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Showing posts from November, 2017

Ghost Squad: The Green Shoes

Before The Avengers. The Avengers. After The Avengers. That is largely my own description of the landscape of 1960s British TV. Regular readers will of course know that I see The Avengers as a high point, and everything else is rather an anticlimax, or under the show's influence, or imitating it. It is for this reason that I tend not to venture into the world before The Avengers very often (except in film terms - most of the films I watch are pre-Avengers). Ghost Squad is thus a rare departure for me - although still bang up my street because it is still an ITC show, which studio produced the majority of the rest of my favourite viewing. Ghost Squad was never really going to appear here, until I came across the box set in a charity shop in Stratford upon Avon this week and took that as the universe's message to me. I'd read about it, of course and it tends to come up in my recommendations on Amazon, but I'd never really taken a fancy to it. I'm trying to put my fing

The Avengers: Quick-Quick Slow Death

Let me get two things out of the way before I start on this actual show. The first is that I have been watching Honor Blackman play a probation officer in the show of the same name. The only reason the show won't get a post here is that it isn't really my sort of thing - but if you like shows with legal-type settings which are note police procedurals or court room dramas as such, you may very well like it. The second thing is that I prepared for this blog post by *listening* to the episode rather than watching it, and what I listened to was the version produced by Springbok Radio in South Africa in the 1970s. I have all the remaining episodes of that show which I downloaded from the website about it and they are jealously backed up on two laptops, my google drive and a CD-Rom: they're not getting away from me anytime soon. I have previously commented here that the website devoted to the South African radio Avengers series no longer seems to allow the shows to be download

Bottom: Gas

A few posts ago I said that I would try to concentrate more on blogging about single episodes of quality shows. And thus we come to Bottom, which I don't think I've written about here before, although it is one of my favourite shows ever. Coming out of the alternative comedy scene of the 1980s, it isn't really comparable to the Goodies, and yet I do think there is a slight comparison in the theme of down-at-heel 'friends' who end up stuck together for better or worse. The difference is in the tone of course - the friends in Bottom are really mortal enemies who have a bizarre codependency going on, while the friends in the Goodies are really friends who club together to do anything in a time of need. I feel it is significant that one is pre- and the other is post-Thatcher's Britain. My favourite scene in this Bottom episode is the card game with which it opens. It is obvious that this kind of card game has frequently been replayed in this house, and also that

The Goodies and the Beanstalk

Forward in time for today's post, to Cricklewood, 1973, and the Goodies are broke. This leads to them falling into a pantomime world of beanstalks, giants, and geese which lay golden eggs. I think this has to be one of my favourite Goodies episodes, simply because it is so visually effective, and literally everything is turned into a visual pun, even before it gets to the more pantomimic aspects in the latter half. For example the policeman feeding coins into a parking meter, which then works as a fruit machine and he gets a payout. The old ladies at the bus stop who get their own instruments out and start playing in repsonse to Bill busking. The policeman's sneeze literally blows off Tim's gypsy disguise, to the delight of a man in a suit at the bus stop. A lady presents Graeme with a false leg when he stands on one leg with a sign saying 'give generously', and when he throws the gifted leg away she produces a false arm and punches him with it. The policeman m

Danger Man: Dangerous Secret

Back to one of the classic themes for TV in the 1960s for this episode of Danger Man - namely the danger inherent in our modern technology if it is not handled correctly. In fact I love the way this show starts: the sequence showing the children trespassing in the virus research establishment is very effective and suggests right at the start that the doubtless deadly viri being researched in the establishment are not being looked after properly. Of course in this case there are potentially deadly consequences. It is strange but I have repeatedly watched all of the episodes of Danger Man (although not recently) and had no recollection of the amount of what we might call spy technology used in the show. Once again the ambivalent 1960s attitude to technology where it can both be our saviour and destroyer if it gets into the wrong hands. In this episode the spy technology used by Drake is a bug which he fires from an umbrella and which attaches itself to the lintel of a room opposite. This

Danger Man: Judgement Day

There are two subjects I keep returning to in my witterings here. One is the way in which these 1960s TV shows encapsulate the interests and concerns of their time. The other is the way in which their production is dictated by the technology of the time. Both are points which have great impact on this episode of Danger Man. Let's face it, if Judgement Day were to be remade nowadays it would look radically different, and the fact it is as convincing as it is, is a great testimony to the TV makers of the time. The opening scenes of the making of the bomb are completely studio-bound, and then stock footage is used for the externals of the airport, before returning to the studio for Drake's encounter with an 'official' who changes his travel plans abruptly. At the time this was the ordinary technology used in so many of these shows and in the restored boxed set I have, the seam between studio and stock footage is seamless. Similarly the subject is very much of the time. I h