Author: VHiStory

Star Trek – tape 89

Back to Season Two of Star Trek for these episodes, starting with Obsession. They’ve found a vein of an incredibly hard mineral, when Kirk smells something. It reminds him of something he encountered 11 years ago, and he warns his men to watch out for a gaseous cloud. Pretty soon, they’re dead or dying.

This is a strange episode. The Obsession is Kirk’s, as he remembers the cloud because, on his first mission, it killed half the crew of the ship he was serving on, and he blamed himself for not firing on it quickly enough. To make matters worse, an ensign new to the ship is the son of the captain of Kirk’s old ship. He, too, sees the cloud and is slow to fire his phaser.

In the end it’s up to the two guilt-ridden people to lure the creature and explode an anti-matter bomb.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 14th November 1985 – 18:00

The next episode is Wolf in the Fold, written by Robert Bloch – writer of Psycho. McCoy, Kirk and Scotty are on the planet Argelius “a totally hedonistic society” which apparently means men being fawned over by belly dancers.

There’s so much to unpack in this first scene. All the sniggering references to ‘the women here’. And then we learn that Scotty is there for therapeutic reasons. An explosion had thrown him against a bulkhead, and the explosion was caused by a woman. McCoy has prescribed sex tourism because, apparently, Scotty had developed “a total resentment towards women.” Then, after they’ve discussed the fine details of Scotty’s treatment, they both decide to visit a local knocking shop.

They don’t get there, though, as they hear a scream, and discover the woman who left with Scotty dead, stabbed two dozen times, and Scotty is cowering by a wall holding a bloody knife.

Kirk can’t believe that Scott could be responsible, so he orders a Psycho-Tricorder to the planet, which can recount the last 24 hours of a person’s memory. But the Lieutenant running the tricorder is also stabbed repeatedly, and Scotty is there too.

Then, a local ritual tries to get to the truth. But the woman running the ritual becomes the third victim.

Back on board the Enterprise, Scotty is questioned, and his answers about whether he killed the women are all judged to be honest. They work out that there’s some kind of evil force, and work out it’s the same force that made Jack the Ripper do all those murders. And it’s now inhabiting the Argelian administrator, Mr Hengist.

But when Kirk smacks him in the face when he tries to run, he drops dead, and the evil presence is transferred into the ship’s computer. The weird thing about this is that, immediately before I watched this tape, we were watching some Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the episode I Robot You Jane in which a demon is transferred into the Sunnydale computers. Because of course.

Because the entity feeds on fear, Kirk gets McCoy to give all the crew heavy tranquilizers, so everyone is too high to be afraid. Then, when the entity goes back into the formerly dead body of Hengist, the dose him up too, then transport him into deep space. Then Kirk contemplates going back to Argelius. “I know a cafe where the women are so…” God this programme had a long way to go.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 21st November 1985 – 18:00

Next, a genuine classic. It’s The Trouble With Tribbles. Somehow, the show really worked well with the more light-hearted episodes. Kirk is angry when Space Station K-7 summons the Enterprise on the highest emergency setting, and it’s simply because they have a consignment of Quadro-Triticale, a high-yield grain that’s bound for a planet that the Federation and the Klingons are competing to develop. The Federation undersecretary Mr Baris wants Kirk to assign guards, but Kirk doesn’t really see the importance.


The administrator of the space station is a familiar genre face, Whit Bissell.

Mr Baris gets even more upset when some Klingons turn up on the ship for Shore Leave. If Koloth looks familiar, it’s probably because actor William Campbell played Trelane in The Squire of Gothos.

Also on the ship is independent trader Cyrano Jones who sells a tribble to Uhura.

The tribbles breed like, well, tribbles.

This is just a delight. There’s a ridiculous barfight, sparked off when a Klingon insulted the Enterprise in front of Scotty. There’s Kirk not being impressed with the Federation bigwig. And the discovery of a Klingon spy due to the way the tribbles react to him.

If you haven’t seen the Deep Space Nine sequel to this episode, Trials and Tribble-ations you should watch it. It’s the most ridiculous piece of fanservice of any TV show anywhere, and, like this episode, it’s a pure delight.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th November 1985 – 18:00

The tape ends right after this episode.


The Godfather – tape 68

This tape opens with the end of a preview of a new season of Dance programmes.

