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Vision On (1965)
Vision On was a children's show that began in in 1964. It was aimed at deaf children. One of the presenters Pat Keysell used sign language.
By the time I watched it, the main focus was Tony Hart and artwork.
It was still a visual show, with animation, sketches and sign language as well. There was innovative photography and visual effects.
A recent BBC repeat had Hart using seaweed to create a picture. Pat Keysell and Sylvester McCoy end up in a backwards world.
There was an emphasis on silent comedy. Then there was the Gallery as the show displayed viewers artwork. None of it could be returned.
Tony Hart would have his own series in 1977 where he would introduce Morph.
The Irish Version
Bye Bye Sam. Her character was surplus to requirements or Caterina Murino was obliged to appear in just a few episodes.
The remainder of her appearances could just be flashbacks. It means XIII is even more haunted as he travels to Ireland looking for a man called Seamus.
Agent Jones is in tow although the heat is on her. Her superiors back in Washington think that XIII must have a guardian angel.
The best lead XIII gets in Ireland is an old girlfriend of Seamus. However others are interested in XIII over his snooping.
This is a story that is based on the graphic novel story. However the Good Friday Peace Accord means it has to be heavily rewritten to fit in with the television narrative.
It is still a story about terrorists, arms dealing and this time far right groups are brought into the story.
Jones is shocked as to what might have happened in American soil. There might be a suspicion that Seamus was XIII all along.
Canada stands in for Ireland rather unconvincingly.
Rentaghost: Episode #7.11 (1982)
Rentaghost was a popular and ever present farcical children's show when I was a kid.
The main cast changed quite a bit during its run. Only ghost jester Timothy Claypole (Michael Staniforth) spooked till the very end.
The quality declined in the latter years. I guess the presence of Christopher Biggins hamming it up was entirely coincidental.
Adam Painting has a new clothing line for ghosts but Timothy Claypole, Hazel the McWitch and Nadia Popov are not happy with the wages they are getting.
Meanwhile Painting wants the Meakers to do some clothes modelling. However they have stopped arguing for a few minutes and decide to hop off on a break without telling the ghosts.
By this time the stories do not make much sense, the humour is broad. More emphasis on silliness but it is still fun, just about. It helps that the cast are all on the same page. Even Biggins.
SAS Rogue Heroes: Episode #1.4 (2022)
SAS Rogue Heroes does suffer from action in the dark in most of its episodes. This is no different. I just take out my night vision goggles.
David Stirling uses psychology to reign in Paddy Mayne. Utilize Mayne's competitive spirit as to who can have the most kills. Mayne certainly is racking up the body count, a bottle of whisky is just an extra incentive that is not needed.
In this episode, the SAS unit are coming together as a team. They have their own berets and get in a fight over its colour in a bar brawl.
However they also have to deal with their first main casualty on a mission. Jock Lewes buys it and Mayne is distraught about his death.
Although the various personalities shine through, this is episodic storytelling at the moment. It ends with the SAS having to take on French paratroopers for training.
It promises to be a grudge match between Mayne and the French in the next episode.
Will Ferrell created a modern Christmas classic in Elf and one turns up here as well.
Now Ferrell has teamed up with Ryan Reynolds for a musical remix of A Christmas Carol.
Ferrell plays the Ghost of Christmas Present who works on the unredeemable to mend their ways. His latest target is social media executive Clint Briggs (Reynolds.) He is selfish, snarky and brash who manipulates social media to divide and embarrass people.
His latest foray is to use sneaky tricks to get his niece elected as school president. However the Ghost of Christmas Present and his team step in and spirits Briggs away to a journey of self discovery.
Briggs is not alone in this journey. The Ghost of Christmas Present finds that he can interact with Briggs personal assistant Kimberly (Octavia Spencer.)
Spirited is a convoluted mess of a film with way too many musical numbers. It even makes a joke about the number of songs it has.
It is overlong and gets tangled very quickly. As a modern reworking of the Scrooge story, it cannot hold a candle to Bill Murray's Scrooged.
Wedding Season: Episode #1.4 (2022)
The budget stretched to Las Vegas. Stefan and Katie went on an impromptu trip to Vegas.
Stefan who has never gambled before hits a lucky streak at the cards table. It invites suspicion from the casino security.
It is obvious that Katie once again has an ulterior motive. She had reason to be at that casino. She also counts cards.
All this comes to light as both have been tied up by Conrad Lennox. He was Katie's first husband and he is not best pleased.
