Three drabbles beneath the cut: ... )
swordznsorcery: (steele/laura)
( Nov. 30th, 2015 20:48)
Two of my siblings got driving licences in 1983. Mobility! For a little while anyway. Mobhanded about the countryside, in a wobbly van roughly the colour of cowpats. It had a dodgy handbrake, was religiously opposed to reverse, and it wasn't a good idea to open the passenger window - and it definitely wouldn't have passed any modern emissions tests. But it moved. We went to see Superman III in it. Not a great film! I liked it at the time though. The woman being turned into a walking computer actually seemed pretty scary back then. Saw Return Of The Jedi too - believe it or not, my first Star Wars film. I was mostly wondering who the Jedi was, and where he had been, but it wasn't a bad place to jump in at, Ewoks notwithstanding. Still waiting for a Han, Chewie and Lando spin-off though!

Otherwise, this was the year that saw The A-Team, Simon & Simon, Remington Steele, TJ Hooker and Knight Rider all hit British shores. Folks, we have reached peak eighties telly! As long as I live, I think I shall always be a bit confused by shows that don't have shoot-outs, cars flying randomly through the air, and heroes locked in warehouses that are suspiciously easy to break out of. This is clearly the default state of television. They don't even bash heroes over the head and tie them up in car crushers anymore. Might mess up their hair, I suppose. Although if AJ Simon can manage with his fuzzy mop, you'd think anybody could. 1983 was also the year when we got the Bo-and-Luke-free season of The Dukes Of Hazzard. Bit baffling back in those days, when we couldn't get on the internet to find out what the bloody hell was going on! Still, they came back soon enough.

Music wise, I suppose 1983 was the year of Wham!. They'd had a song out the previous year, but they had about three hundred in 1983, and my sister never stopped singing them. For the first time, when she was singing something I actually didn't mind. I've always been a fan of Wham!. I should probably be embarrassed to admit that, but I'm not. Otherwise, Keith Harris and Orville singing Orville's Song proved to be the only thing that would stop my baby sister from crying whilst she was teething. Please forgive us, but we bought the bloody thing, thereby helping them climb dangerously close to #1. I can still sing it. Unbelieveably though, it's not the worst song to hit the charts that year. Rene & Renato probably win that, with Save Your Love. (I'm not posting a link to it - just believe me).

... )

I'm not saying much about books, am I. Just imagine an endless waterfall of Willard Price, Franklin W Dixon and Enid Blyton, and you won't go far wrong. Also anything remotely shark or dinosaur flavoured. This led to me attempting to read Jaws when I was staying with my grandparents.

Yikes. The book is a lot naughtier than the film...!
swordznsorcery: (paradox)
( Jun. 20th, 2015 00:24)
A disaster has occurred. I have run out of Remington Steele. Actually technically I haven't, as I'm keeping two episodes back for a rainy day, because *woe*. I need more episodes, damn it! But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. A green-and-grey, rain-speckled light, bereft of charming jewel thieves, but a light nonetheless. The other day I wrote a Doctor Who/All Creatures Great And Small crossover thingy for Obscure & British, and it got me thinking that I've never really watched that programme properly. All Creatures..., that is. Obviously I've watched Doctor Who. Watched it, bought it, yelled at it frequently. I'm practically married to it. Anyway. All Creatures Great And Small started in 1978, when I was three. It was my mother's favourite show, so was always on, but other than falling in love with their cars and their wonderful upright telephone, I didn't pay a great deal of attention to it. So the other day I went hunting on YouTube, and found series one. Hurrah! I've been dabbling, and it's surprising how many memories it brings back, despite me thinking that I hadn't really watched it. Siegfried! I hated Siegfried as a child. I'm not sure how much of that is because he was always shouting, and how much was because he's mean to poor Tristan, but I really did take a disliking to the poor man. Actually, it might have been his yellow waistcoat. And proper Helen! Turns out that Lynda Bellingham actually did more episodes as Helen than Carol Drinkwater did, but I still think of her as New Helen, and Drinkwater as the proper one. So clearly I was watching the show after all. The IMDb says that Helen mk i left in 1985, and Helen mk ii started in 1988, so goodness only knows what they did in the interim. Maybe she went upstairs for three years, like the kids do in soaps.

Peter Davison left for a bit, didn't he. I remember that, as I remember being annoyed by it. He was replaced by John McGlynn and a badger. I have nothing against badgers, but they're not sufficient recompense for losing the world's most accident prone vet. With the best will in the world, a badger isn't going to lead James Herriot in a string of semi-drunken misadventures. Well, he might. But it's unlikely. I only plan to watch series one anyway, so such woes are immaterial really. It's a very nice show, but the lovely telephone is pretty much the dramatic highlight of the piece. Basically I need exploding.