Then, The Godfather. Here’s another ‘great’ movie that I don’t adore. I think I just have a blindspot when it comes to films about mobsters.They’re like the real-life analogue to Star Trek’s Klingons, just a bunch of the worst people who talk about honour like it’s something they’d recognise.

One thing I’m definitely not sure about is whether Marlon Brando’s performance is great acting, or parody. The cotton wool in the cheeks, the drawling, it feels like he’s taking the piss.

The main cast is fairly remarkable, and not all of them were big stars at the time. There’s a story told about Al Pacino’s casting as Michael, the war hero son who’s not part of his father’s business. One of the producers thought he was too short. He wanted someone like Ryan O’Neal. But Coppola wanted ‘someone who looks like us’.

Diane Keaton is Michael’s girlfriend, and we learn some of the family’s business through him explaining to her, including the film’s catchphrase “My father made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.”

Robert Duvall plays Tom Hagen, honorary son and lawyer to Vito Corleone.

James Caan is Sonny Corleone, the hothead son.

There’s a lot of stuff in this I do like. When Vito is shot in the street and almost killed, Michael goes to visit him, only to find all the police who were supposed to have been protecting him have been withdrawn by the crooked police chief, so Michael has to move Vito and protect him until help can arrive. A young baker comes to visit his father, and Michael gets him to wait outside, as if they are armed, in order to dissuade another hit on Vito.

Michael takes revenge on the men who attacked his father, thus bringing him fully in to the family business. Then he disappears to Sicily.

While he’s away, Sonny is shot. A lot.

John Cazale plays the other brother, Fredo, who’s been in Vegas since the attack, and seems to be in his element.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 9th June 1985 – 21:00

After this, there’s a trailer for The Godfather Part II.

Then, the start of International Golf – The Dunhill British Masters, from Woburn – presented by Harry Carpenter. The tape ends during this.

Star Trek – tape 156

First on this tape, That Which Survives, another season three episode. There’s a planet that’s only ‘a few thousand years old’ but already has vegetation and an atmosphere. Even Spock can’t explain it. So Kirk prepares to beam down with a landing party to make a report. As he’s beaming down, a woman appears and shouts that they must not go.

She fails to stop them beaming down, but it’s all a bit earthquakey when they get there. There’s some really nice rocking of the whole set here, as the rocks rumble up and down. Much better than just shaking the camera.

At the same time, the Enterprise is thrown 1000 light years across the galaxy. I’m really liking Lieutenant Radha’s reaction when Spock corrects her estimate to “997.2 to be precise.”

On the planet, the strange woman is back, after the one new face in the landing party, Mr D’Amato (pronounced ‘Diamato’ apparently). “I am for you” she says. So he’s dead.

Sulu almost gets the same treatment later, and she’s also on the Enterprise, killing a crewman in Engineering and sett the warp engines to overload. Scotty has to do something very dangerous in a Jeffries tube, while Spock is continuing to be annoying with his obsession with numerical accuracy.

She’s back, and after Kirk. But since she can only kill the one person she’s after, McCoy and Sulu stop her getting to him. She says she’s the commander and seems confused about killing.

In the end, it’s all down to a defence computer, of course.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 23rd October 1986 – 18:00

Next, in The Lights of Zetar, it opens with Scotty in love with new crewmember Mira Romaine. Of course she has to be defined in terms of her relationship to a man, and not on her own merits.

She doesn’t last long before being zapped by some strange lights.

The lights head to Memory Alpha, an important library of knowledge for the federation, and everyone there is dead.

Mira has become linked with the Lights, who are the remnants of the planet Zetar, and they want to live in her body. But the crew manage to drive them out, and she survives to oversee the repairs to Memory Alpha.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 30th October 1986 – 18:00

Finally on this tape, an episode I don’t have fond memories about, The Way To Eden. The Enterprise beams aboard a group of Space Hippies. They want to get to the planet Eden.

Their leader, Dr Sevrin, is the carrier of a rather dangerous disease, which would mean he couldn’t travel to a primitive planet.

Charles Napier, more usually playing Good Ol’ Boys, is one of the hippies. He even gets to sing, although in this broadcast, there’s an entire scene missing where he sings a song near the start. I wonder if this was a syndication cut that was restored for the Netflix version. Thankfully (?) his later song is intact.

Even Spock wants to rock out with the hippies.

