Month: July 2018

Cold Lazarus – Film 96 – tape 2178

Before the first episode, a trailer for QED and for Cardiac Arrest.

Then, Cold Lazarus episode one. We’ve already seen the last episode, so this is catching up with the rest of the plot.

It’s the far future, and a mega corporation has got the frozen head of Albert Finney in the companion piece, Karaoke. It’s reviving its memories for some vague reasons, like ‘wouldn’t it be great to have a VR experience of what it’s like to live in the past’. But if your subject is an old writer, the VR experience would involve a lot of staring at typewriters or screens, long boozy lunches, and lots of frustrating meetings with stupid TV people.

Frances de la Tour is the head of the project, having to recite a lot of technobabble dialogue about neuropeptides.

Some of the SF gimmicks don’t make a lick of sense, like the display listing what the memory is they are watching, big letters rotating around a cylinder rather than, I don’t know, a flat piece of text.

The designs for the militia have a very Blake’s 7 feel to them.

All the people who work in de la Tour’s workplace have these mobile chairs that look like they’ve been designed based on the spiky shell of conkers.

Diane Ladd plays Martina Masdon, the head of the corporation that’s funding their research.

You can tell she’s decadent because she has a nearly naked man practically as a pet. I wonder if Potter put this in and thought ‘This’ll show them I’m not a misogynist.’

Henry Goodman plays the head of a big entertainment corporation.

I’m not sure their VR helmets would catch on.

Looks like the price of looking something up on Wikipedia has gone up a bit.

There’s a brief interruption in transmission – only a few seconds, but it’s definitely a transmission glitch, not a recording glitch.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 27th May 1996 – 22:20

Episode two is recorded from Channel 4. It sees the obligatory traumatic memory from childhood, in this case the young Finney is attacked by a tramp in the woods,

de la Tour is asked for a meeting by Goodman, so she Skypes him, and he’s such a dick he takes the call during a sex massage.

As Ciaran Hinds accompanies de la Tour to her meeting with Goodman (Siltz) she tells him she’ll be quite safe. “Siltz will not rape me. Alas.” she says. Stay classy, Dennis.

Back to BBC 1 and the end of Panorama with a report on the Russian elections. Then a trailer for QED and Film 96.

Then, Cold Lazarus episode 3. Potter is basically doing his old hits now, as Finney, in another of the memories, sings Pennies from Heaven in Karaoke.

There’s a weirdly incongruous clip of Charles and Diana in amongst the memories.

Diane Ladd has got herself another young friend. And most of his dialogue consists of him saying “Yesm” in a way that feels frankly racist.

Game of Thrones’ Donald Sumpter plays a doctor who’s “particular interested in sexual arousal and erectile tissue”.

Then the episode ends with a staged attack on the lab, as the team contrive to steal the head so they can use it for Henry Goodman’s purposes, not Diane Ladd’s. They make it look like a terrorist attack.

I still stand by my verdict from episode four, that this is a typical example of someone with no feel or even interest in the Science Fiction genre thinking he can do it just as long as there’s some technobabble and stupid costumes. It is, if you’ll forgive me, Science Fiction Karaoke, by someone who doesn’t really know the song.

But, the production looks expensive, and it’s fairly colourful, something many productions of the time definitely weren’t. And the music, by Christopher Gunning, is actually very good.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 10th June 1996 – 22:40

After this episode, a trailer for Inside Story Special about Nick Leeson and Barings Bank.

Then, as a treat after Cold Lazarus, an episode of Film 96 featuring a bumper crop of Barry Norman’s reviews because it’s the lead up to summer when the show isn’t on.

It’s interesting to note Mission: Impossible there, with the sixth installment having only just been released, still going strong.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 10th June 1996 – 23:40

After this, there’s trailers for Men Behaving Badly, and Steven Poliakoff’s Century.

Then the tape runs out during a film, …and Millions Will Die! It features Leslie Neilsen in his pre-Airplane days.

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ER – American Gothic – tape 2180

First on this tape, the last in the second season of ER, John Carter, M.D. Doctor Carter is graduating.

Nurse Carol Hathaway gets so angry about patients not being able to afford life saving healthcare that she quits.

And Carter misses his own graduation (presided over by William H Macy) because he’s reading stories to a young girl who needs a liver transplant.

After this, there’s the first three episodes of American Gothic. I didn’t really watch this at the time, but I taped a number of them, mostly because of executive producer Sam Raimi’s involvement.

The show itself was created by Shaun Cassidy, younger half-brother of 70s heartthrob David Cassidy.

