Month: February 2019

Film 89 – Films Of The 80s – tape 867

As always, it’s a pleasure to have another tape of Barry Norman’s film reviews to watch, this time from 1989. In the first episode here, her reviews the following films:

Tom Brook talks to Donald Sutherland about his anti-apartheid movie A Dry White Season. There’s also a look at a celebration of Ealing Studios.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 21st November 1989 – 22:20

In the next episode, Barry looks at these films:

And the kind of feature that pushes all of my buttons, a feature looking at widescreen presentation, aspect ratios and film formats.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 27th November 1989 – 22:10

The next episode is missing the very start, and I think we’ve skipped a week too (it might be on another tape). This one has reviews of:

There’s also a really interesting look at how films in cinemas get their subtitles.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 11th December 1989 – 22:10

The next episode is a Christmas episode. Yes, another Christmas tape. The films under review this week are:

Tom Brook spoke to Michael Douglas and Ridley Scott about Black Rain.

There’s also a nice segment where various interviewees are asked about their best films of all time.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 19th December 1989 – 23:20

Lastly, Films of the 80s in which barry Norman looks back not only to his favourite films of the year, but also what he thinks are the best films of the decade.

His films of the year are:

His films of the decade are:

In a look back at the decade’s movie news, it was nice to see the Milton Keynes Point cinema, where I spent quite a bit of time when it first opened.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 27th December 1989 – 22:55

After this, there’s a trailer for Out of Africa. Then, the tape ends just as a film starts. It’s Singin in the Rain. Of course it is because, as I write this, it’s just been reported that Stanley Donen has just died. I read the news earlier in the day, and thought, well, I bet he’s mentioned in one of the film programmes. But no, we got through all those episodes and a retrospective without a single mention. So of course, the BBC would schedule Singin in the Rain after the last episode. I mean, there’s literally only a second of the film on this tape before the recording stops, not even enough time for the MGM lion to complete his roar, yet that’s enough for the blog’s death curse to strike.

I’m so very, very sorry.

Traffik – Chelmsford 123 – tape 853

This tape opens with part 6 of Traffik. I haven’t watched all of the rest of the series, but I think I’m getting the sense that heroin is quite a bad thing for you. Bill Paterson plays the drugs minister whose daughter is a heroin addict, and for whom he’s searching.

Lindsay Duncan is the wife of a drug trafficker who’s trying to set up a huge import.

It’s telling that, at the end, when he’s found his daughter and she’s in rehab, Paterson gives a speech about how to deal with the problem, he says it’s to build a better world that people don’t want to escape from. Nice idea, and I think there’s a lot of truth in that, but I notice the programme doesn’t even hint at the idea of decriminalisation, which is almost as radical an idea as building a happy society.

After this, an episode of Chelmsford 123, the roman era sitcom from  Rory McGrath and Jimmy Mulville.

I spotted Zaphod Beeblebrox himself, Mark Wing Davey.

And another Hitchhiker’s Guide alumnus Bill Wallis, as the Emperor.

It gets a bit saucy.

Oh look, it’s Trevor Cooper.

After this, recording continues, and Channel 4 is quite excited about its new music show, Rock Steady. It’s presented by Nicky Horne, who I only vaguely remember. I think he might have been a Capital DJ.

The first act is Mary Coughlan.

The presenter at the gig, Dave Fanning, has to explain about his head mounted microphone. Clearly he was embarrassed to have to wear such a huge thing, and felt he had to justify it to the audience. I can imagine the pre-show conversation that led to this explanation.

Next it’s an album review, because albums are far more important than singles, obviously. And because they’re a hip and happening show, they do the album reviews from Tower Records. I used to spend a lot of time in Tower Records in Piccadilly. Mostly in the soundtracks and classical sections, mind you.

He’s joined by Ray Davies of the Kinks to talk about some of the albums in the chart.

There’s a segment where they put together two artists of ‘different musical persuasions’. This week, it’s Belinda Carlisle and Pat DiNizio of the Smithereens. It’s telling that they sing a Smithereens song, rather than one of Carlisle’s hits. Might have been nice to see a grungy indie type trying to do Heaven is a Place on Earth.

Next is their big headliner, Eric Clapton, filmed during his 18 night residence at the Royal Albert Hall.

After this programme, there’s the start of a programme featuring four short films by women filmmakers. The tape ends during this.

Hang on – is this another advert with Mark Elliot? It’s an ad for Plax.

Adverts:

  • Bupa
  • Alpen – Lenny Henry
  • The Blues Brothers on Video – Our Price Video Shop
  • Tetley
  • Australia
  • Argos
  • trail: Talking Takes Two
  • Royal Mail
  • Carmen 1500 Professional
  • St Ivel Gold Lowest
  • Ireland – Jack Charlton
  • Persil Automatic
  • Knorr Mince Mates
  • Continental Airlines
  • Red Mountain
  • Pizza Hut
  • Dolmio
  • Carling Black Label
  • Mitsubishi
  • Ruby Turner – Paradise
  • Batchelor’s Cup a Soup
  • Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
  • Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
  • Ireland – Jack Charlton
  • Plax
  • First Direct
  • Simple
  • Mitsubishi
  • Dimension
  • Knorr Mince Mates
  • trail: One Hour with Jonathan Ross
  • Phil Collins – …But Seriously
  • Swimming Pool and Fitness Show
  • Levi 501
  • Bradford & Bingley
  • Simplicity
  • Nicobrevin
  • Woman’s Own – Julie Walters
  • Dionne Warwick – The Love Songs
  • trail: The Crystal Maze
  • Ford Granada
  • Fine Young Cannibals – The Raw & The Cooked
  • Radion Automatic
  • Mars
  • trail: The Dead
  • Galaxy Gold
  • Thomas Cook
  • Andrex
  • Jacob’s Choice Grain – Bill Oddie Tim Brooke Taylor
  • Chat Back
  • Dutch Bacon
  • Phil Collins – …But Seriously
  • She
  • Spudulike
  • Clearasil Gel
  • Ireland
  • Red Mountain
  • Sunday Times

The Godfather Part 2 – tape 70

This tape opens with a trail for Eurovision Young Dancer of the Year, featuring Peter Schaufuss.

Then, The Godfather Part II. Oh joy, we get prequel material. That’s always great.

It’s not a good start for Don Vito, as after his father is killed, so is his brother. Then his mother goes to the mafia boss Don Ciccio and begs for Vito to be spared. He says no, the mother is killed and Vito escapes, eventually making it to America.

