The Entertainment Biz – The South Bank Show – tape 2800

Jumping forward quite a bit now, to 1998, and a tape that opens with the end of Have I Got News For You featuring Greg Dyke

and Jack Docherty.

After this, there’s a bumper trailer for comedy and entertainment programmes, including Never Minds the Buzzcocks, How Do You Want Me, Goodness Gracious Me and If I Ruled the World.

Then, the first episode of The Entertainment BizOscar Day/Oscar Night.

This is in the same vein as The Music Biz, and has plenty of celebrity interviews. Strap in, there are tons of pictures in this one. So many famous people. Here’s Quentin Tarantino

James Woods talks about hearing about being nominated.

The lovely Brenda Blethyn had to wait to hear about her nomination on camera.

Billy Bob Thornton

Cuba Gooding Jr

Samuel L Jackson

Marianne Jean-Baptiste talks about being offered yellow diamonds to wear on the night. “I haven’t even seen a yellow diamond.”

Geena Davis

Frances McDormand

Dustin Hoffman

Mike Leigh looking like he’d rather be anywhere else.

Lynn Redgrave

Faye Dunaway

Goldie Hawn

Diane Keaton

Tom Hanks

Mel Gibson

Whoopi Goldberg

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 15th February 1998 – 21:30

There’s a trailer for Trouble at the Top about Gerald Ratner.

Then a trailer for Late Night Fridays, featuring Is It Bill Bailey? the awkwardly billed Lee and Herring In This Morning With Richard Not JudyComedy Nation and Later with Jools Holland.

Then there’s the start of The Friday Night Armistice. I’m really hoping I recorded these on their initial broadcast, because otherwise this episode turning off after a minute or two is painful.

Recording switches to the end of an ITN news report, with a bunch of people sounding very unimpressed at the installation of the Angel of the North.

There’s a South Bank Show on Nigel Kennedy.

Very interesting, even if Bragg doesn’t push him on his fabricated ‘man of the people’ accent.

Then recording switches to BBC2. There’s a trailer for new comedy show If I Ruled The World.

There’s also a trailer for Our Mutual Friend.

Then, another episode of The Entertainment Biz called One Night Stand-Up. As you might have guessed, it’s looking at the world of Stand Up Comedy. Contributions this time from Greg Proops

Rich Hall

The programme specifically follows three comedians – Proops, US megastar Jackie Mason

and ‘Irish newcomer’ Ed Byrne.

Here’s Hattie Hayridge.

There’s some other famous names on that booking screen – Al Murray, Andrew Maxwell, Andre Vincent, Dave Spikey, Jim Tavare.

Here’s Donna McPhail

And Robin Williams talks about the time he followed Lenny Henry at a small comedy club, and totally died.

BBC Genome:BBC Two – 22nd February 1998 – 21:30

Recording switches to the end of If I Ruled The World featuring Tony Hawks

Graeme Garden

Jeremy Hardy

Maria McErlane

and host Clive Anderson

Richard Osman was creating TV formats even back then.

After this, there’s a trailer for the Dylan Moran comedy How Do You Want Me?

There’s also a trailer for a Michael Caine night.

Then, more from the Entertainment Biz with Celebrity. It shares with previous episodes many interview subjects, but here are some of the new faces.

Martin Sheen

Richard Dreyfuss

Bruce Willis

A Paparazzi agent sounds exactly as vile you’d expect her to sound. “You wouldn’t believe the shots we get with our long lenses.”

Johnny Depp

Winona Ryder, on being told about an open casting call the programme filmed, looking for Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder types for a new John Hughes film. “I didn’t know they were looking for a new me. Already.”

Matt Dillon is emphatic that there could only be one Matt Dillon. I’d offer that maybe that’s too many.

Nora Ephron

Anthony Minghella

Alan Parker

Catherine Deneuve

In a segment about young actors being compared to stars of old, Ed Norton

Natalie Portman

and Viggo Mortensen

Leonardo DiCaprio

Claire Danes

Drew Barrymore

Carrie Fisher

Will Smith

Greta Scacchi

Wesley Snipes

Pierce Brosnan

Richard E Grant

Matthew McConaughey

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 1st March 1998 – 21:30

After this, there’s a trailer for a season of four films, Obsessions.

