Month: March 2018

Dead Ringers – Rabid – tape 1381

Here’s a couple of David Cronenberg films. I think I appreciate Cronenberg a bit more than I like him. I love The Fly, but I now wonder if that’s more because of Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum than the film itself. And The Dead Zone might be more Stephen King than Cronenberg, too.

Even Videodrome, possibly his most Cronenberg of films, is hard going sometimes, but I do love its bonkersness. And Existenz is undeniably a huge amount of fun.

But tonight, we have Dead Ringers, a more prestigious film, made off the back of the success of The Fly, and Rabid, one of his early ‘calling-card’ horror films.

They’re part of the BBC2 Moviedrome series, introduced by Alex Cox. Here’s both intros.

In the intro to Rabid Cox compares him with other directors working in horror, saying that nobody else has as solid a body of work as Cronenberg, and I can’t disagree. Cox, I surmise, isn’t a big fan of Italian horror director Dario Argento, dismissing him (and Brian DePalma in passing) as being ‘preoccupied by a rather infantile misogyny” making “ultimately boring films.” But I felt there was plenty in Dead Ringers that counts as misogyny, not least two lead characters who are gynaecologists and yet seem almost disgusted by women.

Dead Ringers is a film about two identical twins, Beverly and Elliot Mantle. They are both played (as adults) by Jeremy Irons, and as Alex Cox tells us in the introduction, the film used motion control cameras so that the camera could accurately repeat its moves and Irons could be filmed as both twins without the camera having to be locked off. Cox is a little disingenuous when he talks about “a big blue line down the middle of the screen” in split screen shots, as even in older films, like Disney’s The Parent Trap, they were good at making sure the matte lines were masked by natural verticals in the background.

But the motion control allows more elaborate shots, for example following the twins as they walk into a room.

The film is extremely cold, emotionally and visually. Its primary colour is blue, but with bright red often counterpointing it. The most noticeable  manifestation of this are the surgical gowns worn in the surgery scenes, which are bright red.

I always thought bright red was an unlikely colour for surgical scrubs. Psychologically it’s not very comforting, and it wouldn’t show up bloodstains, which I think might be a useful thing to be able to see during surgery, but I’m no expert.

One of the twins, the ‘shyer’ one, Beverly,  meets an actress, Genevieve Bujold, who doesn’t know his brother is an identical twin, and is naturally upset when she first finds out, because she knows they’ve been ‘sharing’ her.

She’s a drug taker, and gradually, Bev starts taking the drugs too, and becomes more and more unhinged and paranoid. He becomes obsessed with the idea of special medical instruments “for operating on mutant women” and takes his ideas to an artist who does metallurgy. He’s rather upset when the artist take the ideas and presents them as his own pieces of art, rather than making them for Bev to use.

There’s references to Chang and Eng, two famous conjoined twins, and how they died. And because this is a Cronenberg film, you can be fairly sure there’s no bright, happy ending.

After this, another Cronenberg film, this one from much earlier in his career. In Rabid, a young girl (Marilyn Chambers) is involved in a motorcycle accident, and undergoes extensive reconstructive surgery with a pioneering new technique. Unfortunately, it has an unfortunate side effect of giving her a kind of fleshy needle thing in her armpit through which she can suck people’s blood.

Once again, Cronenberg’s favourite theme of ‘body horror’ is right there, front and centre, as Chambers becomes a ‘Typhoid Mary’ style carrier, who first infects some of the people at the hospital, then leaves to travel to Montreal, where more and more people are infected by her. Those infected eventually start acting like Rabies victims, hence the film’s title, and attacking others, spreading the disease further through their saliva.

It’s a very serious horror film, but there’s one aspect of it that really pulled me out of it, which is when Chambers suddenly attacks someone, on the soundtrack they plays a blaring brass chord followed by a muffled drum lick. Unfortunately, that’s a piece of library music, and it’s exactly the same chord as used in Monty Python for the entrance of the Spanish Inquisition. Literally the same recording, although here they use more of it, as there’s several blasts of brass playing slightly different chords.

But if you can ignore this, the film works pretty well. It’s extremely low budget, and suffers all the usual problems of low budget filmmaking in those days – murky lighting and some dodgy performances – but it’s a fairly smart movie. I think it suffers a bit from us not being totally sure who we’re rooting for. Our sympathies are with Chambers much of the time, but then she is deliberately infecting people, so we can’t be too sympathetic. And the other two principal characters are her boyfriend, who’s very boring indeed, and the partner of the doctor who runs the clinic where it all started, who teams up with the boyfriend to try to find Chambers, not knowing of her role in the infection. Their lack of information leads to a lack of urgency in the film.

I was going to comment on the lack of humour in the film, as for the most part it’s super serious, but there are some scenes of the blackest possible humour.

