Category Archives: TV

Lost again

They say that the 1960s was a golden time for television. Part of this, I am sure is simply that there was relatively little choice, and good things were not lost in the background noise of soap operas, reality tv and sport.

In the UK, fondly remembered programmes include The Prisoner, The Avengers, things by Gerry Anderson, Armchair Theatre and more. In the USA, Irwin Allen produced a number of sci-fi series that are still remembered with affection. Lost in Space is one.

If you are not old enough, it is basically a re-telling of Swiss Family Robinson in space. The Robinson family, Major West, a robot and evil Zachary Smith head off into space for whatever reason, get lost, stranded, have adventures and stuff.

You can get the series on dvd, should you be inclined.

Apparently it was expensive to make, though that’s hard to see on the screen. It’s interesting to watch the series over a short period of time. You see how the nature of it changed. The adult stars were written out (they hated it, but surely they were still paid) and it became Will Robinson/Robot/Dr Smith meets weird aliens with magic powers every week. Dull stuff really, but cheap enough to produce. Other Irwin Allen series went down a similar silly route, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, for example.

Then it stopped, after 80 odd hour long episodes. The Robinsons are still lost in space, somewhere.

And that was that, except they decided to make a feature film of it. Actually, I think they expected it to be a big new series of movies, and they had big stars like William hurt, who should know better. But it failed, at least relatively.

And now Netflix is having another go, from later this month. Oh dear…

Generation Game

Ideas must be sparse at the BBC, because they have been reduced to reviving, again, the Generation  Game.

If you don’t know it, teams of two, male and female from different generations, eg mother and son, compete in a number of games and sketches t win prizes. It is a programme that was a mainstay of Saturday nights. Originally hosted, and later rehosted, by Bruce Forsythe, but also Jim Davidson and Larry Grayson, it is remembered affectionately, perhaps undeservedly.

The latest hosts are Mel and Sue, who individually or collectively manage to spoil everything they appear on. Sue, especially, makes anything unwatchable, especially the Eurovision Song Contest as she plainly knows nothing and talks through the songs

The latest reboot was only four episodes long, but was reduced to two with no given reason, except possibly it was rubbish. Thi is supported by the first programme that we got to see, a terribly unfunny thing with Z list celebrities appearing to cover all the flaws. There’s lots of dubbed on laughter. The BBC has said that not all the laughter is dubbed or canned. And there were lots of penis jokes.

Times have changed since the 1970s, and not necessarily for the better. This is best avoided.

Bochco

The death was announced today of Steven Bochco.

You will surely know Mr Bochco’s work. He is most famous, I suppose, for creating Hill Street Blues.

In fact, Mr B’s best work, for me, was on some of the early Columbo episodes. He also did L A Law, Doogie Howser, NYPD Blue and the infamous Cop Rock musical detective show which failed. Also on his list is Murder One. The idea was to follow one criminal case from beginning to end over lots of weeks. They chickened out, but it is available on dvd and worth a watch.

Hill Street Blues was considered mould breaking at the time, with a level of realism and denseness unseen before. As time went on, it turned into a soap opera, and rather fizzled out. Today it looks rather self-conscious.

I remember seeing Mr B in conversation at the NFT many years ago. His wife and Hill Street chums were in the audience. He was asked questions like ‘what was X like to work with’ and he would give a polite and tactful answer, until pressed when he would say ‘well, actually…’