Month: April 2018

Star Trek – tape 1400

This tape opens with Arena in which Kirk and a landing party beam down to a colony only to find it completely destroyed. They’ve been lured there for some reason, and they come under fire on the ground.

Angry with the attackers, Kirk pursues their ship, intending to destroy it (against Spock’s protestations about destruction of sentient life) until they reach an area of space where both ships are trapped by a race calling themselves Metrons. They transport Kirk and the captain of the enemy ship onto the surface of a planet, tell them they have to fight, with whatever makeshift weapons they can construct, and the winner’s ship will be released, the loser’s ship destroyed.

The alien, a Gorn, is an iconic Star Trek alien, but it’s ironically one of the worst designs. And their first bit of hand to hand battle is so ridiculously slow that it rather removes any tension there might be.

After finally defeating the Gorn, Kirk refuses to kill him, so the Metrons decide to let them all live. Another race of all powerful aliens standing in judgement. Roddenberry liked that trope.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 23rd December 1992 – 17:50

Before the next episode, there’s the end of Horizon, about new treatments for sufferers of a tainted synthetic heroin who are ‘shut in’.

There’s a trailer for classic Doctor Who (with a lovely testcard ident at the start).

Next, an episode of Star Trek I always loved as a child, Tomorrow is Yesterday. It opens with some stock footage of present day US jet aircraft. Something strange has been observed on RADAR so jets are scrambled.

No prizes for guessing what the UFO is – it’s the Enterprise.

The ship has been thrown through space by a close encounter with a Black Star, and they don’t know where they are. Even Uhura looks a bit dishevelled.

Signals from the planet below them are a news report about the imminent launch of the first manned moonshot. “That was in the late 1960s” says Kirk, the programme hedging a bit since this was made a few years before Armstrong made his historic flight.

A jet fighter approaches, observing the ship, and when a tractor beam causes it to break up, the pilot, Captain Christopher, is beamed aboard.

A bit of 60s-appropriate sexism. “A woman?” “A crewman”.

But now there’s a dilemma. Should they return him to Earth, with the chance he might change the world? They can’t keep him on the Enterprise, because Spock has discovered that his yet unborn son will lead an expedition to Saturn in the future.

But there’s also evidence of the Enterprise on the airbase, from Christopher’s onboard camera, so Kirk and Sulu have to retrieve it from the base. “A primitive computer. I’ve seen them demonstrated in museums.” Me Too.

They’re interrupted by a security guard, who accidentally activates Kirk’s emergency signal, and gets beamed aboard.

He’s more than a little nonplussed at his predicament.

Sulu beams back up, but Kirk is question by site security.

I don’t quite buy the ultimate resolution of the story, which feels like they fudged the rules of Time Travel. But the story is a lot of fun.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 6th January 1993 – 18:00

There’s a tiny bit of Horizon before the next episode and a trailer for Sounds of the Seventies.

Then, Court Martial. The Enterprise has been through an ion storm. A crewman was lost during the storm after Kirk had to jettison a pod. The crewman’s daughter is not happy.

Then Kirk’s testimony about jettisoning the pod after the red alert started is contradicted by the computer evidence that Spock brings, leading Kirk to be arrested, and a possible Court Martial.

The evidence is damning – Kirk is shown to jettison the pod comtaining the records officer, Finney, before a Red Alert had been called.

Although I think the true culprit is whichever UI designer that put the Jettison Pod button right next to the Red Alert button and didn’t have a confirmation mechanism in place.

But the computer must be at fault, because Spock can beat it at chess, and the only person capable of reprogramming it is the dead officer, Finney. So back on the Enterprise there’s a scene where the rest of the crew have transported off, leaving only the people involved in the Court Martial, and the ship’s computer plays back the amplified heartbeats of everyone on the ship, and eliminates those on the bridge one by one until there’s only one heartbeat left – the missing officer Finney, who harboured a grudge against Kirk since the academy.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 13th January 1993 – 18:00

After this, recording switches, rather oddly, to the end of an episode of The Paul Daniels Magic Show and a trick ‘based on the work of Edgar Allen Poe’. It’s not a bad trick, featuring a pendulum bisecting the lovely Debbie McGee, but it feels like it’s been toned down a lot from the original idea, so it’s palatable for a Saturday Night audience.

