First on this tape, a random episode of The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole. I did enjoy this at the time, although the book was so brilliant that any attempt to visualise it would fall short.
However, I think I appreciate it more now. Especially with Stephen Moore as Adrian’s dad. His parents are going through a rough patch, but he can’t afford to move out, so he’s making the spare bedroom into a bedsit. I have loved him since I first listened to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy where he played the definitive Marvin, so I always enjoyed it when he’d appear in small roles.
The first series featured Julie Walters as Adrian’s mother. He’s benefiting economically from the split, because both of them are giving him pocket money.
Adrian goes to school, but because of all the home strife, he’s forgotten that it’s the holidays. This rang a bell with me, but I don’t think it actually happened to me, so I must just be remembering this show (or the book). I was watching this, and was going to comment on the great period detail, like the anorak with the orange lining that everybody had, until I remembered that this was contemporary.
Bill Fraser plays his friend Bert Baxter.
Mr Cherry at the newsagent gives Adrian a pay rise for his paper round. 2 1/2p an hour. He also gives him a couple of out of date porn mags, which seems a bit creepier now than it did at the time.
Steven Mackintosh plays his friend Nigel.
Adrian’s father has a fight with Mr Lucas in the front garden, because he’s the one who’s been seeing his wife. I was trying to remember where it was that Paul Greenwood appeared before I saw him in this, and it took me a second to remember that classic programme Captain Zep – Space Detective.
Beryl Reid is magnificent as usual as Adrian’s grandmother. What an amazing cast this show has. His father is growing a moustache – mostly because Adrian flushed all his razors down the toilet for fear he was suicidal, and his mother does not approve. This definitely hit home for me, as my mother never, ever got used to me having a beard, which I’ve had basically the whole time I’ve been with my wife (our 23rd wedding anniversary was just a few days ago) and every time I’d visit, she’d ask when I would be shaving the beard off.
Adrian and Nigel have a sleepover at Nigel’s house because his parents are away at a wedding. They get drunk, and read Waiting for Godot.
When Grandma finds them in a dark house, because the electricity’s been turned off, and learns that Adrian keeps having his pocket money stolen by the school bully Barry Kent, she goes round to sort them out.
I really enjoyed this. And let’s not forget that it was Sue Townsend who was the first instance of the VHiStory blog curse, when I saw an Omnibus documentary where she imagined her own funeral, along with her own coffin, on the very day she died.
And talking of the curse, Freddie Jones died today as I’m writing this. He’s credited on this episode as Mr Scruton, the headmaster, but I couldn’t spot him in any scene. Does a credit count for the curse? I’m so very, very sorry, whichever way.
Following this, recording switches to BBC2 and the end of Horizon.
There’s a trailer for the first episode of Nice Work.
Then, Star Trek – The Next Generation – Coming Of Age. It’s Season One, and this episode is something fairly unusual for Star Trek – it’s an episode that hints at a larger story, and would pay off later in the season. These days we’d call it an arc episode.
There’s two stories here, as there often was on TNG, and I guess the A story is the one where an Admiral arrives, with a lt Commander in tow, and tells Picard that he’s investigating Picard and the whole crew, but won’t tell him for what. Cue lots of scenes where Lt Cmdr Remmick keeps asking the crew about things Picard has done, and how he might have broken the rules in various ways. There’s lots of references to previous episodes, which all adds to the feeling that it’s an arc story. But ultimately it gets annoying.
The B story sees Wesley take part in Starfleet Academy entrance exams. At the start of the episode, Wesley has to commiserate with another potential candidate who didn’t make the exam, so you know he’ll be significant later.
I’m not going to hate on Wesley or Wil Wheaton, but I did want to observe that Will was definitely in one of those ‘growth spurt’ stages at this time. It’s a bit unfair to pick a frame where he’s turning around, but look at the length of his arms compared to the rest of him. Some of that might be the design of the costume, but really, he looks almost like a child’s drawing here.
Wesley’s competition are a cute girl who thinks everything comes easy to the others when she has to work hard, a Vulcan who’s Vulcan, and a Benzite, who’s blue.
The young man who didn’t get to do the Starfleet exam has stolen a shuttle, but he gets into trouble near the planet and his engines stall. Picard has to talk him through it, and successfully gets him to restart the engine and bounce off the atmosphere. Even the flint-hearted Lt Cmdr Remmick is happy.
Remmick finishes his investigation and reports back to the Admiral that he found nothing in Picard’s record to complain about. Picard is angry at the whole thing, but Quinn tells him that he was doing the checks, because he believes that something is trying to destroy the Federation, possibly from within, and he needs people he can trust. He wants Picard to take a promotion to Admiral, and take over Starfleet Academy.
Wesley’s last test is the psychological test where he has to ‘face his greatest fear’. While he’s waiting for it to start he hears a loud noise nearby and finds a lab has exploded, and two men are trapped inside. He pulls an injured man to safety, but the other man, not injured but too frightened to move, won’t leave with him. It’s all part of the psych test, of course, and his greatest fear was that he wouldn’t be able to function if a situation like this, similar to the way in which his father died, happened.
In the end, Wesley doesn’t come top, he’s beaten by the blue Benzite, who doesn’t think it’s fair because during another of the tests, Wesley helped him finish, costing Wesley some time. But later, Picard tells Wesley that he failed the exam first time. “And you may not tell anyone.” It seems like only one person can pass the exam, which doesn’t seem like an efficient way to admit candidates. Also, surely, people who help each other out should be valued. I don’t understand schools generally, though.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 6th February 1991 – 18:00
The next episode is Symbiosis. While observing a star, the Enterprise encounters a ship in difficulty. The captain of the ship doesn’t seem to be overly concerned, and doesn’t really seem to know how to operate their ship.
When the ship breaks up, the Enterprise is able to beam aboard four survivors, plus their cargo. There’s two members each of two different races. The Omarans, the crew of the ship, are suffering from a plague, and need a treatment which is provided by their guests, the Brekkans. The cargo was a large shipment of the drug, and the Omarans claim they paid for it, but the Brekkans claim they have not.
The captain of the Omaran ship is played by Merrit Butrick, who played Kirk’s son David in Star Trek II.
The leader of the Brekkans is played by another Star Trek II alumnus, Judson Scott.
It soon becomes obvious to Dr Crusher that the cure is not a cure at all, but a powerfully addictive narcotic, and the entire Omaran planet is addicted, and they interpret withdrawal symptoms as signs of the plague, which hasn’t existed for 200 years. But the drug can only be cultivated on Brekka, so the two planets exist in a terrible symbiosis, with the Brekkans effectively in the role of drug pushers.
The Omaran T’Jon tries to get Picard to give him the shipment by using his magical electric hands on Riker. Nice electrified acting by Jonathan Frakes.
This is an interesting episode. Picard is bound by the Prime Directive not to interfere, despite how much Beverley wants him to. Even when he learns that the Brekkans know exactly what they’re dooing
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 13th February 1991 – 18:00
Finally here, Heart Of Glory. And I’m afraid I zoned out a little in this one, because it’s Klingon bollocks. On a crippled ship, two Klingons are discovered. They’re renegades, wanting to recapture the glory of the Empire – it’s all bit Brexit. There’s some conflict for Worf, as he’s torn between his allegiance to Starfleet, and his Klingon heritage, but really, I find these episodes a bit of a snooze.
This episode does introduce the Klingon death ritual, involving a lot of roaring.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 27th February 1991 – 18:00
After this, there’s a trailer for Arena about Pirate Radio.
Then, there’s the start of DEF II, Reportage, and the tape ends.