Then, the tape plays out with the start of a Moviedrome presentation of Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows with an introduction from Mark Cousins.

The tape ends shortly into the film.

Adverts:

  • trail: World In Action on a new Hillsborough Enquiry
  • Renault Scenic
  • The TImes
  • Flora Buttery
  • HP Deskjet
  • Nizoral
  • Sanatogen
  • Cyprus
  • Vision Express
  • Daihatsu Terios
  • Teletext

Sleepwalkers – tape 1681

Over to the Movie channel, and Sleepwalkers. It’s a low budget movie, and it’s written by Stephen King. Could be good.

It’s directed by Mick Garris. Let’s set our expectations appropriately, shall we?

The film starts with a definition of what the film thinks a Sleepwalker is.

So it’s shape-shifting vampire cat people who murder virgin women. Gotcha.

‘Virginal human females’ sounds a bit like a phrase that might be written by a sweaty man living in a basement writing long manifestos about how unfair it is that women won’t sleep with him. Exactly the kind of person who’d be writing an encyclopaedia of arcane knowledge.

And if they’re part feline, why are they vulnerable to the ‘deadly scratch of the cat’? When has a cat’s scratch ever been deadly? I’m sure this will all make sense.

The action opens in Bodega Bay, California, which was also the setting of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.

“Sheriff, what do you think happened?” “I don’t know, but somebody sure doesn’t like cats.”

Edit: Thanks to Victor Field for pointing out that I totally missed Mark Hamill as the cop on the right. How could I have missed that?

Mark Hamill

In the house, they find the desiccated body of a young girl with a rose in her hair. And the couple who owned the house are missing.

Alice Krige plays one of the missing couple, Mary Brady.

Her partner, Charles, is a young blond man who calls her mother, but they don’t behave like mother and son. His hobbies are setting traps for cats and cutting his arm. He’s exactly the kind of bland, blond actor whom you forget about even while you’re watching him.

We also meet Madchen Amick as Tanya, who works in a cinema that doesn’t appear to be able to afford a vacuum cleaner, as she’s first seen cleaning the carpets with a Bissell sweeper and dancing around to a very old song (maybe the clearance rights were cheaper).

Charles interrupts her, to buy some popcorn. He’s in her English class, apparently, and new in town.

The English teacher is played by Glenn Shadix.

He’s suspicious of Charles, and confronts him with the information that he knows he didn’t transfer from a school in Ohio. Charles retaliates by cutting his hand off then chasing him through the woods and killing him. Pity he chose to confront him in the middle of nowhere rather than at school with lots of witnesses.

Later, he’s chased by a policeman, who happens to have a pet cat in his car, and when Charles sees the cat, his face goes all morphy.

But another of his magic powers is to make his car invisible, so he gets away. He can also make his car look like a different car. These are all reasonable powers for an ancient egyptian cat-person vampire demon.

His mother needs him to procure Tanya (a virgin) so they can feed, so he goes with her on a date to a graveyard. The graveyard is her choice, as she wants to photograph gravestones. Then he gets very rapey, so she bashes him with her camera, but now he’s seemingly unconscious, rather than get away and call for help, she immediately gets worried about him, allowing the film to get a cheap jump scare as he’s not really dead or unconscious.

It’s trying to be cool and ironic, with Charles quipping all the time, but this is dire stuff.

The policeman spots the car, which has, for no reason that we’re given, transformed back into its original form, and is just in time to fail to rescue Tanya. He gets a pencil in the ear for his trouble, then shot. Luckily, his cat is on hand to attack Charles.

We’re treated to a veritable smorgasbord of cameos in the next scene, as the police investigate the attack scene. I’ve spotted Stephen King (no surprise).

That’s Tobe Hooper on the right, director of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Salem’s Lot.

And here’s novelist and director Clive Barker.

Ron Perlman is a state trooper.