It revolves around a small town, and in particular, a young boy called Caleb Temple. It’s his birthday, and he’s made himself a cake.

His sister Merlyn is almost catatonic, played by Sarah Paulson, and she starts saying ‘Someone’s at the door’, a phrase that will recur.

She keeps repeating it, and their father starts getting angrier and angrier, so Caleb takes her into the bedroom and locks the door. As the Father is battering on the door, Caleb climbs out of the window to find help. He runs into the local Sheriff, Lucas Buck, who takes him back home, but by this time the father has, apparently, smashed his daughter over the head with a shovel.

But the daughter is not dead. So the Sheriff snaps her neck, witnessed by his deputy outside the window. From this opening, we learn that strange things are afoot, and the Sheriff has the whole town under his thumb.

As the show goes on we meet the local doctor, Matt Crower, who’s new to town, and isn’t yet under the Sheriff’s thumb. He tries to prevent the Sheriff from seeing Caleb, sensing the Sheriff doesn’t have the boy’s best interests at heart.

Caleb starts seeing messages in blood.

A cousin of Caleb’s turns up, Gail Emory, who’s also a reporter.

Caleb runs away from the hospital back to his house, and there he’s visited by the ghost of his sister. Which shouldn’t be surprising, given they’d cast Sarah Paulson, and she was high up in the credits. She makes frequent appearances in these episodes.

Before the next episode there’s the end of a strange animation. I think it might be Picnic.

The next episode of American Gothic is called A Tree Grows in Trinity. Sheriff Buck gets the local schoolteacher to sweettalk the local medical examiner so that he says the right thing about the autopsy of Caleb’s sister and father. She seems to be the go to girl for breathy seduction of stupid men.

But she’s also been keeping a reporter from out of town locked up in her basement, and Caleb finds him. Cousin Gail gets all the reporters notes and floppy discs.

I haven’t mentioned Gary Cole playing the Sheriff. He’s really good here, playing every scene with restraint and veiled menace.

In the next episode, Eye of the Beholder, Dr Crower has a patient, and he describes the procedure, laparascopic surgery to remove the man’s gallbladder. I mention this only because I watched this episode literally the day after my wife had had exactly this procedure. The surgery almost goes badly, because the man was epileptic, and this wasn’t on the chart before they started (but was mysteriously there afterwards, when the Sheriff has, somehow, managed to calm the man down and out of his seizure). Clearly, the sheriff is setting up the Doctor for malpractice and ruin his career because he’s standing in the way of the Sheriff taking Caleb to live with him.

I’m glad I didn’t watch this episode the day before, while I was waiting for my wife to come out of surgery, as this might have freaked me out. As it is, it’s just one more coincidence.

The Sheriff is trying to lean on a colleague of Dr Crower, wanting to discredit him during the hearing to establish where Caleb should live. So he sends the man’s wife a mirror that makes her behave very strangely.

When he smashes the mirror, his wife is suddenly horribly disfigured. (She gets better).

They were getting their money’s worth from the Lens Flare plugin they bought, every time Ghostly Sarah Paulson appears.

After this episode there’s a change in programme. “After a court ruling made earlier today, were are unable to bring you The Trials of OJ Oyston as planned.”

Recording stops, and underneath there’s a little bit of Cheers, with Shelley Long’s final regular episode as Diane. The tape ends during this.

In the ad breaks, there’s a rather amazing Reebok advert, amazing mostly for the cast they assembled. The ad doesn’t specifically mention it, but I presume it’s to coincide with Euro 96. See how many famous people you spot.

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Doctor Who – Kubrick – tape 2177

Now if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll know a few things about me. That I rather like Doctor Who, for example. Or that I don’t like to be too critical of the stuff I’m watching, because I’d much rather be positive in general.

These two principles might come in to conflict with this tape, as what we’ve got today is Doctor Who. No episode title, although my database lists it as ‘The Enemy Within’, this is the 1996 TV Movie, made by Universal and 20th Century Fox with BBC Worldwide.

It starts off with some deathly voiceover exposition. “It was on the planet Skaro that my old enemy, The Master, was finally put on trial.” “He demanded that I, The Doctor, a rival Time Lord, should take his remains back to our home planet, Gallifrey.”

Firstly, was there really even a point in having this happen on Skaro, since the programme was unable to use the Daleks themselves. All this stuff is just there to reassure fans that “Yes, the production team get it.” I think the exec producer, Philip Segal, called them ‘Kisses to the past’ but there’s so many of them in the first few minutes of the show that it’s more like huge, dribbly open-mouthed snogs to the past.

