Saturday, 15 December 2012

Top 5 TV Openings - #2

Oh, how i wanted to be Steve Austin. Didn't matter that the show was pretty naff and dull, with hardly any action. When it did, i WAS him, when i read the Look-In comic strip, i WAS him. I wanted that busted nose, i wanted that natty red tracksuit, i wanted that hair-do. When i was growed up, i wanted to BE him. And that was reinforced every single time i watched these incredibly evocotive openings:

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Georges Melies

This is one of those odd occasions where i was massively affected by something when a child - but never actually saw it until and adult. Back in the 70's, one of the constant staples in the huge amount of books put out of the subject of horror or Sf films (usually by Denis Gifford)were stills from the films of Georges Melies. I'd already been growing up on a diet of Laurel & Hardy and Charlie Chaplin films and part of the appeal, other than the comedy, was the rather disturbing feel to the silent one's - the B&W photography, the sets, the very scratched prints and the strange, strange support casts (typified by Eric Campbell in the Chaplin films) went towards giving the shorts an unsettling feeling of menace throughout. So i was used to that. But these still? Well, i'd never seen anything like them. Far, far more distburing than anything i'd seen up to that point, with incredible ideas making for incredible, iconic imagery. Boy, i was fascinated. When i finally got round to seeing them, they still had that sense of menace wrapped up into the fantasy and they hold up brilliantly well today - something you can't say for CGI films made only a few yaers ago. Georges Melies is rightly acknowldged now as not only a pioneer of special effects, he was the first to use so many of the techniques still in use today, but also for pushing the boundries of film making - realising before many others that scenes could be edited together to create a story. Was so pleased to finally see him and his films up there on the Big Screen in the excellent "Hugo" but, if you're a fan, i urge you to track down the compliation DVD of his works on the Arte Video label, which is just stunning.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Marwood coffe shop

Bit of an aside here, but we were in Brighton yesterday and popped into Marwoods, a cafe my Sister has been on at me for ages to visit as "its right up your street". Boy is it - great food, great staff and great atmos, brought about by the tons of retro goodies strewn all over the place. Real fun to eat my Ken Dodd fry-up while reiminiscing over this toy, that toy, that phone, that picture etc etc. And a nice bunch of comic art too. Highly recommended if you're down that way.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Crystal Tips and Alaistar

Just watched a bunch of these this evening with our daughters and, blimey, can't think of any other show for kids that better stands as a snapshot of the late 60's/early 70's. Mad, surreal, odd and utterly genius.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012


Catweazle was one of those shows, like Children Of The Stones and UFO and Randall & Hopkirk that were JUST THERE. No way of knowing the background to the series, no announcement that they were on, no idea of just where that episode was in the scheme of things. And that mystery helped with the unique feeling each series had - different and unsettling and strange. Sure, Catweazle was appearing at the same time in Look In, but this series was far, far different from the rest. The fantastic premise was one thing, but had in the wonderful characters, brilliant performances, haunting music and truely touching tales, and what the nipper me was witnessing was something very special. And, boy, did i respond to it. I'm introducing the first series to our Sprogs right now and its bringing back all those feelings i had when i was nine. I SO wanted a friend like Catweazle, and still do, and so wanted Carrot to understand this strange, eccentric person who'd entered his life was telling the truth about what had happened to him and what he needed. Kind of dreading the final episode where Catweazle does indeed go back to Norman times as i can still feel the pain i felt for Carrot when, at that last moment when his friend vanishes, he realises his friend was genuine. And he'd never see him again. Powerfull, mature, non-patronising stuff, the like of which we'll never see again on childrens telly.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Top 5 TV Openings - #3

Doctor Who HAD to feature in here, as its a true classic of TV imagery and sound (at least, up to 1980). But which era to choose from? All had fantastic, etherial, strangely unearthly and haunting music but all had different visuals. I've gone then for my favourite of all eras - Tom Bakers first few years.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

RIP Harry Harrison

So, another link to my past goes. Harry's "Stainless Steel Rat" series of novies were a HUGE influence on me growing up, along with a myraid of his other novels, mixing pulp SF, epic SF and a massive amount of humour in there too. His imagination was unlimited and i was glad to get a peek in to his worlds when i did.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Mary Tamm RIP

Very, very shocked to hear today of the passing of Mary Tamm. Its a bit churlish to say now, but i was planning on featuring her in my "Crushes" list. Seems silly and pointless now. Mary WAS Romana and it seems a lovely person as well. Feel sure, if she'd been given better scenes and more respect, she would've gone on to be one of the Doctor's most beloved and most respected companions - up there with Elizabeth Sladen.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

My Bat-project

Can i point you in the direction of my Bat-Blog, where i've started a project of asking to come up with their take on THE American comic cover from my childhood - Batman 186.

Scaring the crap out of a Sprog - part 5

A TWO YEAR gap between posts?????? REAL sorry to anyone who's been popping back in that time looking for an update. Must say, i've got so many Blogs now that this one has moved over on to page 2 of the list of them - and i didn't know there was a page 2, so quite forgot all about this one. So i'm indebted to artist Staz Johnson, who's reminded me that it actually exists, and also gave me a good topic to come back with - public service films. Odd little mini-info slots, usually on just before the programme you've been sat there waiting for, often bizarre, often surreal, and many times quite horrifiying in a "they put this on in kids hour?????" kind of way. Just about the best example of "scare the crap out of the little buggers so they won't do it" was provided by Staz - and it still is creepy as heck isn't it?