I also found Department S on YouTube though, which is good. Department S is a sixties espionage show, from the team behind The Champions, which means it features another threesome of two men and a woman investigating crime at Elstree Studios in London all over the world. It's not as good as The Champions, not least because the cast don't have that awesome chemistry that Craig, Richard and Sharron shared, but it's fun enough. It also has an absolutely terrific theme tune. I have seen some of the series before, but most of the episodes are new. New and promisingly explody. Mind you, at current rate of play it'll be three years before I get through all twenty-eight of them.

So yeah. Life has gone from impeccably dressed jewel thieves dodging cops and crooks alike, to mulling over the relative benefits of pig-keeping in Yorkshire, with a side order of dodgy floral print shirts trying to save the world. This has led me to several conclusions.

1. More television ought to have Pierce Brosnan stealing things in it. I think I may have mentioned that before, and time has only served to confirm the theory. Granted it might not entirely work in All Creatures Great And Small, but I'm certainly happy to find out.

2. Christopher Timothy must have hated the BBC. They gave him his own show, and then they cast Robert Hardy and Peter Davison to make with a two-pronged offensive and steal it from under him. He's like a bowl of porridge sat between two slices of chocolate gateau. And chocolate gateau covered in edible glitter at that. Poor sod.

3. Vintages phones rock.

4. So do vintage cars. Running boards!

5. It's a hard life being in a sixties espionage show. Even with all the old telly that I watch, and even with my usual indifference to ridiculous FX and questionable production methods, I was completely baffled by the end of Department S episode two. Sullivan and Annabelle are all wrapped up in cold weather gear, whilst chatting in front of a photograph of some trees. I couldn't figure that out at all, but they were actually having a sleigh ride (of course). Honestly, I thought I was immune to bad back projection, but this was so hilariously bad, I couldn't believe they were trying to get away with it. Given their expressions, I'm not sure that the actors could, either. To add insult to injury, they have really appalling outfits, too.

Become a spy. See the world! Or, at least, see lots of photographs of the world, and stand in front of them nearly convincingly. Good old 1960s. What would we do without them.
swordznsorcery: (whitecollar)
( Jun. 11th, 2015 14:23)
What a rubbish day! The great Christopher Lee, and dear old Ron Moody, in one fell swoop. Neither was a young man, but it's a shame nonetheless. Christopher Lee especially had a remarkable career, and seems to have known and worked with everybody. You can spot him, in his earlier years, as a deck officer aboard one of the Naval ships set against Burt Lancaster and Nick Cravat in The Crimon Pirate (1952). One of my favourite films, and I very much recommend it. He also cropped up in the Beeb's brave attempt to adapt Mervyn Peake's epic fantasy Gormenghast a few years back, playing the creaking librarian Flay. I recommend that too, although you'd do better really to read the book. The adaptation was gorgeous, but suffered from too much material in too little screentime. Worth searching out though, if you're in need of something else once Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is done.

In a more cheerful frame of mind (actually, I don't know that it is more cheerful), I have been doing further Remington Steele-ing. And dear gods, the 1980s. As I've mentioned before, it's a show that steers away from anything too eighties, in an attempt to be as timeless as possible. If anything it favours the vintage styles of the thirties and forties, and at times even earlier than that. But every so often, there's no hiding from the fact that it was made in the eighties. The worst of the decade hides in dark corners, and pops up every so often to shout boo.

Still, on the plus side, at least it's not the seventies. )
Things that have happened recently.

1. I bought a camera. It's nothing special, but it's fun for knocking about the countryside with. The focus has a macro setting, for extreme close-ups of things, and I have become ridiculously fond of it already. I will do my best not to bore everybody rigid with stupid pictures of things that I find lying about the Cotswolds. Promise. Well, maybe.

2. The BBC finally got around to making an announcement about their long promised documentary series Shark. It's going to be bloody awesome. But it's also the first major marine documentary since the death in 2012 of Mike deGruy, so it's going to be weird watching it. Most of you won't have heard of Mike, although you've probably seen his work - he's the one who got the famous footage of the orcas snatching sea lions off the beach in Trials Of Life. He's been a hero of mine since way back, and his film Sharks On Their Best Behaviour is one of the best things I've ever seen. And he should have still been here to work on this, damn it.

