UFOwatch: The Man Who Came Back

written by: Terrence Feely
directed by David Lane

Commander Craig Collins turns up 8 weeks after it was believed he was killed during a UFO attack on SID- but it seems he has changed.

If you’ve watched this many episodes of the series the outcome to `The Man Who Came Back` is not going to be a massive surprise especially as Derren Nesbitt, guesting as Collins, spends most scenes grinning maniacally as if to say `I am evil, you know`. However it is the skill with which director David Lane brings Terence Felly’s well written episode home that makes it stand out despite the predictability.
"Evil? Taken over by aliens? Me? You're joking Eddie!!"


Doctor Who: The Name of the Doctor

What’s in a Name? asks Roger Jones

In a series ending that showed how that whole Bad Wolf thing should have been done and once we got over the disappointment of the title not being an obscure Black Grape reference, `The Name of the Doctor` gave a rousing conclusion that was as full of emotion as it was with continuity going back through 50 years of adventures in time and space....

Spoilers ahead, Sweetie…..


Top of the Pops 1978: 18/05/78

As watched on BBC4 by Chris Arnsby

Originally broadcast 18/5/78

Peter Powell, “Hi! Good evening it's Top of the Pops and we're going to make you feel like dancing! Here's Rose Royce and the chart run down!”
Chart music: Rose Royce, It Makes You Feel Like Dancin' [16]

Smokie: Oh Carol [69]. This performance starts with a really well composed shot; a close up of the lead singer mixed with another close up of a guitar. It's held for nearly 20 seconds, an eternity in Top of the Pops editing, and once the guitar is faded out the camera pulls back to reveal a darkened studio with the audience largely silhouetted against the singer. The lights are not fully raised until the chorus, so we don't see the band until they join in with the song. It's a great example of the way the programme always tries to make sure the visuals are as important as the songs. The second verse has an unfortunately refrain, “she said I'm not sixteen if you know what I mean/so we sat and we talked for a while/and when we finally kissed you know she didn't resist/and I must say she did it with style.” It was the seventies. The past is a foreign country, etc, etc.

The Stranglers carry on while technicians in the background check for radiation


UFOwatch: Destruction

written by Dennis Spooner
directed by Ken Turner

When a Navy vessel downs a UFO, Straker tries to discover what the ship was protecting.

Renowned TV scriptwriter Dennis Spooner contributed to most of the major series of the 60s and 70s so it is understandable that this episode has a flavour of other shows, in particular espionage ones. It hinges on assumptions that are less than convincing though earns points for using a real Naval ship rather than the expected model shots. As for Paul Foster, he fails to notice perhaps the most obvious piece of surveillance equipment ever deployed and is easily talked into believing his new squeeze keeps a giant advanced telescope in her flat to look at the stars. 

"Is that a giant slug you're drawing, Eddie?" "Mmm, my lifelong acting ambition is to play a giant slug actually, Phil"


Ideal Gnomes

Garden gnomes are back! It’s true. After years of the sort of discrimination no longer allowed against anything living, garden gnomes have returned to the media. A brilliant IKEA advert may have the opposite effect to that intended while the 100th Chelsea Flower Show has allowed them in for the first time ever. They say just for this year but you never know. It is a triumph of sorts after a few decades when the normally ubiquitous inhabitants of those small corners of gardens found themselves ostracised, banned and generally discredited. Perhaps there is a way back…


UFOwatch: The Cat With Ten Lives

written & directed by David Tomblin

As the frequency of alien attacks increase threatening the Moonbase, SHADO obtain shocking new clues as to their intentions.

If you’ve wondered what would happen should the aliens choose to send more than three UFOs at a time, then the answer is that SHADO would be stretched. At the start of this episode, three interceptors and the Moonbase’s ground defences are no match for a sustained attack which itself is cover for a more daring plan. David Tomblin writes and directs a tour de force that shows up the lack of inventiveness in a lot of previous episodes. Combining action and tension with a surreal quality, this is genuinely good stuff.
"Darling, I think you've left the opening credits on the floor again"


Star Trek Into Darkness

Two films into the re-booted franchise and Star Trek is starting to act like any other action franchise.

You’d imagine the point of re-starting a popular franchise was because there was something new to say about the characters or the idea but if the sophomore offering of JJ Abrams’ Star Trek is any indication the more references to the old Trek the better. The increasingly detailed mythology built up over the original series and films is seemingly being re-created here with a few modern touches. Of course it looks amazing and thanks to CGI pretty much anything that they want to do can be done on screen. Yet all this seems to do is imbue superhuman qualities to the crew several of whom perform the sort of physical feats that no person, however well trained, could manage without a little digital help. Surely the whole point of Trek is that these are not superheroes, but ordinary clever people who need guile as well as strength to overcome the odds?