Another couple of pointless director cameos, with John Landis

And Joe Dante

Mother Brady comes after Tanya, easily defeating the deputy who’s supposed to protect her by stabbing him with a corn on the cob. I’m not lying.

The police in general are rubbish. Mrs Brady is dragging Tanya from the house by the hair, and Ron Perlman tells her to ‘put the girl down’. She bites off his fingers and breaks his arm. Then she’s able to make both police cars explode just by shooting them.

I feel rather sorry for Madchen Amick in this. She seems to spend all her time being smacked in the face, either by Charles or his mother. And Ron Perlman, before he got his fingers bitten off, said, of Amick, “The little girl needs a good smack on the butt. And if her Momma and Daddy won’t do it, I’ll happily volunteer.”

Mother and Son try to feed off of Tanya, but the Sheriff arrives to distract them, and Tanya gets in a good eye-poking, in between all the screaming she’s asked to do.

The Sheriff is about as useless at protecting her as the rest of the police we’ve seen. They get out of the house, but she grabs his, throwa him into the garden, where he gets his hand caught in one of the animal traps they’ve laid for the cats.

Talking of the cats, while Tanya spends vital minutes failing to start a car, all the neighbourhood cats that have congregated on the lawn finally attack Mrs Brady (now thoroughly in rubber monster form) and scratch her so much that she bursts into flame.

To be fair to this, there’s one good shot, as Tanya is about to reverse away, as the burning Mrs Brady jumps on the windscreen to berate her for killing her son. OK, so the optical effects might not be perfect, but it’s not bad. And it’s good we get to see Alice Krige one last time, rather than a stuntman in a rubber suit.

There’s a song playing as the credits roll, and I’m thinking that someone’s trying to do an Enya knock-off. Turns out it’s Enya herself. It has a pleasing John Carpenter vibe.

This is possibly the worst film I’ve seen in a very long time. I know I’ve snarked at Mick Garris before, but this is truly execrable. There’s some ludicrously bad performances, particularly from some of the policemen, and the dialogue in general is awful.

Alice Krige, on the other hand, is rather brilliant, giving the material far more effort than it warrants. Madchen Amick is charming enough, but given nothing but screaming to do. For such a good novelist, Stephen King is an amazingly bad screenwriter. It’s so puzzling.

After this, there’s a trailer for Sky’s Vampire Weekend featuring Trevor and Simon. It’s got a better screenplay than Sleepwalkers.

After a few adverts, recording stops, and underneath there’s part of a documentary about Chairman Mao. After ten minutes of this, the tape stops.

Adverts:

  • BT
  • Sun Diswasher
  • Johnson’s pH 5.5
  • Gillette Gel
  • Hoover/Ariel
  • Center Parcs
  • Cadbury’s Dairy Milk – Katy Carmichael
  • Pringles

The Simpsons – Star Trek – Deep Space Nine – A Very Peculiar Practice – tape 2017

Well, it’1 2017, and here’s tape 2017. Not sure what that signifies.

I had some deja vu flipping through this tape, because some of it looked familiar, and I worried this was a tape I digitised twice, but it’s not.

First on the tape, The Simpsons and Who Shot Mr Burns. Here’s a Giant Mr Burns rampaging through Springfield.

Speaking of giants rampaging through the city, there are two adverts that have been playing at around this time. One for Impulse, the other for Fiat Punto, and they both rip off the same Rolling Stones video (which was directed by David Fincher) which had the band dancing around New York as giants. I know the advertising industry is notoriously barren of original ideas, but this must have been particularly embarrassing. I’d love to show you both of them, but the Fiat Punto ad is blocked by YouTube so here’s the Impulse one.

Luckily, Fiat have put an Italian version of theirs on YouTube.

Meanwhile, the recording continues with the start of Beverly Hills 90210, then switches to Deep Space Nine and the reason this tape looked familiar. It’s part one of a story called Past Tense, and when I looked at part two a while back, I watched this episode in preparation.

But it never hurts to have another picture of Dick Miller on the blog.

After this episode, recording continues briefly into an episode of Renegade, the one where everyone has long hair.

