Cliche away!!!

To say that TV is a world of cliches is probably in itself a cliche.

Cliches abound in drama, amongst them are:

Cat owners are weird but dog owners are normal upstanding people.

Football fans are either thugs or the complete opposite; a normal down-to-earth bunch and salt of the earth.

On the other hand, Scl-Fi fans are complete weirdos and anoraks.  Which I will admit some are, but most are normal everyday people and in times of trouble the best people you could meet.

And I don’t understand how liking something that is designed to entertain can be sad. In fact why is anything that anyone enjoys that is not considered to be normal (i.e. sport) wrong?  As long as nobody is hurting anyone, then let them do what they want.

Another cliche that abounds in TV is that all gay man are camp. Is it the shadow of Mr Humphries that looms large over gay characters?  It will be interesting to see how the character is portrayed in the new version of ‘Are You Being Served?’. Will he be as overtly camp or will it be downplayed a bit?

In the 70’s cliches abound; a couple of years ago we watched ‘Dawsons Weekly’, a series of comedies starring Les Dawson and Roy Barraclough amongst others. Each week, Roy Barraclough played a camp character, who was treated with horror by Les Dawson’s character, the implication being that Roy Barraclough would like to have his wicked way with Les in the Post Office, Les in a hospital or even Les up in an aeroplane…  Now, this was to our eyes completely unacceptable and soured the enjoyment of the series for us.

That and the fact that the writing wasn’t very good; surprising really as it was written by Galton and Simpson.

But I suppose at the time it would have been seen as completely normal and matter of fact.  As is the use of the words “queer”, “poof” and “pansy”. Oh, and of course the abuse hurled at the characters in ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’ features many of these insults – the other big thing about this series was the casual use of blacking up.  Something which precludes it from being repeated on BBC 2 as ‘Dad’s Army’ is.

Another kind of cliche is shown in many war dramas; the young officer who has just joined the regiment etc. I found this recently in ‘Danger UXB’ – a character was introduced in Episode 2 and promptly killed off in the next episode. He was young, newly engaged and very much in love.  So therefore might just as well had a big sign over his head flashing DOOMED!!!

Another well worn cliche is that of the stupid comedy policeman, a example of this is Inspector Mackenzie from ‘Raffles’ he is portrayed as completely dense and even misses seeing the character of Bunny who is standing in plain sight.  Or perhaps he suffers from the common ‘Doctor Who’ monster complaint of lack of peripheral vision.  Something I also lack.

But in real life there is no way that anyone that is consistently that stupid would either keep their job or get to that level in the first place.

In a way, it’s fun to look out for these characters and to see if they exceed your expectations; very many times they don’t and the inevitable happens.

These days a lot of cliches are overused, it would be nice if sometimes dramas could be cliche free, but then I suppose that wouldn’t be fun.

I guess that’s all I have to say for now.

Until next time.

Well, you can’t expect perfection, you know. Not even from me.

 

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Troublesome Toffs

As I think I may have mentioned before, we are currently in the process of watching ‘Sergeant Cork’. We finished Season One awhile ago, and have really enjoyed it. Both the main actors are very good; John Barrie as the eponymous Sergeant Cork and William Gaunt as Mr Marriot, they work well together.

We noticed a couple of things about the series; firstly, Sergeant Cork certainly likes his food. There is one episode where he offers everyone stickjaw, which seems to be a kind of toffee.

To say that we were amused by this would be an understatement, giggling every time it was mentioned or bought out.

The last time we were that amused by a food based name was in an episode of ‘Crown Court’ where persimmons were mentioned, which lead us to try the said fruit. I have to say that the name is better than the food.

Anyway back to ‘Sergeant Cork’; one of the other things we noticed was that an awful lot of the cases seem to be perpetrated by or to include a toff (to use the terminology used in the show).

Looking up the creator Ted Willis (also the creator of ‘Dixon of Dock Green’) was made a Labour peer (Baron Willis of Chislehurst) and it shows a bit in the shows he creates and writes. He and the other writers have a very low opinion of the aristocracy. And often use the story to make a point.