The film flips between ‘present day’ Michael (that’s still in the 50s, I think) and young Vito. The present day stuff starts with another family party. Lack of ideas much?

Young Vito grows up a bit and now he’s Robert De Niro.

One of his friends is Bruno Kirby.

In the present day, one of Michael’s enemies, Hyman Roth, is played by legendary acting teacher Lee Strasberg. Is it because I know this that he doesn’t seem like a very good actor?

Michael’s brother Fredo has a bigger role in this film. He turns out to be the one who’s been betraying the family, and he’s eventually bumped off in a boat. John Cazale died very young, he only appeared in five films before he died, and every one of those films was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.

I know it’s heresy, but I really don’t like these films. I lose track of which identical looking tough guy is bumping off which other identical tough guy. To be fair, I have a similar problem sometimes with Game of Thrones, but at least they have dragons occasionally. And at least there’s a couple of characters in that I can actually like. The only person I like in this movie is Diane Keaton as Kay, Michael’s wife, who tells him she had an abortion rather than bring another of his sons into the world.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 15th June 1985 – 21:00

The tape ends right after the movie.

Planet Of The Apes – St Elsewhere – tape 319

This tape opens with the film already running, although it’s still the pre-titles sequence, so not much has been missed.

Charlton Heston is taylor, an astronaut, part of a four person crew on a spaceship. Since I missed the beginning I’ve no idea where they were travelling.

The crew are three men and one woman, although once the credits have rolled, and Taylor wakes up, the one woman on the crew is already dead. Nice work, the patriarchy.

Their ship lands in water, and then sinks, which isn’t what they planned for. One of the astronauts doesn’t believe that 2000 years has passed, because of time dilation. Doesn’t seem like a fact that an astronaut on this particular mission should have doubts about. And Taylor seems to be a bit of a misanthrope, as another of them tells him “You thought life on Earth was meaningless, you despised people.” Good God, what kind of astronaut selection was going on when these bozos got picked?

It’s not long before they’ve found some vegetation, and go swimming, have their clothes nicked by unseen humans, and then get attacked by a lot of Apes on horseback. After killing the woman, Jeff Burton, the only black astronaut is the next to go.

Taylor gets captured and taken to the Apes’ village. He’s been shot in the throat, but luckily not dead. But it means he can’t talk, like all the other humans, so at first they don’t know he’s different. It’s not until he steals a notepad and pencil that he can let them know he’s not like the others.

Zira (Kim Hunter) and Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) ask him about how he learned to write, where he came from, etc. It’s all very new to them. But Dr Zaius doesn’t approve of them doing this, and orders Taylor to be gelded.

Taylor escapes, and there’s a lot of running around. There’s a truly chilling moment when he’s in a museum, with displays of humans, and he finds his colleague, presumably stuffed.

Once his back in captivity, he’s talking to his female cohabitee, whom he has dubbed Nova. There’s a really revolting speech here, as he says he’s never needed anyone on Earth. “Oh there were women, lots of women, lots of… lovemaking” just in case we think he might have been gay, I suppose. But it gets worse, as he talks about the woman astronaut who died. “Now there was a lovely girl. The most precious cargo we brought along. She was to be the new Eve, with our hot and eager help, of course. Probably just as well she didn’t make it this far.” Nauseating.

Taylor regains his voice, and has to stand trial, although for what isn’t made clear. He finds his remaining colleague, Landon, but the Apes have already seen to it he can’t speak.

The story then becomes about how Zaius is trying to keep the Apes ignorant of their possible origins, and the possibility that humans were once advanced. It does get a bit boring at this stage, and really only picks up with the very end, where Taylor goes further into the Forbidden Zone, and discovers that the planet he’s on is actually future Earth.

After this, recording switches to an episode of St Elsewhere. It’s a bit of a nothing episode, notable only for the first appearance of Cindy Pickett as Dr Carol Noveno.

After this, recording stops and underneath there’s a bit of CNN news. God, US News was a joke. There’s a section about Nuclear arms talks that’s basically whining about all the jargon involved with the talks, as if that’s the reason there’s no agreement on arms limitations. It’s almost infantile.

Then, Thames TV hands over to TV-AM, at which point the tape stops.

In the ads, an advert for the Atari ST, a computer I never professionally programmed for, but our company did several products for it/

Adverts:

  • Sanyo
  • Lyons Original Coffee
  • Bran Flakes
  • Eat The Rich in cinemas
  • Ford
  • Castlemaine XXXX
  • Fosters – Paul Hogan
  • The Hit Factory
  • Crunchy Nut Cornflakes
  • Atari 520 ST
  • Viennetta
  • Stork Special Blend – Roy Hudd
  • Tia Maria
  • Michael Jackson/Diana Ross – Love Songs
  • Job Training Scheme
  • Planters Peanuts
  • Castlemaine XXXX
  • Sanyo
  • Ford
  • trail: Send Me No Flowers
  • trail: Splash
  • Lyons Original Coffee
  • Job Training Scheme
  • Bols

Cheers – tape 311

Here’s a few episodes of Cheers, from towards the end of Season Five, Shelley Long’s final season. The first episode is Dog Bites Cliff. A dog bites cliff on his rounds, and he’s going to sue the owner, but she’s an attractive woman, and they start a relationship, except she’s only doing that to get him to drop the lawsuit. She’s played by Anita Morris of Ruthless People fame.

The next episode is brilliantly written. Frasier and Lilith have moved in together, so to celebrate, they invite Sam and Diane over. But even before they arrive, Lilith gets upset and hides in the bathroom. What follows is some perfectly timed comedy, as, for example, Lilith learns for the first time that Frasier was engaged to Diane, something you’d think he might have mentioned before. The way the revelations and upset keeps escalating is just sublime. The dip is amazing, too.

The next episode is Simon Says which features a guest appearance by John Cleese as a marriage counsellor. Diane asks him to assess her and Sam’s suitability, and won’t accept it when he says they should break up immediately and never see each other again. This is another episode with some great timing, and Cleese is very in character as the sardonic brit.

The next episode is The Godfather Part III. Sam is asked by Coach’s brother to look after his daughter, who’s in Boston to go to college, so Sam gets Woody to look after her. But they start dating, and she’s going to quit college and marry Woody. Sam has to beg her not to do that, because it would devastate her father.

The next episode is actually from earlier in the season. It’s Spellbound, in which Loretta has left Carla’s ex, Nick Tortelli. It’s always great to see Jean Kasem as Loretta, and there’s some brilliant comedy with a violin duo at the end. I love repeated gags like that.