Then, recording switches to UK Gold and the end of an episode of the Trevor Eve bonkfest A Sense of Guilt. Here’s Jim Carter looking sad.

Then, another episode of A Very Peculiar Practice, series 2, episode 6: The Big Squeeze.

There’s a tiny appearance from a young Mark Addy (second from right).

The Vice Chancellor is rather keen to close the English department, so he’s looking for a way to oust the head of department George Bunn, played by James Grout.

After this, recording switches to another episode of Deep Space Nine. Kira’s fancy man Vedek Bareil is injured on a transport, and dies on the operating table. But due to some technobabble, Bashir is able to revive him.

He’s supposed to be negotiating a peace treaty, along with Kai Winn, played by Louise Fletcher.

As the negotiations go on, his body starts failing, and by the end of the show he’s dead, although he did get the negotiations settled.

After this, recording continues for a short while with the start of an episode of Renegade. Then the tape ends.

Adverts:

  • Asda
  • UK Gold
  • McDonalds – Batman Forever
  • trail: School’s Out for Summer
  • trail: Law & Order
  • Kodak Fun Camera
  • Coca Cola
  • Stork Rich Blend
  • Viennetta
  • First Knight in cinemas
  • Cadbury’s Animals
  • Smash Hits 2
  • trail: Boxing
  • trail: The Simpsons
  • Chartbusters
  • Anchor Spray Cream
  • Original Sun Lolly
  • Biactol
  • Colgate
  • Impulse – Giants
  • Oasis
  • trail: Deep Space Nine/Renegade
  • Asda
  • trail: Sky Sports
  • trail: Fire
  • Viennetta
  • Asda
  • Impulse – Giants
  • Orangina
  • trail: Voyage
  • trail: Law & Order
  • Budweiser
  • Ariel
  • Family Channel
  • Gino Ginelli
  • trail: Sky Sports
  • trail: Quantum Leap
  • Drinking and Driving
  • Doritos
  • UK Gold
  • Fiat Punto – Giants
  • trail: Tombstone
  • trail: The Simpsons
  • Doritos
  • Army Soldier
  • Family Channel
  • Lenor
  • Orangina
  • trail: Movies in August
  • trail: Van der Valk
  • trail: Miami Vice
  • trail: Match of the Day
  • Fiat Coupe
  • Daily Mail
  • Orangina
  • Bradford & Bingley
  • Impulse – Giants
  • Oil of Ulay
  • Monster Munch
  • The Singles Network
  • Mars Miniatures
  • Mum
  • Johnson’s pH 5.5
  • PAL
  • Pantene
  • Bran Flakes
  • Somerfield
  • Tetley
  • Mars Miniatures
  • Budweiser
  • Wash & Go
  • Volvo
  • Slim-Fast – Steve Steen
  • Boots
  • Inland Revenue
  • Bran Flakes
  • Viennetta
  • trail: Guilty as Sin
  • BT
  • Persil
  • Hula Hoops
  • Johnson’s Baby Lotion
  • trail: The Trial of OJ Simpson
  • trail: Tomorrow on Sky
  • Coca Cola
  • Stork Rich Blend
  • Surf
  • Zovirax
  • Fiat Punto – Giants
  • KFC
  • trail: Copa America
  • trail: The Simpsons
  • Colgate
  • Persil
  • I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter
  • Capri-Sun
  • Daily Mirror
  • Domestos
  • trail: Another Stakeout
  • trail: Fire
  • Lenor
  • Peperami
  • Sure
  • Natural Woman
  • Persil
  • trail: Boxing
  • trail: Quantum Leap
  • trail: Sky News
  • Hula Hoops
  • Ariel
  • Fiat Punto
  • Viennetta
  • trail: Malice
  • trail: Tomorrow on Sky
  • Budweiser

The X Files – Michael Moore’s TV Nation – tape 2123

This tape opens with the end of a holiday programme, featuring Gordon Kennedy.

There’s a trailer for the Love Bites series of films.

