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Showing posts from December, 2021

Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future

I never thought I would be writing about this TV movie made by Channel 4 in the eighties. Not because it is actually lost (although you will read it is lost on the internet) but because I couldn't remember its name! I never saw it the first time round but had the book of the film. The book was simply called Max Headroom so I didn't know the real name of the film and it's taken until now for me to think of just the right thing to Google to find it. To steal a useful summary from a review of the book I had: Max Headroom was, arguably, the first forced meme before the existence of the internet. The wisecracking, glitchy proto-computer-generated talking head was saturation bombed on the public from 1985 to 1988 in a way that would guarantee subsequent apathy, mockery and derision -- meant to be a symbol of rebellion and edginess while at the same time made a mascot for the ultimate in normie shilldom, as an ad man for Coca-Cola. His guilt-by-association tie to a failed product,

How's Your Father: Help

I have somehow neglected to write a blog post about any of the shows featuring the much-loved Harry Worth and so that omission must be remedied instanter. Worth started off his working life as a miner, but started performing while in the forces in World War 2. I'm slightly shocked writing this because this sounds so long ago, he was personally endorsed by Laurel and Hardy and yet was only two years older than my own father. His TV break came in the sixties and his confused and confusing character came to be well loved. There is literally nothing cruel in his humour at all, nothing unkind, and the joke is always on the situation. How's Your Father is Worth's last series in which he plays a bereaved father (bearing a strong resemblance to himself) who lives with his two children, played by Giles Watling and Debby Cumming. In this episode he takes on a 'daily', and the show is all about the difficulties of finding and hiring someone, complicated by the interference of

UFO: The Cat With Ten Lives

I have avoided writing about this show before and I'm going to be upfront about the reasons to clear the air at the beginning of this post. One of the reasons is that I think it is entirely fair to say that this show is something of a hot mess, but I have been unsure how to say that and also make it clear that I think it is great. It has some really enthusiastic fans, but I think is somewhat neglected in the blogosphere for this same reason. A show commissioned in the wake of the relative failure of Joe 90, by a man famous for puppet shows for children, yet with real actors and intended for adults, is never going to be comfortable for the public. Add that it's set a bare ten years into the future and is therefore futuristic in the most blatantly seventies stylistic way possible, and it's not going to sit well with future generations. Thus far it's just a show which takes some effort to appreciate, but add in that it is definitely a hot mess and there's a whole layer

A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong

I bet nobody else in the cult TV blogosphere is blogging about this show by the wonderful  Mischief Theatre  behind  The Play That Goes Wrong  and who have Dame Diana Rigg starring with them. I have blogged about their  Goes Wrong Show  here before and series 2 of that show will be available on DVD shortly if it isn't already. The background to this Christmas Carol is this: Blacklisted by the BBC, the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society do not take their ban lying down and force themselves back on the BBC by hijacking a production of A Christmas Carol. With a little help from Sandra’s aunt, Dame Diana Rigg, the Cornley gang try to make the show work on television, but they soon realise they are completely out of their depth, with no idea how to direct a live studio or handle the special effects. Worse still, their internal rivalries are revealed on television, while an angry professional cast tries to get back into the studio.  Source And you know what, it's wonderful. They fight

Dr Who: Fury from the Deep Part 2

I blogged about the first part of this adventure four months ago, although I rather got off the subject onto praising the Loose Cannon reconstructions, and you can see that post  here . Since I'm obviously going to keep returning to it at long spaces of time, I have given Fury from the Deep  its own label  to enable people to find the posts. Now watch me grind to a halt on this one! This Who adventure perfectly demonstrates a major motivation behind my writing this blog from the beginning: to make me delve deeper into what is going on in my favourite TV programmes so as not to watch them passively. This adventure is probably one of the most visually iconic of the early ones - the scene on the beach, the sea forts, the iconic appearance of Mr Oak and Mr Quill, and the famous first appearance of the sonic screwdriver. It made me reflect further on the way the doctor enters different worlds and situations, does his thing and leaves. I'm not going to beat about the bush about this

The Case of the Mukkinese Battle-Horn

I am sure that readers are familiar with  The Goon Show , despite its being a radio show. There were several attempts to translate its humour to other media - TV in this case and a film called  Down Among the Z Men  spring to mind. There were a couple of TV series - I'm thinking of doing a series of posts on orphaned episodes, in which case A Show Called Fred will definitely appear.  This isn't strictly speaking TV, but for the sake of this post I am going to stretch the definition of TV to anything you sit and watch, and this was originally a supporting short for the cinema. It's also something I know will appeal to people who like cult TV so I think it can be allowed. Mukkinese Battle-Horn also to my mind feels like a TV programme, but that may be because of its short length. It also feels like a TV show because one of my heroes, the comic legend Dick Emery, replaces Harry Secombe in The Goons line-up. The plot is a parody mystery taken from the files of Scotland Yard. Yo

Sykes and a Following

I have a few comedy shows I've been thinking of posting about and this episode of Sykes And A... is the first. Actually Eric Sykes is a fascinating person and if you want to know about his tragic and talented life you can't do much better than his obituary in  The Independent . His work can only be described as prolific and he frequently partnered, as here, with the legendary Hattie Jacques, who also led a fascinating  life . I am usually put off when a show is described as a sitcom, because I feel it prepares you to expect monotonous scripts, scenarios built on conflict between friends, and exactly the sort of ennui I watch TV to avoid. Sykes and a... is, however, a sitcom which is a dream and ran from 1960 to 1965. Its quality can be gauged by the writers who in addition to Sykes himself, include Johnny Speight, John Antrobus and Spike Milligan. According to Wikipedia its preservation status is patchy - I believe there have previously been commercial releases on VHS but if yo