After this, recording continues with most of an episode of Chateauvallon: Fortune and Power, a French drama series with some seriously dodgy dubbing and ludicrously melodramatic plotting. It’s quite bad. I wonder if it would seem deep and meaningful if it was subtitled instead of being dubbed.

The tape ends during this programme.

In the adverts, what was it about Mark Elliot, the one from the Wow Show that wasn’t Lee Cornes, Mark arden or Stephen Frost? He keeps turning up in adverts, like this one for Eisberg.

Then, a couple of ad breaks along, and here he is again in a Pizza Hut advert that’s more than a little inspired by Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer video. I wonder if it was animated by Aardman as well?

Adverts:

  • Honeywell Bull
  • Friends and Lovers
  • Cristal
  • Lamot
  • Specialeyes
  • Turtle Extra
  • Stanley
  • Golden Churn
  • Eisberg
  • trail: Porterhouse Blue
  • Tandem Computers
  • Gillette Blue II
  • Legal & General
  • Stanley
  • Pepsi – Tina Turner
  • Royal Doulton
  • Tandem Computers
  • Barclays Connect
  • Kattomeat
  • Pizza Hut – Mark Elliot
  • Appletise
  • Times Furnishing
  • Capitalcard
  • trail: Hill Street Blues
  • Honeywell Bull
  • Renault 21
  • Loulou
  • Lamot
  • Sodastream
  • Daily Express
  • Right Guard
  • Times Furnishing
  • Drakkar Noir
  • Esso
  • Continental Airlines
  • trail: Kate and Allie/Hill Street Blues
  • Reebok
  • Cream Silk
  • Orangina
  • Exchange & Mart
  • Royal Doulton
  • Mail on Sunday
  • Holsten Pils – Griff Rhys Jones – High Noon
  • Sealink
  • Eisberg
  • Yamaha Sports
  • Diet Pepsi
  • Fiat
  • trail: The Spice of Wickedness
  • Hits Revival
  • Cristal
  • Diet Pepsi
  • Gillette Blue II
  • Evil Dead II in cinemas – Jonathan Ross
  • Holsten Pils – Griff Rhys Jones
  • Harrods Sale
  • Miller Lite
  • Janet Jackson – Control
  • Braun
  • Brook Street
  • Coca Cola
  • trail: Who’s Our Little Jenny Lind?
  • Hits Revival
  • American Express Travellers Cheques
  • Schweppes orange
  • Cadbury’s Double Decker
  • Fosters – Paul Hogan
  • British Gas
  • The People – David Hamilton
  • Cream Silk
  • Martini
  • Oracle

It’s A Wonderful Life – tape 69

Talking of Christmas, as we seem to be doing permanently on this blog, here’s a Christmas staple.

But before that, some Pages from Ceefax.

One story I noticed, about Neil Kinnock wanting to throw out members of Liverpool Militant, the group that Derek Hatton was part of. He’s in the news at the moment because he was recently readmitted into the Labour party.

Then, even though this isn’t a Christmas tape (it’s March) here’s a Christmas staple, Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. I love this film. It’s presses so many of my buttons it’s ridiculous, and I genuinely cannot watch it without being in tears for much of the time, even near the start.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with it, so I’ll just call out a few of the things I like about it. First, who doesn’t like James Stewart? And my love for him grew ever so slightly when I was digitising a lot of my dad’s old Kodachrome slides, and I realised that when he was a young man, he looked an awful lot like James Stewart. Now he’s older, I keep thinking he looks like David Attenborough, although that’s mostly the white hair. But I don’t idolise my dad, of course not.

And Donna Reed. The moment, in the school gym, at the dance, where Stewart sees her across the room, obviously the first time he’s seen her since she was a little girl (and he a little boy) and her face lights up in surprise. As does his, but he’s a lot more offhand about it.

The strange idea of having a swimming pool under the gym, I wonder if that was a common thing, or if it was just invented for the film.

Lionel Barrymore is perfect as the despotic rich man Mr Potter, who’s desperate to get his hands on the Building and Loan, so he can shut it down and force all the people in town to rent his slums.

I love the episodic way George’s life is shown. We’re shown him at several pivotal moments, but the shared subtext is that it’s all about George’s self sacrifice and taking responsibility, putting aside his dreams to look after everyone else. That kind of theme is catnip to me. “But George, they’ll vote with Potter otherwise”

When George learns his younger brother is married and has a good job offer from his father in law, meaning he won’t want to take over at the Building and Loan so George can go travelling, he goes walking. I love it when he meets Violet, who’s always had a soft spot for him, and she’s happy when he suggests they do something, but when he suggests going walking up by the falls, and swimming in the moonlight, she’s suddenly not keen. She’s not adventurous in that way.

So he ends up back with Mary. It’s a bit strained, as he’s  distracted and disappointed by his news, while she tries to remind him of their romantic evening of a few years ago. Their entrepreneur friend Sam Wainright calls – clearly Mary’s mother has her eye on him as a husband for Mary, rather than the far less successful George, and even though George isn’t really interested in Harry’s exhortation to invest in plastics, he still takes the opportunity to suggest Harry build his new factory in one of the unused factories in Bedford Falls, something that’s never mentioned again, but which is clearly another of the ways in which George has helped other people.

Then the phone call ends, and George is still adamant that he doesn’t want plastics, or ground floors, and he definitely doesn’t want to get married, he wants to do what he wants to do and… (I’m crying again, just writing this and finding the screengrabs.)

More time passes, and George and Mary get married, and prepare to head off on their honeymoon, when they see the bank with a crowd of people around it. It’s a run on the bank. This film taught me what a run on the bank was. The Building and Loan also has a crowd, and when George opens up, he finds that the bank has already called in their loan, so they have no cash on hand, and their members are scared and want their money. George tries to reassure them, and explain that their money isn’t sitting in a vault, it’s been invested in people’s houses. George could almost make me believe in capitalism. But when the people demand money, Mary pulls out their honeymoon stash, and they’re able to give their members what small amount of cash they need just for the weekend.

The Baileys welcome another new family into their new house.

There’s a montage to cover the war years, and we come up to the present day, Christmas Eve, as George is looking forward to welcoming his brother Harry home, having just been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism in the war, shooting down two planes before they could crash into a transport full of soldiers.

Everything’s looking happy for George, even though the Bank Examiner is in to look at their books, but then his uncle Billy, who’s at the bank to pay in $8,000, can’t help but gloat about his war hero nephew to Mr Potter, and then accidentally gives the envelope of cash to Mr Potter in the newspaper he was reading, without realising it.