They take control of the ship, and do, in fact, find Eden. They take a shuttlecraft to the surface, and when Kirk and co beam down, they discover that, although it looks beautiful, all the plantlife is strongly acidic. Chekov just touches a flower and burns his hand.

Charles Napier clearly tried the fruit.

Dr Sevrin is still in the shuttlecraft with the other hippies, his feet severely burned by the acid grass. When Kirk says they need to take him back, he grabs some fruit and takes a big bite. If this isn’t a massive, honking Brexit metaphor, I don’t know what is.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 20th November 1986 – 18:00

After this, recording continues. There’s a trailer for 40 Minutes: The Englishwoman’s Wardrobe featuring Selina Scott and Margaret Thatcher.

Then, after what appears to be a presentation glitch where we get the BBC Two logo but no voice, there’s the start of a natural history quiz programme, What on Earth? presented by Jeremy Cherfas.

It’s an interesting quiz, and the contestants are all professional biologists, so as well as being able to recognise the animals on show, we get some nice facts about the animals. It’s a good variant on the panel show, exchanging jokes for information. Plus a beard worthy of the Open University.

The tape ends during this programme.


Fantastic Voyage – Hancock’s Half Hour – Miss Marple – tape 72

I haven’t watched it for absolutely ages, but it makes me happy to say that Fantastic Voyage is a cracking film. It’s marvellously high concept, but it’s a perfect example of a story that takes one central premise, then works with it to generate an exciting plot.

It starts with some spy shenanigans. The film doesn’t really care about its espionage trappings, it’s just there to make the plot happen. A spy is brought to the country, and attacked on his way somewhere.

Cut from the attack to Grant (Stephen Boyd) being taken in secret to a secret place. It’s a place do big that they need little cars to get around inside. I’m not kidding. Even the security check where his ID pass is checked, happens while they’re still sitting in the little car.

I’m not joking about the cars. It takes him right into the office to where he’s met.

He meets Edmond O’Brien as General Carter, he’s shown a man in an operating room. He’s called “Benes”. He’s suffering a brain injury. “He’s the only scientist who knows the answer to what we’re after.” It’s so vague and handwavy I’m surprised they didn’t call him Dr Macguffin.

Good God, they’re back in the car. The General explains that the Combined Miniature Defense Force can shrink anything. And that Benes knows how to increase the time that things stay shrunk. They’re going to shrink down a team, inject it into an artery, and repair the brain damage from the inside.

The surgical expert, Dr Duval (Arthur Kennedy) is pushing for his assistant, Cora Peterson (Raquel Welch), to join the mission. A stuffed shirt army guy says it’s no place for a woman. But the head of the mission, Dr Michaels (Donald Pleasance) backs up Duval.

Pleasance tells them the plan. How long did it take to produce the transparencies for this? Life must have been much harder before Powerpoint, but at least they don’t have to wait ten minutes because nobody can remember how to connect to the projector.

Boyd talks to Cora as she’s working on the Laser that’s going to be used to destroy the blood clot. “I bet you’re really handy around the house. Can you cook?” Oh fuck off.

Dr Michaels is very twitchy as their submarine is shrunk and put into water in a jar. He’s getting a bit stir crazy.

For its time, the effects are pretty good. Very squishy and analogue.

Things go wrong almost immediately when they’re swept through a whirlpool and end up in the Jugular vein. Cue lots of actors pretending to be pushed against their seats.

So now they have to go through the heart. “How long can you stop his heart for?” “No longer than 60 seconds.” I love the way they’re tracking the ship through hand-drawn diagrams.

They have to stop off at the lungs to fill up the air tanks with a giant baby’s dummy.

I love the way it’s introducing a new peril every ten minutes. Now the ship is getting inundated with antibodies. I love the way the antibodies are visualised.

The scene where Raquel Welch is attacked by antibodies is one of those formative scenes that stays with a young boy.

Time’s getting short, and Michaels wants to abandon the mission and go to the extraction point, while Dr Duval ignores him and takes the Laser. Is one of them the saboteur? It can’t be the doctor, he’s doing Brain Surgery.

No, of course it’s Michaels – why else do you cast Donald Pleasance. He takes control of the ship to drive it at the nerves in the brain, but Boyd fires the laser at it and cripples the ship.

Pleasance is trapped in the ship, as it’s attacked by white corpuscles. Nobody does pathetic begging like Donald Pleasance.

