Day: February 1, 2018

The Tomorrow People – tape 2210

It’s nice of the Sci Fi Channel having these Millennium Countdowns – I can date this episode to the 8th April 1996.

We’re going right back to the beginning for this one, with the very first episode of The Tomorrow People. I’m fairly sure I watched this at the time, as I remember the opening shot of Tower Bridge. But it’s just as likely I’m remembering the Tomorrow People novel I also read as a child.

The story sees the existing Tomorrow People, John, Carol and Kenny, trying to find a fourth, Stephen, who is in the midst of ‘breaking out’ as they call the process of a telepath discovering his powers.

One of the charms of this programme is how matter of factly Stephen accepts his situation. I suppose the fact he has the powers himself makes it easy to accept everything they’re telling him, but there’s very little angst.

Carol explains how they are ‘Homo Superior’, the next step beyond Homo Sapiens. There’s only four of them so far, but “Perhaps every child is a Tomorrow Person.” I feel like this line would have really appealed to me at the time.

Slightly more alarming is her plan for the future. “Then we can take over, stop wars and put the world in order.” Which sounds like something you’d hear on YouTube from a man in a fedora and a goatee. Although she’s just explained how Homo Superior cannot kill at all, you can see more easily where she’s coming from.

The show definitely tried a few interesting things. John jaunts into a room and ends up facing the wrong way. This would probably happen often, but it’s nice to see the programme even thinking about it.

I do like the old ambulances.

The next episode has a Millennium Countdown dating it as 15th April 1996.

Stephen has been kidnapped by Ginge and Lefty, two bikers who are working for the mysterious Jedekiah.

Jedekiah himself is played by Francis de Wolff.

The group track Stephen to Jedekiah’s country house and stage a rescue. There’s an escape with lots of jaunting, ending with a motorcycle stunt.

Stephen asks John to tell his parents where he is.

Stephen is left alone in the lab and suddenly goes all Manchurian Candidate, and turns off Tim. This was quite scary.

Episode three is missing here (although I watched it on DVD). Jedekiah has taken over the base, and waiting to trap John and Carol.

They get trapped in Hyperspace, through which they usually briefly pass when jaunting. They mustn’t fall asleep or they’ll disintegrate. This, at least, makes good use of how rubbish 1973 Chromakey effects could be.

In episode Four, Kenny has been captured. These old serials were all about being captured and getting rescued.

We finally meet the alien cyclops in charge of Jedekiah.

The group try to rescue Kenny but can’t find him in the house, then they manage to avoid a rather pathetic looking explosion that nevertheless (we are told) destroys the whole building.

But Kenny, Ginge and Lefty aren’t in the house any more, they’re on board a spaceship.

Jedekiah decides to ditch his “ludicrous human shape”. He ditches it for a ludicrous Robot shape.

After this, there’s a very small piece featuring Nicholas Young and Mike Holoway which we’ve seen before on a previous tape.

Then, another strange cock-up on the tape, as we get the start of an episode of Babylon 5. I wonder if this was caused by the same glitch as last time. It certainly looks like it, with a tape being rewound. I’m fairly sure it’s because my VCRs were chained together. This B5 episode is Revelations by the way, so far earlier in the second season as the last episode was.

When we rejoin the Tomorrow People, they’ve travelled to the ship, and Carol manages to shoot Jedekiah with a stun gun, damaging him somewhat.

They meet the alien cyclops in charge of the ship, and he says “I mean you no harm”. I think he’s lying. Or maybe it’s green alien privilege. He needs a crew of telepaths. But, amid the ship falling apart, John manages to rig a matter transmitter to get him home. Or maybe he’s just being inappropriate. It’s hard to tell with stuff from the 70s.

Leaving Jedekiah floating in space.

Next, episode one of The Medusa Strain, the opening of which leads on directly from the last episode, with the robot Jedekiah floating in space, and being picked up by a slightly more impressive spaceship than his previous ride. Slightly more impressive.

These scenes are an object lesson in why miniatures should ideally have been shot on film, although that would have made the chromakey much more expensive.

The space backdrop behind the ship does look genuinely impressive. That’s because it’s from the opening to Powell and Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death. This space scene was also used for the ident for Rank Screen Advertising in Odeon cinemas in the 70s.

David Prowse is in this episode, as an android. A very scantily clad android. Although if you’re hiring Dave Prowse, I guess you want to show his pecs off.

Jedekiah has been floating in space for 500 years. His first question is “Has Time Travel been invented yet?”

He’s been rescued by Count Rabowski. You can tell he’s an arse by the way he dresses.

Jedekiah swiftly changes to a human form, to save the budget and make filming easier. He’s also played by a different actor, no longer Francis de Woolf, now Roger Bizley.

Rabowski is a regular human, one of the few left. In his time, most people are telepaths, so he’s naturally a monster. He once blew up an entire planet by accident.

He’s also got a telepath prisoner, Peter, a pasty young man in purple chiffon pyjamas.

He’s trapped there because Rabowski has a Medusa, an alien which suppresses telepathic powers, and feeds on telepath brains. This used to terrify me when I was eight years old. Less so, now.

Peter can operate the time travel device Rabowski has, so Jedekiah gets him to take them back to the 20th century, which also has the effect of freezing everyone on Earth. Carol and Stephen were in Hyperspace at the time, so they can still move.

In the next episode, Rabowski and Jedekiah have travelled to the Tower of London to steal the crown jewels, because why wouldn’t they? Peter gets away from them and manages to contact Carol and Stephen, who go to find him. Carol gets captured, because of course she does, but Stephen gets away, and the frozen time effect stops.

Rabowski’s dining room appears to be in a chromakey studio.

There’s a cliffhanger at the end of this episode that I remember scaring me. Carol is put in a decompression chamber, which they demonstrate by putting a balloon in and making it explode. When Carol is put in, she makes a game effort to look like she’s expanding.

Episode three is a bit of a filler, the highlight of which is Ginge running down an underground corridor pursued by a giant Medusa.

Good cliffhanger, though, as Jedekiah zaps John and Stephen while they’re out in space.

After this, recording continues for a while with an episode of Captain Power, the SF programme designed to sell a lot of toys, which gave some kids epileptic fits because it featured flashing images, and which was an early writing job for Babylon 5’s Joe Straczynski.

This recording stops after a while, and underneath there’s a bit of an episode of Starman, the TV series based on the John Carpenter movie, with Robert Hays replacing Jeff Bridges. Not quite the same.

The tape ends after a few minutes of this.

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