The only thing I’m glad they did, even though I believe it’s the wrong choice dramatically, was to have Sylvester McCoy reprise his role as The Doctor for the opening. He wasn’t my favourite Doctor, but I really wanted to see more of him in this.

The higher budget of the movie means the Tardis control room got an upgrade. Not sure the candles are a good idea, but otherwise it’s nice to see a new take.

Away from the Tardis, in San Francisco, there’s some gang related action in Chinatown, and one young man, Chang Lee, escapes getting shot dead when the Tardis materialises in front of him.

The Doctor is less lucky, and he does get shot as soon as he comes out of the Tardis. The gang leave, and Chang Lee helps the Doctor.

In the ambulance, the paramedic is played by Eric Roberts, so that’s a bit of a giveaway that he’ll turn out to be important.

The Doctor needs an operation, and the on-call surgeon is at the opera watching Madame Butterfly. So she has to rush back to hospital in her posh dress.

They’re confused by the X-Rays of the Doctor’s chest, as they keep showing two hearts, and as a result, the Doctor dies on the table.

Meanwhile, back home with paramedic Eric Roberts, he’s brought home some ambulatory slime, which morphs into some kind of snake. This is the exterminated remains of the Master from the opening voiceover.

The actual regeneration scene is a bit rubbish, frankly, consisting mostly of Sylvester McCoy gurning.

Paul McGann, now playing The Doctor, sits up, and his eyes are lit by a convenient ray of light. It’s a bit mannered.

Now completely taken over by the Master, paramedic Eric Roberts shows us how evil he is by straight-up murdering his wife. I have to say I’m not comfortable with the level of regular human violence in this film. Gang shootings, strangling/neck breaking just seem tonally wrong for a Doctor Who story. One of the many tonal things that I think the production just gets wrong.

I’m not convinced at the HR procedures in this hospital. Grace is hauled over the coals about the Doctor’s death, and her boss burns the x-rays showing the two hearts. Since the body has gone missing, he wants to just cover it all up and pretend it never happened. Grace doesn’t want to let this happen sop she quits.

On the way out, The Doctor catches up with her. After his regeneration he can’t remember who he is, and he spends five minutes being quirky and charming to Grace.

Meanwhile, The Master seems to have become the Masterminator.

Chang Lee, having been given the Doctor’s belongings after he died, goes back to the Tardis, and gets in using the key. There he finds The Master already there, who tells him that it’s his ship, stolen by The Doctor, and the Doctor has also stolen all his lives. He also, for no good reason at all, declares that the Doctor is half human because of his retinal structure. Another random plot point that fans got a bit upset about.

Grace still has a hard time believing the Doctor, especially when he starts telling her that the structure of the Earth is breaking down because the Master has opened the Eye of Harmony, yet another bit of show history that’s pointlessly namechecked. The programme is full of this stuff, so god only knows what the casual American viewer made of it all. There’s some pointless morphing to demonstrate the breakdown of reality.

For reasons that are never made clear, The Doctor needs a super-accurate clock, and luckily, elsewhere in San Francisco, there’s a big public event, tying in with the Millennium (did I forget to mention this story takes place on New Year’s Eve 1999?) where the world’s most accurate clock will be switched on.

So they have to get somewhere quickly, and luckily, The Master has turned up with his ambulance, and the Doctor doesn’t recognise him because he looks like Eric Roberts now, so he happily goes with him to get to the institute with the clock.

The timeline gets a bit strange now. The scene when the Master arrives at Grace’s house is explicitly shown to be at 9pm. The next scene, driving in the Ambulance, Grace says it’s half past ten. So that drive has taken 90 minutes. And presumably, whatever small talk has gone on between the Doctor and the Master has not tipped him off that his nemesis is right there. It’s only when the ambulance stops suddenly and his cool shades fall off that the Doctor realises who he is.

The Doctor and Grace escape from the ambulance, and the Doctor steals a police motorbike, leading to a car chase, possibly the most un-Doctor Who thing imaginable, but this is a US TV Movie so it’s the law.

They make it to the institute, a very swanky looking building. It’s a celebration of ‘The Beginning of San Francisco Mean-Time’ whatever that’s supposed to mean. Having an accurate clock is very different to having your own time zone.

There’s more chasing and running around, and they arrive back at the Tardis, where Grace suddenly turns evil, possibly because of the stuff the Master spat at her in the ambulance. I’m not sure this is explained, but I’ve given up paying close attention now.

“There’s no time to waste” says the Master. “There’s time to change” says the Doctor. “I always like to dress for the occasion” replies the Master. This is deathless prose. Full marks for the distinctively Gallifreyan costume, but once again, mostly wasted on most of the audience.