Conrad was left abandoned by Katie and in an American jail. He was visited by some heavies and looks at an opportunity to make a deal with the people looking for them. Even if it leaves Katie dead.
Having been to Vegas many times. I just love how on television shows you can drive on the strip at night with no other traffic.
It was also weird to see the action move between Manchester and Vegas. At least I have an inkling just what Katie might be up to. Which is more than Stefan.
Calderone's Return: Part 2 - Calderone's Demise
With Crockett and Tubbs heading to the Bahamas. Part 2 of the story promised to be action packed as they head to get Calderone.
Instead this is a moody piece, even introspective.
Luckily the duo meet a helpful barman as soon as they set foot on the island. An American who has been having a fun time in the Bahamas for some years.
Crockett impersonates the hit man Ludovici Armstrong as none of Calderone's local employees have ever seen him.
Tubbs meanwhile investigates a lead. A woman called Angelina who might be a wife or a mistress of Calderone. Instead Tubbs discovers that she is Calderone's daughter and knows nothing about his criminal activities.
Some crooked cops and Crockett's impersonation being futile means there are some action scenes. The duo land in deep water at one point.
The music though blends well with the doleful atmosphere.
Professionals: Entanglements (2022)
There are a lot of flashbacks to this episode. It almost feels like a continuation of the pilot episode. Maybe the opening was meant to be a two parter.
There is more of a backstory regarding Vincent Corbo and his crew and how he managed to get them together several days earlier.
Also how Vincent and Graciela Davila first encountered each other. He saved her life.
Peter Swann seems to be ignoring his fiancée's connection or should it be attraction to Vincent. The latter regards his job as finished and wants payment.
Swann wants Vincent's team to continue. After all there has been a security leak and a satellite that has exploded due to sabotage. Encountering an old face means Vincent changes his mind.
The second episode works as nice, easy entertainment. There are some action set pieces, plenty of backstory and if all else fails. Peter Swann buys it all out.
The Fades: Episode #1.4 (2011)
After being knocked down on the road. Paul is on life support but really he is dead. Neil can see him as a fade.
Meanwhile the fades that has been reborn in a human body is John. He seeks out Paul but realises that he cannot harm Paul now that he is dead.
John wants to save Natalie who is being tortured by Neil and the other Angelics. Instead John has to now manipulate Paul.
It is a distraught Mac who somehow has to find a way to bring Paul to life.
There was an insight as to how some fades ceased to ascend during the second world war. The ladder was broken because their were so many deaths.
John's tragic backstory gives a lot of grey as to the afterlife of the fades. Especially as the Angelics refused to aid them.
It blends in well with a teenage Paul not having enough life experiences to realise that he might be played by John as well.
For the first time, Paul's twin sister comes into some use.
The Detectives: House Call (1960)
Rod Halleck (Pernell Roberts) gets shot while robbing a grocery store. His girlfriend Marcy Collins (Fay Spain) who is the getaway driver crashes the cae as Halleck is in pain.
She manages to force her way in the house belonging to Nora Maitland and her two young children.
Halleck is badly injured and needs medical attention. He also shot dead the grocery store clerk.
The only way to save the family is for Captain Holbrook to get inside the house by pretending to be a doctor.
There is a good performance from Spain as the ruthless Marcy. Holbrook tries to buy time as he is no medic.
Although i did have to wonder if a GP in America has surgical skills to lodge a bullet out.
The Elephants' Graveyard
Director Alan Clarke made hard hitting dramas such as The Firm, Scum and Made in Britain. He also made Penda's Fen, something multi layered with roots in paganism.
By the same token Scots director John Mackenzie directed The Long Good Friday, A Sense of Freedom and Just Another Saturday. He seemed to specialise in the mean streets of Glasgow.
The Elephants' Graveyard is Mackenzie broadening his horizons. An attempt to do something deeper, maybe magical realism again with a nod to Scottish paganism.
Bunny (Jon Morrison) is a postman who is meant to go to work. He has lost his job and spends his days in the woods rather than tell his wife that he is unemployed.
One day he encounters a free spirited drifter Jody (Billy Connolly.) He also pretends to be at work. Both men bond, talke, drink wine and have a boisterous time where they try to out dare each other.
Bunny is always careful not to mess his clothes. Jody persuades him to cross a stream and Bunny gets his clothes wet.
Eventually Jody confides to Bunny that he only got married because his wife was pregnant and did not want to tell his mother what happened. The exactly same thing happened to Bunny.