Chambers goes to a mall, and once again, she gets hit upon by another random man. Narratively, we know what will happen next, but instead of the expected armpit infection by Chambers, he offers her a cigarette, finds he doesn’t have a light and says he’ll get one from a person sitting nearby. Then, as he asks for a light, the man attacks him, because he’s got the disease. And at this point in the film, the disease is a civic problem, martial law is in place, and snipers and armed officers are everywhere, so an armed guard starts shooting at the infected man with a machine gun, and a store Santa gets caught in the hail of bullets.

Another example of the kind of drak humour on show comes when Chambers’ boyfriend is driving through the city, and an infected man starts clawing at his car, and climbing on his bonnet. All of a sudden a shot rings out from a sniper on the rooftop, the man is dead and the boyfriend’s windscreen is splattered with blood. Then, a haz-mat suited clean up crew rush up to the car, move the body, and spray the windscreen with cleaning fluid, then give him a bang on the window and motion for him to drive on. It’s a surreal way to show how normalized the infection and its handling has become.

The film definitely owes a debt to Night of the Living Dead, as it takes that central idea of an infection leading to extreme behaviours, and a similarly extreme response from society, and a downbeat ending borrows heavily from the ending of that film.

BBC Genome: (for both films) BBC Two – 31st May 1992 – 22:15

After this, there’s a trailer for Farewell, My Lovely.

Then, an episode of Dance Energy House Party. There’s a piece about Play from Kid ‘n’ Play, buying his own barber shop.

And Richard Fairbrass from Right Said Fred shows us how he shaves his chest hairs.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 1st June 1992 – 01:40

There’s a look at programmes for Monday.

Then BBC closes down, and Roseanne Macmillan wishes us a good night. The tape ends there.

Henry V – tape 1382

There’s evidence of a couple of older recordings at the start of this tape. There’s a single frame of one recording.

I don’t think it’s supposed to be in black & white – that’s just an artefact of it being the first frame of a recording.

Then, a BBC Ident introducing Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker. Shame, I wouldn’t have minded looking at that.

But both of these are overwritten by the main recording here. First, there’s the end of an episode of the Indian epic Mahabharat, a 91 episode serial. Great costumes.

There’s a trail for Goodbye Cruel World.

Then, we have Lawrence Olivier’s Henry V. It opens with a marvellous miniature of 17th Century London.

The film itself starts with a long section set within the Globe theatre. It’s very stagy. In fact the whole film, even when it opens out of the stage setting, remains deliberately artificial.

The battle scenes, though, do have some impressively large crowds.

There’s a few familiar faces in the cast, including Dad’s Army’s John Laurie.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 11th January 1992 – 14:40

After this, there’s a trailer for Jagged Edge and a documentary abut Joe Esterhaz.

There’s also a trailer for Ironweed.

Then there’s the start of the final of the 1992 World Professional Darts Championship, presented by Eamonn Holmes.

there’s a fair bit of this recording which then stops, and underneath, there’s a bit of an earlier one – it’s Jodie Foster in The Accused.

There’s not much of this before it stops again, and underneath that, some Neighbours. The tape ends just after that episode ends just after a trailer for Wednesday Night programmes.

This dates this recording to 21st June 1989. Which is a puzzle, since going by the tape numbering, this whole tape should date closer to 1992. And even then which programme earlier in the day might I have been recording. The only one that looks remotely like something I might be interested in is It’s Patently Obvious, but that started well before the whole tape could have started. If I subtract the 3 hours and 5 minutes length of the tape from the time of the end of the tape (the start of the programme Town Portraits) it’s five minutes before The Adventures of Spot, as read by Paul Nicholas. Doesn’t seem like my kind of thing.

It’s a puzzle, and one I don’t have a good answer for. Sorry to leave this on an unresolved note.

Hudson Hawk – tape 1429

Just one thing on this tape, and it’s a film I kind of like. It’s Hudson Hawk, the Bruce Willis vanity project, directed by the man who made Heathers.

If you get a chance, Michael Lehmann’s director’s commentary for the film can be quite amusing. “Did I mention this was quite popular in Europe?”

I should note here that I’m watching my DVD of it rather than the Sky Movies rip, just because it’s slightly less murky.

The film opens with a log title sequence, showing Leonardo Da Vinci trying out his machine for turning lead into bronze, which in the event turns lead into gold. Now, I could quibble about the fact that bronze isn’t actually an element, it’s an alloy, but this is possibly the least nonsensical thing about this movie.

There’s a Mona Lisa joke.

They test out his flying machine, so you know that this will make another appearance later in the film.

Cut to the present, and the world’s greatest cat burglar is being released from prison. We know Bruce Willis is the world’s greatest cat burglar because that’s how his parole officer describes him as he’s escorting him out of prison, during which time he also offers him a robbery job.

His partner is Danny Aiello.

The burglary job is from one of the local mobsters, so Hawk has no real choice but to take the job. There’s a running gag through the movie about how he wants to drink a coffee but keeps being thwarted. It’s not a funny joke.

Hawk’s schtick is that, to time their heists, they sing a song of a particular length. This is a transparent ploy to allow Bruce Willis to sing.