As he can’t remember what he could have done with the money, George gets more and more anxious. He gets snappy with his kids, and shouts at their teacher, who let young Zuzu walk home with her coat unbuttoned and catch a cold. For a film that has such a saccharine reputation, it gets to a very dark place here, and it’s another aspect that always gets to me. I can really identify with the man worrying that he can’t look after his family.

He does the only thing he can do, he goes to Mr Potter to ask for a loan. Potter has already found the envelope of cash, and takes the opportunity to exact revenge on George, telling him he’s going to have him arrested for fraud.

Even trying to drown his sorrows at the bar doesn’t help, as the husband of the teacher he shouted at punches him for making his wife cry. It’s the last straw, and he ends up on the bridge out of town, looking down at the water, almost going to end his life, when another man jumps in before him. And naturally, George pulls off his coat and dives in to save the man, because that’s who he is.

The man is Clarence, and he’s a trainee angel. He jumped in to save George from killing himself. He wants to help George, but George tells him “I’m worth more dead than alive”. “I suppose it’d have been better if I’d never been born” he says, and we reach the film’s core conceit, as Clarence is able to show George what the world would be like if he’d never been born.

This aspect of the film reminds me of later time travel stories. Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder, when stepping on a butterfly in prehistoric times means the present world becomes a nastier, more fascistic place. Even Back to the Future Part 2, when Biff gets the Almanac and becomes the most powerful man in Hill Valley. This film shows the effects so clearly and starkly. The bar is no longer welcoming, run by the Italian Mr Martini, it’s now a dive bar for heavy drinkers. And Old Mr Gower, the town pharmacist, is now an old drunk, because George wasn’t there as a boy to stop him accidentally poisoning someone when he was grief stricken at the death of his own son.

It’s not even called Bedford Falls any more.

Even his mother doesn’t recognise him.

When he goes to Bailey Park to find Martini, the last person he spoke to before this started happening, he finds it’s still the old cemetery, and finds the most shocking thing, the grave of his brother, who died falling through ice when he was 8, because George wasn’t there to save him. “That’s a lie, Harry Bailey went to war. He saved the lives of every man on that transport.” “Every man on that transport died. Harry wasn’t there to save them because you weren’t there to save Harry.”

The final shock is meeting Mary, who, in the absence of George, never married. I get why the film went this way, but it’s the only part I don’t really like. But it tracks with the story of George’s importance to people.

George ends up back on the road bridge, but this time he wants to live. “Let me live again” he asks, and with that, the snow starts falling again, and the policeman, who had just been chasing him because he’d frightened Mary and made a scene in a bar, is now looking for him because everyone is worried about him.

He’s overjoyed, running back into town to see it all back the way it should be. “Merry Christmas Movie House, Merry Christmas Emporium.”

He gets back home to find the bank examiner waiting for him, with the sheriff. “Isn’t it wonderful, I’m going to jail.” And his kids are there. By this time I’m basically a wet puddle on the floor for the remainder of the movie.

Mary returns, shortly followed by virtually the whole town, as everyone rallys to help George in his time of trouble. Even the sheriff and the Bank Examiner throw in some cash. And George’s rich friend Sam Wainright cables that he’s authorised his office to transfer funds up to $25,000 to help George.

Even his brother comes home, having been contacted by Mary. “To my big brother George, the richest man in town.”

A perfect movie.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 27th March 1986 – 14:30

After this, recording continues, with a trailer for Requiem for a Railway.

Then, the start of an episode of The Paper Chase. I remember this being on, but I’m not sure I saw much more than a single episode. It’s always interesting to see the cast in shows like this. In this one, there’s Michael Tucci from It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.

And here’s a face from another Garry Shandling show, The Larry Sanders Show, Penny Johnson Jerald (here as Penny Johnson).

I have to say, watching what there is of this episode, I’m not massively impressed. The story is about the conflict between the engineering students and the law students, and every character seems to be the biggest cliche imaginable, the dialogue’s fairly bad, and the performances aren’t much better. It’s very strange, given that other dramas of the same era can be really good, this seems shockingly bad. It’s like they’re trying to do Revenge of the Nerds.

The tape ends during this episode.

Citizen Kane – tape 102

Here’s a ‘greatest film of all time’ candidate that I can get behind. Citizen Kane was Orson Welles’ first film as director (after a fairly successful career as actor and stage director) and his greatest achievement by some way.

It’s another of those films that I learned about by reputation long before I ever saw it (which would have been this exact broadcast). The meaning of ‘Rosebud’ had been spoiled for me years before, in a Peanuts cartoon of all places. I didn’t even know what the cartoon was referring to – I might have been nine or ten at the time. I understood all the words in the cartoon but I couldn’t work out what they might have meant. Linus is watching Citizen Kane. Lucy says she’s watched it ten times. Linus says it’s his first time. Lucy then tells him what Rosebud was and he collapses on the floor with “AAUGH!”. At the time I read it, I might not even have known that Citizen Kane was a film, let alone a classic. But Lucy’s line had always stuck with me, probably because I didn’t understand it, so that when I watched the movie, I understood pretty quickly what she was referring to, as it’s the central ‘mystery’ of the film.

It probably helps to understand a little about how much innovation went into the film. There were things in there that were usually never done in movies. Even something like a set with a visible ceiling was new and daring.

Right from the opening, it looks like a film that’s trying hard to impress. There’s a montage of matte paintings and models taking us towards the remote palace of Xanadu, where, inside, reclusive millionaire Charles Foster Kane is dying. Inside, it’s all huge rooms, distant figures and deep focus shadows, and a snowglobe which falls to the floor and smashes as he utters his final word, “Rosebud”. Look at this shot, of his nurse entering the room, shot as a reflection in the shattered globe.

After this, there’s a long section of fake newsreel telling the story of Kane’s life. He was clearly a complex man.

But after the newsreel, the reporters putting it together wonder if there’s a deeper story to be found. Perhaps the meaning behind his last word. And one of them is despatched to talk to as many people from Kane’s life as he can, to find out the truth. Each person he talks to shows us a little more of Kane’s life. The first section looks at where he got his fortune. His mother was running a boarding house, and a tenant couldn’t pay her, so he gave her the deeds to an abandoned mine, which turned out to be one of the most productive gold mines in America. We meet her (played by Agnes Moorhead) as she’s signing the papers that give banker Walter Thatcher financial responsibility for the mine. In return, she and her husband get an annual income, but also, their son, Charles Foster Kane, will be taken by Mr Thatcher and educated at the best schools in the country. The father is complaining, saying how by rights the goldmine is his too, but Thatcher is clear that the deeds are in his wife’s name only, and he has no say in the matter. You might wonder why a mother would give her son away to effectively a stranger, especially when there’s no financial reason. When young Kane pushes Thatcher over in the snow, we find out why. His father says “I’m sorry Mr Thatcher. What that kid needs is a good thrashing.” “That’s what you think is it Jim?” asks his mother. “That’s why he’s going to be brought up where you can’t get at him.”