When we started the second season a couple of months ago, we found a very different story about Irish Republicans It was actually quite a dark story, featuring a large body count (off screen of course). What was very surprising was the fact that is was shown on the 28th of December 1963 (the same night the Daleks made their first full appearance on television). It was hardly cheery Christmas viewing!

Sergeant Cork was mostly absent through the second episode of the second season due to the character being struck down by a cold, which gave William Gaunt a chance to shine. Listening to John Barrie at certain points of the episode we began to wonder if the actor was really ill, possibly leading to a hasty rewrite?

In the most recent of episode of ‘Sergeant Cork’ we’ve watched, an unusual thing occurred – Cork didn’t get his man! A theme of the series we really enjoy is the fact that Sergeant Cork usually gets his man. Be that man be working class or an aristocrat, justice is all that matters to Cork.

It shows that British justice doesn’t always win.

We would highly recommend ‘Sergeant Cork’; a great series featuring lots of recognisable actors. (Stephen Gallagher likes it, too!)

Another show I am considering getting is ‘Gideon’s Way’. “Another police series?” I hear you cry “Are you obsessed?” Well, yes; in a way we probably are. We both enjoy vintage television. It’s always interesting to see what people managed to do on much smaller budgets and in tiny studios.

I’m also thinking of getting the film version ‘Gideon’s Day’, which stars Jack Hawkins alongside Cyril Cusack and a young Jack Watling.

I recently caught it halfway through and quite enjoyed it as period piece.

We’re going through a black and white telly phase at the moment, as we are currently watching ‘Callan’, ‘It’s Dark Outside’ and, of course, ‘Sergeant Cork’.

We’ve been posting photos of the title card of whatever episode we are watching; this includes an episode of ‘Barlow’ from 1975 featuring Stratford Johns of course, but also Neil Stacy, Derek Newark and Martin Shaw.

It was an interesting watch, but left me a little uncomfortable as Barlow suggested to a female character who had accused another character of rape that if she had enjoyed it just for a moment, then it wasn’t rape. Perhaps just an indication of when the episode was written and broadcast.

We also watched an episode of ‘Z-Cars’ (‘People’s Property’) which featured a lot of location filming and unusually all four regulars at one point or another.

I’d also recommend ‘New Scotland Yard’, which features John Woodvine and John Carlisle as the leads for the first three series and Michael Turner and Clive Francis for the fourth series. It’s another ITV show and very 70’s in places, but with some interesting stories.

“She’s hiding fact from me and so are you, and if you don’t tell me where the rest of the household is, I shall arrest you for obstructing my enquiries!”

Ah-Wooo!

Andrew and I recently went to see the new ‘Star Wars’ film.

Andrew wasn’t as keen as me to go and see it, so I bribed him with a free ticket and lunch.

And in the end he quite enjoyed it, giving it 7 ½ stars out of 10.

It was nice to see the original characters again and the new characters were very likeable, apart from the baddies of course!

I particularly liked BB-8 as he reminds me of my cat Martha.  Especially when he nudges other characters.

In fact, I enjoyed the film so much that I re-watched the original trilogy which I bought recently along with the prequel trilogy, which I haven’t yet gotten around to re-watching.

One thing I did notice re-watching the originals was that I couldn’t take Darth Vader quite so seriously since seeing the episode of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ in which James Earl Jones appeared. But once I got over that I really enjoyed the films. It was particularly nice to see the many British actors that star in the the original trilogy; actors such as Ken Colley, Julian Glover and, of course, the inimitable Michael Sheard.  Sheardy’s appearance, though brief, is wonderfully acted and gained him a round of applause from the cast and crew.  

And on the subject of Michael Sheard, we had the great pleasure of being good pals as he would have termed it. We would meet him at conventions and always have a drink with him. We were made to ask questions at his panels and to bid for items he was auctioning, such as the infamous photo of Katy Manning and the Dalek, which we ended up buying and sending to a perplexed friend for his birthday.

