects, she takes it herself. Although she seems to be missing the main side effect, in that it seems to give her strange sex dreams that also involve all the other people in her block of flats. And one of them, an old lady, hangs herself. There’s definitely some kind of Freddy Krueger style stuff happening here.

Fairbrass doesn’t like that she’s experimenting on Allen. He randomly grabs a lit bunsen burner at her. “What are you doing?” she asks. “Playing with fire. And so are you.” This is heady stuff.

It starts getting very confused when Hurley and Fairbrass join forces to kill Allen, in what I’m assuming is a shared dream of some kind.

It was at this point that Anita Dobson turns up, as Fairbrass’s dead wife.

Fairbrass’ reporter friend uses the latest 1994 search engine. It even makes the modem sound as the characters appear one by one.

The burned guy from the opening reappears, as I suspected he might, since he’s played by Jesse Birdsall. Not that you can tell under the makeup.

Fairbrass’ guilty secret is that it was him who shot his wife, while she was being held hostage by Allen.

It wouldn’t be a dreamscape without a scary nun, played by Georgina Hale.

Inevitably, Fairbrass ends up shirtless, wrestling with Allen, until Allen gets impaled on something sharp. Although I have to admit I did zone out for some of the ending.

Quite poor.

After this, recording continues, and the rest of the tape contains much of a John Cassavetes film, Minnie and Moskowitz. I imagine it’s better than Beyond Bedlam, but it’s not all here, so I don’t want to watch it.

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Earth 2 – ER – tape 2226

First on this tape, Earth 2. The colonists discover a frozen alien body, and start having strange dreams.

Danziger burns the body because it’s freaking everybody out, then they encounter Roy Dotrice, who we saw in another episode, and he tells them that the frozen body was some kind of magical store for all the evil of the alien people. Or something.

OFFS. They are literally doing ‘The Thing’. The evil on the frozen alien body has now taken over one of the colonists, and they’ve got to test which one it is. This is painfully derivative stuff.

The wrinkle they’ve added is that their test for possession is just a fake – they’re hoping to smoke out whoever is the alien.

And another wrinkle is that it’s our hero, Clancy Brown, inevitably reverting to type as a villain.

But there’s a touchy feely ending, involving ‘the power of the planet’.

After this, recording continues with the start of Picket Fences, then switches to Channel four just in time to catch the end credits of a short film, Fathers, Sons and Unholy Ghosts.

Then, an episode of ER called And Baby Makes Two.

Susan Lewis is having to decide to give up the baby – I think it’s her sister’s.

Lucy Liu plays the mother of a small child with Aids.

Valerie Perrine plays Lewis’s mother.

After ER, recording continues with Friends and The One with the East German Laundry Detergent.

Chandler is trying to break up with Janice.

And Ross is helping Rachel with her laundry, it being a metaphor for her making it on her own, without her parents’ support.

After this, there’s an episode of Moviewatch. This really is peak 90s ‘yoof’ TV. Check out the introductions section where the four young reviewers introduce themselves. It’s not so much the things they’re saying, banal though they are, it’s the relentlessly artless energy that’s being expended in trying to make this short section seem interesting by fast cutting between different random zooms of the same static head shot. If they were trying to ‘find it in the edit’ they needn’t have bothered. It wasn’t there to begin with.

Gary, in particular, looks like he’s been cloned from a lock of Mark Kermode’s quiff.

The films reviewed are

Oddly, The Harvest was a film from 1992, and it was the favourite of the new films that week.

There’s an interview with Spike Lee about Clockers.

The show is sponsored by Nokia – at the time, makers of widescreen TVs.

There’s a frankly incomprehensible location report from the Spanish horror film The Killer Tongue in which director Alberto Sciamma says the inspiration was Terry Wogan, The Eurovision Song Contest, and Nescafe adverts from 1973.

Following this, there’s most of a compilation programme, The Best of Dan Aykroyd. Lots of sketches from Saturday Night Live. You tend to forget how old those shows are now, but look at the fashions in this one, with Steve Martin.

Here’s a sketch with Margot Kidder

here’s Aykroyd as Richard Nixon and John Belushi as Henry Kissinger

The tape ends before this programme finishes.

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3rd Rock From The Sun – Cybill – Father Ted – Roseanne – Rory Bremner – Who Else? – tape 2219

First on this tape, from Sky One, an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun. At the time, I didn’t watch many of these, despite my admiration for John Lithgow.