The rest of the team get out by heading for the eye.

There’s one of those Mandela effect moments at the end of this. I swear I remember a scene at the end where the General is heard to exclaim “What do you mean he can’t remember?” But it’s definitely not in this recording, and according to Wikipedia, doesn’t actually exist. Now, I also remember reading about the scene, so I wonder if my memory has joined up those two stories. It’s like all those people who swear that on its first release, Star Wars already had the “Episode IV A New Hope” title.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 29th June 1985 – 18:55

Recording switches, and next there’s an episode of Hancock’s Half Hour. Tony is trying to fix his house up, with little effect.

They think that if someone famous used to live there, the council would renovate the house, so Sid starts writing on the walls, as if Lord Byron used to live there.

John Le Mesurier from the council isn’t impressed.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 23rd March 1986 – 19:15

After this, there’s a trailer for Easter programmes. No more Christmas!

Then, an unmarked programme, Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. It’s part 3 of The Body in the Library, so I didn’t really understand who was who and what had happened.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 23rd March 1986 – 19:45

After this, there’s a trailer for Shergar, a Screen Two film in which Stephen Rea plots to kidnap a horse.

Then, there’s the start of en episode of Mastermind featuring a surprise appearance by Nick Frost.

The tape ends shortly into this programme.

The Right Stuff – tape 313

This tape opens with the end of a Panorama about Margaret Thatcher becoming the longest serving Prime Minister.

There’s a trailer for the new series of QED.

Then, being shown in two parts, The Right Stuff.

The story behind The Right Stuff is quite interesting. Tom Wolfe wrote the book, and Philip Kaufman directed the movie. There’s a very interesting chapter in one of William Goldman’s books about working on a screenplay for the movie, and his creative differences with Kaufman. Talking of Goldman, his chapter on Marathon Man was even better. For this movie, Goldman was interested in the stories of the Mercury astronauts, the main focus of the book, but Kaufman was far more interested in the character of Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier, and played here by Sam Shepard at his coolest.

His wife is played by Barbara Hershey. They’re the kind of couple who race each other on horseback, which he does the night before he’s supposed to be going up to break the sound barrier, falls off his horse and breaks a couple of ribs.

He can’t lean over to secure the hatch of the experimental aircraft, so his mechanic fashions him a handle, an inanimate carbon rod.

He breaks the sound barrier, and the question is raised, where next?

Next, it’s the beginning of the US space program, the Mercury project. We meet the various pilots who become the Mercury Seven. First, it’s Gordon Cooper, played by Dennis Quaid.

Pamela Reed plays his wife Trudy

Fred Ward plays Gus Grissom.

Veronica Cartwright plays his wife Betty.

Then, Jeff Goldblum breaks the news to a room full of important people. “It’s called Sputnik”

Donald Moffat plays Lyndon Johnson.

Jeff Goldblum and Harry Shearer have a recurring role, as recruiters looking for the perfect people to be astronauts. I’m sure the part where they’re showing film of high divers, trapeze artists, surfers and human cannonballs as potential subjects must be apocryphal.

Ed Harris plays John Glenn, a literal Dudley Do-Right, who does everything One Hundred Percent.

Scott Glenn plays Alan Shepherd

Charles Frank plays Scott Carpenter

Rounding out the seven, Scott Paulin plays Deke Slayton.

And Lance Henrickson as Wally Schirra.

There’s a disheartening montage of failed rocket tests. I wonder how many of these were contemporaneous with the events in the film. That seems like a lot of rockets.

There’s a nice scene, after the astronauts decide they need to take more initiative in the direction of the program, where they insist on having a window added to the capsule (sorry – spacecraft). Gus Grissom also insists on a door with explosive bolts, which feels a bit too much like foreshadowing.

That’s where this broadcast of the first part ends.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 4th January 1988 – 22:10

Before the next part, there’s the end of QED – a quite interesting one presented by Paul Daniels, about tricks to improve your memory.

There’s a Public Information Film about Condoms.

Then, Part 2. Goldblum’s back. “They’ve got a man up there. Gagarin.”

Interesting observation – the shot of the astronauts walking down a long corridor, that’s been parodied and  homaged ad infinitum, isn’t actually in slow motion. It looks possibly a little overcranked, but it’s definitely not full slow-mo.

