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Showing posts from July, 2017

The Secret Service, with Reference to Last Train to Buffler's Halt

Some classic TV blogs can manage to keep their posts on track. I can't even keep on track within a single post without going off on some tangent, so it's no wonder that after posting about episode 1 of They Came From Somewhere Else, I've wandered off to write about The Secret Service, specifically Last Train to Buffler's Halt. The reason for this jumping from one subject to another is a very personal one - I find I tend to use this blog to blog about what I am actually watching, and it seems I'm having difficulty sticking to plans at the moment. There is another totally personal thing which decides what I post about here - as you know I don't post about shows which are duds. Of course sometimes I just haven't got round to posting about a show or haven't seen it, but life is too short to start clogging up my own blog with my whinges about shows which usually get a good hammering elsewhere on the internet anyway. I'm saying this because in this post I&

They Came From Somewhere Else Episode 1

I see that I have written a general post about this classic of cult TV, this giant of the genre, this show which was so influential on me as a young weirdo. In fact you can tell that we are in the territory of cult TV here, in that I am watching it on my laptop, downloaded from the internet, in a copy uploaded from some kind person who uploaded their original VHS recording. To watch They Came From Somewhere Else is to go out on to the true frontier of cult TV and also to experience the world of cult TV before easy downloads and DVDs - the age when people swapped actual tapes. This show's influence on me in my youth was not limited by the fact that this is actually a spoof of the entire sci fi genre. At the age I saw this I must have been barely aware of the genre, but it was clear how the show upturned the pillars of society as we all learned them, and also upturned the pillars of the sci fi genre. Wendy, the policewoman is a principle character of the whole series - I could see th

The Omega Factor: Double Vision and Some Conclusions

I have only been to Edinburgh once, and my main memory of it was the amount of stone used in its construction. In comparison to the more recent towns and cities down here in the Midlands, which use more brick, the stone gives a very different feel, and I remember finding it quite oppressive. That said, I was surprised at how much I liked the street scenes in this episode - they give a wonderful impression of quirk individuality and hidden parts of the city, as well as the feel of the 1970s. I particularly like the effective use of the Edinburgh dungeon as one the scenes. In this episode many of the previously-raised themes are elaborated and the loose ends begin to come together. Once again the preoccupations of the age are brought out and given an airing: drugs ( in this case peyote), religion (in this case vodou), foreigners who may or may not be sinister, and let's face it the tacist attitudes come out think and fast. In addition to the possibly sinister foreigner we have 'n

The Omega Factor: Out of Body, Out of Mind

What a dream magical ability would be for pretty much anyone. I do love what happens to Sir Willoughby at the beginning of this one - there can surely be no-one who has not dreamt of the ability to influence people (if not actually kill them, as here), from a distance. This episode makes it very plain that being on the receiving end of that ability would be a fairly scary place. Several other things are also made plain in this episode: that Omega has penetrated to the highest levels of society, for a start - a permanent under-secretary's assistant being fairly high up. The only thing that is wrong is that the assistant removes the band from the cigar he gives him to smoke, so obviously the government agency in question started to go wrong when they started employing men who were not gentlemen! Omega's ambitions are also clearly international rather than being limited to one government alone. I don't know when masonic/illuminati/new world order conspiracy theories fate from,

The Omega Factor: St Anthony's Fire

This will be a short post because I only have three things to say about this episode. The first is that Martindale is not noticeably in charge of what goes on in his department, in fact we even see him on the phone to some (presumably) superior, acknowledging that Crane does what he likes. I find it inconceivable that Department 7 could be run in this way, and that it is more likely that the personnel would not only be hand-picked but very carefully vetted and controlled to make sure they are 'discreet'. That said, Martindale is repeatedly made out to be suspicious, so of course it could be that this is entirely deliberate. The second is that Crane is shown up as being a loose cannon in this one. He gets himself into trouble by trespassing, surely something an official of a secret government department would not dream of doing. It is apparent again that the department is not really being run that well. Martindale even has to send someone else, Anne, to stop Crane getting hi

Shadows: The Waiting Room

Naturally a number of my recent posts have touched on the contemporary 1970s obsession with all things 'supernatural'. This extended to all sorts of TV programmes, and the episode of Shadows I'm going to write about today is reminiscent of the Sapphire and Steel adventure set in a railway station. High praise from the old curmudgeon who write on Cult TV Blog, you may think. And it is, but I'm going to have to be frank and say that this is the episode I like best on the first series DVD of Shadows. And with characterictic inconsistency I would have to admit that I don't really like period dramas, which is what tends to put me off many of the other episodes - even though this one is a drama where one period meets another. I suppose it is a stable of the supernatural story that trains and train stations are very strong metaphors for travelling - in this case extended to travelling in time as well as space. There are a host of ghost stories about the railways and of cou