3. I turned forty.

4. I have begun to raid eBay for films with Pierce Brosnan in, preferably as a thief. I blame Remington Steele, as television has largely ceased to make sense if it doesn't have Pierce Brosnan in it (preferably as a thief). Fortunately for me, he's had quite a prolific career, featuring a remarkable degree of thievery. Even when he's not actually being a thief, he seems to go in for an inordinate amount of lock-picking and safe-cracking. I might find this suspicious, but I'm too busy being entertained.

5. Any minute now, I'm going to go and feed the ice cream van man his music machine. It's been playing the first few bars of The Entertainer over and over again for the last half hour as he circles the area, and seriously, he's begging for violence. I may consider beating him to death with a wafer sandwich.

(Technically this last one hasn't happened yet, but it may very well have done before you read this).

6. I have been going through my YouTube "Likes" list, in order to remove dead links (NBC is cruel, and loves to deprive me of Max Weinberg). Whilst doing this, I found a whole bunch of videos that I forgot existed, and if you've been a member of YT for any length of time, I strongly suggest that you do likewise. Old likes are such fun! I found shedloads of a very giggly Dean Martin, a whole bunch of Fry & Laurie, about thirty different live versions of Queen's '39 (including a rather wonderful collection of leotards a la Freddie, and an inordinate amount of John Black vs Stefano DiMera on Days Of Our Lives. I miss them. :( Every so often Drake Hogestyn declares his undying love for Joe Mascolo on Twitter, but it's just not the same.

7. William Hartnell and Peter Lorre made a film together. Actually they made it in 1950, but it was on TV the other night. I don't want to say too much, because I don't know if [personal profile] liadtbunny has got around to seeing it yet, but suffice to say that they probably shouldn't have bothered. I can quite understand why they would have wanted to try - who wouldn't want to make a film with Peter Lorre?! I'm sure we'd all like to, given the chance. Or, at least, we would back when he was a bit less dead. (Although he died in 1964, which puts him out of the reach of most of us, but you know what I mean. Probably). Anyway, I appreciate the effort. It's just a shame that it didn't turn out a bit better. Maybe if it had had Pierce Brosnan in it, stealing things? A pre-natal Pierce Brosnan, obviously. Sort of like Outlaw Pete, but even younger? No? Everyone's a critic...

Now if you'll excuse me, my mother wants some pictures of the cats. If past experience is anything to go by, this will mean pictures of ears, paws, and fleeing tails, but I have to try. One of them is actually looking quite cute right now, which is either a good sign or a trap. Still, James Bond never lets certain defeat put him off, does he. Think smart - think Bond.

I may be some time.
In an attempt to make Remington Steele last a bit longer (blasted old shows, and their finite number of episodes!), I have been mining YouTube for Robert Young films. I don't think he's terribly well known, but he's one of my favourite actors. America apparently knows him best for a TV show that he did in the seventies, but I've never seen that, and instead know him for the string of above average B-movies that he made in the forties and fifties. Anyway, one of the ones that I've watched is one that I thought might appeal to a few people.

It's called Relentless, and it dates from 1948. Young plays a wandering cowboy trying to clear his name of a murder charge, but underneath that it's like Feminism: The Western (well, okay. Not really). The heroine gets a great speech about how being expected to give up your life to look after a husband is a rubbish goal for a young woman. Usually this would be followed by the hero buying her a dress, at which point she would gasp at its beauty, and realise that actually there's nothing she'd like more than looking after a man for the rest of her life. Oh, the power of a tight bodice and a few frills. In this film though, the hero agrees. She then basically spends the whole film bailing him out of trouble, including one terrific, high-speed wagon sequence, where she gets to be properly heroic (and he doesn't save her once). Then it all ends with her pretty much proposing to him. Sometimes, ye olde movies get it right.

The film's embedded beneath the cut )

Mind you, just to ram home the fact that old TV and movies do love making us wince, I followed it up with Second Woman, from 1950. Is Robert Young paranoid, or is somebody really out to get him?! It's actually a nice little film for the most part, but about halfway through, when Young is worrying over whether a Mexican waiter has been lurking in his garden, his ex-father-in-law tells him to think nothing of it, because "these fellows all look the same unless you know them". Gee, thanks 1950. There's nothing quite like ruining a movie with a little throwaway racism.

And even that pales into comparison with Western Union. This is a great fun little Western from 1941, in which a baby Robert Young somehow manages to get top billing above Randolph Scott. It really is very entertaining - until, again about halfway through, which is clearly the danger point with these films - they suddenly dig out the crass "Injun" stereotypes. And if they're not agonising enough on their own, they're made even more so by the fact that there are two highly dignified-looking genuine native chiefs in the cast. I know they needed the money back then, but yeesh. What a way to make a living.