There’s some playing with the audience as to which of the astronauts would be the first into space. John Glenn is commonly remembered as the first, but his was later, the first to do multiple orbits. The first Mercury astronaut in space was Alan Shepherd. And I believe the anecdote, enacted here, about him having to urinate into his suit because they had him sitting on the launch pad for hours (“It’s only a 15 minute flight”) is true.

The next up is Gus Grissom, and his story has a tinge of tragedy. After splashdown, he’s shown starting to panic while waiting for the rescue helicopter to hook the capsule, then from the outside we see the hatch blow, and Gus jumps out of the craft. He claimed that the hatch blew on its own, but the general suspicion was he’s blown the hatch himself, either deliberately or accidentally. The tragedy is multiplied when we’re reminded at the end of the film that Grissom was one of the three Apollo 1 astronauts who died in a fire in their command module, during a routine test on the launchpad.

When it comes time for John Glenn’s flight, the first in the newer, less thoroughly tested rockets, there’s one of my favourite scenes in the whole film. The launch is delayed, and vice president Lyndon Johnson is sitting in a car outside Glenn’s home, and he wants to go and meet Glenn’s wife, reassure her, and basically puff his image. But We’ve met Glenn’s wife already, and we know she has a stammer, and doesn’t want to be on TV. The other wives are with her, backing her up. So Johnson decides to escalate it to the highest levels of Nasa. Due to the delay, Glenn is brought out of the capsule, and he’s told his wife is on the phone and it’s urgent.

                           HEAD OF PROGRAM
                 John, there's a problem with your wife.

                           JOHN GLENN
                 Is it serious?

                           HEAD OF PROGRAM
                 We think it is. There's a phone hookup, we've got her 
                 on it.

                           JOHN GLENN
                        (on telephone)
                 Annie? It's me. Are you all right? Tell me what's wrong.

                           ANNIE GLENN
                       (heavily stammering)
                 Johnson... wants me... on... T... V...

                           JOHN GLENN
                 The Vice President?

                           HEAD OF PROGRAM
                 Tell her to let him in with the networks, John. 
                 It's coverage, you know.

                 It's important, John.

                           JOHN GLENN
                 Annie. Listen to me. Are you listening? If you don't 
                 want the vice president or the TV networks or anybody 
                 else to come into the house then that's it as far as 
                 I'm concerned. They are not coming in. And I will back 
                 you up all the way on this a hundred percent and you 
                 tell them that. Okay? I don't want Johnson or any of 
                 them to set as much as one toe inside our house. 

                           ANNIE GLENN

                           JOHN GLENN
                 You tell them that astronaut John Glenn told you to 
                 say that. (Laughing) All right?

                           ANNIE GLENN
                          (Laughing, relieved) 

                           JOHN GLENN
                 I'll talk to you in a little while.

                           HEAD OF PROGRAM
                    (angrily picks up the receiver)
                 Can't do that John. The Vice President is the head of 
                 the programme. You've got to think of the broader 
                 interests of this project. 

                           JOHN GLENN
                 You're WAY out of line here.

                           HEAD OF PROGRAM
                 I'm out of line?

                           JOHN GLENN
                 YES SIR!

                           HEAD OF PROGRAM
                 I'm running this show here.

                           JOHN GLENN
                 We'll see about that.

                           HEAD OF PROGRAM

                 Yeah? Well I'm thinking of changing the order of 
                 flight assignments.

                           DEKE SLAYTON
                 Oh yeah? Who you gonna get?

                           HEAD OF PROGRAM
                 Who am I gonna get?

                           SCOTT CARPENTER
                 You heard what he said.

         The head of program realises he's inches from a mutiny.

                           HEAD OF PROGRAM
                 Just take it easy, fellas.

                           ALAN SHEPHERD
                 Step aside, pal.

I love that scene.

During Glenn’s orbits, fellow astronaut Gordo Cooper has gone to Australia to use one of their radio telescopes so they can keep in contact with Glenn as he’s orbiting. He meets one of the locals. “See that old bloke over there? He knows the moon. He knows the stars. He knows the Milky Way.” He’s played by David Gulpilil, seemingly the only Aborigine actor Hollywood ever cast.

While Glenn is orbiting the Earth, there are various technical issues, and these are intercut with the Aborigines around a campfire, and as the sparks from the campfire are rising in the night, Glenn sees strange lights outside his capsule.