They steal a horse, which is then taken by an English man who smashes it, revealing part of Leonardo’s magic crystal from his gold making machine. He then slashes Hawk’s parole officer through the neck. The tone of this movie is all over the place. It’s played like a light caper comedy, but some of the violence is fairly strong.

At an auction, Willis meets Andie MacDowell, an expert from the Vatican.

We also meet Richard E Grant as Darwin Mayflower

and his sister (?) Minerva Mayflower, Sandra Bernhard

Then the auctioneer explodes. See what I mean about tone?

Also after all the Da Vinci is George Kaplan (James Coburn) and his gang of young CIA operatives. George Kaplan, of course, being a reference to the fake spy in Hitchcock’s North By Northwest.

There’s a musical reference to Coburn’s own super-spy, Flint, in the handcuffs the Mayflowers use.

Talking of tone, when Willis is in bed with MacDowell, and the CIA guys are sitting outside in a car wondering what’s going one, one of the agents (who’s played as if he’s mentally challenged) asks “Want me to rape them?”

So I have to take solace in the little things. Like the use of the underground postal system in the Vatican. A real thing, apparently. But this scene was actually filmed in the underground postal system under London.

When Coburn dresses up in a fetching purple camo suit, and starts fighting Willis, the score by Michael Kamen references Finlandia by Sibelius, reminding us of when Willis fought John Amos on the wing of a plane.

Danny Aiello is locked in a car as it plummets off a cliff and explodes.

The Mayflowers start up their gold machine, but Willis palms one of the crystal pieces, so it goes haywire, thwarting their evil schemes. And when their butler with the big knives has his head cut off with his own blades, the best joke they can come up with for Willis is “I guess you won’t be attending that hat convention in July.” That’s barely one step away from leaving some Lorem Ipsum in the script. But, I’ve listened to the director’s commentary now, and Michael Lehmann says they had more lines for that moment, and the intention was to poke fun at the trope of having a quip after a villain dies. So I’ll give them that one.

Sure enough, Da Vinci’s flying machine turns up at the end, as Willis and MacDowell escape the exploding castle.

I confess, I do like the ending, when Danny Aiello suddenly appears, alive. “Airbags. Sprinklers. Can you believe it?” he says. And then Willis’ line “Yeah. That’s probably what happened.” which, for some reason, I really like.

After this, there’s a short UK Top Ten. For reference, it was:

  1. Under Siege
  2. Consenting Adults
  3. Malcolm X
  4. Dracula
  5. The Bodyguard
  6. A Few Good men
  7. Damage
  8. Honey I Blew Up The Kid
  9. Honeymoon in Vegas
  10. Lorenzo’s Oil

The tape ends after this.


  • trail: Terminator 2
  • Del Monte
  • Comfort
  • TV & Satellite Week
  • Heinz Spaghetti Hoop with Hotdogs
  • Colgate
  • The Distinguished Gentleman in cinemas
  • Sega Megadrive
  • Weetaflakes
  • DC Cook
  • Creative Cross Stitch
  • Autoglass
  • trail: Drop Dead Fred
  • trail: Tomorrow on Sky
  • trail: City Slickers
  • trail: Football
  • trail: My Son Johnny
  • trail: Lace II
  • trail: Deadly Game
  • Harp
  • Lockets
  • Surf
  • Findus Crispy Pancakes
  • The Sun – remember when this guy was the face of the Sun?

Mutant – tape 1431

Why can I remember that Mutant, a low budget, mostly forgotten horror film from 1984, starred an actor called Wings Hauser? I blame the years of reading Fangoria cover to cover. I sometimes struggle to remember which film I watched last week, but I can remember that. Memory is a strange thing. And there was a lot less stuff to read and watch in those days. I wore and onion on my belt, which was the style of the time…

Mutant starts with a man looking around a cellar, seeing a dead body, then getting attacked by something.

Then we cut to daytime, and two friends are driving towards a small town, when they get hassled by locals, setting up a Deliverance vibe.

Here’s the friends. One of them is Wings Hauser. But I can barely tell them apart. (He’s the one on the left.) This is a problem I have with a lot of films and TV – actors just all look the same to me. OK, so they’re brothers, but even so.

The small town is not very welcoming. After they’re run off the road by locals, they then get attacked in the local bar by the same locals, cookie-cutter rednecks all.

Only the sheriff seems reasonable. He has a tragic back story too, as one of the rednecks taunts him about ‘failing in the big city’

The town seems to be coming down with a disease, and some strange dead bodies turn up. Josh (Hauser) meets a local teacher, Holly, who naturally he falls for.

The only kid at school who hasn’t gone down with the mysterious disease that’s raging through the town is Billy. He’s played by Cary Guffey, who is etched on my memory as the little boy in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The doctor works out that there’s some kind of mutation happening, but before she can tell anyone, her assistant is affected and turns into a blue zombie monster.

Holly and Josh trace the disease to a local plant, and find a company pumping chemical waste into the local mines. It goes a bit action movie as Holly drives a car into the plant to rescue him.

Holly’s Uncle Jack is affected. There’s some classic, old-school pulsating forehead action.