His presence is sadly missed at conventions these days as he could always be relied on to raise the spirits of a group and make the event just that bit more fun.

Back onto the subject of the ‘Star Wars’ films, I must be one of the few people apart from children who don’t mind Jar Jar Binks and that indeed is where the title of this blog comes from as I misunderstood his saying “How rude” as “Ah-woo!”… Make that of what you will.

Generally though I don’t mind the prequel trilogy; as I mentioned, I haven’t re-watched them in a while.  Though they are on my list to do so at the some point and anything with Brian Blessed overacting madly in can’t be all that bad.

Moving on to a different subject now, we were saddened last week to hear of the death of Alan Rickman and re-watched ‘Galaxy Quest’ at the weekend along with our friend Warren, which we all enjoyed. And though based more on ‘Star Trek’ than ‘Doctor Who’, we can relate to some of the events that happen in it.  Especially the bit where Tim Allen tells the fan that it’s all real and the reaction of the fan.

We will also watch ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’ at some point as Alan Rickman completely steals the show in that one. I’ve told Andrew, who has never seen it, that even though the history is complete rubbish and Robin Hood is an American, the film as a whole is fun and again is chock-full of great British actors, such as Brian Blessed, Jack Wild and Daniel Peacock.

I think that’s all for this time, short but hopefully sweet.

Until next time, stay warm.

Goody Goody Yum Yum.

In general I have always favoured the good guys in drama.

That’s why I love ‘Doctor Who’; because the good guys nearly always win.

It’s also the reason I really love police dramas, such as ‘Z Cars’ and ‘Dixon Of Dock Green’ as they usually get their man.

Having said that, there is a run of episodes of ‘Dixon’ in the batch that exists from 1972, where the bad guy wins. Undoubtedly realistic as this is, I did find them a little bleak to watch.

Now that I’ve said that I support the good guy, there have been one or two exceptions.

One of these being Nigel Havers’ character Ralph Gorse from ‘The Charmer’, who on original transmission I recall really liking and not wanting him to get caught. I’ve just bought the DVD so it will be interesting to see if I get the same view through more adult eyes or if I’m supporting Bernard Hepton this time.

The other ‘bad guy’ I that I really like is A J Raffles as played by Anthony Valentine, who sadly passed away recently. In tribute we’ve been rewatching the odd episode and I’ve found him just as likeable and compared to some of the dishonest and despicable people he steals from, he actually the good guy I guess.

Now really I guess I should want Inspector Mackenzie to win, but he’s such a bumptious, annoying and stupid character that it’s always a pleasure to see him bested.

‘Raffles’ is a series we’d highly recommend to anyone that’s a fan of vintage television or Anthony Valentine and serves as a good tribute to him.  As well as featuring a host of well known guest stars such as Graham Crowden and John Savident.

And if you see no other episode, watch the pilot  ‘The Amateur Cracksman’ for no other reason than to see and hear James Maxwell’s extraordinary performance as Inspector Mackenzie.

Another good guy I’ve been enjoying watching is President Jed Bartlet from ‘The West Wing’; he’s the kind of man I wish were standing now against Donald Trump, because I think he’d make mincemeat of him.

But he’s not the only good guy in the show, most of the other characters are good guys too, each is there trying to do their best for the President or the country.  My favourite character being Toby Ziegler.

Now just because someone is a good guy it doesn’t mean they have to be perfect, in fact sometimes not doing things the right way but doing the right thing means that the ultimate end is even more satisfying.

That’s why characters like Reagan and Carter in ‘The Sweeney’ or Gene Hunt in ‘Life On Mars’ & ‘Ashes To Ashes’ who, despite their unorthodox ways of doing things, are ultimately acting for the greater good.

Incidentally if there was to be a remake of ‘Dixon Of Dock Green’, then I vote for Philip Glenister as Dixon, giving the character a harder edge suitable for the 21st Century.

