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Showing posts from November, 2015

Ghost Stories for Christmas: Stigma

Pagan. Now there's a word which gets a hammering all round and is taken up and run with by all sorts of people. Its etymology is Latin, of course, from the word for fields, and it means people of the fields. It's a Latin way of saying country bumpkin, and was coined at the time Christianity was a spreading urban religion to refer to the unbaptised hordes who stuck to their previous Pagan ways. Similarly Christmas is a festival argued over by all sorts of people, and it seems strangely suitable that I should be reviewing this story of alleged Pagan remnants from this box set  of ghost stories for Christmas. I may or may not write about the others, which are in the main adaptations of MR James's marvellous stories, but I've chosen to start with this one since I find, reading the reviews of the internet, it gets widely criticised for not being a ghost story. It seems to me that it can be considered a ghost story, it's about a ghost of a different sort from t

Apartheid in The Prisoner: It's Your Funeral

In so many ways, this episode is a no-brainer when looking for possible allusions to South African apartheid. The level of surveillance in The Village rivals anything Botha's government could later have thought up. The laying of traps using the sophisticated methods of corrupt medicine. The use of technology to monitor events. The activities of the 'jammers' are not dissimilar to the method of keeping your opponent busy which I delineated in my last post in this series. But what particularly catches my interest in this episode is the activities prognosis on Number 6. Even though he is usually portrayed as the most discontented inhabitant of The Village, it is interesting how much – unless intended to lull his captors into a false sense of security while he is gaining intelligence – his daily life in The Village is a routine of simple leisure and relaxation. In fact that would seem to be the routine of every inhabitant for the purpose of this episode, although such thi

Sweeney! and Sweeney Two

I touched briefly on The Sweeney, when I did a series of posts on 1970s TV shows earlier in the year. Re-reading my post, I find that I was mainly interested in the historical context of the show, making reference to the contemporary history in my local area. To tell the truth, I have never actually got on well with The Sweeney. I thought for a long time it was because one of my old neighbours put me off it by describing it sneeringly as 'very old fashioned', and recounting how she and her partner, who likes it, would fight over the remote interminably until her got so drunk he would go to sleep and then she would watch what she wanted. Unfortunate and largely irrelevant associations aside, I didn't realise that The Sweeney also spawned two films, the subject of this post, and through watching them I have discovered what I think is wrong with The Sweeney. The show is much better served as a film than as a TV show. There, said it. These two films are basically Sween

Theatre of Blood, starring Vincent Price and Diana Rigg

This film may seem like a departure from the normal televisual delights blogged about here, but I am actually writing this piece because this film is worthy of probably the highest approbation I have ever given here: it is almost like an episode of The Avengers. It is necessary of course, to ignore the fact that Diana Rigg plays the baddie's daughter, and the baddie's ultimate target is played by Ian Hendry, but the plot itself is worthy of The Avengers: 'Shakespearean actor Edward Lionheart (Vincent Price) appears to have committed suicide by diving into the Thames, after being humiliated at an awards ceremony. But he has been secretly rescued by vagrants, who welcome him into their circle. Weakened by meths-addiction, they prove to be a docile crew, that he will use in a campaign of revenge on the drama-critics who failed to salute his genius. 'Lionheart plans to destroy his critics in a series of poetic killings, based on classic Shakespearean murder-scenes. S

Apartheid in The Prisoner: Hammer into Anvil

Periodically the question comes up in the classic TV blogosphere, of the standing and worthiness of television viewing. Could one put it on a CV as a hobby? Or would that risk being interpreted as meaning the person is a couch potato? Certainly there are different ways of watching television and engaging with the shows that one is seeing, and by a strange coincidence I have recently proved the utility of television viewing to myself, with a link to this episode of The Prisoner, and even to allusions to apartheid! I have been somewhat silent here for a little while, and rather than just be silent I will say that this silence was caused by a spot of bother at work. Another one. My 'manager' is completely ineffectual, determined to get rid of me, and periodically has a go at trying to push me through the door, which always end in her looking stupid. Some people never learn. Naturally the only parallel here to the kind of risk under which those who suffered under South African