So yeah, that's been my week. A holiday from terrifying bouffants, which started out well, but got sinister thanks to creaky old sensibilities. I shall always love old movies, but I wish they loved me a little more in return. Is it really so hard to go ninety minutes without insulting entire civilisations?! Apparently so.

I still like Robert Young though; even when he keeps being in colour. Being in colour when you're Robert Young is just unnatural. Actors can be strangely uncooperative that way.
Spring has sprong. I know because there's primroses out. I only know that they're primroses because my mother points them out every year, and squeaks about primroses, because I am bad at flowers. But they are out, and they are primroses.

Primroses! )
What happened in the 1980s, exactly? Was it something to do with the air pollution? Some freak event in around 1981, that changed atmospheric conditions? Because at some point in the early 1980s, hair grew. And I don't just mean that it grew longer - the 70s were filled with long hair after all. I mean that it grew. In every conceivable dimension. Maybe it was all those aerosols that people used to use, reaching peak saturation levels prior to their removal from sale? I've been watching Remington Steele recently (I may have mentioned that here and there), and the hair is a constant source of fascination. Not the stars, so much. Pierce Brosnan is a bit of a hairspray disaster area to begin with, although fortunately he soon gets liberated, but Stephanie Zimbalist always has very sensible hair (as you'd expect from Laura Holt). But the guest cast...

Here's Cassie Brosnan as Anna Simpson, one of Steele's former dodgy associates:

I would never say a word against Cassie, but blimey! Usually she plays Felicia, who's altogether more sensible in the hair department (well - usually), but Anna appears to be going for the alarmingly-blow-dried-spaniel look.

And then here's Shannon Wilson as raunchy novelist Charlotte Knight:

Her curls have curls. And her curls' curls have curls. Did she stick her fingers in an electrical socket? Does she have some sort of alien being on her head? This may be the case, as she seems to be trying to conceal it under a hat.

And here's Rebecca Holden as wannabe crusading reporter Windsor Thomas:

Her hair is the biggest so far. It just seems to explode out of her head in every direction. She accompanies it with some gloriously eighties jewellery, just in case there might be any doubt as to which decade she's living in.

I am agog. I know that I managed to live through the eighties without my hair growing to catastrophic proportions, so possibly it was just an American thing? Something related to the LA smog? A side-effect of all the chemicals in Hershey's 'chocolate'?

I await further examples of the phenomenon with breath suitably bated. But not baited, 'cause that would be weird.
So, I was watching the final episode of Dempsey & Makepeace, and there they are creeping about in some cellar place, all guns drawn, and in danger of being shot by the bad guy, and suddenly we get this:

And my first thought is "Don't blink!" But in actual fact she's not even looking at the thing, so blinking is the least of her concerns. Turn around, Harry! Quickly! And then, as an added bit of Whoification, the Rani was in the same episode, pretending to be a cop. She got deaded, which was a bit rubbish of her, but I'm assuming she regenerated when they weren't looking. Anyway, it wasn't a very good episode, sadly - rather an unfortunate one to end on, although I'm pretty sure they didn't know at the time that it was the last one - but you know things are bad when a supposedly exciting creep-about-in-the-dark-with-guns, is less exciting than wondering whether a statue might be an evil alien. Hey ho.

Mind you, later on they did loads of stuff filmed in the Natural History Museum, and that was lovely. They had dinosaurs and everything, including a fabulous cross-section through a giant sequoia. They didn't visit my whale though. Still, it's not often that a cop show gives you dinosaurs, so that was good.

Bye then, Dempsey and Makepeace. It's been fun. Now I shall be all Remingtonsteeley for the foreseeable future. No time-travelling alien monster statues in that, at least so far. Tom Baker, but no evil statues. I will report back if one turns up though, have no fear.
So, a mixed weekend in vintage tellyland. Remington Steele gave me an episode written by Brian Clemens, which was nice, and also an episode guest-starring Judy from Lost In Space, and that was nice too. It also had Murray from Riptide in it, and he was a million miles away from being a highly punchable irritant. That was especially nice. Then Dempsey & Makepeace let the side down by flashing Eamonn Walker at me, and then killing him off before the opening credits. I had to glare at them all most fiercely.

Anyway, just to prove once again that I can do it occasionally, I shall now proceed to talk about something that isn't television, in the form of a meme that I ganked off [ profile] alec_towser:

1. My username is ____ because ____.
2. My journal is titled ____ because ____.
3. My subtitle is ____ because ____.
4. My friends page is called ____ because ____.
5. My default userpic is ____ because ____.