Obviously the ultimate good guy is Dr. Who / Doctor Who / The Doctor (depending on how he appears in the end credits!); saving planets and people for 52 years.

But he doesn’t always do this in a way that we would consider to be ethical, as shown in the  Series 8  episode ‘Kill The Moon’. I have to admit that I struggled with this episode on transmission, as The Doctor’s behaviour leaves a lot to be desired. But The Doctor has always had moments where he is dislikable, in ‘An Unearthly Child’ / ’The Tribe Of Gum’ / ‘100000 BC’ he almost bashes Za’s brains out to allow their escape.  And in ‘The Dead Planet’ / ‘The Daleks’ / ‘The Mutants (Not The Pertwee One)’ he endangers all their lives so that he can get a look at the Dalek city.

Some of The Doctor’s recent behaviour has also been a little dubious, as he struggled to save Clara after the events of ‘Face The Raven’; a lot of people have criticised this as he never did this to save some of his other companions including Amy and Rory.  Well, obviously different stories require different attitudes. But for me the reason that he moves heaven and earth to save Clara is the fact that she saved his existence many times over.

And also that she was there when he regenerated, in the same way he was very fond of Sarah Jane who was with him when he regenerated from the Third Doctor to the Fourth.

Anyway enough waffling from me.
As the First Doctor says “A Very Merry Christmas to all of you at home!”

Books and Stuff.

“Books are the principal business of a library, sir…”

So says Shardovan to the 5th Doctor’s question in ‘Castrovalva’.

Books have been occupying our thoughts this last month or so as we have added many used and new books to our collection.

We are now the proud owners of a complete set of ‘Worzel Gummidge’ books, plus ‘The Trial of Worzel Gummidge’ – a TV Tie-in by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, which Andrew insists doesn’t really count as it isn’t by the original author Barbara Euphan Todd. Andrew loves the ‘Worzel Gummidge’ books as the books are a lot darker than the TV series could ever have been.

We recently stayed in a hotel in Kent to attend a friend’s wedding renewal and spent the Friday night using the free hotel wi-fi to look up ‘Worzel Gummidge’ books on ebay and trying to work out which one to buy first.

We tried not to get any with photo covers of Jon Pertwee, but have ended up with a couple with illustrated covers which look suspiciously like him.

Two of the harder ones to track down Andrew managed to buy from Amazon and they are both ex-library copies and are older than he is.

Andrew’s idea casting for a remake of ‘Worzel Gummidge’ would be Phil Davis, who we imagine would play the role with much more darkness and nastiness than Jon Pertwee (great as he was) could have done.

There are also marked differences in the books, neither Aunt Sally or The Crowman feature heavily and Worzel is married to another scarecrow called Earthy Mangold who used to be a Hawthorn Hedge and loves all creatures.

We have come to the decision that Andrew is Worzel and I am Earthy.

I have also bought vintage copies of some of the Richard Gordon’s ‘Doctor…’ books, a set of 6 or 7. I do love vintage books, and the fact that sometimes you get a message to someone in the book or a name and address.

I also have a set of vintage Paddington books. Paddington books are a bit of obsession for me as ‘A Bear Called Paddington’ was the first book that I was bought after I learned to read, so it has a very sentimental feeling for me.  

Though sometimes I worry that we have too many books, though I’m not sure you can have too many really and on the bonus side we could always open up a book shop.

I can’t tell you how much I love the feel of a book, especially new books.

I also love the smell of new books, which makes me sound a bit weird.

I also use a Kindle app on my phone and quite often find myself doubling up on books and having them as a physical and e-book.

I find e-books easier to read sometimes as I am very short sighted and find them easier to read as they are lit up and you can make the text larger.

But they will never replace the feel of a physical book for me.

Other books that I have recently bought are the complete ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ series, the complete ‘Borrowers’ novels, which we’ve also been watching weekly.

And a whole bunch of ‘Round The Horne’ books, including scripts, a history of the programme and a biography of Kenneth Horne.