After Glenn’s flight and dramatic re-entry, the film can’t resist returning to see what Chuck Yeager is doing, and intercuts him taking another dangerous test flight with the astronauts being entertained by a naked woman doing a fan dance. I think William Goldman was right when he observed that Philip Kaufman was far more interested in Yeager and test pilots than he was the astronauts. The scene is played to make us think that this might be Yeager’s last flight, as he has to eject and falls from the sky, but when the ambulance arrives at the crash site, he’s walking away from it.

I’ve definitely grown fonder of this movie over time. I think the first time I saw it, I was a bit bored by it, but now I can really enjoy it. I ought to, as I’m a sucker for space movies, Apollo 13 being my favourite film of all time. One hundred per cent.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 6th January 1988 – 22:20 (Not Christmas but definitely new year)

After this, there’s a look at programmes for tomorrow.

There’s some Weather, then a public information film on electric blankets.

Then BBC1 closes down.

Star Trek – tape 86

Three more Third Season Star Trek episodes now. A bit of trivia for you. Know how to tell which season you’re watching just from the title sequence? Season One has Yellow titles, just the title Star Trek, and DeForrest Kelley isn’t credited. Season Two has ‘Created by Gene Roddenberry’ on the main title (still yellow) and Kelley gets a credit. The third season has blue titles. You might notice a bit of tape noise on this tape.

First, The Enterprise Incident. Kirk is behaving strangely, which culminates in him ordering the Enterprise into the Neutral Zone, only for them to be suddenly surrounded by Romulans. I’ve no idea why the production team used Klingon models for the ships – had they lost their Romulan models? They have to make a mention of it in the dialog too, “The Romulans are now using Klingon designs,” so the fans won’t write in.

Kirk and Spock have to beam over to the Romulan ship to negotiate with the Romulan commander, and they find that the commander is a woman. Kirk’s slight leer is a bit creepy.

But it’s Spock she’s after, as Vulcans and Romulans have shared heritage. And Spock’s honesty in his testimony leaves Kirk in the brig for espionage. And he’s so angry that when Spock and the commander visit him, he hurls himself at Spock, who administers the Vulcan Death Grip. Dr McCoy is there, and declares him dead.

But reports of his death were greatly exaggerated, as there’s no such thing as the Vulcan Death Grip. It was all a ruse to get Spock on the right side of the Romulans, and now Kirk is going undercover as a Romulan to steal their cloaking device.

Meanwhile Spock and the Romulan commander get physical in a let’s touch hands a lot way. Except not in this broadcast, where the entire scene of Spock and the commander getting close is missing. So we miss the scene where she ‘slips into something more comfortable’ as seen here. I really wish they could have had a woman commander and done anything other than ‘falling in love with the star’.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 13th March 1986 – 18:00

Before the next episode, there’s a trailer for Brass Tacks.

Then, The Paradise Syndrome. An asteroid is heading for an idyllic planet, and a population which has a spooky similarity to Native American people. Or “American Indians” as McCoy calls them. The population are actually descended from native Americans, brought to this planet by unknown aliens generations ago.

Kirk is looking at a strange obelisk near to the village when he falls through a hatch and is zapped by Space Lightning.

He wakes up without his memory, and is found by a woman from the local tribe, Miramanee. What follows is a not particularly woke story of White Saviourhood, as he’s proclaimed as a god (because he came from the obelisk) and especially when he saves the life of a small boy with mouth to mouth (although no CPR, I notice. Well, Staying Alive hadn’t been written yet). I guess the leg pumping thing he’s doing would have had a small effect of moving blood.

It all proceeds fairly predictably, as another of the tribe is jealous that Kirk has taken his place as the village wise man, and also fallen in love with Miramanee, and in the end they work out that the obelisk is an asteroid deflector, thus saving the planet.

And Miramanee gets to be another woman who falls in love with Kirk and drops dead shortly afterwards. Talk about Toxic Masculinity.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 20th March 1986 – 18:00

Finally on this tape, And The Children Shall Lead. This is one of those episodes that I remember from way back when I first watched it. Who wouldn’t remember the one where the kids could control the adults just with a few fist pumps?

Landing on a planet, the landing party find all the adults of a colony dead. But the children seem curiously unaffected by the deaths. All they want to do is play.