In a narrative sense this drama has Jody as the catalyst. This stranger could be danger or someone who understands Bunny's predicament.
He first tries to loosen up Bunny, even riling him. Jody talks about his days in the merchant navy and how he ended up back in his hometown.
Bunny wants to escape, he could not after he made his girlfriend pregnant and felt obligated to marry her. His hopes and dreams dashed.
The drama gets better once the men attempt to reach a poetical understanding. In the end Jody was either a ghost or a figment of Bunny's imagination. Someone to show Bunny another road, one that does not see him rambling on the woods all day.
This was a two hander that has good performances from Morrison and Connolly.
Set in 1959 with rock and roll entering the small town of Ballarat. Dr Lucien Blake (Craig McLachlan) is an world war 2 veteran and an ex prisoner of war in the far east.
Blake has returned to Ballarat to take over his late father's medical practice and also become the local police surgeon.
His first case is that of Ann Fitzgerald, a pregnant teenager who resided at the reform school. Her body was found in the lake but she Blake believes that she was run over.
The first suspect is teacher who might have made Ann pregnant, he also sells amphetamines to the local teens.
In reality a small sleepy Australian town in the 1950s was probably more backward than Ballarat.
Rock n Roll likely arrived in towns like Ballarat just before Mad Max was released in 1979. If you think I exaggerate even in the 1970s, Aboriginal Australians were classed as other fauna and flora rather than human beings.
So I will cut it some revisionist slack. Blake has a modern attitude which might be shaped by his wartime experience. After all Dystopian novelist and doctor, JG Ballard also grew up in prisoner of war camp.
Ballarat is full of stuffy and conservative men and women. Ann was looked down at for being a reform school girl. A larrikin type. Maybe an illicit love affair was a clue to her murder.
The first episode was a slog. Too much time with Blake being insufferable over a nude painting in a gentleman's club. I get it he is a maverick in a townful of wowsers.
In the end Blake has his suspect but no proof. Instead of police evidence, it is that old faithful, a full confession that clears up the mystery.
The Black Tower - Part Two
With more deaths. Wilfred Antsey looks to be setup as the murderer. He is a spiritual adviser to the residents at the home and is very strict. Antsey might also be a fraud over his own miracle recovery.
The local police are reluctant to help Dalgliesh. He gets independent help from sergeant Kate Miskin who proves to be useful.
As both investigate for clues, talk to potential suspects, small nuggets of information are revealed. Dalgliesh decides to follow the money and that might be linked to the trip to Lourdes that Antsey is very keen on.
A much better story than the first one. The pacing was far superior and a lot of tension at the end, this was a bit of a cliffhanger.
The identity of the murderer was easily fathomed if you listen out for the crews. Dalgliesh very much confirmed it when he goes one on one with the villain. Maybe he should had called for back up first.
The Fosters: The Check Up (1976)
The Check Up
Samuel is in a bad mood and his family believe that he is ill.
He has been ratty and short tempered. Maybe it is money troubles or something to do with job security.
The family want Samuel to see a doctor, maybe he hypertension or similar. However Samuel is too proud.
When Shirley announces that she has been offered an evening shift the local chippie. Samuel is against it.
A more sombre and serious episode. A look at male pride and the man of the house being a breadwinner.
Samuel is stressed out and laid off. With potential money trouble he is annoyed that Pearl might get a part time job to make ends meet.
It might have helped if there was a reference to the previous episode. How Samuel was forced to turn down a job paying £50 a day from a dodgy preacher.
Sorry!: Perchance to Dream (1982)
Perchance to Dream
Timothy has been plagued with nightmares and sleepwalking. The dream concern Timothy being at school in short trousers and the headmaster wanting to cane him.
Maybe it is linked with Timothy having a job interview coming up. It might be nerves or that his mother wants to give Timothy a haircut and war his best suit for the interview.
Timothy decides that he needs to see a psychotherapist to discuss the issues. He has already left several phone messages.
When he arrives he mistakes the female psychotherapist for a patient and starts to ramble.
Later when Timothy goes to a job interview wearing casual clothes, he mistakes the other interviewees for the interview panel.
The funniest thing was Ronnie Corbett basically doing his Two Ronnies sitting in the settee ramble.
The fact that a not so funny gag, Timothy going into the psychotherapist office and mistaking her, is basically repeated with the interview scenario.
It just shows weak writing. Timothy just likes to wither on.
With Jamie trapped by the Macra. The Doctor needs to figure out just why they need the gas pumped below to them.
