Agent Carter Now Is Not The End

Season 1 Episode 1
Marvel’s ever expanding Universe is now spreading across the small screen too with Agents of SHIELD now established and this series following the post-war exploits of Peggy Carter. The first episode is brisk and efficient though seems initially a frothier entry in the canon. There’s little establishing work done for those who haven’t followed the films save for the inclusion of clips from the first Captain America movie’s climax. This is a surprise though hardly explains much to those unfamiliar with that scenario perhaps indicating they don’t expect to gather many new fans.
The general thrust of the episode is two pronged; firstly to establish that Peggy is still very much active as an agent packing a pistol in her handbag while her flatmate believes she works for a phone company. The second aspect seems to be Peggy’s male colleagues’ attitude to her presence. Even though it’s 1946 they seem rooted in a pre war ignorance that all she’s really good at is making coffee and filing. This provides Hayley Attwell with the episode’s most satisfying moments as she gets her own back in subtle ways. The writers takes a careful approach rather than try to view the situation from a modern perspective.


Doomwatch The Inquest and The Logicians

The Inquest
Well I’ll be…Colin Bradley has left t’office for the first time in the entire series. Not only that but he’s shed his white coat and has more than a handful of lines. In a knotty, wordy episode penned by Robert Holmes, Bradley says a little too much during an inquest when he declares that all the dogs in the area need to be destroyed something which shocks the event into a recess. That’s plain speaking for you, lad. He’s probably just over excited about all the fresh air.

Colin is relieved after finally getting out of the office after 10 years


The NME Retreats

The venerable music publication NME is about to become a free publication given away like Metro or London’s Standard for nothing. This is surely just a temporary situation paving the way for the brand to move totally online. As someone who has spent a lot of time writing and editing print fanzines there is part of me that finds this trend disappointing (says he typing on a blog!). However you can see it’s inevitability. Most people now obtain news online where it can be updated every few seconds and is obviously more up to date than waiting for even the quickest print process. Anything else can be put somewhere for all to see whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or wherever.  All of which means the concept of a formal, edited entity is slowly dying out. 


Top of the Pops 7 Aug 1980

Shown on BBC4. Reviewed by Chris Arnsby.

Suddenly it's nine weeks later. The Musician's Union strike is over.

Peter Powell,"hello! We're back! And you're welcome to Top of the Pops! Thank you for joining us this evening and when I say us I say myself and one Elton John!"
Elton John [for it is he],"good evening Peter."

Peter Powell,"hello! Thank you for joining us on the show!"
Elton John,"it's quite a pleasure what have we got on tonight?"
Peter Powell,"let me tell you what we've got on the show tonight. Starting off with..."

Top of the Pops now starts with a preview of the night's attractions backed by A Whole Lotta Love by C.C.S which returns as the theme music for the first time since July 1977. I don't like the preview. I didn't like it at the time either, although I couldn't have explained why. I realise now that an important part of the show was the anticipation caused by waiting to see if you're favourite single was going to be played (surely this is the week for Dippety Day by Father Abraham & The Smurfs). It lets some of the air out of the balloon to know in advance that Britain's oiliest man Bryan Ferry is going to make an appearance.

Here's a small mystery. The clips used for the top of the show previews of Brian Ferry, Hot Chocolate, The Gibson Brothers, and Bad Manners are from old episodes of Top of the Pops; not tonight's show. Why would they do that? Ordering up old episodes from the archives in order to transfer a single short clip must be more time consuming than building the preview as the programme is edited. On closer inspection it also turns out the clip of Kelly Marie and her dancers is from tonight's show, but the one of Sheena Easton is not from Top of the Pops. What's going on? It looks as if they built the preview in advance -as much as possible- and got Peter Powell to do his voice over live in the studio.


Doomwatch The Human Time Bomb

Writer Louis Marks takes on the planning industry in this well delivered episode centred on what would then be seen as a modern high rise development. The cameras look up and around it from the start as if it is some menacing monster which in some ways it turns out to be though we’re never left in any doubt as to the complicity of those who designed it. Essentially undercover for six weeks in the Langley Estate, Fay Chantry gradually becomes less stable and more fearful but of what? With some simple accomplished shots director Joan Kemp takes us into a world that might seem to have been designed for people but is soulless and isolating. As with several episodes in this run of the series, the questions raised are still relevant today.


Save the BBC!

The BBC is always under attack from somewhere. If it’s not because of a particular incident or programme it is about the way the Corporation exists in todays’ very different television landscape. Lately this debate has intensified as the government seems eager to listen more to the BBC’s critics than its defenders. It doesn’t seem to matter that many who accuse the BBC are themselves rivals eager to sink the Corporation. They have played right into the hands of a British government eager to make the BBC weaker.  At the heart of the current debate is the BBC’s commercial aspirations.
It has been suggested that they sell off their online operation and commercial operations (basically the BBC website and BBC Worldwide) and stop making programmes that are obviously competing for ratings like The Voice or Strictly Come Dancing. This argument is clever in a way because if this were to happen the BBC’s ratings certainly would fall, it would be seen as less important and the next round of arguments would be along the lines of the decline of the BBC. How to revive it? Oh why not sell off the whole thing?


Doomwatch Web of Fear & In The Dark

Web of Fear
The clue’s in the title of Gerry Davis’ tale of an apparent outbreak of yellow fever at a remote health farm. Before long the place is isolated and most of Doomwatch are there. But the fly in the ointment are the Griffiths a scientist couple who want to harvest the results of an experiment into a virus that can kill a moth which harms food. The result is an absorbing, well constructed episode that focusses both on the imminent danger and also the nature of scientific research.


Top of the Pops 29 May 1980

Guest Post by Chris Arnsby
Kid Jensen. "Hello there and welcome to Top of the Pops. This week's chart countdown is to the music of Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway."
Opening Titles: Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway, Back Together Again [22].
Liquid Gold: Substitute [52]. Not to be confused with the 1966 song Substitute by The Who. Or the 1975 song Substitute by The Righteous Brothers. Or the 1978 song Substitute by Clout which was a cover of The Righteous Brothers' song. The Liquid Gold song is no substitute [ho-ho!] for any of those songs.
OMD do their best to blend in with the scenery.   


Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell Episode 7

This splendid series comes to an end in just as accomplished a fashion with a mixture of big effects and small moments. Compared to some earlier episodes the pace is close to frantic at times yet it provides a superb climax to the various plot strands. Boiled down to Strange trying to rescue his wife from Lost Hope before the curse kills him and requiring Norrell’s help to summon the Raven King it sounds simple enough. It’s a measure of the quality of the adaptation that, by all accounts, allot was cut from the original novel material yet we can still enjoy the complexities of the story. Happily this episode ties up almost all the loose ends, resolves several character’s storylines and also delivers a robust and at times surprisingly emotional finale.