Monthly Archives: February 2009

It’s Classic Clip Friday: WKRP In Cincinnati – Turkey Drop


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A couple of weeks ago on Classic Clip Friday, we featured Jim’s driving test scene from 70s US sitcom Taxi.

This week’s classic clip comes from one of Taxi’s contemporary comedies, but one that is even less well-remembered and more under-appreciated by modern audiences – WKRP In Cincinnati.

Yet the show, about a struggling radio station, featured some great characters, including Howard Hesseman‘s Dr. Johnny Fever (he wasn’t a real doctor…) and Les Nessman (Richard Sanders), a somewhat less than worldly-wise news reporter, whose serious, professional demeanour belied the fact that he was utterly useless.

Les gave us the show’s single best, most-memorable scene. To set it up, you should know that the station manager, Arthur Carlson (Gordon Jump) had decided to organise a special Thanksgiving promotion to try and boost the radio station’s profile, but hadn’t told anyone what it was – just that he needed 20 live turkeys.

(Incidentally, check out this post for a few more classic TV show Thanksgiving clips.)

Les is sent to a shopping mall to cover the event:

“Oh the humanity!”

A brilliant performance by Sanders, parodying Herbert Morrison’s famous coverage of the Hindenburg disaster.

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Top Of The Pops Thursday: Muse


Something a little more up to date this week, courtesy of Muse, probably my favourite currently active band.

I could list dozens of their songs here (and no doubt we shall return to them in future TOTP Thursdays) but for now I’ll limit my choice to a couple of their loudest, rockiest, most bombastic offerings.

Enjoy!

First up Stockholm Syndrome, from the album Absolution, the closing number from their headlining performance at Glastonbury, 2004:

And second, my favourite Muse song, Knights Of Cydonia (from the album Black Holes And Revelations) – which I like to think of as the illegitimate love child of Ennio Morricone and Iron Maiden. This performance is from the BBC’s Later With Jools Holland in 2006:

You can see high-quality versions of both videos on YouTube by clicking the video while it is playing and then selecting Watch In High Quality.

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TV Newsround: More Of The Same


The CW has ordered new seasons of no fewer than five of its highest-profile dramas.

Superboy drama Smallville will be back in the Autumn for its ninth season, Supernatural for a fifth and One Tree Hill for a seventh. Newcomer 90210 gets a second season (plus a pilot order for an updated version of original Beverley Hills 90210 spin-off, Melrose Place – more details here) and Gossip Girl a third.

Not so good news for fans of new CW show Privileged, which was ignored in The CW’s announcement.

With the third season of Army Wives not due to begin until June, the Lifetime channel has ordered a fourth season.

The show, about the day-to-day lives of and problems facing military families, stars former NYPD Blues actress Kim Delaney. It is Lifetime’s most successful show in the channel’s 25-year history.

Elsewhere, ensemble drama Crash, based on the 2005 Best Picture Oscar-winning film, has been renewed for a 13-episode second season by the Starz network.

Like the film, the series follows a number of characters whose lives are randomly intertwined. However, the TV show features new characters unrelated to those in the film, though there are close similarities in some cases.

The first season received generally poor reviews and a new team of showrunners has been brought in to guide season two, led by The 4400′s Ira Steven Behr. Former showrunner, The Shield’s Glen Mazzara will remain as a consultant producer. The show’s biggest-name actor, Dennis Hopper, is expected to return for the new season.

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Pilot Watch: Kutcher’s Latest Model And An Order In Place


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The Beautiful Life: Ashton Kutcher is producing this drama about the day-to-day highs and lows of a group of male and female models who live together in New York. It will primarily focus on two of the beautiful people: charismatic  Christopher, a 22-year-old rising star, and 15-year-old Raina, a potential supermodel. The pilot is written by former model Adam Giaudrone.

Melrose Place: An updated version of the 1990s primetime soap, which was a spin-off from Beverley Hills 90210, a show that has itself already had an updated version, which debuted this season. The pilot will be written by One Tree Hill creator Mark Schwahn and directed by Davis Guggenheim, who won the Best Documentary Oscar in 2007 for An Inconvenient Truth. He has also directed episodes of Alias, 24 and NYPD Blue.

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Battlestar Galactica Spin-Off Caprica’s DVD Details Revealed


As previously announced, the pilot episode for Caprica, the spin-off/prequel to the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, is out on DVD in the US on April 21. A UK release has yet to be announced.

It won’t air on TV until early next year, when the full 20-episode season begins.

We already knew that the DVD release would feature an unrated, uncut, extended version of the two-hour pilot.

Now Sci-Fi Wire has revealed details of the extras, plus the DVD artwork and a few new stills.

The extras on the DVD include behind-the scenes features on the creation of the show, including:

  • A commentary track featuring director Jeffrey Reiner and executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick.
  • Deleted Scenes.
  • Video blogs.
  • Featurettes: What The Frak Is Caprica?, The Director’s Process, The V Club and The Birth Of A Cylon.

Caprica is set 50 years before the events of Battlestar Galactica.

It’s billed as more of a family drama and will primarily tell the story of the creation of the Cylons, as seen through the eyes of two men thrown together through a shared tragedy – wealthy industrialist Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) and Joseph Adama (Esai Morales), father of Battlestar Galactica’s commander William Adama.

Filming begins on the remaining 18 episodes of the show’s first season during the summer. It is expected to air early next year. Battlestar Galactica is currently airing the final batch of episodes of its fourth and final season.