Warning- Medium spoilers beyond this point


Doctor Who: The Crimson Horror

Mark Gatiss has fun and so do we in this hugely entertaining episode

I suppose you’d expect a Mark Gatiss penned episode to be like this. Oscillating between humour and horror, full of period detail yet as pacy as any contemporary episode and at its heart a good, almost old fashioned Doctor Who sort of idea. Even so, it’s a refreshing predictability given all kinds of new spins. `The Crimson Horror` turns out to be the best script he’s turned in for the series which surprised me because I’ve always particularly liked `The Idiot’s Lantern` and just three weeks ago he successfully revived the Ice Warriors. `Crimson` beats them by a whisker because it is just so entertaining.


Top of the Pops 1978: 04/05/78

as watched by Chris Arnsby on BBC4

Kid Jensen, “hello and welcome to the music. This week's hit sound countdown is to the music of The Stranglers.”
Chart music: The Stranglers, Nice N Sleazy  [27]

The Dooleys: Don't Take It Lying Down [NEW]. The lead singer of The Dooleys is the very model of a cheesy pop star. Grinning massively, pointing at members of the audience, and doing a big Diana Ross style STOP-in-the-name-of-love hand gesture when recommending that the “girl” of the song, “don't take it lying down.” He's clearly deeply in love with himself; and why shouldn't he be? He is fronting the leading act on this week's Top Of The Pops, if it was me I'd need plastic surgery to keep the smile off my face. That said, the whole look and sound of The Dooleys is dated even for 1978, and the song somehow manages to be simultaneously bland and catchy. By the second repetition of the chorus you'll be humming along, but the song will be forgotten once the next band appears. 
One member of Darts had put something in the mouthwash...


UFOwatch: The Sound of Silence

written by David Lane and Bob Bell
directed by David Lane

A UFO lands somewhere in the English countryside and SHADO have to find it and its occupant before anyone is harmed.

Isn’t this the plot to a previous episode? There is certainly a sense of déjà vu about matters which seem to tread already well -worn ground with no new perspective to add. Given the credits, it’s tempting to speculate that David Lane was just given some resources to go and shoot something in the woods. Every scene is superbly directed with Lane displaying a talent for atmosphere yet all that effort is poured into a story that has nothing to say. It’s as clear an example of style over content as the series has yet managed.


Top of the Pops 1978: 20.04.78

Originally broadcast on 20/4/78

As watched by Chris Arnsby on BBC4

Peter Powell, “hi everyone and welcome to another edition of Top Of The Pops! Here's the chart run down and it's Raydio!.”
Chart music: Raydio, Jack And Jill [48]

Squeeze: Take Me I'm Yours [22]. Rightfully promoted to the opening track of the show, Squeeze are back with their performance enhanced by the vision mixer who is allowed a go on the Quantel digital effects box for the first time in three weeks. This week's feature, picture in picture in picture in picture in picture, etc. Like two mirrors placed in front of each other the main camera output is somehow fed back on itself, and recedes into the distance inside a box in the lower left hand corner of the screen. But, that's not all! During the instrumental the infinity box moves across the screen from the top left to bottom right; maximum power! Take Me I'm Yours still sounds fantastic and it's the first song of the 1978 repeats I've bought; if Jools Holland noticed an extra 6p in his bank account this week it came from me. 


UFOwatch: Sub Smash

written by Alan Fennell

directed by David Lane

Straker and Foster are trapped when the Skydiver is stranded deep underwater.

A change of pace and location for an aquatic flavoured episode that focuses on a small number of people trapped with both air and rescue options running out.  There is at first a fairly generic feel to proceedings that are hardly new even for 1969 but as the situation develops both writer Alan Fennell and director David Lane add enough variation to make this one of the more serious episodes of a series that it is sometime difficult to take very seriously. By the time the final two are gasping for air at the last minute you are gripped by it all. And, let’s face, it, there has been little evidence of that happening in this show before.

Straker was starting to regret having rissoles for tea


Iron Man 3

Tony Stark’s terrific third film.

The consensus seems to be that last year’s collective Avengers Assemble caper was better than each of its heroes’ individual movies but that of those Iron Man was the best. Despite some slightly mixed reactions to Tony Stark’s second film there can surely be little doubt that with Iron Man 3, the Marvel juggernaut has produced its most enjoyable and intelligent film yet.  This is everything you might hope for from an Iron Man film – and more. While packed with expected, yet inventive, set pieces IM3 manages to maintain both a heart and a sense of its own absurdity. In particular writer Shane Black delivers brilliant twists on a couple of rusty old action movie clichés. Two and a bit hours flies by and leaves you wanting more. Surely they have to do a fourth?