Then, The X-Files. It’s the second episode of season 2. The X Files have been closed, and Mulder is getting all the shitty cases, literally, when he’s sent to investigate a dead body dumped into a sewer. He thinks it’s Skinner giving him punishment jobs, but as another worker is attacked by something in the sewer, he and Scully (currently working at Quantico) think it might be giant flukes.

The attacked worker has an unpleasant experience in the shower as he pukes up a large fluke.

Mulder soon finds something much larger trapped in the sewage systems.

The Fluke Man is played by series writer Darin Morgan.

I love this era computer screenshots. Look at the size of those pixels.

Someone mysterious keeps phoning Mulder up and telling him he has to solve the case, so the X Files can be reopened. This is Mr X, the replacement for Deep Throat.

The Fluke Man turns out to be a mutation caused by Chernobyl. Because that’s how this stuff works.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 4th September 1995 – 21:00

Before the next episode, another glimpse of the Travel show, and the trailer for Love Bites.

Then, an episode called Blood. William Sanderson (JF Sebastian from Blade Runner) is a postal worker who gets a paper cut, then gets laid off.

Pretty soon he’s getting messages from his zip code machine.

Pretty soon, other people are seeing messages from common electronic devices, like the display in a lift.

Sanderson is also getting messages from cashpoint machines.

The explanation is that crop spraying has given people delusions, like LSD, but that doesn’t explain how the messages are giving the victims information that they wouldn’t have. It’s a typical winking episode – we all know it was really something UNEXPLAINABLE!

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 11th September 1995 – 21:00

Recording continues, with a trailer for Degrees of Error. Then for The Nautilus and The Deep.

Then, an episode of Michael Moore’s TV Nation. It’s Love Night, and the programme sends a mariachi band and some cheerleaders to a KKK rally. There’s a small amount of hate spewing from one of the speakers, and it’s rather revolting. Needless to say, the visitors weren’t welcomed.

Michael meets a man who has been pulled over by the police over twenty times.

He send the TV Nation Gay Men’s Chorus to visit noted homophobe Jesse Helms.

36% of college graduates think that there are virtually no female serial killers because “women just aren’t aggressive enough”.

He meets Norm, of the Michigan Militia. He believes that there’s too much anti-terrorist legislation.

There’s an odd piece on depressed towns building aquariums.

BBC Genome:

After this, a trailer for Rick Stein’s Taste of the Sea.

Then, the recording continues with Newsnight, but it soon stops, and there’s another recording underneath.

It’s nothing interesting, though. Just 35 minutes of darts. I’m reminded of that scene in An American Werewolf in London, when David’s stuck at home with nothing to do, and he flips through the TV, all he gets is a testcard, an advert for the Sun (a fake one) and darts. The tape ends during this thrilling programme.

The Day Today – tape 1686

Ah, it’s The Day Today.

I remember vividly seeing the first trailer for this, and getting almost to the end before I realised it wasn’t actually a trailer for an actual news programme. I’m sure there were plenty who never realised.

It’s a TV offshoot from Radio 4’s On The Hour, and it’s not hyperbole to say that it literally changed the face of TV news presentation.

Its manic graphics were so ridiculous and over the top, and yet, in the intervening years since it went out, news presentation has become more and more like this programme. I’m convinced that it’s used as a training piece for aspiring motion graphics designers – can anyone confirm this?

Actually, I can confirm it myself – on the DVD for the programme, there’s an Open University programme about writing for News, in which the BBC is literally using The Day Today as part of their training for new journalists.

The production is meticulous. The recurring pieces from ‘CBN’s Barbara Wintergreen’ have that trademark NTSC smeary colour that was a trademark of US news broadcasts. It wasn’t a joke that NTSC stood for Never Twice Same Colour.

There’s an interesting edit in the DVD of this first Wintergreen sketch – towards the end, when Chapman Baxter is about to be executed, a US Marine (played by Ricco Ross) is singing ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight’ on the original BBC broadcast, but on the DVD, presumably for rights clearance reasons, he’s singing some mashup lyrics – “Are you lonesome tonight? Love me tender, Hound Dog. Blue Suede Shoes…” and the tune has become the tune for The Star Spangled Banner. I think that’s actually a funnier joke myself.

