Lost in Space
Internet TV

Boxset Monday: Lost in Space (season one) (Netflix)

In the past, I’ve fretted that today’s generations aren’t being educated in the TV classics. Back in the 80s, when there were just three to four channels, no Internet, no DVDs, no games consoles, no smartphones, et al, TV networks had a captive audience. So as well as making plenty of original shows, they could air repeats from decades earlier (sometimes even in primetime) and know the audience wouldn’t change channel or even turn the TV off. It ensured that the nerdy likes of me were introduced to The Man From UNCLE, The Avengers, The Invadersthe various ITC shows of the 60s, Champion the Wonder Horse, black and white sitcoms like The Addams Family or Car 54 Where Are You? and more.

The chances that any of today’s generation are going to watch these is pretty close to zero. Even if they wanted to, no channels are airing these old shows and few if any streaming services are offering them. There’s almost no chance they’ll get seen by the youth of today unless said youth have a lot of cash and patience.

Lost in Space

Lost in Space? Good

However, I have absolutely no concerns about the youth of today not getting to watch classic 60s sci-fi show Lost in Space. Produced by the famous TV auteur Irwin Allen (Land of the Giants, The Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) and originally titled Space Family Robinson (kids: that’s a reference to a another thing we used to call ‘books’), it sees a family called the Robinsons blasting off into space in the then-far-flung-future of 1997 to colonise a planet around Alpha Centauri that’s fit for human life. However, their ship goes off course and before you know it, they’re… lost in space.

Why do I have no concerns? Because frankly – sorry, Lost in Space fans, if there are still any of you – it was terrible. Just awful, in fact. Forcing a child to watch it today is tantamount to abuse.

That isn’t just because of its patriarchal 60s values, with father Professor John Robinson (Guy Williams) and ‘Space Corps’ Major Donald West (Mark Goddard) going off doing action things and solving problems, while mum Maureen (June Lockhart) and daughters Judy (Marta Kristen) and Penny (Angela Cartwright) basically stayed at home and did the housework. It isn’t because of its shiny 60s idea of what space travel would be, either.

No, it’s because of what was actually the show’s most iconic character: one Dr Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris). He wasn’t in the original pilot, but in keeping with other Allen series and the post-Bond fever for spy shows in the 60s, the show included Dr Smith for an element of international intrigue. In the new first episode for the show, he’s introduced as a saboteur whose presence on board the Jupiter 2 is what causes it to go off course. Never intended to last more than a few episodes before being written out, Harris soon hatched a cunning plan: he started writing his own lines and playing up his character as a colossal coward and pompous oaf.

Irwin was no fool and seeing what Harris was up to, he told him: “I know what you’re doing. Do more of it!” Before you knew it, ‘special guest star’ Jonathan Harris was in every single episode and was the star of the show. Most episodes were about him, his relationship with the Robinson’s very trusting son Will (Bill Mumy) and the almost equally iconic ship’s robot voiced by Dick Tufeld, whose catchphrase “Danger, Will Robinson!” is far better known than even the show itself, despite only having been used once.

To cope with a man screaming “Oh the pain! Save me, William!” as though he was being attacked by Puss in Boots every episode, the writers naturally shifted the tone of the show’s writing, taking it from a surprisingly gritty and even dark piece in its initial episodes to one in which actors were spray-painted silver and giant carrots turned up. Watch anything more than those first few episodes and you’ll discover that if you have any actual choice in terms of what’s available to watch, you won’t be watching Lost in Space unless you also happen to be smoking something a little exotic.

And now for something completely different

For reasons unknown, people had fond memories of the original show – presumably because they hadn’t watched it since they were three years old – and producers have been keen to tap into that misplaced nostalgia. In 1998, a movie version tried to turn the TV series into something watchable, but even the acting talents of the likes of Gary Oldman (as Dr Smith), William Hurt, Matt LeBlanc, Mimi Rogers, Heather Graham and Jared Harris still weren’t enough to save it. The less said about it, the better – particularly if you’re in the company of anyone who worked for a London post-production house at that time (“Oh the pain!” indeed).

