27/01/2020

Good Omens review


A 1990 collab by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman Good Omens has been described as un-filmable and had resisted previous efforts to do so. Apparently due to a dying wish from Pratchett, Gaiman himself wrote this miniseries adaptation which first appeared last May on Amazon, was then released to buy and is now showing on BBC2. If, like me, you never read the book, then it is an unexpected delight for the most part. Fronted by two superb performances and packed with quirky takes on familiar imagery plus sparkling dialogue it is a dense but enjoyable story.

Spoilers past this point


24/01/2020

Top of the Pops 17 Jan 1985


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Gary Davies: "Hi. How you doing? Welcome to Top of the Pops. Hope you're warm. Hope you're well. We've got a very busy show for you tonight, haven't we, Pete?" Peter Powell: "We have indeed. To start us a Dutch duo called The Limit, who've got a record which is at 19 going up 18 places. And it's called Saaaay Yeah!
[19] The Limit: Say Yeah. There are four people in The Limit. Maybe the technical term for four people is a Dutch duo, like a Baker's dozen, in which case I bow to Peter Powell's superior knowledge of numerical terms.
Peter Powell turns in a very low energy introduction that, and his inability to count to four, might be because he is distracted by microphone problems. Literally as the show starts he's fumbling discretely with the cable running out of his back trouser pocket, and behind him an unfashionably dressed middle-aged (gasp) man tries to sneak out of the secret DJ exit by the neon Top of the Pops logo. I'm guessing this chap is part of the studio sound crew; maybe it's Bob Foley the appropriately named Sound Supervisor, or Technical Co-ordinator Ray Hider. The Limit is a Dutch duo of three men and one women. The men are all weedy looking fashion disasters with bad hair. The lead singer needs to do something about his straggly neckline. (John- The singer is Gwen Guthrie who will have a hit in 1986 called `Nothing Going on but the Rent`)
 

15/01/2020

1917 review


This is an awesome, powerful and very exciting film which its trailers can’t really encapsulate simply because of the way it works. Shot to look like one continuous take 1917 brings the audience into trenches, across No Man’s Land and beyond in an immersive narrative following two soldiers on a vital mission. The thing is after a few minutes you start to forget the camera trickery because it feels like you are there. OK we don’t have the stench and the risk and the mud but as a cinematic experience of another time and place this film comes closer than most. 



Some – but not all -Spoilers beyond this point

13/01/2020

Top of the Pops 3 Jan 1985


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Richard Skinner: "Just when you thought the party season was over we've got another reason to celebrate. Top of the Pops is 21 years old today and we're going into a new year with a brand-new shape to the programme." John Peel: "Yes, we'll tell you more about that later on but we've got a great start to this programme. This is Police Officer, Smiley Culture."
[34] Smiley Culture: Police Officer. "A brand-new shape to the programme". That sounds bad. It reminds me of reading "Exciting News for all Readers Inside!" on the front of a comic. The news was always that my favourite comic was merging with a bigger selling rival, and none of the strips I liked would survive the transition. (John- Plus the price was going up) Starlord we hardly knew ye; looks like you were finally caught by the satanic forces of the INSTERSELLAR FEDERATION.
Richard Skinner makes a big deal of the 21st anniversary. No one else does. Unlike last year there are no archive clips or old DJs. Michael Hurll normally takes any excuse for a party; in 1982 Top of the Pops marked 15 years of Radio 1, in 1983 it was the 1000th edition, in 1984 we had the 20th anniversary and the Bank Holiday live train special. Maybe everyone's just partied out. 1984 started with Frankie Goes to Hollywood. 1985 starts with Smiley Culture. It's not really my type of song but I've got to admire its prominent placing, use of the word ganja straight after the 6.30 regional news programmes (It's the North, Scotland Now, South Today, Lake District in Focus, Up the West-East, East Anglia the Hard Way, Wales Kept Where It Belongs, No Sex Please We're the Midlands, and so on), and the backing line-up of brass playing rozzers makes for a memorable image.

10/01/2020

Kedgeree?


Imagine for a moment you’re staying in an enormous country house with its minarets, pillars and polished floors. Rooms are the size of tennis courts and the foyer is dominated by a grand richly carpeted staircase. Its breakfast and your host asks if you’d like “Kedgeree”. “Er no thanks, just coffee and toast, mate” “Oh but cook has spent the last two hours making it”  (Incidentally nobody knows the name of `cook`) “Have you got any porridge?” “No but we have got kedgeree!” “Bacon? “ “Kedgeree!” There’s an edge to their voice now making it clear that this is all they have! So you acquiesce and moments later the sound of the approaching squeeeky wheeled Kedgeree Wagon is audible…

04/01/2020

Space 1999 - Collision Course & Death's Other Dominion


Collision Course
We enter the action right away as the Alphans prepare to blow up an asteroid that would otherwise collide with them. Worryingly the Alphans go-to solution for most problems appears to be to break out the nuclear charges which have a rather neat B&Q look about them. During the mission Alan Carter’s Eagle malfunctions and at first it looks as if he doesn’t make it back before the blast. However for reasons that are not initially clear John Koenig goes out on a limb to find him only to uncover a second and more serious collision course. A massive planet it headed right for them. And this makes Prentis Hancock, already simmering, even more irritated. 

27/12/2019

Top of the Pops 29 Nov & 20 Dec 1984


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. 
29 November: Janice Long: "Hello and welcome to a very live edition of Top of the Pops." Peter Powell: "And for starters one of my favourite records of the moment. It's from Nick Kershaw and it's called The Riddle!" 
[4] Nik Kershaw: The Riddle. Peter Powell is wearing a FEED THE WORLD white t-shirt. So is Nik Kershaw. So is everyone in Nik Kershaw's band. The story behind Do They Know It’s Christmas? is too well known to go into here, but this is where the single started to make its mark; four days after it was recorded and four days before release on Monday 3rd December. A quick turnaround that would allow Frankie Goes To Hollywood exactly one week at number one with The Power Of Love. It's often stated that the Band Aid video premièred on Top of the Pops before the single was released. That's not quite what happened. David Bowie introduced the video on BBC 1 25 minutes earlier between the end of the regional news and Tomorrow's World. You can see his introduction here https://twitter.com/BBCFOUR/status/929078810137497601 
Presumably it made more sense to show the video outside of Top of the Pops where it would be seen by a much more general audience. Top of the Pops doesn't seem any shorter this week. David Bowie's introduction and the video fit neatly into a five minute slot and presumably the regular 6.55 start time for Tomorrow's World was designed to flex back to 7pm when required. It would be interesting to see how the schedule was amended to cope. I guess they showed a few less trailers, and shaved a little time off the regional news and Tomorrow's World. (John – But what about the Riddle? What’s the answer? What??!!)

 
Nik Kershaw: The gardening was not going well.

23/12/2019

His Dark Materials Episode 8 review


This excellent concluding episode has the rhythm of a feature film with sweeping action sequences interspersed with quieter character moments. It successfully brings the plots together as both Lyra and Will’s storylines seem to converge and clues are lain for the already confirmed second series. In some ways it has the most straightforward plot of any of the episodes as the Magisterium converge on Asriel’s isolated mountain bolt hole he struggles with the conflicting demands of his ambitious scientific work and feelings for the daughter he thought he’d left safely back in Oxford.