Kolchak – The Night Stalker – tape 1399

This tape starts with the end of a Moviedrome film. I have to say, I feel quite proud when I guessed the film just from the final credit that’s the first frame of the tape. Answer at the end of the blog.

There’s a trailer for the Albert Finney sort-of horror The Green Man.

Then an episode of Kolchak The Night Stalker. Something is stalking people in an area of the city populated mostly by old people. It guest stars Phil Silvers, Sgt Bilko himself.

Credit spot: This episode is written by Jimmy Sangster, writer of many classic Hammer films.

The old people are being killed by something that appears to them as something safe, like a Rabbi or a policeman. Phil Silvers thinks it’s the owner of the local Indian restaurant because he’s a hindu, and he’s seen him painting swastikas all over the neighbourhood.

The real killer is an ancient Hindu myth called a Rakshasa, who always appears as the person you most trust. So there’s a lovely climax where Kolchak, armed with the crossbow that can kill it, is slowly approached by the old lady, Emily, who works in his office, and wondering whether he can really bring himself to shoot her with the crossbow. Spoiler: He does.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 15th June 1992 – 00:05

Before the next episode there’s a trailer for Colin’s Sandwich and The Best of Saturday Night Clive.

Then, another episode of The Night Stalker called MR R.I.N.G. A robot kills its designer and goes on a rampage.

Mr R.I.N.G. is played by Craig Baxley, a stuntman who also directed the Dolph Lundgren actioner Dark Angel. I don’t know why I remember that.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 20th July 1992 – 01:05

The next episode is The Ripper. A murderer is killing women in Chicago. Kolchak thinks he’s a ripper. Perhaps the ripper. He’s up against another reporter, played by Beatrice Colen.

When the Ripper tries to attack an undercover cop, there’s a huge police effort to catch him. The stunts in this scene are quite something, with the Ripper jumping around like an acrobat. The scene is really effective.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 23rd August 1992 – 23:15

The last episode here is Demon in Lace. A female demon is stalking attractive young men.

Kristina Holland plays a young reporter.

It’s quite fun watching them try to track down which attractive man is the next victim. “He has to be an eight. Well, imagine Mick Jagger is the only nine, and Quasimodo is a two.”

It all ties in to an ancient clay tablet that’s summoning a succubus.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 5th October 1992 – 00:35

After this there’s a trail for Blackadder Goes Forth. Then BBC2 closes down, and Michaela Saunders wishes us a good night.

I’ve kept a bit of the post-closedown, because although BBC2 is not transmitting, there’s some stray broadcast from another channel.

It’s Channel 4, and a foreign language film I’ve never heard of.

The tape ends after almost 50 minutes of this riveting stuff.

Answer: That film at the start of the tape was The Serpent and the Rainbow.

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Lipstick On Your Collar – tape 1428

More episodes of Dennis Potter’s Lipstick On Your Collar. Young Francis is having dinner with his uncle and aunt, and Uncle Fred is being weird. I think this is episode 5.

Francis meets Sylvia late at night, and it seems like they’ve had some kind of connection, but she tells him he shouldn’t get involved with her (presumably because she’s married to his superior officer, played by Douglas Henshall).

And Roy Hudd is still skulking around, obsessed with Sylvia. That’s another one to tick off the Potter Bingo.

He gets so upset at being rejected by Sylvia that he drives his car at them to try to run them over, then drives off erratically, and by a massive coincidence, happens to run over Sylvia’s hubby Corporal Berry.

Ewan McGregor and girlfriend Lisa (Kim Huffman) go to the theatre to see Chekov’s The Seagull. She gets frustrated because he doesn’t appreciate it like she does. In fact, he doesn’t seem to understand a word she says. They’re not a good fit.

In the final episode, Jim Carter plays a policeman interviewing Hudd after the car collision.

In one of the interminable musical sequences, McGregor does some cosplay as Jerry Lee Lewis.

There’s a policeman who looks astonishingly like Jude Law, although iMDb doesn’t list him, so it’s not him. He’s Benedict Martin. Cursed with a name that means if you search for pictures of him, you also get a lot of pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

Oh for goodness sake. There’s a funeral scene, for Henshall’s character, and sure enough, Private Francis falls into the grave. About the biggest cliche imaginable.

But, on the plus side, Roy Hudd’s wife is played by Ysanne Churchman, a name familiar to many Doctor Who fans as the voice of Alpha Centauri, and the Spider from Planet of the Spiders.

But the funeral wasn’t a waste, because Francis meets McGregor’s intellectual ex girlfriend, and they hit it off, and so do McGregor and Sylvia. So at least there’s something of a happy ending, not that I cared about any of these characters.

