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Showing posts from February, 2016

Railways on TV: Dressed to Kill (The Avengers)

I find that this Avengers episode was one of the first shows I blogged about here ( here ). Naturally I don't feel that what I said there can be improved on in any way,  but I do want to at least touch on Dressed to Kill in this series of posts on railways and railway journeys. It has made me think of the role train journeys can play in films and TV shows. I have already touched on the role of the train creating a closed environment,  most useful in a whodunit as providing a limited pool of suspects. The fact that trains make journeys provides an allegory of change - almost what would be called pilgrimage in religious terms. In Dressed to Kill the passengers in one carriage alone are deliberately separated from the rest of the train and then left in an isolated place where they can't threaten the villain's plans. 'Its a bit quiet for Wolverhampton, ' indeed. The pilgrimage aspect of train journeys is paralleled by the more supernatural associations of the railw

Railways on TV: A Sentimental Journey (Randall and Hopkirk Deceased)

I have an impression that Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) is rather less popular than many of the shows I post about here. I find the most popular is The Avengers (particularly posts where I talk about Mrs Peel – I think I may have explained those posts’ popularity) and then The Man from UNCLE, although I haven’t really posted on many of those episodes. You would think, with the show’s 1960s vibe and appearance, it would be right at the top of the list. Perhaps there may be a problem with genre, although I would place it firmly into 1960s unreal genre myself, but a railway journey contained in this episode is enough excuse to include it in this series of posts on the railways. Perhaps I should post more on this show and see what happens. Please don’t get the impression that I don’t like this show – it is actually one of my favourites to put on and just drift into the mood of the episode – but I find I want to start off with a few criticisms. I feel there is a difficulty of credibili

Railways on TV: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station (The Avengers)

It’s a funny thing (damn, I swore I wouldn’t start out like that) but coming to this, one of my all-time favourite Avengers episodes, straight from the Man from UNCLE episode I last blogged about, it seems rather plain and ordinary in comparison. I would like to think that that merely suggests the sheer psychedelic quality of UNCLE rather than any defect in The Avengers. I also wish to put right the error I made in my last post of only getting to the railway when I had dealt with the actual programme, by starting straight off on the subject of trains. The opening scenes bring to mind a very different picture of the world of trains, and a different Britain, from that which pertains today. Look at those rows of trains in uniform livery, a livery which brings back happy memories of train journeys with my parents as a child. Not a livery you would see nowadays, and of course you would see all different liveries now: a legacy of the subsequent Conservative government’s policy of privati

Railways on TV: The Adriatic Express Affair (The Man from Uncle)

This series of posts on railways and railway journeys on cult TV shows kicks off with this second-series episode of The Man from UNCLE. And the show itself starts off in great UNCLE style with the men using communicators hidden inside guide books. If they survive they are no doubt in someone’s collection nowadays. I also love the way it starts with Solo ogling a pretty girl. I find it interesting the way you could actually miss the railway journey in this show if you tried to – the journey is mostly a foil to the colourful plot and larger than life characters. I hadn’t thought about it until watching this show for the umpteenth time this afternoon, but I hadn’t thought about what genres The Man from UNCLE could reference, by which I mean that it obviously isn’t just a straight spy show and while the third series has the reputation for camping it up in competition with Batman (imagine even trying…) this episode of this series is certainly not completely dead pan. Elements of camp ab

Coming Next: Railways in Cult TV

I’ve been feeling the need to do something a bit different here. True to form, there is always a new way of looking at classic TV and I’m proposing to do a series of themed posts about TV shows which feature trains, the railways, are set around the railways, or feature a journey as a considerable feature of the show. Of course I will probably allow myself endless leeway as to what I can include under the heading of the railways, or else I will change my mind about this themed series of posts and instead do what I am planning for the future, themed posts around particular actors. My personal obsession with trains began as a child, and bizarrely very quickly expanded to include everything associated with them. It is not merely me, but it seems to be a national obsession, since we all know that grown men happily give up the trappings of the office of a weekend to go and work on hobby and restored railways. Trains are of course an ideal vehicle (pardon the pun) for the TV or film writer,

Apartheid in The Prisoner: Once Upon a Time and Fall Out

The parallels between these episodes as we near the end of The Prisoner, with South African apartheid are absolutely screaming out to be paid attention to. I have already touched on them: forced removals, interrogations, heavy police methods, the violence of the sjambok, disappearances and bannings, all of these were the tools of the apartheid government as the regime buckled under pressure from within and without the country. Instead I would like to focus on how personal Once Upon A Time actually is. In this episode the whole stretch of Number 6’s life is laid out in intimate detail. On one level this merely mirrors the totalitarian nature of the apartheid regime – it truly did regulate all aspects of the citizens’ lives and deliberately keep them in ignorance of anybody else’s life – but it is also personal in the sense of it being about Number 6’s very life story and being. I am actually finding it difficult to articulate what I mean by that, since it has already been clear that