The Tripods Season 2 Eps 3 & 4

Episode 3: It starts with Black Guards stealing fruit to chuck at Will and his non speaking fellow prisoner in the pit. At this rate the town’s green grocers will soon be broke. Of course, Beanpole just rescues Will from the pit in his usual useful way and they are chased through the town but the boat has already left. You’d expect Beanpole to build a boat but in something of a remarkable shift, the boys end up was waiters as the wedding of the mayor’s daughter serving chips to some of the people who were probably trying to stone them hours earlier. Disappointingly the headgear in this town is nowhere near as radical as previous ones though both Will and Beanpole end up sporting slightly ridiculous looking bibs. It makes you wonder what happened to the actual waiters who had presumably been booked for this function; are they locked up in a cupboard somewhere? 


Top of the Pops 78: 19/10/78

First broadcast: 19/10/78 / Words: Chris Arnsby

Peter Powell. “Wait no longer! Right before your very eyes another edition of Top of the Pops!”
Chart music: The Boomtown Rats, Rat Trap [9].

Showaddywaddy: Pretty Little Angel Eyes [NEW]. Showaddywaddy are old hands at Top of the Pops now. This is something like their fifth appearance this year. They've worked out a routine which involves the one dressed in purple and the one dressed in orange doing a little circuit of the stage before returning to point at the crowd on the “wop-wop-wop-wop.” 
Donna Summer in casual wear


Captain Phillips

Based on the 2009 incident in which a US tanker was captured by a handful of Somali pirates, Captain Phillips is a story tailor made for film and fulfils that potential thanks to sharp direction from Paul Greengrass and two very strong performances at its core. There have been suggestions that the Captain is made out to be more heroic than he really was and that is was his ignoring of the pirate threat that led the ship into a dangerous area. Phillips himself has said the ordeal was even worse than depicted in the film. However the acts displayed here are far removed from the triumphant heroics you see in many moves nowadays as the ending makes clear and the resulting film, even if it is not totally accurate, is a very well assembled nail biting thriller that will take you beyond the edge of your seat!


Atlantis Episodes 2 - 4

Unusually for a modern series the second episode `A Girl by any Other Name` is better than the first and contains a lot more menace and atmosphere. The creatures in the woods are particularly well realised and rather menacing even for those of us who’ve seen more creatures lurking in woods than we’ve had hot dinners. The episode is punctuated by scares and plot turns that seem fresh enough to keep the viewer involved. The one big issue with the series at this point is the ease with which Jason has settled in to his historical life. He may well complain that he doesn’t know his place in this world but in fact he seems all too acquainted with it. Whereas everything should be strange, new and a bit off putting he is strolling about like he’s lived here for years. Where are the gags about smartphones, the Internet, The Beatles and washing machines? Where is the dialogue to illustrate his life as a cultural castaway? Starting off in the present day seemed a bold gambit but it already appears pointless. One throwaway line from the Oracle is supposed to cover the anomaly but really that’s not enough especially when there’s a whole line of humour to be mined from it; think how Life on Mars did it for example. At least Jack Donnelly is more sure footed in his acting this week though he still struggles to impose his status as the lead in the series with the likes of Juliet Stevenson, Mark Addy, Robert Emms and Jemima Rooper about. 


Junk Culture

Can advertising make using litter bins attractive?

Advertising has somehow inveigled its way into every aspect of our lives so it was inevitable that it would also creep into some of the less glamorous areas. Disposing of litter is about as far down the pecking order as you can get when it comes to something that can potentially be sexed up or made to look cool but you have to acknowledge that municipal authorities are doing their best. It’s just that the results of the latest two campaigns are either awful or impossible!


The Tripods Season 2 Episodes 1 & 2

Episode 1: There’s a sense that the series may be starting to move into the potentially more interesting area of mixed technologies. While the lessons that the potential infiltrators attend are delivered via tried and trusted chalk and talk methods, there are theories about computers and even bio engineering discussed. The idea that the creatures inside the Tripods were engineered by man but turned against us seems far too bold to be thrown away in an academic conversation though; surely this should be what Will and co discover when they enter the City of Gold?