Casanova 73

True to form I have got distracted from The Omega Factor before I got to the end of its episodes. And I've been distracted by Casanova 73. I like a nice seventies sex comedy me, so it rather looks as if the subject of sexiness has come up again on this blog. Pish. Tush. Can't be a result of my mind at all. In all seriousness, though, without looking at the sex comedies, it's a bit difficult to get what the seventies were like at all. I read somewhere that one of the Confessions films was the highest-grossing film of 1974, which very much shows what the age was about. Elsewhere on this blog I have touched on the parapsychology of the 1970s, and in my series of posts on 1970s TV shows I have touched on the sheer dreariness of the 1970s. I have a feeling it was the sexiness which made the age liveable for most people. I say sexiness, rather than actual sex, because much of the point of Casanova 73 is the way Henry Newhouse lives in a way which is respectable. I have a fee

The Omega Factor: Child's Play

Perhaps I had better come clean at the beginning of this post, and admit that I do myself have some quite incredible psychic abilities, which gave particular trouble when I was at school. I actually went though some real trouble as a result of my abilities. The PE teacher insisted that it couldn't possibly be the ghost of a dead footballer who kicked the ball which hit him in the back of the head. He was just as reluctant to believe that despite his often-expressed opinion that I would never be any good at sport (funny idea of teaching, he had), when I suddenly showed a remarkable aptitude for rugby in the one term we played it, that it was because I had channeled the spirit of the boy at Rugby School who first picked up the ball and ran with it. The art teacher, who was also convinced I 'couldn't' do his subject (in fact the more I think about it, I wonder what the point of that school was at all), refused to believe that it was 'automatic painting', dictated b

The Omega Factor: Powers of Darkness

It's not really surprising that I was thinking of skipping over the last episode and rushing straight into this one, because this one takes us into classic parapsychology territory from the word go, with a seance. In this case it's lucky that the actors are keeping a finger each on the wine glass because otherwise a disembodied spirit may not be willing to communicate merely by moving the glass. Although employing dead people in theatre would of course be a great saving in Equity fees. Can you sense I've woken up with a little pixie in me today? Actually despite its classical kids-messing-with-the-occult script this episode raises all sorts of questions for me, some of which I think might just be me being critical or feeling silly. One is that the students who are key players and open the episode, are dressed all wrong. By this I mean that the old-fashioned styles of clothing some of them wear (I think they may have been having a vogue at the time this was made) visually

The Omega Factor: After Image

Let me come clean. I wasn't going to blog about this episode at all. I put it on and it just didn't grab me: in fact I didn't really understand what was happening with it. I was eager to move on quickly to the classic parapsychology of the following episode. But then that's one of the reasons I blog about these shows - to make me understand them better. On deeper consideration I think this episode also takes us into the classic territory of cult TV. It's the sort of all-pwerful psychological medicine we see used so abusively in The Prisoner, and warned against so graphically in The Avengers. Looked at like that, this Omega Factor episode is in classic cult TV territory - the baddies have the ability and can misuse it to their will. Drexel's references to the way sensory deprivation is probably employed for pleasure in California, also indicate that these sorts of technology tend to be rather self-indulgent rather than of any use in the cutting edges of medici

The Omega Factor: Night Games

While I have no doubt that I will run out of steam and this show will join the procession of series of posts which I have started and not finished as my grasshopper mind gets distracted, for the moment I am on a role. I have to correct something I wrote in yesterday's post, since I have found that the show has actually answered a criticism I made. When I started my laptop this morning and pressed play for the DVD it started somewhere rather random (obviously this should be subject to a parapsychological investigation in the near future) and I found in the meeting with the Department 7 man in the first episode, that Crane actually did have psychic phenomena happen as a boy. He had suppressed them from his memory but his mother had actually contacted the department herself to make them aware of her progeny. Apparently The Omega Factor was made in a bit of a rush and different writers had to be commissioned for each episode. This shows in the fact that this one feels very different fr

The Omega Factor: Visitations

If nothing else the phenomenal nature of Crane's psychic abilities come to the fore in this episode. That is what makes The Omega Factor great television - it quite rightly exploits this ability to great effect. What particularly interests me in this episode is the way the parapsychology of the time is showcased very clearly. By the time the X-Files were being made twenty years later, while obviously the skills were the same, there is a lack of the sort of 'science' exhibited in this episode. Many of this science's aspects will be familiar to viewers of the TV of the 1960s and 1970s. The cards used to show psychic ability in The Prisoner, for a start. I particularly like the investigation of the house: it reminds me of nothing more than the opening scenes of the Sapphire and Steel adventure set in the railway station, in which the ghost hunter is setting up his equipment. A technology used in both Sapphire and Steel and here is that of recording the environment and s

The Omega Factor: The Undiscovered Country

I'm sorry to return to one of my preoccupying worries, no matter how briefly, but regular readers here will know that I get rather worried that the supply of old TV will dry up. Of course it has to happen sooner or later, leaving only the rare discoveries of odd Doctor Who snippets in Zimbabwe or wherever, but once again my fear has been assuaged. I have discovered yet another series which I had never heard of and which is available in its entirety, reasonably priced, from reputable sellers, on region 2 DVDs. It is The Omega Factor, and given its subject matter I am amazed that I had managed to miss it this long, until it came up as a suggestion for me on Amazon. I try not to repeat information easily obtainable elsewhere on the internet on this blog, which is my excuse for why it mostly consists of my own opinions with a minimum of research. In this case googling the name of the show gets you as much information as you could ever want about its history and production. Highlight