Flash forward to an adult Kane, now running newspapers. He’s a strange mixture. Sometimes he’s exposing corruption in government and big business, claiming to stand up for the working man, other times he’s confecting a war with Spain, and maliciously doorstepping a man whose wife has disappeared, accusing him of murder (however likely that might be).

Then, in the next scene, he writes a ‘statement of principles’ saying the newspaper stands for truth, and standing up for the working man. It’s all very trumpy. I don’t know enough about William Randolph Hearst, the newpaper magnate on whom Kane was modelled, to know if these were the kinds of positions he espoused, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

Simpsons viewers might find the scene where he’s poached all the reporters from a rival newspaper, and has a bunch of dancers and singers come in to sing a song about him somewhat familiar.

In this scene, I love that, for the reverse angle on Joseph Cotten and Everett Sloane, they make sure that you can see the dancing still happening in the window in the background.

The story of Kane’s first marriage is mostly told in a series of short scenes with the two of them at either end of the breakfast table, as time passes and their relationship gets frostier.

Kane starts running for Governor, running against the incumbent, ‘Boss’ Jim Gettys, condemning his competitor as a crook, and threatening to have him arrested. Again, the Trump parallels are stark. But in his case, his campaign is derailed when his wife (thanks to a tip from Gettys) finds out that Kane has been seeing a young woman in her flat, an aspiring singer.

The resulting scandal loses him the election. His response to losing is yet another Trumpy moment.

He marries Susan Alexander, then determines to make her an Opera star, something she doesn’t seem to be as interested in as he is. On her Broadway Debut, his closest friend, Jed Leland (Joseph Cotten), is their dramatic critic, and he falls asleep halfway through writing a bad review, which Kane then finishes in the same vein before firing him.

Incidentally, talking about his second wife, Susan Alexander, in the March of Time sequence at the start there’s a couple of posters of her performances, the first of which spells her name with a Z. The next poster shown is correct, so I’m not sure what’s going on there.

So the story winds to its end, and we learn what Rosebud meant, and as the characters even say in the dialogue, it doesn’t really tell us anything about his character. It’s just a gimmick, a hook to hang the narrative on.

But it remains an astonishing film for what it represents at the time. And, although some people criticise it as an ego trip for the director, how many directors do you know who share their end title credit with their cinematographer?

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 25th December 1985 – 16:30

After this, there’s a look ahead at programmes for the rest of this Christmas Day (yes, again) on BBC2.

Then, there’s the very start of A Prize Performance, a comedy show starring Hinge & Bracket.

Superman III – tape 85

Here’s the point where the Superman films really started to decline. Superman II worked because most of it was directed by Richard Donner, who had a clear idea of how the films should work. But he was fired from the project (I think he didn’t get on with the producers, judging by his comments in interviews and commentaries) and replaced by Richard Lester, an Englishman who didn’t have the same cultural awareness of Superman, and whose attempts at comedy were a little broader than Donner.

So we come to Superman III, where Lester is the sole director, and whilst it’s not a disaster, like Superman IV, it’s nowhere near the greatness of the first two.

I’m watching this on my shiny Blu-Ray version, but the first thing I notice is that the TV version opens completely differently. It has a regular title sequence up front, a bit less impressive than the titles in the first movie, with reused backgrounds from the first film, an arrangement of the score that just sounds a bit wrong, as the music for this film was by Ken Thorne, using all John Williams’ themes, but none of Williams’ skill at orchestration. This title sequence doesn’t appear in the Blu-Ray, it was obviously an addition for TV, as in the movie (and the Blu-Ray) the titles play over a later sequence.

The film proper starts with Richard Pryor being told he’s no longer eligible for unemployment.

He decides to do what I did, and make big money as a computer programmer. Well, except for the big money bit. I feel like this matchbook is symptomatic of the whole film – look at the telephone number. “12345678” It’s like they’re not even trying.

After this short sequence, we get to the sequence that, in the original, is the title sequence, and which here is mostly just a bunch of non sequiturs. We get our first look at Pamela Stephenson as Lorelei Ambrosia. Her character is very odd. She’s introduced properly, later, as a ‘psychic nutritionist’, and on the surface is supposed to be a bubbly airhead, but she keeps giving hints that this is all a front. It never really goes anywhere, but I guess they were trying. I suppose she’s there as a replacement for Valerie Perrine. But really she’s just wasted here.

You can tell this sequence was shot in Britain by the number of recognisable British performers to be seen. Here’s Graham Stark as a comedy blind man.

Gordon Rollings is the kind of face who we see a lot.

Comic actor Bob Todd

Back to Richard Pryor as Gus Gorman, taking his computer courses. Almost everything to do with computers in this film seems to have been written by someone who has never seen a computer. In fact, I’d not be surprised if they’d never even heard of computers, so terrible is every instance of computer use. In this scene, one of the students asks “What if you want to program two bilateral coordinates at the same time?” “You can’t do that. It’s impossible. Computer technology is very advanced, young lady, but it can’t do that.” But, in order to show that Gus is a computer genius, he does exactly that. Trouble is, when his instructor asks how he did it he answers “I don’t know, I just did it.” Which isn’t a great answer, even if you believe that you can have an innate ability with programming.

What’s even funnier is that it shows the code listing, and the code does literally print what’s on the previous screen, then waits for three keypresses, printing out a character each time, to simulate input, then prints a whole bunch of output. It’s literally the program that is running to simulate whatever the actual system is supposed to be.

I will be returning to this movie’s treatment of computers again. And again.

The Daily Planet office, once the home of sparkling banter, feels wooden and lifeless. This is our first of only two glimpses of Lois Lane, as she goes off on holiday to Bermuda. There’s a really leaden running joke about Perry picking bingo numbers. None of this lands.

Well, there’s some good stuff, like Clark showing off his old school jumper.

Gus has got a job at big corporation Webscoe, and he’s hacking the Webscoe accounts system to funnel all fractions of a cent from employee paychecks. He hacks their system by typing the words “OVERIDE ALL SECURITY”. And it works. I guess it has spellcheck.