And it strikes me now that it won't work properly here at DreamWidth, because the page-naming works differently than at LiveJournal. But whatever.

1. My username is swordznsorcery, because it has been for years. Back in 1997, when I first had a webpage, I did it through Geocities, and for that you needed a username. I had always been Xenon online, but I think there was an eight letter minimum. Even if I'm remembering that wrong, somebody else was sure to have already used Xenon. It was a huge, huge community, and I spent ages desperately trying to think of something that hadn't already been used by somebody else! And then eventually came up with this.

2. My journal is titled Xenon's Seventh Circle because, around about the time I joined LJ, there was a meme going around where you answered a bunch of questions to find out which of Dante's circles of hell you belonged in. I belong in the seventh circle, apparently. That's nearly all the way in! Yay me!

3. My subtitle is Light Years Away From The Morning because why not really, I suppose. It's a line from a song I wrote about nine million years ago, and it just kind of goes with... stuff. I don't know, it was probably five o'clock in the morning.

4. My friends page is called Whispers Of An Elsewhere, because I was being highly melodramatic when I named it. It's a line from a song I wrote years ago, and again, it seemed reasonably appropriate. Ish. I was probably in a mood at the time.

5. My default userpic is an icon that, again, stems from my website. It's an alien surrounded by various stars, and I guess represents Xenon. There's also a red ribbon on there of course. It's my logo, of sorts, and has been since, if not quite the nineties, then not far off.

There you go. Several paragraphs, television free! Be impressed. :)
No, not a crossover, sadly. That would probably have been rather fun. Just witless rambling as I continue my rewatch of both. The guest stars continue to be good. David Warner turned up in Remington Steele, which was nice (as a bad guy - now there's a surprise!). And then Paul Reiser! At his youngest and fluffiest, making him the single most obvious red herring ever in a whodunnit. And Dempsey & Makepeace continues to be filled with a barrage of old British TV faces - and then, in the final episode of series one: jackpot! I knew he was in there somewhere; I just couldn't remember which episode it was. Towards the end of the episode, leaping out of a window and smashing up automobiles, as is his wont, whilst sporting some alarmingly yellow hair. Tip Tipping! Look look look!

More beneath )
Sloe gin update! My mother has finally opened her percolating bottle of sloe gin (bottled up some time in mid-November). It's a lovely colour, rather akin to translucent blood. Very thick and slightly gloopy - it's a bit like drinking cough syrup! Too sweet for me, but she seems very pleased with it, which is good. So I can't personally recommend it, but it certainly looks like she would. Two months of brewing was what the recipe she was following called for, and I guess it got a week or so more than that, but I doubt it wanted much less. Apparently it took the sugar a very long time to completely dissolve.

And from thence to telly, 1980s style. I need to start watching Dempsey & Makepeace in order. Between series two and three, Spikings seems to have lost half his body weight, and it's a bit odd jumping about from year to year. It makes him look like an inflatable doll with a valve problem. Also series one is noticeably more serious than the other two, at least to begin with, which causes a bit of a clash of styles. So bizarre to hear Dempsey announce in episode #2 that he doesn't approve of female police officers! That is not the Dempsey even of later in series one, let alone the years that followed. Still, I'm having great fun with it. Aside from a veritable who's who of stuntmen, so far there's been Suzi Quatro and Elizabeth Sladen in the same episode, and both Travises in adjacent ones (though backwards). Also Michael Cashman, although I appreciate that I'm in a fan club of one there. And through it all, Dempsey and Makepeace themselves being utterly splendid. And shooting practically everything. :)

I've been enjoying it all so much that I've also dug out my Remington Steele DVDs. Eighties detectives, hurrah! Steele is one of my all time favourite characters, and I've left it far too long between viewings. Like Dempsey & Makepeace, Remington Steele hasn't aged a day (except for Pierce Brosnan's sometimes rather alarming hair. On occasions it's like some gigantic, lacquered crash helmet), and I really can't recommend it highly enough. I chose an episode completely at random to watch, and it gave me unexpected Julian Glover, which was nice. Also Angharad Rees, but she's not quite as exciting (to me anyway). And then a second episode, which was again chosen completely at random, guest-starred Tom Baker! I had completely forgotten all of this, so clearly it's more than ripe for a rewatch. I'm a bit wary of spending too much time in the eighties, in case I end up with gigantic hair, but I'm doing okay so far. I would argue that a sprinkling of modern TV might serve as something of an antidote there, but neither Sleepy Hollow nor The Musketeers is likely to be of much help. I am surrounded by overly-energetic hair. This could get dangerous, people. Stay alert, I may need help.



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