24/05/2017

Top of the Pops 3 June 1982



Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. David "Kid" Jensen: "Live from the television centre in London it's Top of the Pops and we have a great assortment of hits for you this week, from Echo and the Bunnymen to Charlene, from Madness to Junior, but we kick off with hit sound number five. It's ABC."
[5] ABC: The Look Of Love. Live programmes are a relatively new development for Top of the Pops. The 24/12/1981 edition was the first one where the host made a big deal about the live status, and that was presented by David "Kid" Jensen. As were the live editions in March and April 1982, and now this one. Does Michael Hurll see David "Kid" Jensen as the official live host? Was his experience working for the fledgling CNN an asset in a live environment, or is the whole thing a coincidence? We'll have to wait until 22/07/1982 to find out when the Popscene database notes a live show presented by -ulp- Simon Bates. Meanwhile, ABC go through the same polished routine from their previous appearance on the 20/05/1982 edition and it's a great way to start the show. Fans of the studio ceiling will delight in several low angle shots of ABC which allow us a chance to study the lighting grid; highlights include the studio clock, and the red TRANSMISSION sign.

19/05/2017

A Monster Calls



Patrick Ness adapts his own novel exploring the rarely discussed side effects of an ill relative in a film that somehow manages to be understated despite the presence of a thirty foot tall moving tree! Conor O’Malley is a young boy who endures the usual travails of the reserved pupil at school but at home he faces a more difficult task. His youthful mum is terminally ill and though continuing to seek ever more drastic cures, we and she know they will not work. The narrative leaves open to interpretation whether or not she is enduring this to offer hope to her son (which seems possible) but focuses instead on how he reacts.

17/05/2017

Alien Covenant



There will be blood- but not a huge amount of anything else. Alien- Covenant offers very few surprises in what often seems like an Alien movie for people who’ve never seen an Alien movie. Those that have will either be satisfied or disappointed depending on their expectations. Those who found Prometheus somewhat lacking in those familiar xenomorphs will certainly find much to please them here in the neomorphs which are similar and just as lethal. In what at times seems like a `greatest hits` package there is evisceration and gut busting aplenty as this slightly different but still recognisable breed of creature fillets a selection of largely anonymous crew in a variety of different ways.

14/05/2017

Top of the Pops 20 May 1982



Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Peter Powell: "Hello! Welcome to Top of the Pops! We've got a great show lined up! We've got Madness, we've got Adam Ant and we've also got ABC! For starters it's Rocky Sharpe and the Replays! Shout Shout! [bonks himself on the head with a microphone] Knock Yourself Out!"
[19] Rocky Sharpe & The Replays: Shout Shout (Knock Yourself Out). His purpleness Fred Wright is back on lighting duties and the studio is painted with lurid tones. Check out Peter Powell during his opening introduction. He has the healthy glow of a Windscale worker. But never mind the eye strain, watch Peter Powell once Rocky Sharpe & The Replays get started. Top of the Pops hosts have always had the amazing ability to disappear from the studio like the Blue Peter cats but Peter Powell excels himself. Initially he looks like he's going to stay behind the band for the whole song -as he very creditably did at the start of 1982 when Zoo danced to Yellow Pearl. He's behind Rocky Sharpe & The Replays as the camera pulls back across the studio, and he's still there in the background when the picture cuts to a low angled shot of the group. Next we cut to a left profile of the backing singers and Peter Powell is off camera for the first time. This is normally when the host nips off but when the camera cuts back to the lead singer Peter Powell can still be seen, just, in the background. Then the magic happens. The camera moves slightly and Peter Powell is off the edge of the picture for all of two seconds before the shot pans back to reveal an empty podium. It's so quick I was looking for Road Runner style dust clouds and possibly a faux-Latin caption; speedius enthusiasticus.
Rocky Sharpe and the Replays about to realise someone had moved their chairs

10/05/2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2



The first Guardians of the Galaxy film was a big surprise that made even the lighter entries in the Marvel movie canon seem a bit too serious and this rambunctious sequel carries on the combination with mostly successful results. It is at times so over the top that any attempt at serious analysis is doomed to be dismissed by a one liner possibly issued by a raccoon! Yet there is some development though trying to inject a more emotional strand into proceedings tends to clutter the narrative with multiple but similar beats. Still it’s a fun ride and should be seen on the biggest screen you can find!

03/05/2017

How do you vote?



Tomorrow sees the first of two polling days we’re having in the UK this year as millions of people cast their votes. So if you do vote (and if not you really should) how do you go about making your choice? This is not as straight forward as you’d think with people using several different reasons for placing that X in the box....
"Psst, there's someone impersonating you two booths down"

30/04/2017

Top of the Pops 6 May 1982



Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Simon Bates: "A Thursday night and of course we're live. We've got soccer stars and we've got rock stars. [turns and points] Kevin Keegan, Frank Gray. Kevin first of all how are you?
Kevin Keegan: Fine. Thank you. A lot... Well, back's well.
Simon Bates: The back's well? And you're going to sing for us later.
Kevin Keegan: It's... Doc says as long as I don't sing to high it should be all right.
Simon Bates: OK. Good luck. We've also got some great stars, like this gentleman with his newish single. It's Junior and Mama Used To Say.

[31] Junior: Mama Used To Say. Simon Bates snubs Frank Gray. It's worth watching his face as Simon Bates chats with Kevin Keegan. Frank Gray's smile flickers and becomes a tad strained as he realises that he's not going to be asked any questions. I don't know anything about football and in my naiveté I did a quick Google search for Frank Gray England and was confused by the lack of any meaningful results. How was I supposed to know he played for Scotland? During Junior's performance a quick crowd shot reveals a group of women dressed as British Airways air hostesses. Their presence will be explained later.  

23/04/2017

Maigret - Night at the Crossroads




A lot of comic performers graduate to serious roles later in their careers, perhaps feeling that advancing years are not appropriate for pratfalls and silliness. Rowan Atkinson though is not especially old and also has a history of gurning his way expressively through comic situations so you can imagine in the past this is exactly the sort of thing he’d spoof. Watching him play a detective in a period drama is odd because every time he walks in the room you expect something funny to happen. Perhaps he’ll light his pipe and it will burst into flames? Maybe he’ll get his long trenchcoat caught in a car door and struggle to excavate himself from it? No or should that be “Non”. In what is a melodramatic production in need of a little light relief there is not a laugh to be had- luckily the results are intriguing enough anyway.