It’s a mark of how little I watched it that I had no idea Joseph Gordon Levitt is in it, playing an incredibly young version of himself.

After this episode, the recording continues for a bit with the start of an episode of Jimmy’s, one of those hospital documentaries.

Then, it switches to Channel 4 and an episode of Cybill. I like the cold open, where Cybill is on the street, dressed as a prostitute, as research, but everyone else she meets is doing the same thing.

Wendie Malick, off of Dream On, plays Ira’s new girlfriend.

She seems to have some kind of multiple personality disorder, weirdly triggered by running water. There’s a really obscure joke in there when Cybill says, of Ira, “He’s divorced Cybill with a C and marrying Sybil with an S” – a reference to a 1976 film in which Sally Field plays a woman with multiple personalities.

After this, an episode of Father Ted. This one is called Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading. Father Dick Byrne persuades Ted to give up cigarettes for lent. Dougal has to give up rollerblading.

They find it hard to cope with, so they get a nun to come over and help, but her treatment is a little more drastic than they were expecting.

Next, an episode of Roseanne. Dan has quit his job so the family decide to go on holiday. Although this series, Becky was played by original actor Lecy Goranson, in this episode she’s played by the other Becky, Sarah Chalke. Hence Roseanne’s line “Aren’t you glad that you’re here this week?”

This is the first of a two parter. I’ve already looked at the second part, back in 2014.

Next, Rory Bremner… Who Else? I do like the overtly political content of these shows, although the context is obscure.

It’s still surprising how much Princess Diana was the punchline of so much comedy at this time – a year before she died. Her status as ‘Queen of our hearts’ was usually sarcastic.

Bremner does Clarkson.

Not convinced by his Anne Widdecombe

The CGI Guy is back

Richard E Grant narrates a short story with illustrations by Willie Rushton

Frances Barber does a monologue

After this, recording continues for a short time, just until Eurotrash starts, but then recording switches.

It’s an episode of TFI Friday. Clearly, I was still persevering with this.

However, there’s a very strange sense of synchronicity, as the programme opens with a sketch set in an operating theatre. Featuring a Princess Diana lookalike (it was topical).

And one of the surgeons is Richard E Grant. Who we heard in Rory Bremner.

Actually, all the surgeons are either guests or lookalikes. That’s Vic Reeves you can see on the left, with Grant on the right.

Robert Smith of the Cure

Jools Holland

The show opens with The Cure doing Friday I’m in Love.

There’s a bit where they do a list of ‘people we hate’ scrolling up the screen quickly. Of course I screengrabbed them. Yes I am one of the Freeze Frame Bores.

Edited to say: I have just learned about the shockingly young death of Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan. I know nothing about The Cranberries, but I have to assume that “The Moody Bird from the Cranberries” must refer to her. So, reluctantly, I think we have to add her name to the blog’s Death Watch, unless one of readers wants to correct me.

First guest is Jools Holland

Ronald Fraser turns up for a bit where he’s the man in a burning hat.

Music from Terrorvision

At home with Chris and Cher

Next guest is Richard E Grant

Another guest – Zig from Zig and Zag.

Also appearing, Zag from Zig and Zag

There’s more music from The Cure, then the final guest is Vic Reeves.

Then, to play us out, Sleeper.

The tape ends just before the next programme starts, which would appear to be an old film that might have been the basis of a Tom Hanks 80s teen comedy.

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Cybill – Father Ted – Roseanne – Rory Bremner – Who Else? – tape 2217

Another evening of Channel 4 programmes, starting with an episode of Cybill.

Cybill is worried that she’s spiritually empty, so she takes Maryann for a retreat in the desert.

But she returns home when she gets an intuition that she’s needed – to find her daughter about to give birth.

Next, an episode of Father Ted, and what an episode it is. It’s A Song For Europe. Ted decides to enter a song into the Eurovision Song Contest after being goaded by another priest, Father Dick Byrne.

Songwriting is a struggle. This scene, where Ted yells at Dougal to ‘just play the F-ing note’, is taken directly from studio tapes of the band The Troggs.

The dream-video for their song (tune plagiarised from an old Norwegian entry) is quite brilliant. The song is by Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy (who also wrote the theme tune).

In the end, they have to abandon their stolen tune when Ted hears the original piped into the toilet, but the pair still win, because Ireland wanted to pick an entry that would definitely lose, because it costs so much to host the competition when they win – a reflection of a rumour at the time that this is exactly what Ireland did one year (only to have that particular entry win anyway).