There’s also been a whole bunch of ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Downton Abbey’ related books and Simon Fisher-Becker’s wonderful ‘My Dalek Has A Puncture’.

One series of books I would recommend is by Tom Cox and concerns life with his cats and other assorted animals they also feature the sayings of Tom’s dad who could fill a book alone with the things he has said and that has happened to him.

You also get to meet Tom’s cats, including the 20 year old The Bear, who you can find on Twitter as  https://twitter.com/MYSADCAT.

A very entertaining series of books, sometimes sad, but mostly happy and life affirming.

The complete set of books are:

‘Under The Paw’

‘Talk To The Tail’

‘The Good, The Bad and The Furry’

‘Close Encounters of the Furred Kind’.

Anyway I think I’ve waffled on enough.

Well, whoever I feel like, it’s absolutely splendid. Let’s go.

“Who’d be a woman?”

“How would you know, honey?” is of course, Captain Hopper’s answer to Victoria’s rhetorical question in ‘The Tomb Of The Cybermen’.

For years and years being a female ‘Doctor Who’ fan was seen to be somewhat unusual. It’s hard to believe these days when being a ‘Doctor Who’ fan and a girl is nothing out of the ordinary.

But go back 15 years or so and I was told by my then supervisor that I’d grow out of it. Now since I was 28 at that point, I’d say that I`d long passed the point of that even being a vague possibility!

These days there are almost more female fans than male, helped especially by the fact that the newer series of ‘Doctor Who’ has seen the Doctor’s relationship with his companion(s) become a bit more emotional; sometimes even a love story, as with the Tenth Doctor and Rose.

Though I suppose when you look back, there was a real love between Sarah Jane and the Fourth Doctor, though not as overt.

I’m an old school fan and enjoy the adventure side of ‘Doctor Who’ along with the character of the Doctor. For one thing, I respect and enjoy his tolerance (Daleks not included!).

A line that Andrew and I have been quoting a lot recently is from the Jon Pertwee story ‘The Claws Of Axos’ when the odious Mister Chinn says he has a duty to his country. “Not to the World?” retorts the Doctor with burning anger. Something we both believe in; that we are one world and not just individual countries.

Something else we’ve had recently is a female Master; a brave and clever idea. Something which has reinvigorated the character and paved the way for a female Doctor.

I really liked Michelle Gomez’s portrayal of Missy (she can’t very well call herself the Master, after all).

To paraphrase Lady Caroline Lamb on Lord Byron, she’s mad, bad and dangerous to know.

But lots of fun and I look forward to seeing what she will get up to in Series 9.

As for a female Doctor, there was a time when I’d have said no, most definitely not. But then I read this article:

http://www.scifind.com/features/the-other-11-doctors/

And I changed my mind, I can just imagine Sue Perkins as the 10th Doctor and how the romance between her and Rose would work.

I don’t understand why the Doctor can’t be a woman, as long as you get the right actress.

I understand that the actress and comedian Susan Calman would like to be The Doctor and I can’t disagree with that, as I think she’d be fab. Not for a while though, as I’d like Peter Capaldi to stay a bit longer. Mind you, maybe not straight after him as we don’t really want two Scottish Doctors that close.

I’d like to see a black or Asian Doctor. My personal favorite would be an actor called Kobna Holdbrook-Smith who does an excellent job reading the audio versions of Ben Aaronovitch’s wonderful series ‘Rivers of London’.

Check them out if you get the chance, they’re about a Met Policeman who is also a wizard.

Though when Sanjeev Bhaskar was announced as being a guest star in ‘Death In Heaven’, Andrew had a theory that he might be a future incarnation of The Doctor. Sadly, that didn’t quite pan out anything like we expected, but it would have been an interesting idea.

Anyway I think I’ve waffled on long enough for now.

I suppose it makes sense… wearing a bit thin

The Idiot’s Lantern.

Much like the ladies watching the Coronation in Mark Gatiss’ excellent story of the above name, Andrew and I quite often talk whilst watching television.