The Sheriff has been fired, because of his drinking, but when Josh and Holly bring him their evidence, he’s fired up again. They go to see the doctor, and find her surgery in chaos. There’s a surprisingly effective scene where the Sheriff is looking around the office while listening to her last recording. The swelling music, with the screams on the recording are remarkably moving. Richard Band’s score is surprisingly good for a movie of this kind.

Josh discovers that his brother has been killed by the daughter of their landlady, in her cellar. She gets her comeuppance, after locking Josh down there as well, when he gets out and she falls down the stairs.

It gets grimmer when Holly goes back to the school to look for Billy, the one pupil who hadn’t succumbed to the disease. She finds him, but they get trapped in the toilet by a horde of  zombie kids. And although she tries to keep hold of him, she can’t and he gets dragged out of the stall by the zombies. When Josh comes and rescues her, Billy is left to his fate. This is a cold film.

Holly’s character at this point does rather descend into being a screamer, which is disappointing.

Also disappointing is that one of the only surviving townsfolk is the evil redneck who plagued our heroes at the start. Lucky he gets dragged out of a window

It’s all looking bleak as Josh and Holly are overrun by zombies, until the sheriff turns up with reinforcements. I was worried there’d be a Night of the Living Dead ending and they’d get shot too, but thankfully not. The twist in this tale is the news report we hear at the end, about the evil polluting company getting a lot more contracts in the local area.

OK, that was slightly better than I was expecting it to be. Not a fountain of originality, but there were a couple of moments where I got caught up in it.

After this, recording switches to UK Gold, and a film has already started, It’s The Lady Vanishes, a Hitchcock classic that I’m not sure I’ve watched all the way through.

Margaret Lockwood is travelling on a train through Europe. An old lady, who says her name is Froy, helps her when she hits her head.

But when she falls asleep, and wakes up later, the lady is gone, and nobody on the train can remember seeing her.

Michael Redgrave helps her investigate. Rather than her hallucinating, it’s all a plot by some nefarious people on the train to murder the old lady, and some of the other passengers are in danger as well.

The passengers have to start shooting foreigners out of the window, and everyone seems quite sanguine about that

I think I missed the important bit of dialogue that explained why all this was happening. I think the old lady was a spy, trying to bring important information back to the Foreign Office in London. This information was in the form of a piece of music that, at one point, she gets Michael Redgrave to memorize. Either that or it was the UK entry in the Eurovision Song Contest they were transporting.

It’s a very strange film altogether, and the progenitor of a small sub-genre of films where people are travelling and people disappear. None of whose titles I can remember. There was that one with Jodie Foster. Flight Plan, that was it. Wes Craven’s Red Eye was a similar thing. Or the Liam Neeson one, which I think was Non Stop. They rarely make a lick of sense, but they’re good fun nonetheless, and that’s true of this one.

After this, recording continues with the start of Kiss Me Kate. This recording stops after a couple of musical numbers.


  • The Sun
  • Ultra Lenor
  • Max Factor
  • Wash & Go
  • Pampers
  • Child Support Agency
  • Soreen
  • Bird’s Eye Fish Cuisine
  • trail: Class
  • trail: UK Gold – epic trail of loads of programmes
  • trail: Then Churchill Said To Me
  • trail: The Bill

Saturday Night Live – tape 1385

Here’s a few episodes of Saturday Night Live from Sky. The first episode is hosted by Steve Martin, and it opens with a great musical number featuring the entire cast.

There’s a gameshow, Suckerpunch

There’s a frankly vile joke in Weekend Update with Kevin Nealon. The line is “In other entertainment news, Tri-Star’s long-awaited Hook opens across the nation.” This was the image on screen.

I mean, there’s edgy, and there’s full on Anti-Semitic.

But to make up for that, James Taylor sings a song about Martin Luther King. Which I only recognise because it was featured on The West Wing.

The next episode is hosted by Kyle MacLachlan.

He takes part in a Sprockets sketch.

Oh good, they’re doing a Twin Peaks sketch. I bet this will be great.

Well the Audrey Horne joke is good.

Music from Sinead O’Connor. My wife isn’t impressed.

Al Franken is in Saudi Arabia. And I think he really is.

Before the next episode, a bit of the end of a Wrestling show.

The next episode of SNL is hosted by Dennis Hopper. This is Your Life doesn’t go well since he can’t remember anything about most of his life.

As is common with this era of SNL, there’s a mention of Trump on Weekend Update, so I feel compelled to share it here.

Talking of the blog curse, Hopper introduces Paul Simon as “The immortal Paul Simon” so I guess he’s going to die soon.

After this episode, it’s over to BBC2 for an extra programme. It’s Sean’s Shorts. This is the first episode, in which he meets Carter USM and gets some help with his theme tune. “I knew I should have used Kate Bush.”

Oh lovely. He meets the Less Lust from Less Protein man who used to walk around central London.

He goes to a dinner party at Bob Mortimer’s mansion.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 4th January 1993 – 20:50

After this there’s a trailer for Police Squad. Then recording stops, and underneath there’s an older recording -it’s some test cricket from TV Asia – presumably something that plays after Sky One closes down. The tape ends during this.