The Macra need the gas to survive and the humans are used to extract the gas for them.
Maybe switching the gas to oxygen will do the trick. It will also allow the Doctor to show the colonists that Control is controlled by the Macra.
The Doctor needs to persuade the Pilot to agree with his plan. Ola will certainly not go for it.
Even in animation form that could take creative liberties with the original broadcast but now lost story. The Macra Terror was a misfire.
It was lukewarm from the very beginning and never heated up much tension or thrills.
A Voice from the Past
It is a popular held belief that Pauline Collins was so popular as Sarah that the audience demanded her return to the series.
The fact that she returns for episode 10 of series 1 indicates that her character's return was planned in advance. The series would have already been recorded before broadcast of the first episode.
Elizabeth Bellamy is doing her bit for the poor and running a soup kitchen. On a visit to the kitchen, James Bellamy recognises Sarah who is now downtrodden and down on her luck.
Elizabeth takes pity on her and Sarah is employed as a lowly scullery maid. Not a position she is happy with.
It is not long before Sarah plots her way into her old position. The ghost of the late Emily is cynically used by Sarah as she holds a seance.
This story is a good look at Sarah's scheming side. She might be down but never out for the count. Even her relationship with Rose is distant as Rose felt let down by Sarah.
By the end she manages to mellow Rose down as well. Sarah is a determined lady.
The End of the World Show
It is Christmas Eve and the Goodies are planning to celebrate Christmas. Bill has bought a skateboard, while Graeme has got a skateboard destruction kit. It is a combination of a gun, a hammer and a bomb. Graeme really wants to destroy skateboards.
A sudden BBC announcement informs everyone that the world will end in 28 minutes. It is no joke. The United Nations this is the best way forward, with the worsening problems of racism, overpopulation and pollution.
Graeme and Bill plan to enjoy themselves in the time remaining. It is Tim Brooke-Taylor that is a killjoy and ends up winding Bill up with his inhibitions.
The episode was also known as Earthanasia. The Goodies were hedging their bets in case the BBC did not renew another series.
More zany fun, surreal with Bill shaving off his beard and showing a balding head.
The best bit was Graeme Garden doing an impression of the Muppets.
Henry Scarlet Detective Agency has fallen on hard times due to Henry Scarlet's untimely death.
Luckily he taught his daughter Eliza Scarlet (Kate Phillips) all there is to know about being a detective.
Eliza is determined to make a go of it as a detective in Victorian London. She hopes William 'Duke' Wellington (Stuart Martin) a family acquaintance and an inspector in Scotland Yard will help her out.
When a client turns up Eliza pretends that her father is busy rather than dead. The client wants the agency to find her niece who married the wrong type and was disowned.
Eliza quickly locates her working in a disreputable part of London.
However there is a twist, Eliza has been duped by the client. He was her so called niece's husband and now plans to take over his wife's inheritance and have her locked up in an asylum.
It seems Eliza needs to use her resourcefulness to save the woman she has just found.
Miss Scarlet and the Duke follows the path of a plucky clever detective in olden days. Where the woman was expected to be a wife and homekeeper.
You sense there would be a twist as Eliza found the niece very quickly. The turning of the tables when Eliza found evidence of the client's first wife was a bit too neat and convenient.
I was also not taken by the relationship between Eliza and the Duke. The latter appears to be rather demand obstructive in the first episode. Maybe heir relationship gets better in future stories.
The Invisible Millionaire
The Invisible Millionaire is an episode that needs to be mummified.
Wealthy investor Marvin Chase (Basil Dignam) has it all. However his wife Rosemary (Katherine Blake) is having an affair with her husband's personal assistant Bertrand Tamblin (Mark Eden.)
Maybe Chase suspects something as he goes careering down the country roads. A horrific car crash leaves Tamblin dead and Chase suffering horrific burns with his entire body bandaged up.
Chase's secretary, Nora (Eunice Gayson) believes something is amiss. For a start despite the extensive burns, he is being treated at home through his personal physician and not a hospital.
Chase is also making strange business transactions like he is liquefying all his assets. Nora calls in Simon Templar to investigate.
You do not need to be the Saint to figure out that the man in the bandages is Tamblin and it is Chase who dies. There is a dastardly plot for him and Rosemary to run off with all the money.
A daft story, it was unclear if the crash was deliberate or just a fortunate set of circumstances for Tamblin. Whatever the case this episode of the Saint was a sinner.