Unlike the ladies, it isn’t about how lovely the person currently on screen looks, but more often how bad the quality of the picture is or who that particular guest actor is.

And in one case recently whilst watching Part Two of ‘Remembrance Of The Daleks’ we paused the scene in the cafe which discusses the use of sugar to work out if John’s Great-Grandfather could have been a slave, which we happily worked out was possible.

Andrew also has the slightly annoying habit of quoting ‘Doctor Who’ as it it goes along. Just before the line is actually said… Especially Jon Pertwee episodes as he had most of them on audio tape and listened to them so much that he can now quote them word for word and even imitate the music cues. (“Ba-da-da-dada-da-dum!!!”)

We also have the habit of watching quiz shows and getting very annoyed when the most obvious answers are missed by contestants or the general public at large.

A recent example happened in an edition of ‘Pointless Celebrities’. It always amazes us how many people that work in TV know nothing about TV. Meera Syal and Phil Cornwell had made it to the final round and had chosen ‘The 70’s’ as their jackpot question. One of the categories was regular cast members of ‘Are You Being Served’…

Firstly I’d want to qualify what constitutes a regular character; one of our online friends later told us that it was actually 25 episodes or more, but we didn’t hear bit so (probably because we got too excited). We were working on the theory of 2 episode or more. So were coming up with names like Milo Sperber who played Mr Grossman the Head of Menswear in 4 episodes of Series 8 or Alfie Bass who was Mr Goldberg in Series 7. Andrew also thought of Candy Davis (Mr Rumbold`s secretary in Series 9 and 10. But then, Andrew often thinks of Candy Davis…) But when it came to it, Trevor Bannister who played Mr Lucas in 7 whole series (!) got 7 points and Nicholas Smith who played Mr Rumbold in the entire 10 series run was a Pointless answer. Which to us is completely ridiculous, and somewhat insulting to the actors concerned! 🙂

But I appreciate we may have somewhat specialised knowledge and be the weird ones here…

I do get a bit obsessed by things sometimes, for instance we watched a edition of ‘Late Night Line’ up on YouTube the other day. It was focussing on the filming and rehearsal of a ‘Z Cars’ episode, as they were still largely live at the stage. After we watched the programme I tried to find out what episode of ‘Z Cars’ had been covered. I’ve just found out via the wonder of Twitter that the episode is ‘The Soft Game’ from 21st April 1965. Thanks to clever old @CFarnesbarnes for that!

We have a huge pile of DVDs to be watched many of them vintage and classic (or not so classic) TV programmes. At the moment we currently have ‘Bless This House’, ‘Get Some In’, ‘On The Buses’, ‘The Prisoner’ and ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’. You can hopefully see the pattern here, as we enjoy all sorts of 60’s and 70’s TV programmes. I think we keep Network DVD in business really, as we buy an awful lot of stuff from them. Or possibly a lot of awful stuff…!

And a friend Brad Jones is a very good weather vane of what’s good to buy; he’ll post about something he’s watching on DVD and I usually buy the same DVD soon after.

I think during the week we watch more vintage programmes than current ones.  I’m not keen on heavy, depressing programmes or US TV Series.

My current favourite programme is the new version of ‘Clangers’, which I absolutely adore and could watch quite a few back to back. It’s the ideal stress buster for me; if I’ve had a bad day at work or feel a bit stressed, ‘Clangers’ really cheers me up.

I have the same reaction if I listen to Murray Gold’s ‘I am The Doctor’ track; it reminds me of happy times and places. And the joy of realising that Matt Smith’s Doctor was going to be great.

Anyway I think I’ve deviated from the point of this blog somewhat, I love TV and love nothing more than to sit down with Andrew and our cats (Rose and Martha) on a Saturday to watch ‘Doctor Who’ or whatever other series we’ve got on the go.

Anyway I think I’ve wittered on enough for now.

 

“Before I go, I just wanna tell you, you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And do you know what? So was I!”