There’s a trailer for That’s Life, then the start of Casualty.

That recording stops, and underneath there’s a bit of Reportage looking at the problems of recruiting to the army. The tape ends during this programme.

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The Prisoner – tape 1409

There’s some tracking problems on the tape at the start but they calm down. I even rewound after a few seconds and started playing again.

The first episode of The Prisoner on this tape is Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling. It co-stars Nigel Stock.

This is a strange episode in which Number Six’s mind is transferred into the body of Nigel Stock, his memory of the village wiped, and put back into Number Six’s house. Number 2 wants him to find out about a scientist, Seltzman.

So he spends the episode wondering why he’s in a different body, and trying to explain to everyone who he is – all without ever once actually speaking his actual name.

There’s shots of him driving McGoohan’s car, except it’s stock footage of McGoohan himself driving, not Nigel Stock. I guess they thought nobody would be able to tell of the shots were fast enough.

He tracks down Professor Seltzman in Austria, but Seltzman obviously doesn’t recognise him.

Seltzman is brought back to the Village, and transfers the minds back to their respective bodies. The experiment has a Frankenstein flavour.

But the twist is, as well as restoring Number Six, he swaps his mind with Nigel Stock’s and escapes the village at the end.

Musical note: There’s a repeating musical theme in this episode, but it’s not the song named in the title, it’s ‘My Bonny Lies Over The Ocean’. Perhaps they couldn’t license the music.

The next episode is Living In Harmony. It’s a western. I don’t know why. It co-stars Alexis Kanner, who turns up a few times in the series, and is so special that he gets a box around his name in the opening credits. Was he really famous for a couple of years? I only know him from this, and from a film he made, also with McGoohan, called Kings and Desperate Men.

While we’re looking at credits, here’s a very unusual credit for a TV show.

TV doesn’t often allow for a Written, Produced and Directed by credit. David Tomblin was a key person on The Prisoner, and he was a legendary First Assistant Director on a huge number of big movies, including the Indiana Jones trilogy.

I’m afraid this episode always bores me. It’s a western, and I don’t really like westerns. And it’s quite a dull western. Then it finally reverts to the Village, and Number Six meets all the principals back in the village.

Another reason I don’t really like this is the misogynistic undertone of some of it –  a woman gets strangled, twice, for no reason that I can discern.

Next it’s The Girl Who Was Death. Oh good, it’s about cricket.

And it’s another format-breaking show, as we meet The Prisoner outside the village in his normal guise.

In fact, this entire episode seems to be set up so that McGoohan can adopt various disguises. Cricketer.

Steam Bath customer

Boxing Sherlock Holmes? I’ve no idea.

Top Gear Presenter?

Now someone’s dressed as Napoleon.

The climax takes place in a lighthouse. That’s actually a rocket. Which explodes.

Finally, there’s Once Upon a Time, an episode written and directed by Patrick McGoohan himself.

Number Two is played by Leo McKern.

McKern played Number Two in The Chimes of Big Ben, and it’s unusual to have a Number Two return.

Frankly, this programme has lost the plot.

At the end of the episode, having apparently killed Number Two, he’s taken to see Number One, and that’s where the episode ends.

After this, recording continues with the start of Midnight Special: Clinton, a Channel 4 special report about Bill Clinton’s inauguration, presented by Jon Snow in his Sunday best.

The tape ends during this programme.

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Kolchak – The Night Stalker – tape 1398

Straight into an episode of Kolchak The Night Stalker, with The Youth Killer. Cathy Lee Crosby is using magic to suck the youth out of young people.

 

She’s doing it under the guise of a dating agency.

George Savalas provides some background on ancient greek myths. His credit on this show is Demosthenes.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 20th September 1992 – 23:55

The next episode is The Knightly Murders. A Haunted suit of armour is hunting down descendants of the people who wronged his owner.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th September 1992 – 00:30

After this, for reasons I don’t quite understand, after this, there’s half of Psycho II in German, followed by German news, and Pages from German Ceefax.

The tape ends during this.

Quantum Leap – tape 1392

This tape opens with about five minutes of Food and Drink, looking at catering for a round the world yacht crew, and kitchen gadgets.

There’s a trailer for Troubleshooter 2.

