swordznsorcery: (e street)
( Dec. 11th, 2015 19:26)
1994 was a big year for me. I went to university, and also got online for the first time. Access was a bit limited to begin with; they were still installing the equipment to properly get the place Netted up. But it was there. Instant communication with the entire world! Okay, okay - a little bit of it, mostly in other colleges. The internet was a lot smaller in those days! But communication, without that troublesome face-to-face nonsense. It was quite the revelation.

Lots happened before I got there though. My local area got turned on its head at the start of that year, when the Fred West saga was uncovered (literally). He'd been murdering young women for years, and burying them in his back garden. One of a number of jobs that I had that year was delivering newspapers, and I had strings of little old ladies sitting by their front doors every day, desperate for the latest bit of news! One of the victims, who had disappeared in 1973, was local, and they all remembered the search that went on for her at the time, in fields round about. That turned into quite the major story - and Gloucestershire was collectively most put out when Harold Shipman turned up a few years later, and Yorkshire stole the "home of the country's most prolific serial killer" title. Granted, it's generally held that West killed more people than was proven, but he's highly unlikely to have hit Shipman's total. Although, do we win on points for having a violent one, when Shipman did it all with a quiet voice and a syringe? A vital point of order, I think...

Happier news in South Africa! Nelson Mandela was elected President in this year, which was good to see. A long, long time coming. Good for two reasons. One, he was the best man for the job - and two, his amazing shirts instantly brightened up any gathering of international leaders. I loved those shirts.

Elsewhere though, it was one of those years. Pretty much anybody I'd ever watched on telly seemed to die in '94. George Peppard! Farewell, Hannibal Smith. Telly Savalas (so long Kojak). And whilst I'm on the subject of policemen - how'd I forget to mention Raymond Burr yesterday?! Cameron Mitchell, who had had a long film career, but who I remember best as good old Buck Cannon in The High Chaparral. And of course Roy Castle lost his cancer battle this year. Nick Cravat and Burt Lancaster both went in '94 as well - together until the end. And Kurt Cobain of course.

John Smith, the admittedly dull leader of the Labour Party, also died this year, very suddenly. I don't know if he would have stood much chance making Prime Minister come the next election (he really didn't seem to have a personality at all), but his death saddled us with Tony Blair. Heaven only knows what might have happened had he lived. Iraq? Afghanistan? It's hard to believe that he'd have gone down that route. But, inevitably, there's no way of knowing that now.

Good year for music. Britpop was well underway. Blur's third album and Oasis's first one both went stratospheric. Pulp's ninety-ninth (or whatever it was) finally made them stars. M People were gigantic for five minutes, and the Manics came out with the critically acclaimed The Holy Bible. Don't know that it was a big commercial success at that point, but it made their name as a band to watch out for.

Lots of big stuff from America as well. REM released Monster, with songs What's The Frequency, Kenneth? and Bang & Blame; Jeff Buckley released Grace, which featured the ubiquitous Hallelujah. Was there a TV show in the 90s that didn't feature that somewhere?! Arguably the big song of the year was Springsteen's Streets Of Philadelphia, from the previous year's film Philadelphia. It won just about everything going in '94 and '95 - and (far more importantly!) when he played it live at the Grammys, he did so with Max and Roy. The E Street Band was on its way back!

... )
You know what the drawback of watching Simon & Simon is? No, it's not the thing about old TV being finite. I'm fairly upbeat about that with S&S, given that it managed to last for the entire 1980s. It's the fact that they've twice had Henry Darrow guesting as a bad guy. In the first season he did the right thing in the end, but in the seventh season episode that I just watched the other night, he was not only spectacularly evil, but he got blasted to death with a machine gun. They don't kill people all that often on the show, so this is doubly unfair! And yes, okay, it was pretty thoroughly deserved, but he's Henry Darrow. I am on his side, always. Even when he tries to kill AJ Simon. (Sorry, AJ).

I'm sure I've said this before, but play nice, television. When you're killing people, Manolito Montoya is off limits.*

Speaking of television (when do I ever speak of anything else?!), I keep meaning to mention The Scarlet Pimpernel. It was horribly dull though, so I never bothered while I was watching it; but [personal profile] liadtbunny recently made me think of it again. Produced in the 1950s, this is a black and white show that co-stars Patrick Troughton (credited as Pat Troughton). It's roughly the same age as the likes of The Adventures Of Robin Hood (sometimes slow, but generally fun), and The Adventures Of Sir Lancelot (gloriously entertaining). Maybe the lack of "The Adventures" in the title should have been a warning?! It's bad. No, really. Given my frequent standards, if I'm saying it, then you know it's bad. The lead is a charisma-free zone, and although dear old Pat gives it his all in trying to jolly things along, it's a task comparable to trying to pep up wallpaper paste. I recommend avoiding this one. Although! The final episode does have a jolly good guest star. Sadly, it's one of the two episodes that the Trout isn't in, which is an example of Fate being a bitch. Because, bereft of his Beard of Evil, and in a rare outing as a hero, we have this fellow here:

... )

* Yes, apparently I did. It was when they killed him in an episode of Hart To Hart, the unfeeling sods.
swordznsorcery: (manolito)
( Aug. 14th, 2014 20:51)
So, I was watching Kojak, and who should turn up as a guest star but Henry Darrow. I knew he was in it somewhere, as I've seen it all before, but I can never remember which one he's in. And then suddenly there he was! This makes me happy. And he was very Manolito-like, except in modern clothes and without the suntan. So for those who are interested (ie: me), here is Manolito Montoya Henry Darrow being a jaunty jewel thief in New York, c. 1974. He's aged damned well, given that he's usually hanging around Arizona, c. 1870.

He's not quite as jaunty as usual here, as Kojak has just revealed a plan to use him as bait to catch a contract killer.

And here's Kojak, not looking at all impressed by the fact that he's standing right next to Manolito Montoya, damn it! You could at least smile, Theo.

A slightly happier jewel thief. The clothes look all wrong, even though I've seen him in modern things before. They killed him once in Hart To Hart, and that was in the seventies too. I was most unimpressed. And he was in Simon & Simon twice in the eighties. He just looks so very Mano here though. It was only just after The High Chaparral ended, which probably explains it. Mackadoo is clearly waiting just off camera for a quick getaway, as Buck lays down some covering fire.

*happy thoughts*
Day twenty-three, the most annoying character. Hmm... Quite a few options here. Obviously there's Dawn in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Rarely have I wished horrible death upon a character so regularly. Dawn was whiny and irritating and, despite being the same age that Buffy and co were when the series started, horribly immature by comparison. If she was intended to appeal to younger viewers, then that's a bit of an insult to younger viewers. And then there's Wind, the character that The High Chaparral picked up in season four, when they accidently lost Blue Cannon down the back of the sofa. Wind was a Pawnee halfbreed, which could have been great, but he wound up being Wesley Crusher without the redeeming features. And then we come to Angel... It's one of my favourite TV shows ever, but it also has Fred, a character I hated from the beginning (although she did turn into Illyria, so she obviously had some saving graces). And Gunn. He began by irritating me slightly, and got worse with every season. Neither of them comes even close to being as annoying as Eve, though, a Wolfram & Hart employee who may rank as one of the worst characters in anything ever. It's entirely possible that I'm grouchy and misanthropic, and inclined to be irritated by almost everybody, but even so, there really is no forgiving Eve.

But I'm not choosing any of them. I don't need to, because there's somebody worse. I've mentioned before how much I loved Bonanza growing up. In its later years the show was retooled a little, as long-running series sometimes are. In an effort to appeal to younger viewers (because that always goes so well) they introduced a new character. Jamie Hunter was an orphan boy of about fourteen, taken in by the Cartwrights. Why, I have no idea. He was to spend the next three years sobbing and whining and causing trouble for everybody, and even in my youngest days I couldn't stand the wretched child. And they didn't kill him! They had so many opportunities. He fell into a river during the opening credits every week, but did they drown him even once? No. There is no justice in television. So the most irritating character ever is Jamie Hunter-Cartwright. Trust me, nobody else even comes close.
Day fourteen, your favourite male character. Oh meme, you really ought to know better than that by now. Like I'm going to be able to decide anywhere near definitively. If absolutely pressed - like at gunpoint, or by threat of being forced to watch Eurovision - it's probably Joe Cartwright or Manolito Montoya, but I refuse to choose between the two of them. That would be like having to choose between my children (if I had any). So I'm going to have to fudge it again, aren't I.