In the adverts, another of Fry & Laurie’s Alliance & Leicester adverts.


  • Ultra Lenor
  • Sky News Headlines
  • trail: Billboard 1992 Music Awards
  • Corn Flakes
  • Black & Decker
  • Mandate
  • Comet
  • Iceland
  • Forever
  • Salon Selectives
  • Braun Oral B
  • trail: The Godfather Part III
  • trail: 2000 Malibu Road
  • Colman’s Sauces
  • Tixylix
  • Guinness
  • Old Spice Hydrogel
  • Polaroid
  • Bisto
  • trail: Christmas Day on Sky
  • trail: The Simpsons
  • Scattergories
  • Heinz Spicy Soup
  • Gillette
  • Dixons
  • Duracell
  • Rotary
  • Silk epil
  • Forever
  • trail: The Silence of the Lambs
  • trail: Beverly Hills 90210
  • Comfort
  • Kleenex
  • Rumbelows
  • Andrews Antacid
  • Ariel Ultra
  • trail: Chances
  • trail: The Simpsons
  • Ultra Lenor
  • Hyundai
  • Universal Soldier on video
  • Texas
  • Bold
  • Tixylix
  • Alliance & Leicester – Fry and Laurie
  • trail: E Street
  • trail: The Thorn Birds
  • Ariel Ultra
  • Mentadent S
  • Tango
  • Always
  • Vicks Vapo Syrup
  • Ultra Lenor
  • trail: Beverly Hills 90210
  • Rumbelows
  • Radion Micro Plus
  • Weightwatchers
  • Bounce
  • Head & Shoulders
  • Safeway
  • trail: Tomorrow on Sky
  • trail: The Heights

Star Trek – tape 1438

Before the first programme, the end of Horizon – The Pyramid Builders

There’s a trailer for Mr Wroe’s Virgins.

Then, Star Trek and Errand of Mercy. War is declared with the Klingons as peace talks break down. The Enterprise is sent to defend the peaceful planet Organia from the Klingons.

The Organians are a simple people, Spock describes their culture as stagnant, but they seem unworried about the Klingons.

A large Klingon fleet arrives, so the Enterprise has to flee, leaving Spock and Kirk stranded, disguised as Organians. The Klingons land and announce their occupation. That’s John Colicos there, who would play the traitor Baltar in Battlestar Galactica in the 80s.

Kirk can’t understand why the Organians don’t resist the invaders. He and Spock blow up a munitions dump, and are arrested by the Klingons, and threatened with torture.

They are rescued by the Organians, which provokes the Klingons into killing 200 Organians as a threat, demanding Kirk and Spock be handed over. And still the Organians sit and smile, unworried.

So Kirk and Spock go out on their own to take on the whole Klingon garrison on their own.

But when it comes to an actual fight, suddenly all the weapons are incredibly hot. It’s the Organians, preventing any violent actions.

The Organians are not really humanoid, they’re really swirly blobs of energy. And because they’re so much more powerful than either side, they broker an end to the war. Even Kirk is a little miffed he doesn’t get to fight.

Uncredit spot – Looking this episode up on iMDb tells me that soundtrack composer Basil Poledouris played one of the backgroun Klingons.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 24th February 1993 – 18:00

There’s another snatch of Horizon before the next episode, including a rare credit spot – Aad Wirtz and Ken Morse on the same screen

There’s a trailer for Red Dwarf V

Then, more Star Trek with the episode The Alternative Factor. The Enterprise registers a massive spacial phenomenon which drains its energy crystals. And then, a lifeform appears on the planet below. Which turns out to be a man called Lazarus who says he’s battling with a monster and must destroy it. Most of the episode is taken up with these abstract scenes of him fighting something that looks like a galaxy. Or sometimes another human figure.

Lazarus is fighting against his antimatter self, so Kirk has to help him to trap himself between the two different dimensions and save the universe. It’s an interesting idea that has been made into a slightly dull episode.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 3rd March 1993 – 18:00

Before the next episode, the end of another Horizon, followed by a trailer for French & Saunders.

Then, an undeniable classic episode. It’s City on the Edge of Forever, written by legendary Science Fiction writer Harlan Ellison.

It’s worth reading some of the backstory to the creation of this episode. It won a Writer’s Guild award, but it won with Ellison’s original draft of the story, before it was rewritten by Gene Roddenberry’s writing staff. Ellison disagreed with many of the changes requested by the production team, many of them required to reduce the budget of the episode.

I don’t know who’s right, but what ends up in the episode still has plenty of the great ideas.

It starts with the Enterprise orbiting a planet that’s causing shockwaves to the ship. Poor Sulu gets zapped.

While administering cordrazine, McCoy accidentally injects himself with a huge dose, which drives him mad, and he transports down to the planet surface.

Following him, the landing party discover a strange structure, which talks to them. It’s the Guardian of Forever, a time portal. And as it’s showing views of Earth history, McCoy breaks free and jumps through.