Then, Quantum Leap. This episode is called Southern Comforts. Sam has leapt into a New Orleans brothel. Al is in his element. Sam less so.

He’s leapt into the owner of the brothel, and he’s there to protect a girl, the cousin of the Madam. There’s some comedy to be had with Sam’s attempts to prevent potential customers actually getting to the girls.

There’s a man looking for the cousin, headmaster of a finishing school. Sam catches him beating her with his belt and, satisfyingly, punches him.

But we learn the man is actually her husband. And (as we saw) an abuser. So this turns from a slightly dodgy story about charming prostitutes, to a story where the rest of the women stand by her to protect her from him. It’s a slight, silly story, but I love the way this show so often hits the right note with stories that could so easily go wrong. If only they’d nailed the finale.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 1st December 1992 – 21:00

The next episode is Glitter Rock. Sam leaps into the lead singer of a 70s glam rock band. Dodgy English accents ahoy.

Their manager is played by actual pop star Peter Noone, of Herman’s Hermits.

Someone is trying to kill Sam, and he thinks it might be a loner fan. But then he finds that Noone appears to be embezzling money from the band, so perhaps it’s him.

But at least Scott Bakula gets to sing, and he’s perfectly fine.

There’s a great Scooby Doo climax when a fan in full makeup comes at Sam with a knife and wouldn’t you know it, it’s the janitor the manager, Peter Noone.

And the loner fan turns out to be the son of the man Sam’s leapt into, and there’s a tender reunion.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 8th December 1992 – 21:00

Before the next episode, there’s the end of Food & Drink featuring Sandi Toksvig.

And Patrick Barlow. It’s the first half of their Christmas Quiz.

There’s a trailer for Winter Drama on 2.

Then more from Quantum Leap and A Hunting We Will Go. Sam has leaped into the body of a bounty hunter, handcuffed to a women who’s wanted for embezzling a million dollars. Think they might end up falling in love?

There’s a cameo TV appearance from Lindsay Wagner as The Bionic Woman.

I didn’t recognise her at first, but the woman he’s captured, is Jane Sibbett, who played Ross’s wife Carol in Friends.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 15th December 1992 – 21:00

The next episode is Last Dance Before an Execution, and looks like it’s going to be a serious one, as Sam leaps into someone being strapped into an electric chair.

Jenny Gago plays the lawyer trying to get him acquitted on appeal.

It’s a good story, and I like that it doesn’t have the expected ending where he’s found innocent and gets off. This show can do dark when it wants to.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 22nd December 1992 – 21:00

After this episode, there’s trailers for Winter Dreams and the Lewis Carroll fantasy biography Dreamchild. That was a Dennis Potter thing I didn’t hate.

Then, there’s the start of Troubleshooter with Sir John Harvey Jones. It’s got a great theme tune, sounds like Michael Nyman, or possibly the Penguin Cafe Orchestra.

The recording stops and underneath there’s a short bit of Newsnight before the whole tape ends.

A Very Peculiar Practice – tape 1413

First on this tape, an episode of A Very Peculiar Practice that I’ve already looked at. It’s episode Two, Art and Illusion.

Special shout out to Clive Swift as a professor. He appeared in a Christmas episode of Doctor Who, and his interview about it in Doctor Who Magazine has become a thing of legend. It’s worth reading to see just how rude an interview subject can be sometimes.

Next it’s Episode 3, May The Force Be With You. Greta’s ex husband has turned up, and is not happy.

Rose Marie is buttering up the Vice Chancellor.

Before the next episode, UK Gold give us a glimpse of their Tx countdown card.

Despite the title card, this episode is called Bad Vibrations and it’s another one we’ve already looked at on a previous tape.

And then, recording continues briefly with the start of an episode of The Bill. The tape ends here.

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Absolutely – tape 1415

Here’s some episodes of Absolutely from Channel 4. I like the Dressage sketch.

Morwenna Banks’ little girl is always good.

The full episode is on All4 (or whatever C4 are calling their online service this week).

The next episode opens with the Stonybridge council.

I’m not a fan of all John Sparkes characters, but I do quite like Denzil and Gwynedd.

Here it is on All4.

In the next episode, the second appearance of the man who loves ‘funny’ signs.