He's not my favourite character (except when he is), but I do rate Harrison Blackwood very highly, for quite a few reasons. Back when War Of The Worlds first aired in the UK, we still had proper regional ITV, so when you saw it would have depended on where you were living at the time. I saw it first in the early nineties. By then Doctor Who had been gone for a little while, and didn't appear to be returning (oh those pre-internet days, when we had no real way of finding out!) and I was feeling somewhat bereft. And then, there in the early hours of Wednesday mornings (about half past one), was Harrison Blackwood. A nutjob, pacifist vegan with an odd tuning fork obsession. He wore a hat, he thought sleep was almost entirely unnecessary, he absolutely refused ever to use a gun (and yet would cheerfully build a flame thrower from scratch, and annihilate his enemies with that, when required), and had a thing for hypnotising guards when inconveniently arrested. He was the Doctor, basically. He didn't have a spaceship, but he did live somewhere that was bigger inside than out - a huge underground house, hidden beneath a little cottage by the sea. And he fought aliens, weekly. Sometimes his adventures were rubbish, sometimes they were brilliant, and frequently they required him to wrestle with rather obviously rubber props. He was usually accompanied by a very stiff and proper army officer, and a pretty, blonde scientist, suggesting a fondness amongst the writers for the early Pertwee era; and he had an evil nemesis who treated him oddly fondly, though didn't have a pointed beard. He did have a tendency to giggle, though.

So yeah. Harrison Blackwood was quite the tonic for the insomniac Doctor Who fan in the early nineties. He was fun to hang out with in the small hours, when sleep was a very long way away. I remain very fond of him. Later he was revamped, given a beard and a gun, and turned into a different person entirely, but for me that version isn't canon. The true Harrison is the nutjob with a floppy hat, striding into battle against vast alien hordes, armed with his trusty tuning fork. Hanging out with him is a surefire way to get your insides scooped out by an alien with wobbly rubber arms, but on the plus side, he does have a nice smile.

Sorry, that's not much of a plus side, is it. I really have got to work on my priorities.
Day twelve, an episode you've watched more than five times. Well I've never counted, but there's probably quite a few. The entirety of The A-Team seasons one to four springs to mind. Most of The High Chaparral and the later seasons of Bonanza, due to the BBC having them on a loop for much of my childhood. A few Doctor Who adventures, especially when they first started coming out on VHS. I only had a few, and was possibly a bit over-excited by the ability to suddenly watch stuff that had previously only existed as Target novelisations. Look! It moves! Including the bits that probably shouldn't. ;)

But I'm going to go with Buffy The Vampire Slayer, specifically the season one episode "Never Kill A Boy On The First Date". I used to hear so much about Buffy online, back when it first started, but there was no way to see the show in the UK at the time. I'd see little bits here and there; people used to post tiny RealVideo clips of their favourite scenes. Mostly Giles being Giles, as the internet back then was wonderfully skewed in favour of librarians with closets full of weapons. Nowadays everybody's batty about pretty vampires, and Giles would probably be the bad guy. But I digress. Eventually, in January 1999 I think it was, the BBC started airing the show. I used to tape it every week, and keep the best ones. "Never Kill A Boy..." grabbed me from the get go. Buffy falls in love (with a schoolboy who is even more obviously not really a schoolboy than is usual with American TV, but we have to pretend not to notice such things!), and tries to balance going out on dates with slaying vampires. Giles is brilliantly hopeless at understanding her, and all the attempts to keep the boyfriend from finding out about the slaying are wonderful. Arguably season one of Buffy was still finding its feet, but "Never Kill A Boy..." is just about perfect. Great dialogue, great performances and great timing.

There are a bunch of other episodes that I've probably watched enough times to qualify; particularly the ones with Ethan Rayne and Spike and Dru. Those early episodes though, hoarded on crackly VHS tape, have a particular appeal. I think, like with those early Doctor Who videos, it was probably the novelty of finally being able to watch the damn thing. I miss getting that excited about television. Still, that's probably a subject for a different meme altogether.
Day six, your favourite episode of your favourite TV show. But we already established that I don't have one of them! *grumble* Still, I chickened out last time, so this time I'll behave.

It's not my favourite show (except when it is), but one show that has always been very special to me is Bonanza. It was on a lot when I was a kid, and the character of Joe Cartwright was a pretty major part of my childhood. He and Manolito Montoya, his opposite number over on The High Chaparral, were everything I wanted to be when I was growing up. I thought the world of Joe. And there is one episode of Bonanza which I discovered recently on YouTube - having not really had the opportunity to see the show in years - which just brilliantly sums up everything I used to love about it, and everything that made me think so highly of Joe. The episode is called "Different Pines, Same Wind", and it's the first episode of season ten. It really couldn't be more perfect. Joe is trying to protect some forests from a ruthless logging merchant (the Cartwrights were environmentalists long before it was fashionable), and in the process he finds a lonely old widow living in a log cabin. During the course of forty-seven minutes, he befriends her, saves her beloved forest, defeats a despicable bad guy, helps a doctor to rediscover his calling, and has a splendid no-holds-barred battle with a gang of heavies. Michael Landon was an accredited stuntman, and his fist fights were always awesome. Plus, as a special bonus, Ben and Hoss, the best father and big brother you could hope for, come dashing to the rescue to save the day at the last possible moment. It also has the nice blend of comedy and drama for which Bonanza came to be known.

