02/04/2020

Ad Break#18 Fashion, Success and Phones


Argos - “I’m holding a duck” 
One of the things about lockdown is that more people might see some of the great adverts around plus you at least have to watch five seconds of them on YouTube. In fact the inspiration for this  irregular feature is that I realised the ideas and cleverness that go into ads often outshines the programmes they are in between. Here’s a case in point- a surreal Argos ad that pushes their established `so good you can wear it` concept to absurd new heights. Fronted by model and actress Suki Waterhouse it takes the company’s already established theme of ` so stylish you can wear it` to even more surreal places by taking the rise out of pretentious fashion ads. 

30/03/2020

Skins Season One

Lockdown archive! As we're all spending more time at home during the lockdown- and because everyone's doing this - I thought I'd post some archive material from the vast vaults of This Way Up (it's an enormous golden pyramid in the garden) starting with this review of the iconic first season of Skins from 2007. Wonder what happened to this cast then.....


On the criminally overlooked third Thrills album, there’s a line “I harbour doubts I didn’t live my youth with sufficient recklessness” and you’ll probably feel the same after watching a few minutes of the fascinating series Skins. Before you clock a second though, it’s worth checking out Maxxie miming to the Chipmunks song on Youtube because it’s funny and because it reminds us that this is a series about teenagers enjoying themselves in whatever weird way that teenagers do. Don’t expect to understand why, just laugh because there’s an askew enjoyment to be had from seeing a modern character dancing to such an ancient cutesy song from decades back. Its only one of a series of internet treats lurking for fans hooked on the TV show- the most notable of these is the ten minute “digger party” episode that’s positively surreal. It’s a good preparation for a show which will climax with- yes- a song. 
 Launched first on the minority channel E4 before getting a repeat on proper Channel 4 and now available on DVD (series 2 starts soon on E4 if you’re one of the 27 people who has subscribed to it), Skins is one of those once-in-a decade telly shows about young people that gets Mrs Putey from Basingstoke irritated and critics rhapsodising about how it’s speaking to the young generation. Cleverly trailered with exactly the sort of crazy party that parents will shiver their timbers about, the show seems designed to upset anyone older than 16 while simultaneously giving the under 16s their own show. It bothers me that they watch Hollyoaks which is a plastic, gift wrapped portrait of adolescence which I refuse to believe mirrors anyone’s experience except for well off thritysomethings with wine bars and lofts and designer furniture. As they say in the fab Corsa adverts, Come On!!

27/03/2020

Space 1999- Mission of the Darians & Dragon's Domain


Mission of the Darians

An episode that treads in well worn tv sci-fi footsteps, Johnny Byrne’s story paces to a slow reveal meaning its heavy going for the watcher. The Alphans encounter a huge city in space emitting an emergency call for help. Inside the vast place the mission crew variously discover two separate scenarios. As Koenig and Bergman chat to Joan Collins and learn of a race on a centuries long mission to find a new planet, Helena encounters the somewhat larger, hairier and sacrifice types who inhabit level 7. You can sort of see what’s coming though Byrne laces his script with some nasty incidents. These level seveners, led by a hysterically hammy Aubrey Morris in eye popping splendour, fillet out mutants and put them in a box that kills them with noise. Judging from the looks of the tribe that noise is Black Sabbath at maximum decibels. 

25/03/2020

Top of the Pops 21 Mar 1985


Top of the Pops 07/03/1985

[FX: TOP OF THE POPS THEME. RECORD SCRATCH, AND MUSIC STOPS]