This character feels a lot like Unlucky Alf, but in a surreal Absolutely way.

At the end of the episode, the announcer talks about the video accompanying the series, “Absolutely the viddo”. Grr. IT’S VIDAYO.

Full Episode.

In the next episode Callum Gilhooly is in the bookshop.

Full Episode.

Next, it’s a bank holiday!

Full Episode.

And finally, Donald and George become superheroes.

And the Stonybridge Town Council decide to make a charity record.

Full Episode.

After this, recording continues with a trailer for Whose Line is it Anyway. There’s also an After The Break trailer for The Word.

Then, The Word itself. I get the vague feeling from his intro that Terry Christian hates his audience.

There’s music from Snow, the white Canadian rapper who nevertheless appears to be performing an entire song in some kind of Caribbean patois. Hmmm.

Studio guest Diane Brill. “Regular nightclub vamp” is one of her claims to fame, but I’ve no idea what that means.

Mark Lamarr is presenting ‘Mr University’ – just as awful as it sounds.

Jo Brand is a judge, looking just as uncomfortable being there as Lamarr.

Keith Chegwin just looks happy to be on TV.

And the third judge hits the Word demographic dead on – it’s Antonia de Sancha, which the graphics team even manage to misspell.

Dani Behr presents a report on American university fraternity initiation ceremonies. “Degradation, Humiliation, Physical and Mental Abuse” are her first words, which I believe was The Word’s mission statement.

Music from Bang Bang Machine. No, me neither.

The recording cuts off during another segment of Mr University, for which I am grateful.

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A Room With A View – Bafta Craft Awards 1993 – tape 1417

First on this tape, Merchant Ivory’s A Room With A View. I like it, despite being Peak Merchant Ivory. The story is a very slight one of a young woman who meets a young man who’s slightly below her ‘station’ on holiday, he kisses her, which is a scandal that she hopes nobody finds out about it, only her aunt blabs to one of their travelling companions who wites it into a novel, and she’s engaged to a boring prig who’s not nearly as dashing and romantic as the man on holiday, who then moves into their village with his father which just won’t do because of the potential for scandal only… nobody seems to really care, and yet they’re insufferably rude to these perfectly nice people.

But it has a happy ending.

The cast is really top notch. Well, mostly. Helena Bonham Carter plays the young woman, and Maggie Smith her aunt and chaperone to Italy. Both perfect.

Judi Dench plays one of their part, the novelist Eleanor Lavish, who is the kind of travel bore who knows everything and has an opinion on everything.

Denholm Elliot and Julian Sands play the Emersons, Father and Son. They’re a little less refined than Bonham Carter and her friends, but perfectly friendly. The Sainsburys Basics of period drama. Elliott is, as always, delightful and charming. Sands is, it has to be admitted, the weakest link here. He’s not a good actor, but here he’s not too bad. He’s definitely stiffer than the rest of the cast, though.

Simon Callow plays the Reverend Beebe, their local vicar.

Sands and Bonham-Carter first bond when she witnesses a stabbing in a town square, and he gallantly rescues her when she faints. They remain friendly, until he suddenly kisses her in a field of wheat, an act witnessed by her aunt Maggie Smith. This is deeply embarrassing, as she doesn’t think she should be kissing young men, especially those below her station.

When she returns to England, Cecil Vyse, an annoying, prissy intellectual played by Daniel Day Lewis, proposes to her, and she accepts.

Her little brother Freddy is played by an astonishingly young Rupert Graves.

It’s a nice film, and, like I said, it has a happy ending, so that’s always nice.

After this, recording switches to the Bafta Craft Awards, from Nottingham. “The Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire Sir Andrew Buchanan presents the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire.”

The ceremony is presented by Sarah Greene and Matthew Kelly.

Norman Beaton presents the award for Best Video Lighting

Best TV Makeup is presented by Sue Johnstone.

Floella Benjamin presents the award for Best TV Costume Design

Jim Bowen presents Best Video Editing

Angela Rippon presents Best Film Costume

Steven Tompkinson presents awards for photography.

Lionel Blair presents the award for Best Television Design

Finally, Richard Attenborough presents the Lifetime Achievement award to cinematographer Douglas Slocombe.

After this, there’s the start of a news Bulletin, and the tape ends.

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