I like the non sequitur in the credits each week. This Week: Bootsie Collins

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 19th January 1994 – 21:00

Before the next episode, there’s the end of Building Sights. Also trailers for the Winter Olympics and Middlemarch.

More Day Today, with a rare appearance on the show from producer Armando Iannucci

This episode features one of my favourite phrases. “Proof if proof be need be…”

Plus Peter O’Hanarha-hanrahan and the German Finance Minister.

Hey, it’s Harfynn Teuport.

And Sukie Bapswent.

The RokTV segment is brilliant, notably because all the characters are played by Chris Morris. Here he is as Kurt Cobain doing the Panty Smiles song. “And the top sheet/Has a dry weave”.

And as controversial rapper Fur Q.

There’s a shot here of Radio One DJ Mark Goodier. the origin of which I found some time ago on another tape. It’s from an episode of Tomorrow’s World.

It’s interesting to note that, whilst it gets the tiniest details of TV presentation absolutely right, even The Day Today can’t do newspaper front pages that look convincing.

This week’s credit: Horses by Will Self

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 26th January 1994 – 21:00

Another bit of Building Sights before the next episode, a trailer for Middlemarch, and a bumper trailer for Friday Night programmes, including Blackadder, Red Dwarf, Fantasy Football League and The Ferguson Theory.

The next episode has the first appearance of the Bureau.

This episode also has the crisis where John Major punched the Queen, and this classic emergency broadcast.

When Princess Diana died, on the day of the funeral, I had the in-laws around to watch it with us, and I had to put this on part way through just to leaven the mood.

“In 1978 no one died.”

Credit: Thrift Funnel: George Clinton (someone likes their funk)

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 2nd February 1994 – 21:00

Before the next episode, there’s quite a long chunk of Building Sights.

There’s a trailer for The BBC Design Awards. And another Middlemarch trailer.

Then, episode 4 of The Day Today. Peter Baynham makes an appearance.

Ted Maul makes an on-screen appearance.

“Peter! You’ve lost the news!”

Alan Partridge explains the world cup groups system.

In this week’s CBN report there’s Minnie Driver.

A young Graham Linehan, one of the writing team on the show, in a Get Stuffed inspired piece on how to bury your grandad. Sorted.

Credit: Danny Baker: Hazel O’Connor

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 9th February 1994 – 21:00

In the next episode, the pound was stolen.

Paul Boateng doesn’t have an opinion on Herman the Tosser. I once voted for Paul Boateng when he was the Labour candidate in my home town. He didn’t win, though.

Travis Daveley became something of an icon to us at work. “I want a tower” became something of a catchphrase.

The Bureau goes on the road.

Kim Wilde doesn’t think the homeless should be clamped. The virtue signaller.

John Thompson is sick of the Treasury.

And yes! It’s War!

The location shooting for the war segment looks really good. They had a ball with their pyrotechnics.

What I find astounding is that all this footage was produced for the unaired pilot. It’s amazing.

Credit: Carpets: Bono

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 16th February 1994 – 21:00

The next episode, we’re told, was running 15 minutes late because of ‘sequin-clad ladies’. Ice Skating, I presume.

“Fact Me til I fart” was, allegedly, a slight variation of words uttered by an extremely famous BBC newsreader having sex in a toilet.

Doon Mackichan demonstrates the Republican Party’s healthcare plan.

Morris and Alan Partridge get friendly.

Credit: Maps: Faye Dunaway

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 23rd February 1994 – 21:00

The programme really does stand up rock solid today. If anything, it seems less of a parody now, as TV news has grown more and more ridiculous.

There’s a trailer for Friday Night Comedy after this (seen on a recent tape). Then this recording ends.

Underneath, there’s a Party Political Broadcast by the Labour Party. It’s a rare one from when John Smith was the leader.

Then, the start of Newsnight, with the war in Bosnia the lead story. There’s also a story about American radiation experiments on its citizens. This edition is from 9th February 1994. The tape runs out during this episode.