He gets access to the secret admin menu.

And now, suddenly, he’s using a light pen to select from the menu.

And this is how he instructs the system to funnel the money into his account. That’s a very sophisticated natural language parser they’ve got there.

Clark and Jimmy are on the way to Smallville so he can attend his school reunion and write about it. But there’s a fire at a chemical plant. There’s Shane Rimmer as a state trooper.

The fire chief is played by Al Matthews, Sgt Apone in Aliens and former Radio One DJ.

This isn’t a bad action setpiece. It’s no helicopter rescue, but it has a certain amount of jeopardy, as there’s a room full of acid which, if it overheats, will become hugely reactive and eat through everything.

The fire trucks run out of water, so Superman has to freeze the water in a nearby lake and drop it on the plant, which luckily is enough to put out all the fires.

Jimmy was injured taking photos of the disaster, so Clark is on his own when he gets to the reunion. This feels like a story contrivance – some small bit of business for Jimmy before they ditch him.

But once Clark’s back in Smallville, that’s where the movie really works. Christopher Reeve gets to do his thing as Clark, still the only modern Clark Kent to play the nerdy klutz.

His old schoolyard crush was Lana Lang. We saw her in the young Clark part of the original movie, and now she’s played by Annette O’Toole, who’s just delightful in this movie.

Also brilliant, but hardly delightful, is Gavan O’Herlihy as Brad, the school jock (also glimpsed in the first movie) who’s never really achieved anything since his school triumphs, and these days is just an annoying drunk. O’Herlihy is the son of the great Dan O’Herlihy, by the way.

Back in Metropolis, Gus’s embezzlement of company money has been noticed, and brought to the attention of Webscoe CEO Ross Webster, played by Robert Vaughn. He’s fine as the evil CEO, and only really suffers because we’re comparing him with Gene Hackman.

Annie Ross plays his sister. We’ve already seen Pamela Stephenson as Webster’s psychic nutritionist.

I quite like the gag where Webster thinks they’ll never find out who’s using the computer to embezzle funds. “He’ll keep on quietly taking the bread from our mouths, he’ll keep a low profile and won’t do a thing to call attention to himself. Unless of course he is a complete and utter moron.” Cue Gus screeching into the company car park in his new sports car. He doesn’t even park it in a parking bay.

Back in Smallville, Lana and Clark have gone bowling with her little boy Ricky and his friends. He’s not very good at bowling (which makes me wonder why they didn’t go and do something he does enjoy, but I guess Smallville has limited options). Brad is also there, still trying to convince Lana that he’s her only option in their small town, and, because he’s a jock “A natural athlete can play any sport.” I love the calm, polite way Clark gets him to back off from embarrassing Ricky in front of his friends. He’s not cowed by Brad for a second, but neither is he belligerent back. It’s lovely stuff. And there’s the super-breath propelling Ricky’s ball to smash all the pins to cap off an amusing scene.

During a picnic, little Ricky manages to walk into the middle of a wheatfield then fall and hit his head on a rock, putting him in the path of the harvesters. You’d think a boy raised in Kansas would know to stay out of fields.

Webster summons Gus to his penthouse office, and offers him a chance to use his amazing computer skills for more than embezzlement. They want to use a new weather satellite to devastate the coffee crop in Colombia, so he’s sent to an out of the way Webscoe company to use their computer to hack into the weather satellite. It’s out of the way so it can’t be traced back. Except it’s still a Webscoe company. Nothing about this plan makes sense. But it gets Gus to Smallville, and he has to get Brad drunk as he’s the nightwatchman.

Talking of things that don’t make sense, check out the security around the company’s computer. This is a farming company. With the same security protocols as NORAD has for launching a nuclear missile. You have to wonder what’s on that computer normally that requires such security.

Anyone recognise what Gus is typing here? I’m inclined to say it’s gibberish, but I guess it could be something like APL, which I don’t know at all.

There’s a montage of all the computer-controlled things going wrong around the country, as Gus distracts from the satellite stuff. The timescale is a little weird here. We see a credit card company printing wildly inflated credit card bills, then, somehow, see a husband and wife receiving one of these bills. It’s Sandra Dickinson (married to Doctor Who at the time) and Ronnie Brody, a very familiar face from British comedy, particularly Dave Allen and Dick Emery. What’s less funny is when he looks at the size of the bill, then gets a half grapefruit and rubs it in her face. Ho Ho, let’s all laugh at a little domestic violence.

I’m not even angry about the computer controlled traffic signals that malfunction by having the red and green men have a fight. I’m just disappointed.

Even the fact that they’ve got Longitude before Latitude is annoying me. And he’s not specifying NS or EW, so when you put those coords into Google Maps you get to somewhere south of Sri Lanka. You have to use negative coords to get anywhere near Colombia. It’s still wrong, as it’s in the north of Peru, but at least it’s the right continent.

A newsreader tells of the devastation in the area – it’s Philip Gilbert, the voice of TIM in the Tomorrow People (as well as Timus and others on the same show).

Webster has a ski slope on top of his building. I buy this 100%.

They’re all happy about the devastation, which means they’ve cornered the market in coffee, until Gus turns up and explains how Superman arrived and dried off all the coffee plants. I’m puzzled as to why so much of the comedy business Pryor has been given plays so badly. Would having him play an actually smart character have been so bad? Reeve gets comedy out of Clark without having to play stupid. This seems like a wasted opportunity. And let’s not even mention that he falls about twenty stories from the roof before landing on a lower glass roof slope, and then landing safely on the ground.

So to get Superman out of the way, Gus has to create some Kryptonite, which he does by asking the same weather control satellite to locate and search Xeno galaxy and analyze Kryptonite. Science is so easy.

Here’s the formula for Kryptonite, in case you want to make some yourself. I am genuinely amazed that those percentages add up to 100%. And you’d better believe I just typed them into Excel. Also, what the hell is Dialium? Wikipedia says it’s a legume.

Ah, green lined printer paper. Can you even get that any more? During my (truncated) university career, I’d occasionally print out stuff and have to collect it from the ops room. Once, I’d donwloaded a list of jokes from somewhere on the network. What I hadn’t realised, because I’d only read it on screen and couldn’t tell, was that each joke was separated not by line feeds but by page breaks. So each joke was printed on a single page. And there were hundreds of them. The printout was several inches thick when I went to pick it up, with a note on the top simply saying “Please do not print this again.”