An attempt to make a new TV series, The Robinsons: Lost in Space, floundered in 2004, despite John Woo directing the pilot. Apart from this YouTube video, the show’s only lasting mark were its sets, which were repurposed for the Battlestar Pegasus in Battlestar Galactica.

You’d have thought that given such a low bar to get over, any adaptation of the original could only succeed, but apparently not.

Third time lucky?

Nevertheless, here we are again, as Netflix has just given us a full 10-episode season of a show called Lost in Space that is ostensibly a reboot of the original show. It sees Toby Stephens (Black Sails, Die Another Day) playing dad John Robinson, Molly Parker (House of CardsDeadwood) playing mum Maureen Robinson and ‘queen of the indies’ Parker Posey playing Dr Smith, who once again are ‘lost in space’.

You would, of course, be quite entitled to wonder what sort of show this new Lost in Space would be like. If it’s an adaptation of the original, is it a remake of that original darkish spy show or the camp show it ultimately became? Is it more like the movie, perhaps? And is it a show for the kids or a grimdark piece for adults?

Last of all, is it actually any good and worth watching? Unlike the original.

While you’ll have to wait until after the jump before I tell you whether it’s any good, I can at least give you one of TMINE’s trademark ‘meets’ to give you an idea of the tone of the show.

Not only is it suitable for both adults and children, Netflix’s Lost in Space is indeed Lost in Space, but it’s Lost in Space meets Interstellar meets The Martian. Have a think about that while you watch this here trailer.

Continue reading “Boxset Monday: Lost in Space (season one) (Netflix)”

The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy
BFI events

What TV’s on at the BFI in May 2018? Including a Spike Milligan day, The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Clangers, Poldark and Joan Bakewell

Every month, TMINE lets you know what TV the BFI will be presenting at the South Bank in London

It’s slightly slim pickings in May for TV at the BFI, but I’ve combed through the programme and found a few delights. There’s a whole day dedicated to Spike Milligan, with three different sessions featuring both his films (short and long) and TV shows. The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has been up-rezzed for Blu-Ray and the first three enhanced episodes will be getting an airing, together with a Q&A with various people ‘associated with the show’. There’s also a couple of previews of the new series of Clangers and Poldark (yes, Aidan Turner will be there), and Joan Bakewell will also be talking about the May 1968 uprising in France. As you do.

Full details, including the new ticket prices, after the jump.

Continue reading “What TV’s on at the BFI in May 2018? Including a Spike Milligan day, The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Clangers, Poldark and Joan Bakewell”

Cherif and Huggy Bear
French TV

Starsky & Hutch’s Huggy Bear just appeared on French TV

The French have had something of a love affair with Starsky & Hutch, ever since it first aired on TF1 between 1978 and 1984. Slightly prosaically, TF1 retitled the show Starsky and Hutch, but as well as allowing the dubbing company and voice-over actors to add a bit more humour and joshing about to the scripts, it also gave the show its own theme song.

The French version of the show remained on air for years, albeit on other channels other than TF1, so it’s no surprise that a generation later, it’s still having an effect on French programming.

Starsky et Hutch, et Duval et Moretti

Back in 2008, France’s third channel remade the show as Duval  et Moretti, a not 100% serious, often direct pastiche of the original.

That only lasted a season, though, so perhaps the French were only really interested in the real deal…

Cherif

Airing on France 2 since 2013, Cherif stars Abdelhafid Metalsi as the eponymous head of Lyon’s Brigade criminelle, a cop who gets results… but has some fun while doing it. The show was created Lionel Olenga, Laurent Scalese and Stéphane Drouet, but Olenga at least is a big fan of Starsky and Hutch, because he went all the way to Beverly Hills to beg a certain actor to take part in the show.

