Monday, 25 June 2018
First viewed : 2 January 1993
Golden Years was a miniseries written specially by Stephen King who was inspired by the groundbreaking success of Twin Peaks. The David Bowie song of the same name was used as the theme tune. Unusually for me I did see the first episode where an ageing janitor at a scientific research centre is caught in an explosion and then finds himself getting younger instead of older.
It was screened at 9pm Saturdays on Channel Four , eighteen months after execs in the US had decided not to commission a regular series, leaving the mini-series on an unresolved cliffhanger. I thought the first episode was reasonably good but it wasn't on at a convenient time and I wasn't grabbed enough to find the necessary tape space to continue with it.
Sunday, 24 June 2018
First viewed : Uncertain
I know I saw the second episode of this with Tony Haygarth but that might have been on repeat.
David Jason wasn't actually a stranger to straight roles when he took on the unruly detective Jack Frost but the pre-publicity suggested that. The series was based on the novels of RD Wingfield set in the fictional Berkshire town of Denton. Despite that, the series was made by Yorkshire Television and so was mainly filmed in Leeds and Wakefield with one episode using a block of flats in Rochdale not too far from Spotland.
Although the storylines were serious, Jason was given a lot of laugh lines usually at the expense of his narrow minded superior Mullett ( Bruce Alexander ). Frost usually had a different partner each episode although some would recur. He also had an active love life which was not altogether, usually with younger women, which was not too convincing for a middle aged widower with sloppy habits. The episodes were two hours in length as in Morse and occasionally dragged but it was generally worth watching.
The episodes I remember most are :
- One with Tony Haygarth as his partner where Frost plants evidence to nail the suspect
- One with Neil Dudgeon as a detective who's been demoted for punching a superior
- One where an old lady stabs her husband and Frost has to deal with a particularly unsympathetic WPC
At the end of the fifth series, Frost investigates an incest case which leads to the death of his young partner Clive ( Matt Bardock ) who takes a bullet intended for him. Frost resigns and that looked like the end of the series.
However, it resumed in 1999 with Frost being summoned back into action. I started watching the first episode but got bored and never came back to it. In the noughties the seasons got much shorter , in some cases comprising just a single episode, and I'm quite surprised to read that it continued to 2010 when Jason called time on it, believing it looked ridiculous given his age.
Saturday, 23 June 2018
First viewed : Uncertain
We're now into the Premier League era . Sky bought the rights to screen live matches and have never relinquished them to this day. We never considered getting a dish so until last year I never watched any of those matches in my own home.
My friend Sean's family bought one straight away and I was always welcome to go round there to watch a game on a Sounday teatime. I can't say for certain which was the first one I saw. The Manchester derby on 6.12.92 which was Eric Cantona's debut for United seems like a good contender but having just viewed the highlights there was nothing that rang any bells . I used to enjoy going round there. I'd always been a bit wary of their dog Floss and she asserted herself by placing her snout on my thigh and demanding a stroke. If I stopped, there would be a little snort so every game carried a risk of repetitive strain injury until Sean's mum Beryl chased her away.
I've also seen games at other friends' houses and pubs over the years. The most memorable occasion was on 2.4.1994 . Dale played Scarborough at their place, losing 2-1 and we stopped off at a pub in Malton on the way back to watch the evening match between Blackburn and United. I struggled to find parking so dropped them off at the pub while I found somewhere to park. When I came in Sean whispered to me "Be careful what you say , I think they're all United fans here". So we kept quiet until Shearer scored when the whole place erupted. If they were United fans, they had a funny way of showing it.
I also recall seeing the Blackburn v Liverpool game at my friend Carl's house when Blackburn limped over the line to the Premiership title with a little help from Andy Cole's incompetence against West Ham ( not the first time they spiked a United title bid )..
Friday, 22 June 2018
First viewed : 28 October 1992
This three part adaptation of Joseph Conrad's novel about counter-terrorism and betrayal in late Victorian England was lukewarmly received by critics. It starred David Suchet as Verloc a small time pornographer whose shop is used as a base for exiled European revolutionaries, none of them very dangerous, to meet and talk. Unknown to them he is actually a spy in the pay of the Russian government represented by Vladimir ( Peter Capaldi ). He is not satisfied by Verloc's reports and orders him to organise a terrorist outrage to bring Britain round to repressive measures. When Verloc uses Stevie, the simple-minded brother of wife Winnie ( Cheryl Campbell ) to carry out the deed, his fate is sealed.
I'd read the book about four years earlier and I thought they made a decent job of it. The main problem was a rather lacklustre central performance from Suchet who didn't seem to be doing anything other than glowering over his thick moustache. It's a shame because there were great supporting performances from Capaldi, Patrick Malahide as the indolent police inspector preoccupied with maintaining his social position and David Schofield as the treacherous anarchist with his eyes on Winnie.
Thursday, 21 June 2018
First viewed : 13 October 1992
This four part documentary series on America's first family went out on ITV after News at Ten chronicling the chequered history of the clan from Joe Kennedy's rise to wealth and power to the end of their political ascendancy at Chappaquiddick. Compiled by former Labour MP Philip Whitehead it was a good story well told.
Wednesday, 20 June 2018
First viewed : September 1992
This was a night time series on ITV which I taped for a while but then abandoned. It followed the same format as The Rock and Roll Years , without the music but with a solemn voiceover from Robert Powell. Unlike that series, which had full access to the BBC's vast news archive, this was tied to the output of an independent news agency so if they hadn't been on the spot, the event simply wasn't covered no matter how significant. Even when they were there, the footage was often poor quality. This led to a very lopsided analysis of the period with obvious gaps and I eventually got too irritated to continue with it. I got up to at least 1979 which featured a report on Torvill and Dean practising in lieu of any footage of them actually winning the British Figure Skating Championship for the third time, an event so obviously on a par with Thatcher's arrival at number 10 and the Iranian Revolution.
Tuesday, 19 June 2018
First viewed : 4 September 1992
While being more than a little ambivalent about musicians making sequel albums - and Oldfield was probably the first to do it explicitly- I think I did catch some of the premiere concert which was broadcast live on BBC Two from Edinburgh Castle. John Gordon Sinclair performed the Viv Stanshall role as Master of Ceremonies, replacing Alan Rickman who did it on the album. Sinclair also stayed around to do the Piltdown Man noises in the appropriate section.