Lana phones Clark, who’s back in Metropolis, telling him that Ricky was so excited about being rescued by Superman that he’s been telling his friends that Superman is coming to Smallville for his birthday. So Clark promises that Superman will be there. Except it gets a bit out of control, as the whole town want to get into the act.

During the presentation, Gus arrives dressed as a General, and gives a strange speech about chemicals, and presents Superman with an award for saving the chemical plant – the award being the synthetic Kryptonite. Now, given that it’s not supposed to be real Kryptonite, I wonder why the makers didn’t make this Kryptonite Red, to fit in with the comics, where Red Kryptonite has ‘strange’ effects on Superman, just as it does here. I know that non-comics fans know about the green, but a single line of dialogue could have sufficed, and it would have been a nice reference for fans. But I fear that the writers and director hadn’t really read much Superman.

Gus has to report back that the Kryptonite appeared to have no effect on Superman, giving Robert Vaughn his best line. “I asked you to kill Superman, and you’re telling me you couldn’t even do that one, simple thing.”

But it did have an effect, the first inkling of which is when Superman is visiting with Lana, and she gets a call about an emergency on the local road bridge, but he’d prefer to stay with her. It’s a combination of out of character and social embarrassment that works really well.

Then, he starts acting very strangely, doing things like straightening the leaning tower of Pisa, including comedy cameos from another couple of British faces, John Bluthal, stalwart of Spike Milligan’s TV shows.

And George Chisolm, who used to pop up on various TV programmes playing the trombone.

Now Gus has designed a supercomputer. On napkins and cigarette packets. Because a computer genius doesn’t have any design tools or anything. I guess this was the 80s, but still.

Webster’s next plan is to send all the oil tankers in the world into the middle of the Atlantic, so he controls all the oil. No, I don’t understand how that works either. But all the ships obey the orders. All except one of them. This is almost a good joke.

But they ruin it when we see the Captain, and he appears to be American. So I’m not quite sure that joke was fully joined up.

Lorelei attracts Superman’s attention by sitting on the top of the Statue of Liberty, flirts a bit, then gets him to punch a hole in the rogue vessel’s hull. None of this really hangs together as remotely convincing.

Lana, sick of getting phone calls from Brad telling her ‘she should start appreciating’ him because there’s nothing else for her in Smallville, takes a trip to Metropolis, which is lucky, because it gives her and Ricky a change to see the now very drunk and grumpy Superman smash up a bar by flicking peanuts. But Ricky still believes in Superman. “You’re just in a slump” has says. Because who wouldn’t be moved to overcome internal demons by being lectured by a ten year old?

What follows is a scene that is not only impossible to parse narratively, but which is also the emotional heart of the film. With Ricky’s weak platitudes ringing in his ears, Superman falls from the sky into a junkyard, then, somehow, he splits into two people, evil Superman and Clark Kent.

I have no idea if this is something the film wants us to believe physically happened, some kind of super-power we’ve never seen, or whether this is a kind of a dream sequence, showing us a visual metaphor for something that’s happening inside Superman’s head. It doesn’t really matter, beyond a nerdy need to understand, because this sequence does what it needs to – it shows us conflict inside Superman, and the eventual triumph of the good side, as the evil Superman in the grubby suit fades away, leaving Clark Kent to stand, rip open his shirt and show the pristine Superman costume underneath. It’s the closest this film comes to the mythic grandeur of the first two films.

 

As an aside, it’s always bothered me that in the Zach Snyder films, Superman’s costume had the same muted, dark colours as bad Superman’s suit in this. But then, those films were such a massive misjudgment about what a Superman film should be that it’s not surprising they can’t even get the costume right.

Having got better, Superman now has to follow the Websters to their new hideout, where they have built Gus’s supercomputer. There’s some nice production design going on in this set.

Superman comes for them, to the canyon where it’s been built (don’t get me started on the timeline of this movie) but the Websters have missiles. Even better, the missiles are controlled by a videogame, complete with an 8-bit Superman.

After he’s made short work of the missiles, Superman confronts the Websters, and Vera hits him with a Kryptonite beam.

Gus grows a conscience, and unscrews the tiny screw that controls all the power for the computer. Webster sees him, so Gus swallows the screw, then Webster gets him in a chokehold, which isn’t a good optic.

But the computer is too powerful, and finds another source of power.

After Gus finally stops the kryptonite beam by hitting it with a fire axe, Superman leaves. The bad guys try to leave, but Vera is grabbed by the computer and turned into a robot. Could be something scary.

Could be, but isn’t.

Superman returns, having brought a cannister of the acid from the chemical plant at the start. He’s immediately menaced by two transformers. I buy this scene 100% as this is what I imagine would happen to me if I ever went into one of those substations with the signs on the door saying ‘Danger of Death’.

Superman is attacked by the computer, and smothered by Ribbon Cable.

But the acid reacts to the heat and starts splattering everywhere, causing the whole set to blow up, as is right and proper for all good blockbuster movies.

We don’t get to see if the Websters or Lorelei are still alive after this, but Superman rescues Gus, then stops at a coal mine to pick up a lump of coal with which to fashion a diamond. At last, something from the comics.

Gus doesn’t like flying, so asks if he can just stay on the ground. Superman asks the coal miners if they have a computer, and suggests they hire Gus. One of the coal miners is Larry Lamb off of Triangle and other lesser BBC soaps.

Clark gives the diamond, now in a ring, to Lana, telling her it’s a gift from Superman who was sorry she had to pawn her wedding ring. At that moment, somehow, Brad has also come from Smallville to Metropolis, thinks Clark is proposing to Lana, gets belligerent and ends up on a food trolley in a lift. More humour that doesn’t really land.

Then it’s back to a code in the Daily Planet offices. Lois is back from holiday, having secured a scoop on ‘corruption in the Caribbean’ which is quite a feat, given she was on holiday in Bermuda, quite a distance from the Caribbean. And they’re still going with the Bingo jokes.

Then, apart from a trip back to Pisa to make the tower lean again, much to the chagrin of John Bluthal, whose stock of plaster models are all now straight, there’s just time for the film to reuse the same shot of Superman from the end of the first film, then it’s over. It’s not a catastrophe, it’s just a waste. And if I’m honest, Man of Steel makes me angrier than this, because frankly they should have known better.

The tape ends right after the film.

 

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers – tape 98

I’d thought this was the original 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but it’s actually the 1978 remake directed by Philip Kaufman, director of The Right Stuff. Honestly, you wait years for a Philip Kaufman film, then two come along at once. A special mention at the start for the writer, W.D. Richter. He also co-wrote Big Trouble in Little China and directed The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, so he has all the nerd cred he needs.