After fixing the engine and curing the captain's wife Beanpole decided to build a cottage.


Top of the Pops 78: 05/10/78

First shown on 5/10/78
Words: Chris Arnsby

Kid Jensen. “For all that's best in the chart welcome to Top of the Pops and this week's chart countdown is to the tune of Abba!”
Chart music: Abba, Summer Night City [5].

Mick Jackson: Blame It On The Boogie [32]. Mick Jackson? Retreating to Wikipedia I find Mick Jackson is one of the original authors of this song, which was subsequently played to and recorded again very quickly by other more famous Jacksons. Both versions were released within a few days of each other and the press covered this battle of the Jacksons with interest. How about that! In 1978 my mind was on higher things. Namely whether Keith Chegwin would ever bring Swaporama to Ripon*. There's a shot of the audience dancing at one point, a straight cutaway to a gaggle of self-conscious teenage girls dancing to the camera. It's not the type of shot Top of the Pops normally does. I wonder if it's being used to cover an edit, or a problem with the recording of Mick Jackson's performance?


Sunshine on Leith

A musical about two soldiers returning home directed by Dexter Fletcher and based around songs by The Proclaimers sounds an unlikely fit but it works. Granted the story is often determined solely by navigating from one song to the next yet Sunshine on Leith has a heartfelt charm that keeps you interested and a good cast who make it believable enough. They don’t tell us what havering is though!!


Breaking Bad

The best series ever? John Connors goes back to the start to watch the seasons 1 and 2 of the astonishing Breaking Bad.

When enough people describe a programme as the best ever it’s bound to make you want to give it a try though this can pall when every new US drama is heralded thus (and by implication every UK drama is the opposite).  Nowadays you can’t move for people extolling the brilliance of Breaking Bad which is strange as the series has recently concluded. Has there ever been a series ending just as everyone decided it was amazing? The general rule is that great programmes are in decline when they stop or else they are prematurely cancelled. Breaking Bad appears to have concluded at exactly the right moment judging from the reaction to this month’s finale. Meanwhile, enticed by its glowing tributes I am starting back at the beginning. The down side is trying to avoid spoilers, the upside is that I won’t have to wait a year to move from one season to the next.  I could watch it all over the next few days if I wanted in a Walter White type frenzy! Will it be the best series ever? 

NB There will be spoilers aplenty in this article though they won’t necessarily make sense unless you’ve seen it.


Top of the Pops 78: 21.09.78

First broadcast on 21/09/78
Watched by Chris Arnsby in 2013

Paul Burnett. “Hello, I'm Paul Burnett. Glad you could make it because it's a great show lined up for you 'cause it's Top of the Pops!”
Chart music: The Motors, Forget About You [15].

Buzzcocks: Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) [49] “All the energy exploding on Top of the Pops!” was how Peter Powell back announced The Jam singing David Watts last week (on BBC4 at least, in Top of the Pops order we've skipped an edition presented by J**** S***** on 14/9/78). Perhaps Peter Powell was accidentally thinking ahead to this week. Buzzcocks go down really well with the audience. They get a well deserved round of applause at the end of the song.


The Tripods Season One Episodes 12 & 13

Episode 12: It’s time for Will, Henry and Beanpole to stand trial which means an array of more silly hats amongst the village dignitaries. White fezzes are one thing but one woman tops even the Mayor’s imitation cake with her amazing headpiece that includes two large leather flaps underneath her chin. What possible use- even in a dystopian future- could such a fashion have? One feels it is the village tailor who should be on trial for crimes against millinery. Anyway after the costume department have exceeded the boundaries of taste, the trial itself is shorter than all the walking in and parading about. Daniel, the guard who’s been following them for the last two episodes whisks them away in a cage.