Archive | Featured articles

Some of the best articles on the blog. Typically, these have a picture. It's a low entrance requirement, I know.


September 1, 2011

Old Gems: The Baron (1965-66)

Posted on September 1, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Baron

In the transfer between book and TV series, a lot can change. A case in point: the ITC adventure series, The Baron, a sort of prototype Lovejoy and the first ITC show filmed entirely in colour that featured people rather than puppets.

Based on John Creasey's series of novels, The Baron starred American actor Steve Forrest as John Mannering, a former Texas ranch owner and antique dealer who takes on missions for ITC's catch-all British spy service, Diplomatic Intelligence*, aided by his glamorous spy colleague Cordelia Winfield (Sue Lloyd) .

What's interesting about this is that in the books

  1. Mannering is British
  2. He's a former jewel thief
  3. He's married
  4. He doesn't own a cattle ranch
  5. He doesn't work for British intelligence

Basically, ITC bought the name and made another version of The Saint but starring an American. Nevertheless, it was a fun little action show, with lots of fights, car chases and running round, even if the scripts themselves were largely unremarkable. The theme tune was great, plus anything with Sue Lloyd in it has to be good. And for ITC lovers, this was the very few show to feature the notorious "white jaguar driving off a cliff scene" that later appeared in virtually dozens of subsequent ITC shows.

Largely written by Terry "I created the Daleks" Nation and Dennis Spooner, another former Doctor Who script writer, the show was very much in hoc to American financing. As well as the US lead, the show was redubbed for the American market, with words like 'petrol' changed to 'gas'. The original assistant planned for Mannering, David Marlowe (played by Paul Ferris), was replaced by Winfield at US instigation as well.

However, those who live for the American market, die by the American market because when ratings suffered, a second series for the show was out of the question, despite doing well in the UK. Happily, you can buy it on DVD still.

* At the time, SS/MI5 and SIS/MI6 didn't officially exist

Read other posts about:

July 28, 2011

Lost Gems (?): Wonder Woman (2011)

Posted on July 28, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Adrienne Palicki as Wonder Woman

In the US: Never

So I'm going to out myself as a bit of a Wonder Woman fan. I love her in the comics (with the right authors such as George Perez, Gail Simone and Greg Rucka), we have the whole 1970s TV series on DVD, we have the animated movie on iTunes and lovely wife has a Wonder Woman mug to drink from. I even have a couple of Wonder Woman encyclopaedias on the shelves.

I know. Sad.

But I'll tell you for why. As well as Wonder Woman being one of the very few iconic and powerful female superheroes out there, the DC universe is such that while Superman is off fighting sci-fi enemies, Batman is fighting human grotesques and Captain Marvel is off beating up magical villains, Wonder Woman is the fourth iconic pillar: she's the mythological hero, fighting gods and monsters. Her stories are unique and she has a necessary, irreplaceable area of the comics world to call her own.

But there's still more to her: she is literally an emissary from the Greek gods, who are second to none in the DC universe (no Christian or any other monotheistic gods at the top of this pantheon), and they have imbued her with their powers to give their mortals a message: there's a better way to live than patriarchy.

In other words, despite what you may or may not think about her costume, she's just about the only feminist and indeed religious superhero out there and when she prays, her prayers are answered.

Wonder Woman's prayer is answered

Wonder Woman's TV and movie career is a little checkered. There was a dreadful 1967 pilot that tried to do for Wonder Woman what the Batman TV series did for the caped crusader - camp it up. Then Cathy Lee Crosby did a quite awful TV movie version that preserved most of the trappings of Wonder Woman, but robbed her of all her powers.

Lynda Carter had a much better time of things from 1976, with three seasons of The New Adventures of Wonder Woman. The first season, set as the original comic was during World War 2, wasn't bad and did a reasonably good job of presenting the Wonder Woman of the early comics.

However, the later seasons, set in quasi-modern/futuristic times, became very camp sci-fi affairs.

Nevertheless, none of these versions have really depicted the comics version of Wonder Woman, who can fly, is as strong and as fast as Superman, can talk to animals, has the wisdom of Athena and is a trained Amazon warrior. That means it's largely been left to animated shows and movies to depict the real Wonder Woman halfway decently.

Recently, however, in this, Wonder Woman's 70th anniversary year, NBC tried to make another TV version of Wonder Woman. For some reason, however, they got David E Kelley of Ally McBeal, Boston Legal and Harry's Law fame to do this. It's not been picked up for series, so will probably never get onto TV (just like that very first Wonder Woman pilot), but just for the sake of completeness and curiosity, I've watched it and, well, it's exactly what you think it would be like: never has a superhero worried so much about the law, jurisdiction, search warrants and the difficulties of her love life, as well as the pressures of running a company and being a woman in today's world.

Continue reading "Lost Gems (?): Wonder Woman (2011)"

Read other posts about:

July 26, 2011

Review: The Hour 1x1

Posted on July 26, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Hour

In the UK: Tuesdays, 9pm, BBC2. Available on the iPlayer
In the US: Wednesdays, 10pm ET/PT, BBC America. Starts August 17

If you listened to me on Radio 5 a couple of Saturdays ago, you'd have heard me warbling on about US TV's attempts to cash in on the Mad Men period vibe with two new shows: The Playboy Club and Pan Am. Now, before anyone over here starts to feel so superior about America's supposed unoriginality - and it's debatable just how much of a cash-in those two shows are - let's have a look at BBC2's The Hour, which doesn't so much try to cash in on Mad Men as scream to the rafters, "Look! We're doing a British Mad Men! Look!"

Set a little earlier than Mad Men in 1956, this slightly navel-gazing tale does what The Playboy Club is doing by marrying Mad Men with the crime drama. In this case, we have two heroic journalists (Ben Whishaw and Romola Garai) working at the BBC's very dull newsreel service but wanting to produce the Corporation's new properly journalistic, TV news service, all while juggling their emotional lives and the prejudices of the time – men-only bars and "no coloureds, no Irish" signs in hotels. But along the way, Whishaw discovers a conspiracy involving murders, suicide and Torchwood's very own Burn Gorman.

Cue the "Look how cool we are" trailer.

Continue reading "Review: The Hour 1x1"

Read other posts about: , ,

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295 296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 331 332 333 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360 361 362 363 364 365 366 367 368 369 370 371 372 373 374 375 376 377 378 379 380 381 382 383 384 385 386 387 388 389 390 391 392 393 394 395 396 397 398 399 400  

Featured Articles

Twin Peaks

Lynch at his best in years