He agreed and he appeared on the show in last night’s episode Quand Cherif rencontre Huggy:

Yep, Huggy Bear (Antonio Fargas) himself appeared – occasionally even speaking French. Fargas explains more (in English) here:

[via; HT Thierry Attard]

The Bold Type
Airdates

When’s that show you mentioned starting, TMINE? Including The Bold Type and The Mechanism

Every Friday, TMINE lets you know when the latest global TV shows will air in the UK

This week, we’ve seen a few new acquisitions. Romper Stomper (Australia: Stan), the update to the old Russell Crowe movie about neo-Nazis, has been picked up by BBC Three to air some time this year. Meanwhile, Syfy’s picked up Outpost, Dean Devlin and Jonathan Glassner’s series about a strong female hero and the lone survivor of a race called ‘Blackbloods’ who discovers her magical powers as she seeks revenge. That should start some time late this year.

We also have a couple of premiere dates:

The Bold Type
THE BOLD TYPE – Freeform “The Bold Type” stars Matt Ward as Alex Crawford, Meghann Fahy as Sutton Brady, Aisha Dee as Kat Edison, Katie Stevens as Jane Sloan, Sam Page as Richard Hunter, and Melora Hardin as Jacqueline Carlyle. (Freeform/Justin Coit)

The Bold Type (US: Freeform; UK: Amazon)
Premiere date: Friday, February 9

Stupid old person’s idea of what smart, talented bold young women working on a magazine like Cosmo must be like. Virtually every line of dialogue is not just empowering, it tells you how empowering it is. Even though very little of it actually is empowering and usually simply reveals the ineptitude at real-life results of those with nothing much more than social media experience.

Episode reviews: 1

The Mechanism

The Mechanism (Netflix)
Premiere date: Friday, March 23

Character-driven original series inspired by real events in Brazil in which a small group of dogged investigators comes to discover the inner workings of a monstrous corruption scheme and the impact their pursuit has on everyone involved – including themselves.

DVD releases

Yes, bet you forgot I did these, too. Well, there’s one of note announced this week: BBC One’s Ghost in the Water.

Continue reading “When’s that show you mentioned starting, TMINE? Including The Bold Type and The Mechanism”

The Liberator from Blake's 7
BFI events

What the BFI is showing at Missing Believed Wiped this weekend

Every month, TMINE lets you know what TV the BFI will be presenting at the South Bank in London

Just in case you were wondering what the BFI is going to be showing at its annual Missing Believed Wiped event this weekend, they’ve sent me through some details. I’m assuming tickets might still be available…

The BFI’s Missing Believed Wiped returns to BFI Southbank this December to present British television rediscoveries, not seen by audiences for decades, since their original transmission dates. The exciting, bespoke line-up of TV gems feature some of our most-loved television celebrities and iconic characters including Alf Garnett in Till Death Us Do Part: Sex Before Marriage, Cilla Black in her eponymous BBC show featuring Dudley Moore, Jimmy Edwards in Whack-O!, a rare interview with Peter Davison about playing Doctor Who, an appearance by future Doctor Who Patrick Troughton from ITV’s early police drama, No Hiding Place plus a significant screen debut from a young Pete Postlethwaite.

Lost for 50 years and thought only to survive in part, Till Death Us Do: Sex Before Marriage, originally broadcast on 2 January, 1967 on BBC1, sees Warren Mitchell’s Alf Garnett rail against the permissive society, featuring guest star John Junkin alongside regular cast members Dandy Nichols, Anthony Booth and Una Stubbs. Although the existence of this missing episode from the 2nd series has been known for some years, previous attempts to screen the episode had been refused with the print in the hands of a private collector. Having recently changed hands, MBW is delighted that access has been granted for this special one off screening, for one of 1960s best known and controversial UK television characters.