Next, an episode of Roseanne. David is looking for an apartment so he can move out of Roseanne and Dan’s basement.

                          BECKY
            Why didn't you stop me marrying Mark?

                          ROSEANNE
            We did what we could to stop you. And besides, 
            that was the night that the season premiere of 
            Cop Rock was on.

Becky wants to go to college to make a better life for herself. But Mark is an idiot, so he’s not happy.

Following this, there’s an episode of Rory Bremner… Who Else?

And I have only just realised why they use a Chameleon for the titles. It’s a chameleon. I’m so stupid. (In my defence I’ve never actually thought about it before.)

Paul Gambaccini interviews Rory as Liam Gallagher.

Liz Smith does a Mad Cow gag.

Jean Marsh talks about abortion.

There’s a curious CGI character.

After this, recording continues briefly, and I find I’d like to go back in time and punch 1996 me in the face.

The next programme on Channel 4 is Penn and Teller: Don’t Try This At Home, something that would seem to be exactly my kind of show.

But as soon as it starts, the recording suddenly switches.

To TFI Friday.

I hate 1996 me.

Anyway, this is, at least, a slightly atypical edition of the show. It starts with a ‘channel 4 meeting’ featuring Danny Baker and others on the TFI production team, talking to Chris Evans on the phone about tonight’s show. Because it’s Good Friday, it’s no longer the start of the weekend so the show’s off. Or they’ll do a best-of. But in the end, they’re going to do the show from Chris Evans’ flat.

I think they genuinely did, too. I do like this aspect of Chris Evans’ shows. He really did try to do interesting things with the TV format.

After a replay of Blur, the first guest is Evans’ former partner on the Big Breakfast, Gaby Roslin, there to promote her new chat show.

After a nauseating cookery segment featuring Hair Carbonara, and music from Bon Jovi, there’s another segment of At Home with Chris and Cher.

Next guest is Bob Mortimer

There’s a clip of early Reeves and Mortimer

Next guest is Noel Gallagher

The tape ends after this episode.

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The Tomorrow People – tape 2214

Over to the Sci Fi Channel, for some classic, problematic 1970s TV Sci Fi.

I have a strong nostalgic love for The Tomorrow People. When you’re ten years old, and this was what most TV looks like, it seemed brilliant. Sadly, time is not kind to most of these stories.

Before the first episode here, there’s a couple of specially made segments featuring the cast as they look back on their time on the show.

Then episode One of Worlds Away. Tim the computer is getting very excited at the imminent arrival of the Ambassador from the Galactic Trig. The Ambassador, Timus Irnok Mosta, is played by Philip Gilbert, who also provided the voice of Tim.

He’s there to visit the Great Pyramid, built, he says, by the Kulthan empire. Hidden in the Pyramid are secret passages, protected by ancient projections, complete with 1970s yellow-fringed chromakey.

Timus has a mission for the Tomorrow People. He wants them to travel to a planet called Peeri, destroy the Kulthan’s Psi-damping machines, and persuade the Kulthan to leave. The one problem is that while on the planet, they won’t be able to use their powers.

When they arrive, John warns them “This isn’t a Surrey wood, it’s an alien and hostile planet.” I bet it was a Surrey wood.

When there, they rescue a woman being chased by men with dogs, and young Tyso leads the hunt away so they can get to hiding, and he catches his foot in a trap. It’s a good cliffhanger.

Before the next episode, randomly, there’s a bit of Jeff Goldblum talking about Independence Day.

Then, episode Two, Hound of the Night. A Kulthan appears and drives off the hunters, allowing Tyso to escape.

The cast don’t seem to agree on how to pronounce Tyso’s name. John seems to call him ‘Tizo’.

The Kulthan is not what he seems. It’s actually Timus’ clone brother Tikno, who had been trying to escape the planet.

I do like the stakes in these episodes. The Kulthan like to eat humans. The Vesh (the planet’s version of the Tomorrow People) are hunted by regular humans – the Vesh-Takers. They are then burned at the stake, at which point (presumable when they’ve cooked through) the Kulthan transport them to their ship. It’s all quite grim.

Oh look who’s popped up. Poor Keith Chegwin. Less than a month since he died, but of course the blog has already worked its dark magic on him thanks to his appearance in the Viz documentary.