The children are led by Tommy Starnes, played by a young actor called Craig Huxley. This name sounded familiar, so I looked it up, and he’s the same Craig Huxley who has a music credit at the end of Star Trek III for ‘Genesis Project’.

I feel I have to point out that the flag for the United Federation of Planets is really shit. I mean, look at it.

When they’re alone, the kids sing a creepy nursery rhyme, and summon the ‘Friendly Angel’ who was the one who killed all the adults. He gives the children the power to control the crew, and take the ship to a planet with millions of people he can control. He should definitely be on a register.

There’s a dark scene when Kirk transports two security men to the surface of the planet, unaware that the children have taken the ship out of orbit, so the men have just been transported into space. I’d have hoped that the transporter would have had a failsafe for that.

The children make Kirk think he’s losing his ability to command. Things get dramatic in the turbolift.

But he defeats his demons, and then summons the ‘angel’ to the bridge, and shows the kids what happened to their parents. There’s a lot of crying. It’s like me watching, well, almost anything, frankly. (We went to see How To Train Your Dragon 3 last week, and I was sobbing by the end. My children find it funny.)

And the Angel reveals his true self, because evil always looks ugly.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 27th March 1986 – 18:00

The tape ends just after this episode.

Marathon Man – tape 65

Marathon Man is another of those films that has given a scene to popular culture that probably eclipses its own memory. It becomes famous for that one scene, and the rest of the film is seemingly forgotten, which is a shame, as this remains a great example of the 70s paranoid thriller.

I’d forgotten how it started. An old man (we later learn he’s German) gets something from a safety deposit box, and hands it off to someone else like a spy as he leaves. But then, he’s driving and his car stalls, and an old Jewish man comes up behind him, already cross because his car is overheating. He starts shouting at him to move, and the German man yells ‘Jude’ at him, rather inflaming the situation, and there’s an odd, slightly comic scene of these two old men driving down a New York street screaming at each other from their cars.

Until they run into a fuel truck.

Roy Scheider has recently returned to the US. From his general demeanour, it’s not hard to guess he’s a spy of some kind. He visits an antique shop, which gets blown up just after he leaves.

Meanwhile, Dustin Hoffman is running around Central Park almost getting into fights with other runners.

He’s a college, studying history. One of his professors is Fritz Weaver. They talk briefly about Hoffman’s father, and there’s flashbacks to his suicide, apparently because he was accused of something during the McCarthy era.

Scheider meets with William Devane, a colleague.

Then meets with a contact at the Opera. He’s a bit too late.

Then, next morning, he’s attacked in his hotel room by a man with a garotte. This film isn’t stinting on the spurting blood.

Hoffmann really awful with women. He meets a woman in the library, then steals her book so he can contrive to return it to her. Amazingly, this behaviour gets him a date, not a restraining order. The woman is Elsa, a Swiss sudent, played by Marthe Heller.

Now we’re in South America, and there’s Lawrence Olivier. We don’t know who he is yet, but he’s preparing to travel, and cutting his hair.

Scheider visits Hoffman because they’re brothers, Hoffman has no idea Scheider is a spy. Scheider taes him and Elsa to lunch, and things get awkward when Scheider grills Elsa about her Swiss home, and exposes that she’s not Swiss but German.

Scheider and Olivier meet. Olivier wants to now if he can trust Scheider, but Scheider doesn’t tell him what he needs to know, so Olivier shockingly stabs him with a retractable blade. He’s not a nice man.

Scheider manages to drag himself to Hoffman’s apartment, where he finally expires. Devane talks to him about what he knows. Then, later, some men break into the apartment and kidnap Hoffman, bringing him to Olivier. Setting up one of the most iconic scenes in film history, as Olivier proceeds to use his sills as a dentist to torture Hoffman, all the while asking “Is it safe?” Hoffman has no idea what he’s talking about.

After some root work, Hoffman is left to rest on a cot, and in comes William Devane, to rescue him. There follows a scene where Devane dumps a whole lot of exposition, but it plays OK because he’s talking very fast, and driving, so the scene feels pacey. Olivier is Szell, a former dentist in a concentration camp, nown to the prisoners as ‘Der Weisse Engel’ (The White Angel) due to his distinctive white hair (which Olivier shaved off at the start). He’s there to pick up diamonds he had stolen from the Jewish prisoners, but needs to know that nobody is waiting to catch him at the bank and steal the diamonds. And after all this infodumping, it has a brilliant capper, as Devane realises Hoffman has no information for him, and stops the car, only for Hoffman to realise he’s back where they started.