Chicago Hope – tape 2019

This tape opens with the end of the weather, and a trailer for Inside Story.

Then Chicago Hope. Jeremy Piven returns as a patient suing the hospital in a malpractice suit.

His lawyer is former patient Fyvush Finkel.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 1st July 1995 – 21:05

There’s another bit of weather before the next episode, and a trailer for Sunday’s programmes.

There’s also a trailer for Casualty.

Then, more Chicago Hope, and an episode called Cutting Edges.

Mandy Patinkin’s wife, currently in a mental hospital, tells him she wants to marry a fellow patient. So he decides he wants to give her a lobotomy.

Vondie Curtis Hall (Die Hard 2) plays a doctor who brings a young girl in for referral when he diagnoses breast cancer.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 8th July 1995 – 21:30

After this, recording continues, and there’s a trailer for Castles.

There’s a trailer for Panorama.

Then, an extra treat not marked on my database. It’s Tremors.

It’s a film that came out of nowhere, on paper looks like a low-budget monster movie that might have been playing second on the bill in a former age, but it turned out to be rather excellent.

I think there’s a couple of reasons why it’s become so beloved and they’re quite simple.

First, the cast is really good. Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward make the perfect pair, arguing all the time, but with a clear affection for each other.

But they’re surrounded by some great character actors, like Victor Wong as the owner of the local store.

Bibi Besch has a cameo as the doctor’s wife, swallowed by a worm early on.

Michael Gross, the father from Family Ties, is cast against type as a survivalist. When he and his wife manage to kill one of the worms with their considerable arsenal, Ward says “I guess we don’t get to make fun of Bert’s lifestyle any more.”

Good actors are only half the story, though. The script, written by director Ron Underwood and SS Wilson & Brent Maddock, is witty and clever. Ward and Bacon have a good line in bickering and philosophy. “We plan ahead, that way we don’t do anything right now. Earl explained it to me.”

Plus, the opening of the film is constantly setting up the clues for the threat – almost every scene has someone disturbing the ground in some way, all precursors to the way the killer worms detect people, like the little girl on her pogo stick. Who’s played by Ariana Richards, pre-Jurassic Park.

I think I should also mention that some credit probably goes to executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, who has produced some of the greatest genre films of all time.

Watching it again, I’m struck by the fact that this is a fairly traditional monster movie, but I don’t think there’s any mean-spiritedness in it at all. With a movie like this, we’re used to having it populated with a range of characters, with a fair number being fairly unpleasant. Think about, for example, The Mist, which shares quite a few structural similarities with this film. It creates much of its tension from conflict within the group, and that’s typical of a movie of this kind.

But with this movie, everyone is on the same team. They’re all pulling together, helping each other, and a fair number of them make it to the end. It’s a hugely positive movie, and I think that’s another reason why it’s so popular and well liked. We like watching nice people struggling together against outside forces beyond their control. It’s almost uplifting.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 8th July 1995 – 22:15

After this, there’s a trailer for Sunday night programmes, and one for Nicky Campbell on the radio.

Then, the tape runs out during Howard the Duck. Now there’s a Marvel property that’s overdue a reboot.

The Lenny Henry Show – tape 1707

Here’s some classic comedy from UK Gold.

There’s an appearance from Burt Kwouk as a cinema manager.

Given that they’d gone to the trouble of hiring Kwouk, I’m not sure why they felt they had to use yellowface for a Samurai sketch.

Lenny does Barry Norman

Robbie Coltrane guests in The Day They Cut Our Budget

Also Ed Bishop

and Helen Atkinson Wood.

This is the only episode on this tape – a rare short one today.

Adverts:

  • Audi
  • Philadelphia Soundtrack
  • Flymo
  • Telemillion
  • Whiskas Kitten
  • TSB
  • Glo White
  • Galaxy
  • Bird’s Eye Potato Edgers
  • Clunk Click
  • Max Factor
  • Pantene
  • Nicotinell
  • Haze
  • Somerfield/Gateway
  • trail: The Oscars