I hope I’m not this grumpy when I get to The Singing Detective.

After this, the tape continues for about 40 minutes, with the start of Chicago Joe and the Showgirl with Kiefer Sutherland and Emily Lloyd. Seems thematically similar, although I’ve never seen it.

The tape ends during this film.

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Prick Up Your Ears – tape 1426

On this tape, fro,m Channel 4, Stephen Frears’ movie of Alan Bennett’s adaptation of John Lahr’s biography of the life of playwright Joe Orton, Prick Up Your Ears!

Gary Oldman plays Orton.

Alfred Molina plays his partner Kenneth Halliwell.

They met at drama school, where we see Joe auditioning with a strange scene from Peter Pan, while Halliwell strides on and starts declaiming “O, that this too too solid flesh would melt” from Hamlet. “We seem to be taking anything that moves” says one of the casting directors. “At least he’s got the coat” says the other.

The story is told in flashback after Joe has been bludgeoned to death by Halliwell, who then took his own life. It’s structured with Wallace Shawn playing biographer John Lahr.

He’s talking to Joe’s agent, Peggy Ramsay, played by Vanessa Redgrave, about Joe, and his papers, including his infamous diaries.

There’s a funny scene when Lahr’s wife Anthea, played by Lindsey Duncan, is trying to transcribe the diaries, but sections of them are in shorthand, which she doesn’t read. So she asks her mother, Joan Sanderson, to read them for her. “Then went into mother’s bedroom, arranged the dressing table mirrors, and had a lovely, long, slow wink.”

Orton’s mother was played, as was mandatory in the 1980s, by Julie Walters. Here complaining about the mess Joe makes on her bedspreads.

His sister was played by Francis Barber.

Richard Wilson appears as a prison psychiatrist, after Orton and Halliwell were sent to prison for defacing library books.

It’s a good film, and Oldman and especially Molina are excellent, bickering and tolerating each other. Orton was six years younger than Halliwell when they met, and Halliwell was definitely the more confident of the pair, and the one who wanted to be a writer. But when Orton found his voice and became the lauded playwright, Halliwell found himself demoted to Orton’s ‘personal assistant’, and the jealousy that stemmed from that failure was what eventually led to Halliwell killing Orton.

I do like the scene when Peggy Ramsay and Orton’s sister are intermingling Joe and Kenneth’s ashes. “I think I’m getting more of John than I am of Kenneth.” “It’s a gesture, dear, not a recipe.”

After this, there’s a short programme, Raising the Roof as part of Channel 4’s Gimme Shelter season about homelessness.

Then there’s an introduction by poet Roger McGough to an early Nick Broomfield documentary Behind the Rent Strike. The tape ends as the film starts.

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Cheers – tape 1424

Here’s a tape of some Cheers episodes. George Wendt again. I hope he’s keeping well.

These are from the final season. The first episode here is The Beer is Always Greener. The bar has been rebuilt after Rebecca burned it down. Carla has been working at another bar, and it doesn’t fit her personality perfectly.

Glenn Shadix plays a man boorishly hitting on Rebecca.

Woody and Kelly are married, but their new life might be threatened because they each belong to a slightly different branch of Lutherans.

The next episode is The King of Beers. A slot machine is delivered in error to the bar. Rebecca becomes a bit obsessed because everyone else seems to win from it.

Norm takes part in a survey tasting beers, and he’s so good at it they offer him a job.

It’s his perfect job.

In the next episode, The Magnificent Six, Kelly’s old French boyfriend comes to the bar, and gets into a competition with Sam as to which one can get the most phone numbers from women in the bar.

Sam sends Rebecca on a radical stop smoking course. It doesn’t help her with her habit.

In the next episode, Rebecca decides that Cheers needs a jingle so she hires a songwriter, played by John Mahoney.

Cliff’s old girlfriend Maggie comes back to reveal she’s carrying Cliff’s baby. Except that Cliff knows it’s not his because they never had sex.

Next, in Teaching With the Enemy, Frasier learns that Lilith has been having an affair, and at the end of the episode she drops the bombshell that it’s more serious than she thought, and she tells Frasier she’s leaving him.

We’re missing the next episode, so the next episode is a Thanksgiving episode. Woody’s father in law is rude to him, so he goes with Sam to get him to apologize, and walks in on him having an affair. The episode is called Ill Gotten Gaines.

Next, in Feelings… Woah, Woah, Woah Carla and John Hill, proprietor of Melville’s, are still having an affair, and he has a heart attack when they’re having sex.

There’s a guest appearance by the Kennedys at the start of the next episode.

This episode is called  Daddy’s Little Middle-Aged Girl. Robert Prosky makes a guest appearance as Rebecca’s father.