Chegwin is one of the Vesh, and he and his father capture John and co by shooting them with crossbows. But they are non-lethal crossbows, however that works.

And Elizabeth, Tyso and the Vesh girl they rescued are captured by the Vesh takers.

Episode Three is More For The Burning. The whole story has had the picture coloured yellow, so the yellow background to this model is correct, but it does look for all the world like they just forgot to key in a background.

John manages to find the Kulthan Psi-damping field and destroy it, so Elizabeth and Tyso can escape the burning. And they discover that the Kulthan long ago left the planet, and all the people who had been sacrificed were stored on the spaceship in suspended animation, so that’s almost a happy ending. It’s lucky that telepaths can’t kill, because otherwise I wouldn’t give much for the Vesh Takers now the Vesh can use all their powers.

I should take a moment to acknowledge that The Tomorrow People has one of the greatest title sequences in all of television. Dudley Simpson’s theme is unnerving and modern, and the continuous zooming of the images is disorienting, as are some of the images. It’s simple, but extremely effective, and I think it really adds to my warm memories.

Before the next episode, there’s the end of an episode of Tales of the Unexpected – talking of iconic theme tunes and titles.

Then, oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

That’s Peter Davison, there. Not yet Doctor Who. Not even Tristan Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small. This is, according to iMDb, his first TV role. It’s a serial called A Man For Emily and it’s very possibly one of the worst things ever broadcast on television.

During the first part of the show, we’re introduced to Davison, as Elmer, along with Sandra Dickinson, as Emily, who might be his sister.

The third member of the crew is The Momma, played by Margaret Burton.

Their ‘society’ appears to have the women in charge, but all three of them appear to be fairly stupid, an impression only heightened by them all speaking with a thick American South accent. I’m not sure if writer Roger Price is suggesting that a female dominated society would necessarily be intellectually stunted, but it’s not a good start. Even worse is when The Momma ditches her costume for a spangly leotard.

After the first episode of this, we have a bit of a break, still with the Sci Fi Channel, for an Independence Day promo piece. I’ll try to upload the whole thing – movie stuff often gets blocked by YouTube – but there’s a couple of interesting moments – Sharon Stone interviews Dean Devlin at the premiere party.

And here’s Bill Paxton, himself in a big effects movie that year – Twister – with Bill Pullman.

Here’s the whole thing (missing the very start).

After this, recording continues. There’s one of those weird future news clips, called Spiral Sabotage.

Then the start of an episode of Tales of the Unexpected. After a cou0ple of minutes, recording switches to later, for part two of A Man For Emily.

Despite the relentless comic tone, the actual story has some jeopardy, as the ship (through The Momma) threatens to destroy the Earth if Elmer isn’t returned.

Good grief, they’re now playing banjo music during a car chase. I love the old police cars.

Elizabeth Adare gets to do a Jamaican accent, trying to put some policemen off the scent.I can’t understand why she wasn’t in more stuff. She was always good in this.

There’s one quite good thing here – the visualisation of the ‘doozlem pin’ – the ship’s matter transporter – as a giant hand grabbing the person.

They manage to get Elmer back to the ship, and it looks like everything’s sorted, but when John goes up to the ship to make sure they’re leaving, Emily takes a shine to him and wants him as her man.

When John jaunts back to Earth, The Momma sends Elmer back there to attract attention, then tells the Tomorrow People that the Ship will destroy the Earth if they don’t bring Elmer back.

John gets him out of jail by talking to the Prime Minister, and, for some reason, dressing up as the Minister for Silly Walks. Or maybe a timelord from Pertwee era Who.

But instead of returning to the ship, Elmer sends John there and stays on Earth, because he likes the idea of choosing his own fate.

Meanwhile, The Momma and Emily are welcoming John.

But John manages to overcome them by Spanking. No, really.

Once the ship is out of the picture, they only have to find useful roles for the three of them on Earth. The Momma has “always seemed like a bit of a fishwife” to John, so she becomes a fishmonger.

Emily ends up as a barmaid

And Elmer is a traffic warden.

This is so awful it’s hard to know quite what anyone involved was thinking. I can only assume they thought they’d try making an all-out comedy story, and just weren’t very good at it, but everything about this indicates a colossal lack of taste and judgement. Just irredeemable.

After this, recording continues with the an episode of the revived Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It’s part two of a story called Hunted. It features Edward Woodward as a psycho with a rifle.

The tape ends just after this episode finishes.

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