The Green Man: Episode #1.2 (1990)
Maurice's life is spiralling out of control. The doctor thinks it is too much booze but Maurice feels spooked.
There are the hallucinations. Maurice is attacked by a raving bat in the bath but it feels ever so real.
Maybe it is Thomas Underhill's malevolent spirit at work. He is either trying to scare Maurice or reach out to him.
Aided by kooky Lucy he is determined to dig deeper.
There is some good news for Maurice. His wife has agreed to a threesome. Maurice has something to look forward to.
This felt like a holding episode, it did not carry on from the intriguing ending of the first episode.
Nickolas Grace shines as the priest Sonnenschein as she discusses the afterlife.
During the promotion of the series, Albert Finney talked about the special effects regarding the bat scene and how much the BBC had spent money in it.
I agree it is expensive to do optical effects on film back in those days. It still looked a bit second rate.
Ivor the Engine: The Trumpet (1977)
Smallfilms was a partnership between Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin. Ivor the Engine was their first production back in 1958 on ITV.
It was revived by the BBC in the mid 1970s with episodes now in colour.
Even then it was a low tech series with stop motion animation and cardboard cutouts.
Ivor the Engine is a small green steam locomotive who operates for The Merioneth and Llantisilly Railway Traction Company Limited in the top part of Wales. His driver is Jones the Steam.
This is a simple story. Ivor receives a mysterious package that turns out to be a trumpet from some old friends.
Ivor finds that the trumpet comes into use to round up Old Idwoll's sheep.
Postgate and Firmin were responsible for animation shows such as Bagpuss that endured. I think the same cannot be said for Ivor the Engine. Even as a kid I found it basic.
Crackerjack!: Episode #24.8 (1979)
Repeated on BBC4 as part of their Centenary celebrations. I probably watched this when it was originally broadcast.
It was a good episode to repeat as it marked the ending of an era. These were the last set of shows featuring presenter Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart and Peter Glaze.
They would be leaving along with Bernie Clifton by the end of the year. To be replaced by Stu 'I could crush a grape' Francis and The Krankies. Basically a decline in quality.
Here it is a mixture of sketches, quiz, couple of bands, in this case a choir. A silent film featuring Glaze and Clifton, inspired by Laurel and Hardy.
During the sketch they sing Dr Hook's When You're In Love With a Beautiful Woman. They sort of murdered it.
One of the music band was Sparks, the keyboard player was doing an Adolf Hitler impression. That scared the kids!
To me Crackerjack was never the same when Stewpot left.
What You Want & What You Need
Hugo Blick is an idiosyncratic writer and director. An auteur with his own style.
Having seen his previous shows. The Shadow Line, The Honourable Woman, Black Earth Rising. Blick goes for an epic canvas, disparate storytelling which eventually comes together.
So I expected the first episode of The English to be dense and even difficult to get into.
Basically the opener concentrates on two people. Set in 1890. Lady Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt) arrives from England to find the man responsible for her son's death. She arrives in a remote place in Kansas where she is immediately attacked by Richard Watts (Ciarán Hinds) who is under orders to kill her.
Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer) is a Pawnee native and a scout for the US cavalry. He has left them to stake a claim for some land in Nebraska. Before he leaves the army he is told that he will be treated despicably by the white man.
Lady Cornelia sees Eli being held bound and tortured by Watts. He plans to rape her, kill her and then blame it on Eli.
This is a moody revisionist western. It focuses on how Lady Cornelia and Eli meet as he bursts in to save her life and wreaks his own vengeance. It promises to be a complex story, both characters have seperate goals and want their own brand of justice.
Shot in Spain, it looks good and it is very much in the mode of The Power of the Dog, a revisionist western shot in New Zealand.
Red Rose: The Gardener (2022)
The episode opens with Jacob Taylor in Manchester creating an app too get to know more about fellow student Alyssa Penrose. Before he gets the courage to ask her out.
There are other people online encouraging him, others calling Jacob names for taking too long for making his move.
When Jacob is rejected a malevolent person takes over Red Rose. Spying on Alyssa, tormenting her and controlling the cctv and lighting in her house all controlled by wifi.
The people in the dark web like Red Rose, the way they get to control people and carry out murders.
Rochelle along with others did not kill herself, she was killed.
Now Wren is taking them head on, using the tunnels underneath Bolton town centre to get hold of the Gardener. However they have her father, hoping to pin her death on him.
The series concludes messily, some of the action was a bit too murky. The low budget of the series let it down as there are too many ultra close ups.
I did like the sinister atmosphere of the final episode.