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


October 21, 2010

Series finale: Rubicon

Posted on October 21, 2010 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Truxton Spengler in Rubicon

In the US: Sunday 17th October, AMC
In the UK: Acquired by BBC4. Will air 2010/early 2011

I've more or less stopped doing these full-season reviews of TV shows, on the general grounds they take time and effort, and I'm quite lazy - plus there's always What Have You Been Watching? on Fridays to do brief reviews.

But the first season of Rubicon, I think, is quite an instructive piece of TV, and what with it coming to BBC4 soon, I thought I'd go over some of the things that make it interesting and worth watching, and what it teaches us about US television production.

I'll avoid spoilering anyone who has yet to see it because they're waiting for it on BBC4.

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October 21, 2010

Weird old title sequences: The Great Egg Race (1979-1986)

Posted on October 21, 2010 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Great Egg Race with Heinz Wolff

You know, sometimes I think I have psychic powers. Only last Thursday, I was thinking to myself "Ooh. I know what I should do for next week's Lost Gems: The Great Egg Race. Everyone loved that." What should happen within about two hours? The BBC only went and stuck vast chunks of it up on the BBC Archive, that's what, which makes things a whole lot easier, if less impressive now.

The Great Egg Race, for those too young, too American or not nerdy enough to be watching BBC science programmes during the early to mid-1980s, was a fabulous homage to British boffins and inventors, a predecessor for things like Robot Wars and Scrapheap Challenge, and firmly in the tradition of the outwards bounds courses et al that led to Now Get Out of That at the same time. In it, teams of inventive and engineering-minded British people would be set seemingly simple challenges and armed only with their ingenuity, a small workshop and a whole array of kitchen-equipment and random objects, they would have to construct a mind-blowing gizmo or series of gizmos that would solve the challenge better than the other teams - preferably in as Heath-Robinson a way as possible.

Originally presented by Play School/Play Away host Brian Cant, the show got its name from the main challenge of the first series, in which teams from around the country tried to build machines that could propel an egg as far as possible, powered only by elastic bands. This episode includes the show's famous theme tune, as well as its first weird old title sequence. More after the jump…

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October 7, 2010

Weird old title sequences: Mission: Impossible (1966-73 + 1988-90)

Posted on October 7, 2010 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Mission: Impossible

After last week's expedition into the merely silly, time to hit a genuine classic of a title sequence with Mission: Impossible. The 60s was a time when everyone went spy-crazy. You could barely switch on the TV at times, it seemed, and not see a spy series of some kind, whether it was Danger Man, The Man From UNCLE, The Champions, Man in a Suitcase, Espionage, The Avengers, The Prisoner, I, Spy, Get Smart, or any of the numerous others. Each of these needed its own niche to survive - hell, look at The Wild, Wild West - and Mission: Impossible, which lasted an incredible seven seasons, found one that worked for it very well: the spy heist.

Here, accompanied by the award winning iconic theme tune by Lalo Schifrin, is Mission: Impossible's equally iconic title sequence - the format remained the same every week, but each time the title sequence was adjusted to include the highlights of that episode, so you'd have to guess how everything fit together. Now this is how to rack up tension.

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