20/10/2020

Top of the Pops 17 Oct 1985

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Peter Powell: “Hello! Welcome one and all to another edition of Top of the Pops! On the show tonight we've got Elton John, we've got Jennifer Rush, we've got Colonel Abrams, and who else!?” Mike Read: “Well, one of the biggest risers in the chart this week heading towards the top ten. We're going to kick off with a bit of Rock and Roll, it's Shaky and Lipstick, Powder, and Paint.”
[18] Shakin' Stevens: Lipstick, Powder & Paint. Gather round children and I'll tell you again of the remarkable story of Shakin' Stevens. Now in the sixth year of his pop career, he's released 18 singles and all bar one have reached the Top 20 (Hot Dog, 24 in March 1980), and 11 of those singles made the Top 10. Lipstick, Powder, and Paint will not be one of those Top 10 songs but if you were to draw a graph (with Pop Success on the X-axis and Shaky Factor on the Y-axis) I think this might be the performance to come out right in the middle. I'd describe it as mean Shaky, but that makes it sound like he's had a Billy Idol bad-boy makeover. If you listen to the song it's nothing remarkable. It's another Shakin' Stevens cover of a fifties single. It's the performance that elevates it, and it's a great example of how Top of the Pops is able to work its magic.


 

15/10/2020

Catch-22 mini series review

It is not every novelist who can claim to have introduced a phrase to everyday life but Joseph Heller is one such example. His 1961 novel Catch 22 introduced a phrase describing a paradoxical situation in which "the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem or by a rule." The most commonly used example these days relates to unemployment wherein people find they can’t get a job without experience but it is not possible to get that experience without a job. Rules like this can be also be used to ensure compliance in any work situation. In H’s novel set in the final months of World War2, it applies to a clause wherein you can be exempt from flying missions if you are crazy but if you report your condition this makes you sane and therefore you have to fly - "anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy," as a character explains.

 


13/10/2020

Space 1999 - One Moment of Humanity & All That Glisters

One Moment of Humanity
Vegans! Lionel Blair! A computer with large balls! Alpha’s critical systems are knocked out in a second and everyone seems to freeze where they are. Into this grand game of statues arrives Zamara from the planet Vega. Yes, they’re Vegans! Played with boggle eyed enthusiasm by Billie Whitelaw she wants to take two people with her and she chooses Helena (who happens to be sporting a pink party dress) and Tony (who thankfully isn’t). As the increasingly desperate Alphans struggle to find power to keep life support going, their two crewmates find themselves on a planet that seems to be populated by dance drama students with robot servants that resemble members of Nineties dance outfit Altern8. Incidentally they transport there simply by thinking about it! If you think all this is bizarre it is nothing compared with what transpires.

09/10/2020

Ad Break#21 Bulls, Cars and Phones

Moneysupermarket- “Be like the money calm Bull”
This just has to be the best advert of 2020! Having utilised the silky tones of Matt Berry (or perhaps Steven Toast?) for a while now telling us to stay “money calm” the latest Moneysupermarket ad involves the Money Calm Bull. Still voiced by Matt Berry the ad shows a large bull standing calmly in a variety of scenarios each of them more extreme than the previous one yet the animal remains calm. This bull has become quite the star, pictured on the side of buses and on billboards while the advert itself is brilliant.


 

04/10/2020

Top of the Pops 12 Sep 1985

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Steve Wright: “Here's Mike Read!! I'm Steve Wright!! Good evening!! Welcome to Top of the Pops!!” Mike Read: “Oh you're Steve Wright” Steve Wright: “That's me!!” Mike Read: “Number 12 we have Amii Stewart with Eddie Floyd's Knock On Wood.”
[12] Amii Stewart: Knock On Wood. [Just for the record, I have a post-it note stuck to my monitor reminding me not to spend all my time whining about the Mike Read/Steve Wright combination. Let's just take it as read, they both have a much higher opinion of their hilarity levels than I do.] Amii Stewart returns to Top of the Pops almost nine months after her previous song Friends peaked at 12. If this re-release of Knock On Wood was intended to cash in on the success of Friends (described on this very blog as, “an amiable enough song,” ho-ho, eh readers!) then it's very oddly timed.
A look at the Official UK Chart website reveals some of the backstory. Friends was released by RCA Records. Amii's next single, a cover of That Loving Feeling which spent one week in the charts at number 95, wasn't released on a record label*. Then Knock On Wood is released on the Sedition label. It looks as if Amii's absence from the charts was caused by behind-the-scenes business.

 

02/10/2020

Space 1999- The Exiles

Helena’s start of episode voiceover suggests everything is fine yet moments later what look like fifty missiles are seen approaching Alpha! Koenig will be stopping her doing the ship’s log soon. Come to think of it why do they bother with a log? It’s not like they’ll be getting home like the Enterprise any time soon. Anyhow they nab one of these apparent missiles, prod and probe it before slicing it open with a laser only to find Peter Duncan, future Blue Peter presenter, inside! He’s playing Cantor a seemingly reasonably friendly alien whose been exiled from his planet along with a number of others and unless they are rescued from their space tombs the atmosphere will destroy them in thirty six hours.

 

    Helena just couldn't stand their clothes.

29/09/2020

Us review

This four part adaptation of David Nicholls’ popular book opens with an extended middle of the night discussion between Connie and Douglas Peterson who have been married for nearly twenty five years. With their son Albie about to leave for Art College, she says she thinks they should separate, he is shocked by this declaration and herein begins an intriguing first episode which pulls at the tiny things that could make or break a marriage. Connie wants something different but she’s not sure what. “I want…change” she says, while Douglas seems content with what they have. It’s certainly an intriguing opening gambit for a series that appears as if it might tell a familiar tale. It does but not necessarily in the manner you’d expect. There’s been some criticism of the pace of the first two episodes (the whole series is on the iPlayer) but I promise you it is worth staying with as each episode has a tone of its own and the splendid cast develop a script that is filled with recognisable things. 


 

25/09/2020

Top of the Pops 5 Sept 1985

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Peter Powell: “Hi everybody! Welcome to Top of the Pops and our new time for the whole of the autumn!” Mike Smith: “All the climbers, all the breakers, and a new number one to come this evening, and let's start off with a real wang-dang-arooga. It's that Tarzan Boy, Baltimora. This week's number three.”
[3] Baltimora: Tarzan Boy. No gorilla this week, disappointingly, and no loin cloth either (see the 22/08/1985 and 29/08/1985 editions respectively). Baltimora is still doing that thing where he throws his coat backwards and accompanies the momentary glimpse of his bare torso with a shocked Kenneth-Williams-at-that-moment-in-Carry-on-Camping face. It occurs here at exactly the same point it did on the 22/08/1985 edition, so it's an established part of the routine rather than a spur of the moment topless-protest at BBC old maids and their loincloth embargo. (Fact John- There’s a rather sad story about this song. Jimmy McShane who does all the promo performances like this one was a former paramedic from Londonderry selected to front the Italian based `group` more for his dancing- and presumably coatography- than singing. Despite the huge success of the song, follow ups flopped and he was soon back in regular life. He died in 1995.)