Day: January 12, 2018

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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