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September 15, 2009

Weird old title sequences: Space: 1999

Posted on September 15, 2009 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Space: 1999

Look up into the sky. Is there a round, silvery shape there? No, of course not. As we all know, the Moon left the Earth's orbit back in 1999 following a cataclysmic nuclear explosion caused by waste from Moonbase Alpha going into chain reaction.

That, at least, was the scenario painted in Space: 1999, even if it - obviously - never came to pass. Made by Gerry Anderson, originally to be the second season of his earlier live action show UFO, Space: 1999 was a mix of many elements, some good, some bad. On the one hand, it did have some fantastic model work, cinematography and sets, the likes of which probably haven't been bettered.

On the other hand, the acting was dreadful, and the plots… oh, the plots. They were concept sci-fi: great big ideas about philosophy, the universe, etc, but handled so badly, and usually with a plastic-looking monster, that it was impossible to regard them with any seriousness, particularly since the science part of the science-fiction was so ineptly handled.

The show was also hampered by having husband and wife team Martin Landau and Barbara Bain as the two leads. Okay, they'd been fine on Mission: Impossible but their marriage was now breaking down and they could barely stand the sight of each other. Therefore, zero chemistry between the leads.

After a first, not terribly successful series, a new producer was brought on board to help boost the ratings. Unfortunately, they brought on board Fred Freiberger, the US TV producer responsible for the changes made to season 3 of Star Trek that got it cancelled, and who went on to make the changes to The Six Million Dollar Man that got it cancelled. So despite the introduction of hot, shape-changing alien Maya, and an Italian lothario, guess what happened to the proposed season three.

During this time, Space: 1999 went through a couple of title sequences. For the first season, we got the funky disco theme coupled with the "This episode" (did you miss that? We said "This episode", loser!) montage of highlights that Ronald D Moore copied for Battlestar Galactica. It also (weirdly enough) had Barbara Bain on a turntable.

Season two grabbed itself a whole new set of titles and a new theme. It wasn't as cool, didn't have Barbara Bain on a turntable, and it had a stupid "Red alert" on it. But it was more action packed and it did explain the plot.

These, however, were not the weirdest title sequences for Space: 1999. In overseas markets, there were completely different sets of titles that pioneered whole new areas of weird. The Japanese set was perhaps the least weird, since all they did was add a really odd new electronic/lounge theme to the first season titles.

No, for absolute weirdness, you had to go to Italy and watch Spazio: 1999's second season titles.

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September 14, 2009

Review: Engrenages (Spiral) 2x1

Posted on September 14, 2009 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Engrenages

In the UK: Sundays, BBC4, 10pm. Available on the iPlayer

Imagine if Katie Price's next book turned out to be Hamlet. It would be incredible, wouldn't it? Unbelievable, in fact.

But we're talking that level of surprise that French TV could come up with Engrenages (aka Spiral).

For the most part, French TV is dubbed American imports, films, game shows and sitcoms that make ITV's best efforts look like Curb Your Enthusiasm. Yet, a few years ago, bewilderingly Canal+, France's answer to HBO, came up with Spiral, a French cop show almost as good as The Wire - and every bit as gritty, socially conscious, well written, well acted and authentic, albeit with some very pretty French people indeed.

The first season was a no-holds barred look at the French justice system, and was unafraid to show judges as corrupt, cops as racist, brutal and criminal, and lawyers as amoral and willing to screw over anyone for their own advancement.

Now, a year after it aired in France, BBC4 has finally gotten around to showing the second season. Could it possibly be as good as the first season?

Miracles do happen. It is.

Here's a trailer for season two - it's in French mind and contains a few spoilers for the next episode.

Continue reading "Review: Engrenages (Spiral) 2x1"

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September 14, 2009

Review: Supernatural 5x1

Posted on September 14, 2009 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Supernatural

In the US: Thursdays, 9/8c, The CW
In the UK: Moving to Living/Virgin1

This is it - what could be the final season of Supernatural. It's come a long way over the years, from being a simple horror story of the week series for young adults weened on Scream, Saw, et al, to being a surprisingly effective, funny and even thoughtful musing on the nature of God, angels and devils as depicted in the Bible.

When last we left those pretty Winchester boys at the end of season four (look away now if you haven't seen it), Hell was about to arrive on Earth and the Apocalypse was about to begin - something that the heavenly host of angels was surprisingly keen to see happen. As a way to end a season, it's hard to top. So as we enter season five, what can we expect to see?

Oh, it's that bloke who plays Jacob on Lost.

Continue reading "Review: Supernatural 5x1"

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