The Doctor is shackled into an evil looking contraption that holds his eyes open, evoking A Clockwork Orange. I’m not sure that’s the kind of cultural touchstone the show should really be aiming for.

The Master enacts his plan to suck the life out of the Doctor, much as the production has been doing for 70 minutes so far.

The Master kills Chang Lee, when he starts questioning whether doing all this evil stuff is really the right thing to do. Then, after Grace (free from the Master’s influence) does some jiggery pokery with the Tardis console, she comes back to free the Doctor, and the Master throws her off a high balcony and kills her too.

Then the Doctor and the Master have a big fight, until the Master is finally sucked into the Eye of Harmony.

But The Doctor’s friends are both dead, until a bit of magical pixie dust comes out of the Tardis to bring them back.

Then it’s just a matter of saying goodbye. Chang Lee gets some advice to stay out of town next Christmas, and Grace gets another kiss, to go with the fireworks.

It’s hard to overstate just how disappointing this movie was. We all so wanted it to be brilliant, and it just isn’t. Paul McGann is perfectly good in the role, and could have carried a series effortlessly. The problems with the production start from the Exec Producer, Philip Segal, who was the one calling the shots, and with Matthew Jacobs, who wrote the script, and didn’t really have an interesting story to tell.

Oh well. Only another nine years before it’s back properly.

After this, recording switches to Channel 4 and Kubrick, a really interesting documentary about Stanley Kubrick’s ife and career. With contributions from, oh dear, Director Bryan Singer.

Full metal Jacket star Matthew Modine

Film Critic David Thomson

Malcolm McDowell talks about having dinner with Kubrick/ “He’d have pears or something when you’re just having the meat.” Kubrick said “It’s just food. This is how Napoleon ate.” This is possibly the most telling insight in the whole documentary.

Michael Herr, co-writer of Full Metal Jacket.

Lee Ermey talks about his performance as the drill sergeant, and how he’d often improvise some of the more colourful metaphors. “Stanley asked me after the take, ‘What’s a reacharound?'”

Kirk Douglas was in Paths of Glory, and Spartacus, the latter of which was Kubrick’s least favourite film because he didn’t have final cut, and he felt it was flawed.

Ken Adam was production designer for Dr Strangelove (as well as lots of Bonds).

There’s some behind the scenes footage of 2001, which is interesting, featuring Anthony Masters, the production designer.

Co-writer Arthur C Clarke talks about the story’s development. “I sold him six of my stories, and afterwards I bought five of them back because he only used one of them.” Clarke’s book, The Lost Worlds of 2001 is one of the best ‘making of’ books around, and is well worth seeking out.

There’s archive interview footage with Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange. I’ve only seen the film once, and I have to admit, having long known about its reputation, and the fact that it was not available legally in this country while Kubrick was still alive (at his own request), when I finally saw it I was a bit unimpressed. But I think I just don’t think male violence on its own is a particularly interesting or noteworthy subject for drama. I prefer my films to be about people I can admire.

To tie it in with the previous programme, here’s the Clockwork Orange version of the eye opening brainwashing scene that was referenced in Doctor Who. How odd that both programmes were on the same tape. And yet how typical of this blog.

Diane Johnson was co-writer of The Shining. Another film I admire but don’t love.

Shelley Duvall talks about the frankly abusive treatment she got while making the film, accompanied by some footage from the Making Of documentary for the film.

Garrett Brown demonstrates how his invention, the Steadicam, works. Kubrick used to extensively on The Shining, particularly in the scenes where the camera is close to the floor, following young Danny Torrance as he rides his toy car around the hotel.

I think I’ve lost a chunk of the documentary at this point, as there’s a burst of static before the film comes back, just in time for the credits. I don’t know how much is missing.

After this, recording stops.

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Star Trek – Voyager – Music And The Mind – tape 2176

First, on Sky One, Star Trek Voyager and an episode of Alliances. It starts off with a bang. The ship’s being attacked by Kazon ships, and a crewmember is killed.

Chakotay thinks Janeway needs to lighten up about the Prime Directive and do things more like the Maquis. So Janeway tries making an alliance with one of the Kazon factions. Not very successful, as the Kazon chief doesn’t like negotiating with a woman. For fuck’s sake, Voyager, another misogynistic species?

Neelix visits a strip club.

Janeway meets representatives of the Trabe, a race which used to keep the Kazon enslaved, and effectively turned them into the aggressive people they are today. They were being kept prisoner by the Kazon after they rebelled. Janeway decides to make an alliance with them, and try to broker a peace deal between them and all the Kazon factions.