As soon as he does, the team lose contact with the Enterprise. The Guardian tells them that their entire history has been changed. McCoy has done something in the past to change history, so Kirk and Spock have to go through at the same point in time to stop McCoy from changing the past.

They wind up in the US, during the great depression. There’s some lovely interplay between Kirk and Spock, as Kirk tries to persuade Spock he could build some kind of computer. “Perhaps I expect too much of you.”

The two of them meet Edith Keeler, played by Joan Collins herself.

Regular readers of this blog might remember an interview with Joan Collins about her relationship with William Shatner…

But enough of that, back to the story. Keeler runs a soup kitchen, and is something of a visionary, giving a stirring speech about a potential future in which humans can travel through space. So naturally Kirk falls for her.

There’s a famous exchange between them that has been misquoted by many people.

                Whatever it is, let me help.

                Let me help.
                A Hundred years or so from now, 
                I believe, a famous novelist will 
                write a classic with that theme, 
                he'll recommend those three words 
                even over I love you.

Back in their flophouse, Spock has got his computer working, and has found some disturbing news in the memory banks of his tricorder.

But when he tries to show it to Kirk, they see a different report.

Edith Keeler is the focal point of history. In one future, she dies, and in another she lives. One of these futures is the one they need to get back to, the other is one where the Enterprise never existed. But which one?

McCoy appears, not looking well from his cordrazine shot.

Spock determines that because of the changes McCoy has/will caused, America would delay they entry into the war, giving Germany time to develop an atomic bomb and win the second world war. Edith Keeler was pivotal in America’s peace movement. Kirk tells Spock he’s in love with Keeler. Spock give Kirk the unvarnished truth. “Jim, Edith Keeler must die.”

Almost immediately after this, Kirk meets Keeler on the stairs, and stops her falling down the stairs. Spock sees this, and doubts Kirk’s ability to do the right thing.

Shortly after, Keeler tells Kirk that she’s met McCoy, and Kirk, Spock and McCoy are reunited, but then Keeler crosses a busy road. McCoy goes to stop her being hit by a car, and Kirk grabs him to stop him. It’s a devastating moment, even given the melodramatic air that all drama had in those days. The music stays sombre, and there’s no lighthearted coda when they return to the present, with everything back to normal. Just a bitter “Let’s get the hell out of here” from Kirk.

It’s hard to fault this episode. It has a classic SF idea at its core, and a huge moral conundrum for our heroes.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 10th March 1993 – 18:00

After this, recording continues with a trailer for Sounds of the 70s, including this classic ident.

There’s a trailer for The Late Show featuring Frank Zappa.

Then, an episode of Reportage looking at what makes young people happy. Including Bungee Jumping

Tube Surfing (although it doesn’t sound like it made everyone happy)

A young woman thinking about moving overseas gives us a glimpse into her musical tastes. I approve.

It’s strange how attitudes are familiar.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 10th March 1993 – 18:50

There’s a trail for The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and a trail for Timewatch on the contraceptive pill.

Then the start of Nature, and the tape ends shortly after this starts.

The Simpsons – tape 1441

Here’s another packed tape of old (and therefore good) Simpsons episodes.

First it’s I Love Lisa. Ha Ha, it opens with the Monster Mash, one of the first singles I ever bought.

It’s Valentine’s Day, and Ralph Wiggum doesn’t get any cards, so Lisa gives him one. A card, she gives him a card.

Next, it’s Duffless. Homer goes on a tour of the Duff beer factory, including quality control.

The next episode here is Bart the Murderer. Bart becomes embroiled in local organised crime in a slight Goodfellas pastiche.

Bart thinks the mobsters have killed Principal Skinner, and he imagines his future.

And Neil Patrick Harris plays Bart in the TV Mini-series.

The next episode is Flaming Moe’s.

Aerosmith make a guest appearance.

There’s also a great Cheers spoof.

Next, it’s Homer Defined. There’s almost a meltdown on Homer’s watch. “Who’d have thought a Nuclear Reactor would be so complicated?”

He manages to avert the crisis by sheer luck, and is feted as a hero, but he knows he a fraud.

The next episode is Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk. Mr Burns sells the power plant to some Germans. When Homer meets the new bosses they tell him they come from the land of chocolate.

Next, Like Father, Like Clown, in which Jackie Mason plays Krusty the Klown’s estranged father.

The last episode here is Last Exit to Springfield, featuring a sadistic dentist who scares the kids with the Book of British Smiles.

There’s a Yellow Submarine parody.

“I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style of the time.”

And that’s the last thing on this tape.