Next it’s Love Me, Love My Car in which the widow of the man who bought Sam’s corvette comes to the bar to get some information, and Sam sees the opportunity to get his car back. Dana Delany plays the wife.

That’s the last cheers episode here. The tape continues with an episode of Roseanne which, oddly, has a guest appearance from Danielle Harris, whom we last saw in Eerie Indiana. I hope she’s keeping well.

The tape ends during this episode.

Saturday Night Live – tape 1420

Gosh, I’ve got a lot of Saturday Night Live on these tapes at the moment. All edited to within an inch of their lives. I suspect the reason there’s never been any complete releases of the show is that so much of it must be fairly bad, if these highlights are the best parts.

The first episode here is hosted by Dennis Hopper. He was on an earlier tape, but this one starts with a sketch I’ve not seen, so perhaps this is a different edition. He’s talking to the Church Lady.

Roy Orbison is supplying the music. So that means this is a different edition.

The next episode is hosted by Steven Seagal. According to some on the show, Seagal was the worst guest host ever.

He actually does some music in the opening, doing a version of Kung Fu Fighting.

Talking of music there’s a charity song on behalf of free range chickens, featuring musical guest Michael Bolton. Odd that two guests with such notoriously bad haircuts would clash on the same show.

Seagal does try to play along, playing Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay in a sketch with Chris Rock. He’s not very good at reading his lines from the cue cards.

The next episode is an older one, featuring Steve Martin as host.

Musical guests are The Blues Brothers.

Back to Sky One. The cold open has Dennis Miller saying it’s his last show.

George Wendt is hosting

Music from Elvis Costello, his second appearance in as many tapes. I hope he’s keeping well.

The next episode is hosted by Jeff Daniels

He does an uncanny impression of Jay Leno in a Johnny Carson sketch.

Music from Color me Badd.

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Harry Enfield’s Guide To Opera – tape 1423

Here’s a few episodes of Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse trying to explain the appeal of Opera in a non-threatening way for football fans.

It’s not a bad show, with some extended excerpts from some of the popular operas, and Harry gets to talk to some of the real starts, like Placido Domingo.

In part two, there’s a disagreement over whether operas should be presented in updated settings. Dame Joan Sutherland thinks not.

Lesley Garrett likes the updated productions.

 

Other performers interviewed include June Anderson

Harry and Paul don’t have a high opinion of Italian pop music.

The expert in this series is Paul Daniel, musical director of Opera North.

Jose Carreras talks about seeing The Great Caruso in the cinema, and how it made him want to be a singer. As did Placido Domingo and even Pavarotti.

Joan Rodgers talks about Maria Callas.

Elvis Costello talks about whether modern music means Opera has less value.

I can’t help but think this whole programme basically exists so that Paul Whitehouse can show off how great he is at singing opera.

After the last episode, there’s the start of a programme called Cardboard Citizens. The tape ends after this starts.

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Saturday Night Live – Just For Laughs – Film 93 – tape 1427

This tape starts with some Black and White titles for Doctor Who, and then switches almost immediately to Saturday Night Live. It always makes me sad when I find this, even though I can pretty much guarantee that it was because the DW story was something I had on commercial VHS, and these were only UK Gold recordings.

So on to Saturday Night Live. It opens with a Wayne’s World segment. Tom Hanks plays Garth’s cousin Barry, who is a roadie for Aerosmith.

Aerosmith are waiting in Wayne’s Breakfast Nook.

After this recording switches to an episode of Just for Laughs. It’s hosted by Paul Merton.

Stephanie Hodge

Dave Chappelle

Carrot Top – recently voted comedian of the year. Hmmm.

Owen O’Neill

Margaret Cho

“A truly international act”, Leo Bassey

Sister Mary Immaculate, as performed by Caroline Ahearne.

Punt and Dennis

Weird Magic act Rudy Coby.

Jeremy Hardy

Lea DeLaria

And Lee Evans

After this, recording switches to BBC1 for more Film 93, and Barry Norman’s reviews of the following films:

There’s a report on the aerial photography on Cliffhanger.

There’s also a slightly creepy interview by Tom Brook with Sharon Stone.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 6th September 1993 – 23:05

There’s another episode of Film 93 wherein Barry reviews:

There’s a report from Tom Brook on films being shot in Toronto.

There’s also a location report on Michael Winner’s Dirty Weekend.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 13th September 1993 – 23:00

In another episode, the films under review are:

There’s a report from the Museum of the Moving Image’s fifth birthday. I used to love MOMI, I wish it was still there.

There’s a location report for Mr Wonderful.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 20th September 1993 – 23:00

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