Bugs – ER – Murder One – tape 2175

There’s a bit of the end of the Lottery show at the start of this tape, featuring special guest button pusher Suggs. Honestly, is there anything more 90s than this?

There’s a trailer for Over Here, a wartime drama. And one for Cardiac Arrest.

Then, Bugs and the first episode of a new series entitled What Goes Up. It opens with a bang, as an astronaut training simulator blows up, almost taking Craig McLachlan with it.

The head of the UK side of the space project is Sean Arnold. I always associate him with the Radio 4 SF series Earthsearch, a very strange serial that came out not long after The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Someone inside the training program keeps sabotaging things. A lot. I lost track of how many things blew up in the end. Ed (McLachlan) is there undercover, posing as one of the trainees. Here’s Mr Zito, the head of the training project. How surprised would you be to discover, later in the episode, that it’s him who has been sabotaging everything?

Su Lin Lool plays Joy, representing the country launching the satellite with the shuttle that all the training is happening for. She explains that it’s not a telecommunications satellite, it’s a geological surveyor, designed to look for deposits of platinum. These are needed to bail the country out, before the world banks foreclose on the loans of the country, and the collapse of their democratic government.

Why would you design a countdown that’s so unreadable?

I love the relentless way the programme is killing these trainees, usually just after Ed has stopped using that particular piece of equipment.

Look, there’s another one, All but two of the remaining astronauts were on that exploding bus. This is insane.

So, by a rather extreme process of elimination, Ed is one of the two astronauts launching in the shuttle.

But the threats are not over, as the Starshield weapon in the ISS is fired at the shuttle. I love the UI for Starshield which looks like the menu screen for an 80s Spectrum game.

This one is To Be Continued…

BBC Genome: BBC One – 6th April 1996 – 20:05

Next, on Channel 4, an episode of ER called The Match Game. Richard Schiff plays a patient who’s taking digitalis to help with his sex drive, and it’s causing heart problems.

Dr Susan Lewis’s sister, played by Kathleen Wilhoite, is back, and wants to look after her baby, whom she dumped on Lewis months earlier. She claims to have cleaned up, as can be seen by the fact she now wears makeup.

Mike McShane plays a rather dirty homeless man, who comes in every few months to be cleaned up and have his boils lanced, so he keeps getting passed around.

Joanna Gleason plays a TV producer who flirts with Dr Green because she wants him to appear in her infomercial for male pattern baldness.

After this, recording switches to BBC2, and the end of an episode of Newsnight.

There’s a trailer for Reputations.

Then, Murder One Chapter 8. I’ve already looked at this from one of the Sky showings.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 24th April 1996 – 23:15

Then, there’s the end of International Match of the Day.

There’s a trailer for the Tarby golf game show Full Swing.

There’s also a trailer for The Eurovision Song Contest in the year the Gina G represented us.

Next, an episode of The New Adventures of Superman. Superman tells Lois that he met his old girlfriend Lana Lang, and has invited her to the wedding. But before they can get into it, he’s called away to rescue some people from a burning building.

While he’s away, Lois is captured by time traveller Tempus.

In the future she finds out some bad news.

And meets HG Wells. Again. He explains the plot of the last episode they met, because she has no memory of it. Then tells Lois they’re in an alternate reality. Charlton Heston is president, and everyone’s carrying guns.

Emily Procter, Ainsley Hayes off of The West Wing, makes an appearance as Lana Lang, and she’s not the nice Lana we know from the movies.

I have to admit, through gritted teeth, that this episode is a counter example to my rule that alternate reality stories are always the best episode of a series, as this isn’t particularly great. I think the lightness of tone the programme clings to doesn’t let it go full dark, as a true AR episode must.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 18th May 1996 – 18:20

Next on this tape, a full episode of Simon Mayo’s Confessions. I’ve got quite a few beginnings of episodes dotted around on other tapes, but here, as the recording ran on, I’ve got the whole thing. Once again, another stylish frock coat for Dr Mayo.

It’s an entertaining programme, but I can’t help thinking that it’s kept a bit toothless by its early evening Saturday Night slot. It feels like it’s lacking the inventive production of Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush.

I also notice that this episode doesn’t have the quiz show element that a previous episode had, so I don’t know if the format changed over time. I’d be interested to know what the production process was. People seem sometimes to be surprised at their secrets being revealed, but presumably they must have written in to the programme? Or is it all stuff their friends and family supply?

BBC Genome: BBC One – 18th May 1996 – 19:05

There’s a trailer for Eurovision Song Contest, then an episode of National Lottery Live starts, hosted by Bob Monkhouse. The tape ends a few minutes into this programme.

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4 comments

  1. That two parter of Bugs was the last I really enjoyed for some time. It was more in keeping with the lighter, cheerier first series whereas what lay in store for the rest of this second series was much darker (a lot written by Stephen Gallagher) in a way which never seemed to gel for a Saturday evening family show. I’d probably enjoy them a lot more now of course but at the time they just felt a bit awkwardly po faced.

    Over Here was an RAF comic drama from Only Fools writer John Sullivan which weirdly never went to a full series given his credentials

  2. They did change the format of Confessions quite substantially between the first and second series, because there were numerous complaints that the punters were winning big prizes for doing awful things, so they got rid of that bit.

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