  • Pot Noodle – Phil Hartman
  • trail: Sky News
  • trail: LA Law
  • Wash & Go
  • Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • Sugar Puffs
  • Lockets
  • Pedigree Chum
  • Galaxy Truffle
  • Diet Pepsi
  • trail: Tomorrow on Sky
  • Surf
  • PAL
  • Solvite
  • trail: Football
  • trail: Tomorrow on Sky
  • Centerparcs
  • Persil Micro
  • Smash
  • Terry’s
  • Daily Mirror
  • Findus Crispy Pancakes
  • Abbey National
  • trail: Movies on Sky
  • trail: Sky Sports
  • Gino Ginelli
  • Sega Megadrive
  • UK Gold
  • Radion Micro Plus
  • Lucozade
  • Sheba
  • trail: LA Law
  • trail: Games World
  • Toys R Us – does this mean the curse killed them too?
  • Lipstick on your Collar soundtrack
  • Bird’s Eye Fish Cuisine
  • Special K
  • Caramac
  • trail: Wrestlemania IX
  • trail: Navy Seals
  • trail: Football
  • Burger King
  • Batchelors Super Noodles
  • Nik Naks
  • Harmony
  • TV & Satellite Week
  • Secret
  • Play-Doh

Films Of The Year 1992 – The Jack Dee Show – tape 1386

Any tape that starts with Barry Norman’s Films of the Year can’t be all bad, and this one is no exception. There’s even a surprise at the end.

First, 1992 in film, and Barry picks his 10 best films of the year. Here’s his list.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 21st December 1992 – 23:00

After this, a seasonal edition of the Jack Dee Show.

First guest is the Amazing Jonathan

Music from Tom Jones

Another guest is Lee Evans. Always leaves me cold, I’m afraid. I can see he’s very good at what he does, but it’s not for me.

After this programme, recording switches to an extra programme I hadn’t marked on my database. I thought I’d recorded it, so I’m happy to find it here.

It’s the Channel 4 New Year’s Eve Big Breakfast show.

It’s classic Big breakfast, presented by Chris Evans and Gabi Roslin.

Mark Lamarr is going to gatecrash someone’s New Year party.

Spoonbending loon Uri Gellar is doing his usual schtick. He says he’s going to try to stop Big Ben. But he starts with broken watches magically starting.

Zsa Zsa Gabor is interviewed by Paula Yates.

Babewatch is an attempt to find the first baby of 1993.

Zig and Zag interview Antonia de Sancha, famous for having an affair with David Mellor. It’s not a top TV moment.

Newsreader Peter Smith is there, as you’d expect. I didn’t remember him when he presented the Star Trek trivia quiz a while back.

After midnight, Channel 4 take over the responsibility for buying ads from the ITV companies. Here’s the first ad break of the year.

Zig and Zag interview Robin Day. Slightly more entertaining than their last interview.

Bob Geldof plays Zsa Zsa Gabor at Ping Pong. Paula Yates asks her about Frank Sinatra, and she said “He raped me.” I think those there were unable to think of a way of addressing this given the tone of the programme. Bob Geldof asks, almost as if it’s a joke, “Frank Sinatra raped you?” It’s an odd moment, presumably one recounted in her book, because that’s what they were discussing. And all the time they’re playing ping pong. Very weird.

The tape ends after this programme ends.

Unnatural Pursuits – tape 1384

On this tape, Simon Gray’s play Unnatural Pursuits, a semi-autobiographical play about a writer struggling with alcoholism and poor reviews.

He’s having a play produced provincially, directed by Nigel Planer, who doesn’t like him very much.

Richard Wilson plays his old friend, the great playwright and director Hector Duff, a character based on Harold Pinter, if I know Simon Gray’s background.

He gets an offer from an American producer to go to Los Angeles to produce the play, so we get a fish out of water story, or rather a drunk chainsmoker out of water, as all of his problems are brought on but his alcoholism and his inability to quit smoking. And, possibly because of his drinking, he keeps imagining he sees a man who calls himself Blossom and keeps taunting him.

Once in LA, he meets the director, played by Bob Balaban.

Rather alarmingly, when he’s trying to explain to him why the actors should be more spontaneous, it breaks out into a song. Yes, Simon Gray has gone full Dennis Potter. Still, at least here they’re original songs, and they’re not lip syncing.

But the play was successful, and then he gets an invitation to take the play to Dallas, by another producer, Keith Szarabajka.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 7th December 1992 – 21:00

Part Two, in Dallas, and this time, he’s noticeably kept away from the rehearsals by all the promotional work for the play, and his drinking and smoking and general misanthropy makes his stay there just as problematic.

There’s an appearance from Gina Torres off of Firefly.

And John Mahoney off of Frasier. Despite Bates alienating the whole of Dallas through his inept and rude behaviour on the promotional tour, Mahoney wants him to bring the play to New York, fix the middle of the first act, which has been plaguing him since the start, and he even agrees to let him direct the play himself.

There’s a very brief appearance from Nathan Lane.

In the end, he gets some help for his alcoholism, but then, as his agent is advising him to stay off work for a little longer to help his recovery, Hector Duff meets him to offer to produce his play at the National Theatre, if he can fix Act One Scene Two finally. So it’s sort of a happy ending, but tinged with a little melancholy.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 9th December 1992 – 21:30

After this, a trailer for Witchcraft (see earlier).