Because you thought that short scene of dental torture was all there was. Ho ho, you’re so wrong.

Hoffman manages to escape, but Olivier and Devane are watching his apartment, so he gets the hoodlums who live across the street to go to and steal him some clothes from his apartment, leading to an amusing scene where Devane threatens them, and they don’t give a shit.

The only other person in New York he knows is Elsa, who picks him up and takes him to a house out of town. But by now he knows she’s setting him up. Sure enough, the house belonged to Olivier’s brother, who was the German who was killed in the geriatric road rage incident at the start of the movie, and the reason why Olivier is in the country at all. And Devane turns up, but Hoffman threatens to shoot Elsa, so he’s able to negotiate. But one of the Germans with Devane gets itchy and pulls a gun, and there’s some shooting, but Devane shoots the other German then puts his gun down, and offers to let Hoffman go if he’ll steal the diamonds from Olivier and split them. But as Hoffman leaves, Devane tries to shoot him, but Elsa stops him, and gets shot herself for her troubles. And Hoffman shoots Devane for good measure.

Olivier visits the diamond district to find out how much his stash of diamonds is likely to go for. It’s an uncomfortable scene, as the diamond dealers are largely Jewish, and the scenes are shot to show Olivier’s discomfort (probably hatred) for the people. There’s a pointed moment in a small shop where one of the men asks if he’s met him before as he recognises him, and we catch a close-up of the man’s wrist, with a tattooed number. Which you can barely see in this recording, but it’s clear on the version I watched online.

Then there’s an electric scene, as a woman who had noticed Olivier waling down the street realises who it is, and keeps shouting to people to stop him, from the other side of the street, and Olivier walks faster and faster, until the woman crosses the street and is struck by a car, distracting the crowds.

But Olivier isn’t out of the woods, as the man who recognised him in the shop has caught up with him and calls him out, but this time Olivier is ready with his wristblade, and slashes the man’s throat, another gory attack.

But now Olivier has escaped the crowds, and goes to collect his diamonds. He’s almost overcome as he realises quite how many he has, and how much they are worth.

But as he’s leaving the ban, Hoffman is there, with a gun, and he takes him to Central Park, to a water treatment building, where Hoffman tells Olivier that he can take as many diamonds as he can swallow. It’s a stand-off that ends with Olivier falling down a spiral staircase, stabbing himself with his own blade, then falling in the water.

The thriller aspects of this film are still compelling, and the background of the holocaust lends it a lot of weight. Oddly, I feel the weakest aspect of the film is Hoffman. He doesn’t get to do much except be a bit whiny, and a bit stalkerish. And his defining trait – he’s the Marathon Man – is even undercut when he admits to Elsa that he’s yet to run a full marathon. I guess in the 70s there weren’t as many people accepted to run things lie the New York Marathon.

After this, there’s a short bit of Magnum PI before the tape ends. I always laugh when I see the Magnum title sequence, as I remember Tom Berenger in The Big Chill, playing JT Lancer.


  • Heinz Salad Cream
  • Ross Stir Fry
  • St Ivel Shape
  • British Telecom
  • Bug Gun – Robbie Coltrane Ron Bain
  • Gillette Blue II
  • Goodyear – Harry Secombe
  • Coca Cola
  • A Diamond is Forever
  • Heinz All Seasons
  • Tendale
  • Barclaycard
  • Bird’s Eye Captain’s Table
  • VitBe Hi-Bran
  • Elmlea
  • Pizzaland
  • Tonino
  • AA Travel
  • Barclaycard – Alan Whicker
  • Pizza Hut
  • Marmite
  • Bug Gun – Robbie Coltrane Ron Bain
  • Leyland Trucks
  • Zanussi
  • Lucozade – Daley Thompson
  • Bradford & Bingley – Fagin
  • Avon
  • Bovril
  • Falstaff
  • Calgon
  • Lamot
  • trail: Errol Flynn: My Wicked Wicked Ways
  • Tonino
  • Exchange & Mart
  • Gillette Blue II
  • Crown Paints
  • SupaSnaps
  • Goodyear – Harry Secombe
  • Just Juice
  • trail: ITV Athletics