Top of the Pops cleared out a lot of the old presenters in 1984. Tommy Vance was shown the door. Andy Peebles left with head held high and feet held higher, in this position he was thrown out (© Spike Milligan). Also off were the two forbidden hosts J**** S*****  and D*v* L** Tr*v*s. Unfortunately this doesn't mean that 1985 magically becomes the year when BBC4 can show every episode of Top of the Pops with a clear conscience because 1985 is also the year that Mike Smith becomes the BBC's Mr Ubiquity. He's on Breakfast Time, he presents a show called Friday People, and another one called Speak Out (an international link-up between teenagers in Britain and other parts of the world), he hosts The 1985 Royal Tournament and Live Aid, and he also becomes the main host of Top of the Pops; presenting 16 of the 52 editions of Top of the Pops. He also withdrew permission for the BBC to repeat his editions of Top of the Pops, before his death in 2014.
On top of missing one third of the 1985 repeats, my digital box has thrown a wobbly. The next edition of Top of the Pops it has recorded is 11/04/1985. This is plainly unacceptable given that the last one I wrote up was 21/02/1985. Still, nil desperandum and all that. It's time to use my initiative, and see what's available via other sources**YouTube. (John- Can we actually get on with it now please?)(FX: TOP OF THE POPS THEME RESUMES] 
Top of the Pops 21/03/1985. Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. 
Steve Wright: “Hello, good evening, and welcome to another Top of the Pops!! Tonight you can see Sarah Brightman!! You can see Loose Ends!!  And!! You can see some of Prince's greatest speeches!! Mike Read: “I love you. You're so enthusiastic. Kicking off tonight's Top of the Pops we have Nik Kershaw, just about to embark on a world tour. This is Wide Boy.”

24/03/2020

Home.


I’m working from home, or WFH as people call it. Wfhuh. I managed to sneak in the decision before lockdown because in the end if the world is ending there’s no better place to be. Or even if the world is only temporarily stopping. That will be this year’s definition in history forever won’t it-  2020- The Year the World Stopped. You may or may not know that I’m a part time carer for my mum so am here with her (well she’s not literally sitting next to me at this moment) which is sometimes nice and sometimes irritating. I suppose there are other people whom I’d like to be here now too but that would make the house rather crowded and break these new laws of lockdown. Incidentally Boris did not use the word `lockdown` at all.  Of course what I am trying to say is that should I have this virus it would almost inevitably pass to my mum as well. So every day is also a risk for her despite me being a carer. Don’t the ironies just pile up at times like this? Course I may not have the virus, no symptoms yet so fingers crossed. If I don’t get it we’ll just get on each other’s nerves every day which is a more than acceptable substitute for the virus I’d say. Somehow your priorities do change at times like this.

20/03/2020

Distance.


Yesterday morning as I was walking past the increasingly small number of fellow pedestrians headed for work, the song `Everybody Hurts` was playing through the speakers of the adjacent shopping centre. The song swirled quite loudly around us and I had a sudden filmic moment. I imagined people stopping and acknowledging each other aware that hugging was out of the question due to social distancing but at least everyone understanding we were all in it together, a powerful moment of empathy in the midst of a crisis. Perhaps everyone sang together. It didn’t happen, instead we all just carried on walking our separate ways. Obviously I do not have the power of Richard Curtis.


16/03/2020

Pause.


Soon we will be able to watch the world without us being in it. There are only a handful of things most of us live through that could be called world altering and the coronavirus scenario is one of those. For once it seems like the more extreme tabloid headlines of recent weeks such as `Virus Mayhem` are actually not too wide of the mark. I’ve kept having to re-write this post due to unfolding events as matters escalate so it may well be out of date when you’re read it but I just wanted to record what its like at this time, at this moment.

13/03/2020

Space 1999 - Space Brain & The Infernal Machine


Space Brain
An opening montage of various crew members completing jigsaws of all things should be a warning that this is going to be an unconventional episode. From its schlocky pulp sci-fi title in there is nothing subtle about `Space Brain`. The puzzles incidentally are meant to be symbolic of the puzzle to come. The latest threat to Moonbase Alpha comes via strange patterns on the screens and then the disappearance of an Eagle investigating their source- a huge entity sitting in space. It appears to be trying to communicate with them and when this doesn’t work takes over an astronaut called Kelly via whom it talks to Computer. I still feel Computer should have an actual name rather than everyone just calling it “Computer”. What about Carl? Anyhow what transpires is a decently poised adventure in which it becomes apparent that the so called `space brain` is trying to survive what will be a collision with the Moon by any means it can. The one problem with the episode, atypically for this series, are the special effects.