But the peace talks are a trap set by the Trabe, who try to assassinate all the Kazon leaders.

After this, it’s over to Channel 4 for a three part series examining the effect of music on the human mind called Music and the Mind.

Stephen Wade suffered a massive stroke, and can no longer speak, read or write, but he is able to write music. Here he’s playing one of his compositions, on an Atari ST.

The composer Maurice Ravel, after a car accident, was unable to express his thoughts as music.

Stephen McAdams, of the famous French muscal research centre IRCAM, talks about how sound works in terms of auditory perception, and how the physical vibrations are interpreted by the brain.

Elizabeth Varlow became profoundly deaf in her teenage years, but she’s able to play viola in an orchestra. I won’t make a joke about viola players here.

The next episode is Music and Emotion. Tony De Blois is a severely autistic person, who can’t tie his own shoelaces, but is able to play music, and has a remarkable recall of thousands of songs.

A lot of the programme is example of classical music played by presenter Paul Robertson and his group, the Medici Quartet.

The final episode is Machines, Magic and Medicine. Lots of computers. Here’s one of a computer that listens to music and can follow a soloist.

The quartet are playing in King’s Cross, or nearby.

After this episode, recording continues for a while with the start of Love Field starring Michelle Pfeiffer. The tape ends during this.

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Babylon 5 – tape 2186

On this tape, possibly the best moments in Babylon 5 as the show pivots its entire premise, and everything changes.

First, Messages from Earth. Ivanova gets a present for breakfast – bacon and eggs. Because, apparently its very hard to get eggs ‘all the way out here’. It’s a present from Marcus. Speaking of Marcus, he’s busy chasing around the station and being chased, and dramatically losing people he’s being chased with. He’s generally very dramatic.

Well, she’s not actually dead, which is good because she used to work for Interplanetary Expeditions, the shady company that always seems to be involved in Shadow stuff. She was on Mars, and unearthed a buried Shadow ship.

EarthGov, working with the Psi Corps, want to take another discovered Shadow ship, found on Ganymede, and discover its secrets, so Sheridan takes the White Star to prevent the ship getting to Earth. In doing so, he has to leave behind his identity, rank and uniform, as he’s working against Earth government.

Meanwhile, the Night Watch are talking about treason within EarthGov, people working against the president. At the time, the Nazi parallels were obvious. Today, it’s starting to look like business as usual.

The Minbari sleep diagonally. “We consider sleeping horizontally to be tempting death.” Getting very close to being Minbari Bullshit to rival Klingon Bullshit.

Sheridan is able to destroy the Shadow ship by luring it into Jupiter’s atmosphere, and gets away cleanly. I like that the solution at least has a basis in Physics, rather than just routing the antimatter through the EPS conduit and rotating the shield frequencies.

But the episode ends in a bombshell, declaring Martial Law.

That plays out at the start of the next episode, Point of No Return. Sheridan receives a message from Earth which ends with the official he’s talking to grabbing a gun and running off to fight. It’s all very dramatic.

Londo is expecting an important visitor – the consort of former Emperor Turhan, a Seer. She’s played by Majel Roddenberry, in what was an unexpected piece of detente between Star Trek and B5.

Sheridan receives orders that all station security is now under the control of the Night Watch, so any security personnel have to join the Night Watch or quit. It’s nice that we see some of them hand in their badge rather than join up.

The declaration of Martial Law looks terribly hard to read. I’m sure there should be accessibility guidelines for important orders.

Sheridan doesn’t know what to do about the situation, until he realises the actual meaning of a conversation he had with a General. “Respect the chain of command” he said.

Sheridan calls Garibaldi’s second in command, Zack Allen, to confide his plan. But Zack goes straight to the Night Watch with the news that Sheridan is shipping in a shipload of Narns to take over security, so the Night Watch go in mob handed.

Only to have Zack duck out and Sheridan lock all the doors, locking the Night Watch in the hangar. I like the way the show played Zack as going along with the Night Watch, albeit uncomfortably, so we couldn’t be sure if he was really a good guy or not. I’m glad he was a good guy, though.

Before the next episode, there’s the end of an episode of Hollyoaks.

The next episode is Severed Dreams, and is about as pivotal as an episode of TV can get.

After a firefight in the Solar System, the cruiser Alexander, commanded by General Hague, who’s refusing to accept President Clark’s orders, travels to B5 and asks for assistance, which Sheridan offers. But Hague is dead (I guess they couldn’t get the guest star back) so it’s represented by Bruce McGill as Major Ryan.