It's wonderful, it really is. It's everything I loved about the show growing up, and Joe is every inch the hero I idolised so much as a child. So, even if it lacks the depth of a favourite episode of The West Wing, or the brilliant comedy-drama mix of a favourite episode of Buffy, I'm choosing this one. It's awesome. And, for the record, I still want to be Joe Cartwright (and Manolito Montoya). It looks like I always will.
Given some of the utter tosh that I've watched over the years, I suppose it shouldn't surprise me to discover that I've also taped a lot of utter tosh. Mind you, even knowing that, it's weird what colonises the ends of video tapes, lurking in forgotten nooks and crannies, from back in the days when I used to use the things regularly. Some things are reasonable enough, if long forgotten. Others are just downright bizarre.

... )
swordznsorcery: (littlejoe)
( Mar. 10th, 2012 15:34)
From [community profile] fannish5. What are your five favourite sibling relationships?

In no particular order:

1. Hoss & Little Joe Cartwright (Bonanza). This is probably the ultimate sibling relationship for me. They were perfect as brothers. Hoss was the older brother that everybody wanted, which helped, and the very real brotherly love between actors Dan Blocker and Michael Landon made it even better. By the time they'd been making the show for a few years, their rapport was excellent, and the chemistry was just perfect.

2. Bray and Zoot (The Tribe). A somewhat flawed, low budget teen drama from New Zealand, The Tribe isn't too well known. The ideas in it really grabbed me though, and it's like crack for a writer. A virus has killed off all the adults, and the world has gone Lord Of The Flies. Enter Bray, a loner who has always been better with books than people, estranged from his once beloved, now-turned-psycho-cult-leader, younger brother Zoot. Some of the acting in the show was a little rocky; theirs never was. We rarely saw them together on screen, but their relationship largely defined Bray's character.

3. Rick & AJ Simon (Simon & Simon). Another pair of screen brothers who were close friends in real life. These two gelled perfectly. Chemistry, mannerisms, everything. Rick's protectiveness towards AJ, and the way that AJ naturally looked to Rick in everything, all told with a touch or a look or a gesture. So well done.

4. Victoria & Manolito Montoya (The High Chaparral). I loved these two as a kid, and they're still just as good now. The children of a rich, Mexican landowner, they'd grown up privileged but isolated, and had only ever had each other. Victoria, the eldest, was responsible and respectable; Manolito was anything but. They fought tooth and nail, usually in wild, improvised Spanish, as their chemistry was so good that they didn't need a script. Their shared affection was wonderful, though. Chalk and cheese, but shoulder to shoulder against the rest of the world. They had a shared respect for others, too, banding together to care for wounded Apache when nobody else cared. Always wished that they'd been the focus for that show, rather than the Cannon family.

5. Frank & Joe Hardy (The Hardy Boys). Though I grew up with the books, and loved most of them, I mean the TV series mostly here. In the books they could be a little interchangeable at times, no doubt the result of there being so many writers over the years. In the TV series they had much more distinct personalities, and the actors sparked nicely. Frank was the devil-may-care adventure junkie, hurling himself into danger with a smile, and Joe had a lovely line in dry humour, as he tried to suggest caution. I had a rewatch fairly recently, and really loved that dynamic.
swordznsorcery: (manolito)
( Feb. 5th, 2007 00:27)
Jonathan Hart is mean. He lulls you into a false sense of security by being daft and endearing, and by hurling himself gleefully into all manner of dangerous situations, armed only with an increasingly bedraggled suit and a glamorous wife. And then he turns around and kills poor Manolito. I mean, sorry Jonathan. I do like you, and granted I saw Hart To Hart before I saw The High Chaparral, but let's just be clear. If you're going up against Henry Darrow, I'm going to be on his side. Every time. Even when he's playing a drug-dealing police captain caught up in an unfathomable bit of plot. 'Cause he's Henry Darrow; and Manolito Montoya out-cools a whole lot of people.

So, another Sunday, another distinct lack of Torchwood. I've taken to whimpering extensively at ten o'clock each week. So far it's not working, though I admit that I didn't really expect it to. Might help if there was something else worth watching on TV at the moment, but the only thing I seem to watch now is Never Mind The Buzzcocks. Any other viewing I do is of long-axed shows on DVD, which isn't quite the same as having never-before-seen episodes of something shiny and new. I will always love my books, but I defend my right to gawp mindlessly at a TV screen every once in a while. Just as long as the Manolito-killing is kept to a minimum.

Manolito Montoya. Kindly refrain from killing him.
Thank you.



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