I saw this film in the cinema, in the old Hemel Hempstead Odeon, that’s now, very sadly, a Wetherspoons pub. I wonder what 15 year old me thought of it. I know I’ve always liked it, but my memory is that the biggest draw, for me, was the presence in the cast of Leonard Nimoy.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The title sequence is nice, showing the strange alien spores coming to earth and growing on plants.

As soon as the film proper starts, there’s hints that all is not well. It’s all stuff in the background, but it works to unsettle the viewer, like the priest swinging on the swing. And if you think he looks familiar, it’s because it’s Robert Duvall, who did it for no money, as a favour.

Donald Sutherland plays Matthew Bennell. He works for the Health Department, investigating reports of contamination in a restaurant kitchen. “It’s a rat turd.” “It’s a caper!” “OK, if it’s a caper, you eat it.”

Elizabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams) works with Sutherland. Her husband is one of the earlier people taken over by the alien pods.

There’s a recurring motif of dustcarts filled with a strange fibrous material, the remains of the humans who have been taken over by the aliens.

While driving down the street, Bennell’s car is stopped by a manic man screaming “You’re Next!” over and over, before running off and getting knocked down. He’s played by Kevin McCarthy, star of the original movie, and it’s implied he’s the same character, still trying to convince the world about the pods.

At a book launch, we meet Bennell’s friend Jack Bellicec, played by a young Jeff Goldblum, and he’s already peak Goldblum.

They’re at a book launch for another of Sutherland’s friends, the pop psychologist David Kibner, played by Leonard Nimoy. He’s exactly the kind of facile, talk show friendly doctor that was all over the place in the 70s. At the party he’s talking to another woman who believes her husband has changed. Elizabeth empathises, but Kibner is dismissing the woman’s concerns, and pushing her back to her husband. Ignoring the experience of women is clearly something that’s always happened.

Jack Bellicec runs a bathouse and mud bath with his wife Nancy, played by the great Veronica Cartwright. I feel like Cartwright doesn’t get enough credit for her work in genre films. She’s rarely the star, but she’s always great.

They find a body in the bathouse, covered in strange fibres, and which seems unformed. As Jack drifts off to sleep, it becomes more like him, and even opens its eyes, until Nancy screams and wakes Jack up, because the pods work while you sleep.

Bennell tries to reach Elizabeth, but she’s not answering her phone. Her husband is there with her, watching her sleep, and takes the phone off the hook, so he goes to the house, breaks in, and finds her asleep, and finds a growing duplicate in the garden next to her.

Later, the main characters have all gathered at Bennell’s apartment, wondering what’s happening with the pods, and as they sleep, unnoticed by them, pods in the garden are growing. The combination of plantlike pods, and flashy colouring is really quite disturbing.

Things by this time have become totally paranoid, and the ‘authorities’ are coming to get them. There’s lots of running around, and being pursued by crowds of people. They catch a cab, and the cab driver is Don Siegel, director of the original film.

Gradually, more of the friends succumb to the pods, and soon only Bennell and Elizabeth are left. Then, as they are close to the docks, hoping to find a boat to escape and finding only boats transporting more pods, Elizabeth finally can stay awake no more, and gets podded. This really is horrifying stuff, as he tries in vain to wake her, and her face slowly desiccates. Even more horrifying when the pod version of Elizabeth stands up, naked. I’d quibble with the female nudity, but it’s really disturbing here, and also in a later scene where Bennell is setting fire to a pod production facility, and she’s striding through the flames, still naked.

I don’t think there’s any aspect of this film that feels particularly dated. Apart, maybe, from the fashion and Sutherland’s perm, it still works, and holds up beautifully. And its reliance on physical effects and makeup means that aspect hasn’t suffered. It’s just as disturbing as it was.

After this, there’s Night Thoughts. Always rather unconvincing.

Then Tom Edwards has a quick look at the weather, then bids us good night, complete with the ‘remember to turn off your TV set’ after the fade to black. Lovely.

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Moonlighting – Split Screen – tape 317

This tape opens with the end of an episode of Clarence, the Ronnie Barker sitcom that I don’t think I ever watched.

There’s a trailer for Campaign. It doesn’t look very good, but I don’t remember watching it.

Then, an episode of Moonlighting. It’s called Take a Left at the Altar. It guest stars Terry O’Quinn.

And Amanda Plummer

She’s been left at the altar by her fiancee. O’Quinn is her brother who wants to track him down and offer him a dowry. But David and Bert find the man, and he’s already married.

Meanwhile, Maddie is with her parents.

When the wannabe bigamist is killed, Plummer tells the police it was her brother, but David and Bert realise she must have been the murderer, in an elaborate plot to get him put away so she would have full control of their large trust fund. Talking of elaborate, she runs, they give chase, and end up chasing her car in a biplane to the sound of Bernard Herrmann’s North By Northwest score.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 18th January 1988 – 21:30

There’s another slice of Clarence before the next episode, followed by a trailer for The Janitor.

Then, another Moonlighting. It’s Tale In Two Cities, and David is still moping around the office because Maddie is still in Chicago with her parents. This is really a nothing episode, as Burt gets jealous about Agnes talking to MacGillicudy so he ends up in a hot tub with another woman.

Then, the only significant moment in the episode, Maddie discovers she’s pregnant.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 25th January 1988 – 21:30

the next episode, Cool Hand Dave part 1 has an odd intro. Agnes and Burt do a long thing about how it’s a two parter, and David and Maddie are still apart, and they even complain that they’re not in it much, even though they seem to be about half the episode. I wonder if this scene was written because the episode was under-running.

David learns about Maddie’s pregnancy, so he tries to get on a plane, but the flight’s full. “I can put you on standby if you like?” “Is that the best you can do?” “I’m afraid so.” “Don’t bother. I’ll just have to find something else to do this episode.”

Then, through an unlikely circumstance, David find himself in prison, mistaken for a very bad criminal indeed.

His cellmate is Tracey Walter.

It’s a shame that prison films are my least favourite genre.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 1st February 1988 – 21:30

After this there’s a trailer for Arena: The Emperor.

Then, an episode of the documentary series Split Screen in which two people make short films of the same length on two opposing viewpoints. This time it’s about modern music.

I’ve never particularly been inclined to listen to most modern music, but then I lost track of pop music around 1992 as well, so I’m not a good judge.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 1st February 1988 – 22:15

After this, there’s the start of Newsnight leading with the announcement of a rise in interest rates. The tape ends during this programme.