The Interstellar Network, apparently the only TV station allowed in space, is taken over by troops even as they report that Mars and other colonies have refused to enact Martial Law. Similar things have been seen in our history. And might be again, which is scary.

Of all the things imagined in the Babylon 5 future, a single TV station seemed like the oddest, especially from a writer who was on the Internet earlier than most of us. So I asked the writer of Babylon 5, J Michael Straczynski, what the in-universe reason was. And he replied, with what I had kind of assumed might be the reasoning – it’s just too far from anywhere.

Delenn discovers that the Grey Council don’t seem to be taking the threat from the Shadows seriously, so she goes and gives them a bollocking. “If the Warrior Caste will not fight, then the rest of us will. If we have abandoned our covenant with Valen, then the Council should be broken.” And she snaps their big important stick.

Sheridan Skypes his father, before everything kicks off. His father is played by Rance Howard, father of director Ron.

Then he makes his big announcement, projected as a hologram across the station thanks to Draal and the magic machine on the planet below that’s still a big secret. “As of this moment, Babylon 5 is seceding from the Earth Alliance. We will remain an independent state until President Clark is removed from office.”

Then there’s a big spacey battle, when the Earth ships loyal to President Clark arrive, and lots of things explode. The effects team have really got a handle on the big space battles at this point in the series. I’ve always liked B5’s aesthetic, it’s like watching Chris Foss paperback covers come to life.

There’s also fighting inside the station, as troops get in and start advancing, held back by defending troops, a mixture of (mostly) Narn and human. This starts to get quite moving, as Christopher Franke’s score amps up the sacrifice, and the scene plays in slow motion. It’s really, really good.

But it’s not looking good for the station, and more Earth cruisers emerge from hyperspace to bear down on the station. Then jump points appear right next to the station, and the cavalry arrives.

Delenn gets a steely speech of her own. “Babylon 5 is under our protection. Leave or be destroyed.”

And the command crew get a round of applause at the end.

But there’s a very interesting pan away from the group and the last shot is this defaced Night Watch poster. It’s not over yet.

The next episode is Ceremonies of Light and Dark. Leftover Night Watch thugs are still on the station, and Sheridan’s in danger.

I love it when SF production design so closely mirrors the design of the time it’s made. This is so 1995 it hurts.

Don Stroud plays one of the leftover Night Watch thugs, and he couldn’t be more Thuggy if he tried. He’s got a massive scar over his right eye which is so over the top, it’s actually a relief to discover it’s a real scar he obtained in a fight. He captures Delenn and another Minbari, and demands the Minbari cruisers leave the area or he’ll kill her.

There’s a running subplot about Delenn trying to repeat a ceremony of rebirth, where you give up something important to you, and confess a true thing. This has a nice payoff at the end, when the command crew come to see her in medlab after she’s rescued, and each give up their uniform, and give a truth. Ivanova says “I think I loved Talia” which is the first time the show has admitted that.

And Delenn has got her Minbari tailors to whip up some spiffy new uniforms for the newly separated command crew.

That’s the last episode here. After this, recording stops, and underneath there’s an older recording, the middle section of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The tape ends during the film.

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Cybill – Friends – Frasier – Whose Line Is It Anyway? – tape 2189

Another couple of Friday Nights on Channel Four on this tape.

First, Cybill and an episode called Wedding Bell Blues. Cybill is playing a patient in a medical drama featuring Adam Arkin. Not sure if it’s actually Chicago Hope. They don’t get on.

Morgan Fairchild plays a rival of Cybill who has a habit of stealing her roles.

To make matters worse, Fairchild is marrying Doctor Dick, Maryann’s loathed ex husband. So Maryann and Cybill attend the wedding to sabotage it. Dr Dick, usually mentioned but never seen, actually makes a physical appearance here, but they use the same gag Cheers used with Norm’s wife Vera.

Next, Friends, and The One with Five Steaks and an Eggplant. Joey, Rachel and Phoebe find it difficult to keep up with the more expensive social life of Chandler, Monica and Ross.

This is an episode of two halves. There’s a subplot where a woman phones Chandler’s number asling if her old boyfriend still lives there, and because she sounds hot, Chandler pretends he’s the guy, makes a date with her, then when ‘the boyfriend’ fails to show, he’s there to comfort her. This is really creepy behaviour, and definitely the kind of thing that’ only got worse over time (although it was creepy at the time too).

But the other story, of the less affluent half of the group not able to keep up, but not wanting to mention it, is, if anything, even more relevant today. It’s an interesting juxtaposition of the best and worst aspects of the show.