Following last year’s successful screening of a previously lost episode of Jimmy Edwards’s popular 1950s BBC school-themed comedy romp Whack-O!, this year’s MBW programme includes a 1959 episode entitled The Empty Cash Box. Written by Frank Muir and Dennis Norden and starring Jimmy Edwards as the cane-happy headmaster, this episode was originally broadcast on the BBC on 1st December 1959.

A genuine national treasure and much-missed performer and presenter, Cilla Black is remembered here with a rare screening of an episode from her previously lost BBC 60s pop/variety show, Cilla. Screened in full for the first time since its original transmission on 26 March, 1968, Cilla features performances from Roy Hudd, The Dudley Moore Trio and Cilla herself, a fascinating record of 60s pop culture.

Fans of TV horror are in for a treat with the recently disinterred Late Night Horror: The Corpse Can’t Play. Originally broadcast on 3 May, 1968 on BBC2 this is the only surviving episode from the BBC’s spine-tingling anthology series of atmospheric chillers, set at a children’s birthday party where an uninvited guest delivers some unusual and horrifying variations on the usual party games. Screened here courtesy of MBW colleagues at The Kaleidoscope Archive, The Corpse Can’t Play was directed by Paddy Russell, one of the first two women directors in BBC television, whose impressive broadcast career spanned 40 years working on classic shows including Z Cars, Doctor Who and Emmerdale, and who sadly died this year.

During the 1970s, a key strength of the drama department at BBC Pebble Mill in Birmingham was its ability to unearth exciting new acting, writing and directing talent. Running from 1973 for ten series, Second City First’s half-hour original drama slot proved highly influential, launching a spectacular range of ‘regional talent’ including Willy Russell, Mike Leigh, Mike Newell, Julie Walters, Brian Glover, Alison Steadman and many others, offering a diversity of representation, comparable with the best television drama today.

Another great find, Second City Firsts: Thwum, originally broadcast in 1975, features a young Pete Postlethwaite in his earliest television appearance. This sci-fi themed short play sees UFO fanatic Bernard (Paul Moriarty), trying to convince a skeptical reporter (Pete Postlethwaite) to cover the story of an imminent alien craft landing. This almost complete copy (2 minutes missing) was recovered from a domestic video recording kept by director Pedr James (Our Friends in the North, Martin Chuzzlewit) and we are delighted that Pedr will be joining us to introduce the screening and reveal the fascinating story behind the production, Pete Postlethwaite’s debut and the tape’s survival.

As well as screening rare complete episodes MBW offers a chance to view recovered clips with a wider cultural significance. Highlights from a recently digitized video collection includes a James Bond set visit on The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) for Granada TV’s children’s cinema show Clapperboard, hosted by Chris Kelly. In addition there are rare interviews with Doctor Who’s Peter Davison, here discussing his thoughts on being the 5th incarnation of the legendary Time Lord as well as influential BBC visual effects designer Mat Irvine (Blake’s 7, Doctor Who, The Tripods), who talks about Blake’s 7 iconic Liberator spacecraft.

A late addition to the programme is an extract from a recent discovery, an episode of the influential and long thought lost ITV police drama No Hiding Place which was found in Australia. Attracting over 7 million viewers at its peak in the mid-1960s, the series became ITV’s best known police drama, making household names of its principal cast. Hailed for its authentic portrayal of local law enforcement matters the show holds an important place in the history of British independent television production.

Of the 236 episodes produced by Associated Rediffusion, only 20 complete episodes were previously known to survive in Britain. The show’s success meant it was sold to other territories, including Australia where it broadcast on ABC. Detection work from The Kaleidoscope Archive lead to the positive identification of the National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (NFSA)’s solitary episode as a missing part of the show. Two Blind Mice (Series 2, Episode 5) first broadcast on 2 June 1960, is notable both for being the 2nd earliest known surviving episode and for its guest appearance by future Doctor Who, Patrick Troughton.