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A Word From Our Sponsors… Tennent’s Lager: Caledonia


I started this classic adverts feature with a selection of the best commercials for McEwan’s Lager, so it’s only fitting that at some point we have a look at their rivals Tennent’s, Scotland’s biggest lager brand.

This choice is more personal than most, so to give you some background to the advert, which dates from around 1991, the Choob is from Glasgow and my first job (which I started in 1990), was as a computer programmer in Reading, Berkshire, in the south of England.

Fresh out of university, I soon realised the job I was doing wasn’t for me and I can’t say I was a big fan of Reading.

So I was soon feeling increasingly homesick and sorry for myself… and then Tennent’s started broadcasting this advert, which managed the rare trick of making me feel both better and worse.

The song is Caledonia, sung by the influential, though not particularly commercially successful, Glaswegian singer-songwriter Frankie Miller. It’s a cover version of a song written by Dougie MacLean.

Languishing in my miserable exile in Reading, the advert (and the song) made me feel even worse about my predicament as it summed up my feelings of displacement and despair – yet also gave me hope and optimism for the future that things can be changed for the better.

And change for the better they did – I wasn’t brave enough to chuck my briefcase in the bin and leave my job but the company I worked for (ICL) made the decision for me when I was made redundant after two years, during a cull of our part of the company.

I returned to Scotland and was lucky enough to manage to make the switch to the career that I had always dreamed of when I was at school (journalism).

But before that happened, I revelled in my misery in Reading. I bought Frankie Miller‘s Caledonia single and I’m sure I must have driven my four (English) housemates mad by repeatedly blasting it out of the stereo in my room. Sorry about that…

And so, to conclude this week’s Message From Our Sponsors, here is the music video for the full version of Miller’s version of Caledonia:

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Tuesday Is Theme Tunes Day – Space: 1999


September 13, 1999. A date that will live in… geeky sci-fi history.

Why? Because that was the day that the moon was ripped from Earth’s orbit by a nuclear explosion, of course, sending it – and the crew of Moonbase Alpha – speeding out of control into the unknown universe. You may have missed it on the news…

Ah, yes – Space: 1999. Along with Star Trek and Starsky and Hutch, it is one of my earliest memories of watching proper, grown-up TV.

It was another cheesy,sci-fi classic from the fertile mind of Gerry Anderson. Like its predecessor, UFO, it was a live-action show, rather than a puppetry series like the ones that had made his name (Thunderbirds, Joe 90, et al).

Although it was a British show, financier Lew Grade insisted on American stars, to make it easier to market in the US, and so the then-married Martin Landau and Barbara Bain (left), who had previously appeared together in Mission: Impossible, were hired to play the lead roles of Moonbase Commander John Koenig and doctor Helena Russell.

Space: 1999 ran for two seasons, beginning in 1975, and to a six-year-old Choob it was jaw-dropping stuff. It was a while ago, so you’ll forgive my hazy memory, but I’m fairly sure I saw Space: 1999 on ITV before I saw any Star Trek reruns on BBC1, so it was truly unlike anything I had ever seen.

People living on the moon! Then speeding through space on the moon! Meeting aliens! And flying around in their uber-cool Eagle Transporter spacecraft (right)! What wasn’t to love?

Sure, the costumes and sets look dated now, though not quite as badly as Star Trek, but back then they were cutting edge.

As were the cool “knuckle-duster”-style laser guns they used and the communicators with the built-in tiny TV screens (which also, I seem to recall, doubled up as remote-control door openers – why the doors didn’t just open as they approached, a la Star Trek, I have no idea, but there you go).

Nowadays, of course, I am all-too aware that the physics of the show made no sense whatsoever – an atomic explosion powerful enough to shift the moon’s orbit would have reduced it to rubble and, even if you ignore that problem, the moon would not travel fast enough to get very far before everyone on the base died of old age.

[More pragmatically, it is slightly depressing, looking back, that given the post-moon landing 1970s optimism about the future of space exploration, we are now another decade further into the future than the 24 years Space: 1999 envisioned and even something that seemed so mundane and attainable within a quarter of a century back then, a base on the moon, is still the stuff of science fiction and no closer to reality.]

But I don’t care about how ridiculous the premise was. It looked cool and it was pure, glorious, escapist sci-fi fun at a time when there was very little genre TV being produced.

Star Trek had ended a six years earlier and it would be two more years before Star Wars would kick-start a revival of interest in the genre – with the original Battlestar Galactica in the US and Blake’s 7 in the UK the first major, successful attempts to cash in. So Space: 1999 was an ambitious show that was, in some ways, ahead of its time.

And, of course, the reason we are here, is that it had one of the great TV theme tunes. Well, it did for one season anyway. The brilliant, bombastic, mega-dramatic original theme by long-time Gerry Anderson collaborator Barry Gray was replaced by a more contemporary theme by Derek Wadsworth. The new theme wasn’t dreadful – it just wasn’t a patch on the original.

That said, the visuals of the season two opening titles were arguably an improvement on the season one effort, which mainly featured dull fairly static portraits of the stars, together with a montage of scenes from the coming epiosde (a once-common US TV tradition recently revived by the reimagined Battlestar Galactica).

Anyway, make up your own mind about which was best. Enjoy!

Season one opening titles:

And here are the opening AND closing titles from season two:

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