By the way, my 17yo daughter watched all of Friends when it landed on Netflix. She’d watched a few episodes when I’d been rewatching, but she watched the whole thing for herself, and enjoyed it. Even given the clumsy homophobia, and the general occasional creepy behaviour, the show as a whole is strong enough to enjoy despite the shortcomings.

Next, an episode of Frasier called Martin Does it His Way. Frasier and Niles learn that their father Martin once harboured ambitions to write songs for Frank Sinatra, so they workshop one of his favourites.

An old aunt has died, and Frasier has been asked to give the euology. Trouble is, they didn’t really like her, and find it difficult to find something nice to say. So in the end, he and the choir sing Martin’s song.

Recording switches to the end of a gardening programme, Garden Party.

Then more from Cybill and an episode called A Who’s Who for What’s His Name. Cybill plays a vegetable in an advert for Coulson’s Soup. Not an Agents of SHIELD crossover, unfortunately.

Brian Keith makes an appearance as Cybill’s agent, who she fires just before he has a heart attack.

Zoe is teaching piano to a nun.

Cybill gives a eulogy, making it the second episode in a row where this happens.

All the guests are the funeral are lookalikes of famous people, to make the widow feel better. Except for Kenny Rogers, who’s real, but she thinks is fake.

Next, Friends and The One with the Baby on the Bus. Chandler and Joey do some babysitting with Ben, and get to meet women, including Lea Thompson, but not in a Caroline in the City crossover.

Phoebe is bumped from her spot playing guitar for Central Perk by Chrissie Hynde (not playing herself).

Giovanni Ribisi plays a young man who mistakenly threw a condom into Phoebe’s guitar case, and needs it back in a hurry. He’s not identified, so we can only speculate that he might be playing Phoebe’s little brother, as he does later in the series.

Next, another Frasier, called Leapin’ Lizards. Frasier is sick of Bulldog pulling practical jokes on him, so he puts a lizard in a box of competition entries, because Bulldog is scared of lizards. But the prank backfires when Station boss Mercedes Ruehl is the one to pick out the winner, and gets the tip of her finger bitten off.

After this, an episode of Whose Line is it Anyway? featuring Josie Lawrence,

Caroline Quentin,

Colin Mochrie

and Ryan Stiles.

Credit spot – Richard Osman working his way up the television career path.

Finally, the tape plays out with an almost complete episode of Takeover TV presented by Adam Buxton.

God, homemade video was utterly rubbish in the 90s. Terrible sound, no lighting to speak of, and terrible picture quality. But even worse, most of it is badly thought out, poorly written, barely directed nonsense. Almost entirely garbage.

Oddly, one of the best efforts here was a video for Sarah Brightman’s ‘I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper’ which had some actually impressive hand painted sets. Someone made an effort.

There’s one bit, made for the show, presumably by Buxton, one of Ken Korda’s tips on making an erotic movie. “film your sister while she’s getting out of the bath” is one of them, and I’m fairly sure that’s Joe Cornish in a wig there.

This one is definitely Joe. I met Joe Cornish once, at the premiere of the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie. He was very nice. I can’t remember what we talked about – possibly critical reaction to the film, and how rabid fans can take against adaptations of beloved works.

The tape ends just before this episode finishes.

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The New Adventures of Superman – Bugs – tape 2183

Back to Saturday Night BBC1 programmes now. This tape opens with the end of Full Swing, a Jimmy Tarbuck hosted golfing game show, hoping to capture some of the Big Break audience, but forgetting that with Big Break the entirety of the game can be contained in a single studio, whereas the experience of Golf has to be rather constrained to fit into a TV studio.

There’s a trailer for Sunday programmes.

There’s also a trailer for Children’s BBC programmes for the holidays.

Then The New Adventures of Superman. Lex Luthor is back, after a long time out of the show.

We’re in the middle of a story here, as Clark and Lois are married, but the Lois Clark married is an imposter.

Perry and Jimmy find Lois’s secret novel, which we’ve never heard of before, about a character called Wanda Detroit, whose boyfriend is Clark, but who’s secretly in love with the mysterious Kent.

The real Lois is being held prisoner by Lex, and when she manages to escape from his car, wouldn’t you know it, but she’s hit by a car and given amnesia in one of the worst directed car collisions I’ve seen. Really quite poor. I know this show was cheap, but it’s like they couldn’t even afford a decent stunt team.

So now Lois has lost her memory, and she’s helped by Red Dixon, a plumber, in the obligatory tough guy haircut of the nineties.

She tells him she’s Wanda Detroit, the character from her novel, and somehow ends up as a lounge singer in a bar. I don’t know what to make of any of this.

