Every month, TMINE lets you know what TV the BFI will be presenting at the South Bank in London
It’s Harold Pinter season in July, with wall-to-wall Pinter plays, including some which he acted in or directed as well. However, there’s also an episode of Brownlow on Hollywood from 1980, looking at silent movies, as well as a preview of ITV’s forthcoming thriller Strangers (formerly known as White Dragon), starring John Simm and Emilia Fox, who will also be attending a Q&A afterwards.
Details after the whole of Brownlow on Hollywood, if you’re intrigued by the history of US movie-making and have 13 hours to spare…
…or if you prefer it, Pinter’s The Birthday Party, in which he also appears, which is this week’s Weekly Play.
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 Invaders, the 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? 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 Cards, Deadwood) 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.
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.
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…
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:
Huggy serait bien avisé de fournir ses "bons tuyaux" à #Cherif.
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 (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.
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.
Yes, bet you forgot I did these, too. Well, there’s one of note announced this week: BBC One’s Ghost in the Water.