Then there’s a Party Political Broadcast by the Labour Party. The European single market is coming. And Labour, under John Smith, wants close ties to Europe.

The big story is the announcement of the separation of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Lots of poe-faced discussion about the constitutional implications.

This recording ends, and underneath, there’s a bit of an episode of Colin’s Sandwich. It’s the first episode, in which aspiring writer Colin tries to talk to a publisher, but his crippling insecurity gets in the way. Very similar to Unnatural Pursuits, really, except for the aspiring bit.

The tape ends just as this episode ends.


Lipstick On Your Collar – tape 1443

Here’s the first episode of Dennis Potter’s Lipstick on Your Collar. I’ve looked at a couple of other episodes of this, and I didn’t really enjoy them, so I don’t hold out hope for a revelation.

Two young actors making early appearances are Ewan McGregor and Douglas Henshall.

As I pointed out in the previous look at this programme, it’s cookie-cutter Potter. Set in the past, actors lip-syncing to old songs, and less than 15 minutes in there’s a naked woman draping herself seductively over some office desks to the strains of ‘Earth Angel’.

This office is rather a toxic work environment. A new private arrives, Private Francis (Giles Thomas), an expert in Russian, and he’s belittled and ridiculed by the rest of the office, including the senior officers. I blame public school.

He’s staying with his uncle and aunt. Uncle Fred is played by Bernard Hill

Aunt Vickie is played by Maggie Steed

And of course, they have a beautiful young woman staying at their house, with whom Private Francis immediately falls in love. She’s Sylvia (Louise Germaine).

Unluckily for Francis, her boyfriend is is new coworker, Douglas Henshall. Who is an abuser.

In the next episode, it’s more of the same really. And if you’re playing Dennis Potter Bingo, you can cross off ‘Old Man lusts after much younger woman’ as Roy Hudd, who’s the organist at the cinema where Sylvia works, visits to offer a lift, and spends some time in her room.

As far as plot goes, the Suez crisis is getting going, so that’s the backdrop to all the leching and bullying.

Special mention of an appearance by Shane Rimmer, playing an American intelligence officer.

After this episode, I’m saved from more by a surprise programme. It’s what I live for.

It’s an episode of HorizonThe resurrection of the Dead Sea Scrolls recounts the discovery and initial study of the scrolls, a story of academic secrecy and protectionism, and follows the controversy to the present day, when the contents of the scrolls are now more widely known, and some scholars believe they reveal that a lot of what was assumed to be unique to the story of Jesus might actually have been ideas and traditions that predated him.

I get a bit frustrated by these kinds of programmes, because the very nature of the work is based on interpretation, and so many of the scholars are strongly biased in one way or another, so it’s hard to reach any kind of idea of what the actual facts are.

But it’s always fun to watch professors slag each other off at conferences.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 22nd March 1993 – 20:00

After this, there’s a trailer for The Nineties. And one about the value of BBC Televison.

Next, there’s an episode of Lucinda Lambton’s Alphabet of Britain, about Belfast.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 22nd March 1993 – 20:50

There’s a trailer for Goggle Eyes.

Then, there’s the start of a film, The Quick and the Dead. I thought this was a Sam Raimi film starring Sharon Stone, but this one stars Kate Capshaw. Turns out there’s two films with the same title. This one is based on a Louis L’Amour novel. The Sam Raimi one doesn’t credit L’Amour so I guess they just cribbed the title. This one is from 1987, and the tape ends shortly after it starts.

It would be remiss of this blog not to acknowledge an appearance by the marvellous Geoffrey McGivern in an advert for the Vauxhall Carlton.

While I’m looking at ads, there’s a few notable ones here. First, an advert for the Switch card, with the revolutionary feature that you can use it without a cheque book.

The Amstrad Notebook never set the world alight. I don’t remember ever seeing one.

I mentioned a Milk advert a few days back, with animation that looks very like the style used in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and it’s here in full on this tape. Voiced by Mel Smith.

Finally, a classic. It’s a long (2 minutes) compilation of all the moments from the Gold Blend couple, Anthony Stewart Head and Sharon Maughan. I get the feeling this was a ‘previously on’ advert, setting us up for a season finale. And I have to admit, watching it, I got a little caught up in the whole thing. I’m an old softie.


  • Thomson
  • Playtex
  • Bernard Matthews 6 Golden Drummers
  • Scottish Amicable
  • Leeds Liquid Gold
  • Tower of London
  • Switch
  • Amstrad Notepad
  • trail: Harry Enfield’s Guide to Opera
  • Rimmel Silks
  • American Express
  • Canon
  • Clerical Medical
  • Nissan
  • BT
  • Vauxhall Carlton
  • Words of Love – Buddy Holly
  • Gold Blend
  • Labello
  • Network Q
  • Cooperative Bank
  • Consenting Adults in cinemas
  • La Laitiere
  • Eagle Star
  • Bodyform Plus
  • PG White Tea Granules
  • Air Canada
  • Cooperative Bank
  • Andrex
  • Renault Safrane
  • Dulux
  • The Equitable Life
  • Milk