Clark and Lex team up to find her, although obviously Lex cheats, and persuades the still amnesiac Lois to tell Clark that she loves Lex and is leaving with him, and we have a To Be Continued.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 1st June 1996 – 18:25

After this, there’s a trailer for Shirley Valentine, and for Flying Soliders and Cardiac Arrest on Tuesday.

Then, the start of Simon Mayo’s Confessions. I can’t tell how many different frock coats Simon has, but it’s a good look.

After a few minutes of this, recording switches to the end of the National Lottery Draw, hosted by Bob Monkhouse and featuring guests Let Loose, not a band I remember.

There’s a trailer for the BBC’s coverage of Euro 96 – not a sniff of Three Lions to be heard. Then another look at Sunday’s programmes.

Then, an episode of Bugs. In Newton’s Run a science lab is attacked by a gang of men, including another appearance by a young Ralph Ineson.

The lab have developed robotic control of nerves, allowing paralyzed limbs to move, under remote control, and the prototype is built into a cute dog called Newton.

There’s a chase around the DLR, and an unlikely scene where Beckett gets on a stationary train, then opens the opposite door, and the door of the train next to it. I’m fairly sure you can’t randomly open train doors like that.

There’s also a moment in one of those inevitable blue-lit warehouse spaces that the show loves so much, when Ed and Beckett are near ‘The Bottle Store’. It’s definitely storage for bottles. Lots of bottles. They also appear to be empty when a bomb goes off.

There’s a lot of running around trying to protect the dog, then the gang have to get into a top secret base filled with weapons of mass destruction, hidden in case of world war 3.

And there’s a tanker explosion at the end that clearly consumed a sizeable portion of the episode budget, if the number of angles they covered it with is anything to go by.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 1st June 1996 – 20:05

Recording switches and we get the end of another episode of Full Swing.

There’s a trailer for The Olympic Game and one for Top of the Pops on its new day of Friday.

Then Seconds, the second part of the Superman story. Lex Luthor does the same ‘speaking on an ultra frequency’ trick he first pulled in Superman the Movie to get Superman to come to him. He’s on ‘the corner of Kirby and Steranko’. Two great comic book artists, but not really artists who did much (if any) work on Superman. Maybe Siegel and Shuster were too obvious, being in the credits, but what’s wrong with ‘The corner of Swan and Anderson’? Doesn’t sound enough like street names, probably.

Luthor says he’s wired several buildings with explosives, and warns Superman not to mess with him. And to show he’s serious, he blows a building up. Impressive explosion, which makes me think this was stock footage from a movie somewhere. Edit to add: Commenter Mathew has eagle eyes or a perfect memory, and points out that this exploding building came from Lethal Weapon 3.

The fake Lois is a clone, and her lifespan is only two weeks, so there’s some feels when she learns this.

After some shenanigans with Lex and a superweapon, Superman rescues Lois, but she’s bumped on the head again, and because that’s an even number of bonks, she gets her memory back – well, she remembers her name is Lois, but she doesn’t remember Superman. This really has gone full Daytime Soap hasn’t it?

BBC Genome: BBC One – 8th June 1996 – 18:25

Recording switches to the end of the National Lottery Live, with Eddi Reader performing ‘Town Without Pity’.

She releases the balls with the words “It could be you. It’s certainly Camelot.” A surprising touch of politics there.

After this, another trailer for Euro 96.

Then, a trailer for Future Fantastic, the SF documentary series presented by Gillian Anderson.

Then, another episode of Bugs. This one’s written by the great Stephen Gallagher. In The Bureau of Weapons an AI called Cyberax is stolen from a research computer by hackers.

This AI can insinuate itself into a human brain, which is a problem for the man demonstrating how to control a Howitzer with his mind.

The mind virus is so deadly that even the act of thinking about it will activate it and kill you. And it has a scary face on screen.

A scientist exposed to Cyberax takes extreme measures to get rid of it.

And Ros deliberately exposes herself to Cyberax to enable her to stop a particle accelerator exploding. This action has consequences in the next episode, which I’ve looked at before.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 8th June 1996 – 20:05

After this, there’s a trailer for programmes for Tuesday.

Then an edition of the News, leading with the possible peace talks in Northern Ireland.

After this, weather from Ian McCaskill

There’s a trailer for Inside Story Special about Nick Leeson and Barings Bank.

Then a trailer for the wartime drama No Bananas.

Then the tape plays out with the start of a TV movie starring Cybill Shepherd and Tim Matheson, While Justice Sleeps. The tape ends after about 15 minutes of this.