As 2008 shrinks and fades like the little white dot we used to get when we switched off our tellies, here’s a fitting tribute, courtesy of TV Cream, to some of the British TV heroes for whom the final credits rolled this year.
Monthly Archives: December 2008
I spent far too many hours of my childhood in the ’70s and ’80s watching Saturday-morning TV. This is something we will revisit, I’m sure, but for now, The Cathode Ray Choob’s first-ever Theme Tune Tuesday honours one of the finest Saturday-morning shows ever made.
Here Come The Double Deckers! was a mainstay of Saturday-morning TV throughout the ’70s and ’80s. Although very British in style and content, the show was, in fact, an Anglo-US co-production, with independent British film studio Century Films teaming up with the television arm of 20th Century Fox. In fact, the show aired on America, on the ABC network. in September 1970 – some four months before it was first shown on BBC1, in January 1971. Only a single season of 17 episodes was made.
The Double Deckers was a gang of seven kids whose clubhouse was an old double-deckerLondon bus, complete with an ingenious security mechanism to keep out intruders (as seen in operation during the opening credits).
Two members of the young cast went on to find fame as adults. Peter Firth, who played the gang’s leader Scooper, appeared in the stage and film versions of Equus and The Hunt For Red October, and most recently in the BBC1 spy drama Spooks (or MI-5, as it’s known in the US). And Brinsley Forde, who played Spring, later became lead singer of reggae band Aswad.
Many familiar British character actors appeared in guest roles during the series but the only regular adult star was Melvyn Hayes, who played the gang’s pal Albert, a street cleaner. Hayes would later find lasting fame as Gunner “Gloria” Beaumont in BBC1 sitcom It Ain’t Half Hot Mum.
Hayes also co-wrote the Double Deckers theme song, which is, quite simply one of the all-time great TV theme tunes – perhaps the best ever, certainly in the top 5. Here then are the opening credits and theme from Here Come The Double Deckers! Enjoy…
(High quality version here.)
And since it’s the season of goodwill to all, here is the closing theme and credits.
(High quality version here.)
For more info and features about Here Come The Double Deckers, check out this fan site, which has a wealth of information, behind the scenes photos and retrospective interviews with many of the cast.
With a lot of shows on a break until the New Year, and mid-season replacement shows such as 24 and Lost about to return, here’s a handy list of when the main shows are due back on our screens. US airdates are included for North Americans (and bit-torrenters) and the UK dates are also included where known.
24: Day 7 finally begins, after the extra year’s delay caused by the writers’ strike, with a special four-hour, two-night event on Sunday, January 11 and Monday, January 12, before settling in to its normal Monday night slot. In the UK, Sky One starts airing it on January 12.
30 Rock: Season 3 continues in the US on January 8.
Battlestar Galactica: The final 10 episodes (aka season 4.5) begin on January 11 in the US and January 20 on Sky One.
The Big Bang Theory: Season 2 resumes on January 12 in the US.
Big Love: Season 3 begins on January 18 (on HBO in the US).
Bones: Season 4 resumes in the US on January 15 and on Sky One in the UK on February 19.
Brothers & Sisters: Season 3 resumes on January 4 (US) and starts on More4 in the UK on January 8.
Burn Notice: Season 2 continues on January 22 in the US.
Chuck: Season 2 returns to US screens on February 2.
Damages: Season 2 begins in the US on January 7.
Desperate Housewives: Back in the US on January 4
Dexter: Season 2 starts on ITV1 in the UK on January 8.
Dollhouse: Premieres on February 13.
ER: The final season continues in the US on January 8 and begins in the UK on More4 on the same night.
Flashpoint: First season returns on January 9.
Flight Of The Conchords: Second season starts on January 18 (US).
Fringe: Season 1 resumes on January 20 (US).
Heroes: Season 3 (Volume 4) continues on February 2 (US).
House: Season 5 returns on January 19 (US).
How I Met Your Mother: Season 4 continues in the US on January 12.
Life: First season continues on February 4 (US) and begins on FX in the UK on February 9.
Life On Mars (US remake): First season resumes on January 28.
Lost: Season 5 begins on January 21 in the US and on January 25th on Sky One in the UK.
Medium: Season 5 begins on February 2 (US). Season 4 starts on January 12 on Sci Fi (UK).
The Mentalist: First season continues on January 6 (US).
Monk: Season 7 continues on January 9 (US).
My Name Is Earl: Season 4 resumes on January 8 (US) and starts on E4 in the UK on the same night.
The New Adventures Of Old Christine: Season 4 continues on January 14 (US).
Nip/Tuck: Season 5 continues on January 6.
Numb3rs: Season 5 returns on January 9 (US) and starts on Channel 5 in the UK the same night.
The Office: Season 5 continues on January 15 (US).
Private Practice: Season 2 continues on January 8 (US).
Psych: Season 3 continues on January 9 (US).
Reaper: Season 2 begins on March 17 (US).
Samantha Who?: Season 2 resumes on January 12 (US).
Sanctuary: Season 1 is currently airing in the US and starts on February 3 on SciFi in the UK.
Scrubs: Season 8 starts on January 6 (US).
Smallville: Season 8 resumes on January 15 (US).
Supernatural: Season 4 resumes on January 15 in the US and is due to start in January on ITV2.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Season 2 continues on February 13 (US).
See HERE for a chronological list of US return dates.
They’ve not been cancelled (yet!) but low ratings mean that a few high-profile shows are increasingly looking like they may be living on borrowed time.
Heroes: The disappointing, poorly-received second season (which was truncated due to the writers’ strike) seems to have alienated a lot of the viewers that helped make the show such a hit in season one. An average of 13.3million viewers watched season 1. Season 2 managed an average of 11.3 but season 3 is down to 8.6million.
A recent behind-the-scenes reshuffle has seen writer/producer Bryan Fuller brought back in to help get the show back on track. Fuller was involved in season 1 of Heroes but left to create Pushing Daisies, which was recently cancelled (see the post below). The third season of Heroes will certainly be completed but whether there will be a season 4 remains to be seen.
Prison Break: The show was a big hit when it began but ratings have been steadily declining ever since, with the current season 4 attracting only around 6million viewers, compared to season 1’s 12million-plus.
Latest news is that the cast have been asked to make themselves available for an extra two episodes on top of the original season 4 order of 22 – leading some to speculate that a two-hour special will bring the series to a conclusion sometime in 2009.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: An uneven but generally surprisingly decent attempt to transfer the Terminator universe to TV. The series picks up the plot from the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, ignoring Terminator 3 completely, to tell the story of Sarah and John Connor’s continuing attempts to prevent the rise of the machines.
Despite exceptionally low ratings for the currently-airing season 2, US network Fox surprised many people by increasing the initial order of 13 episodes to a full season of 22. However, after the mid-season break, the show will move from Monday nights to Fridays – which is traditionally a ratings graveyard for US TV.
As such, most analysts reckon a third season looks highly unlikely.
Dollhouse: Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Firefly creator Joss Whedon‘s latest TV show hasn’t even started airing yet and it looks like it’s in trouble.
First of all, the pilot episode had to be reshot after Fox network chiefs decided they didn’t like Whedon’s original version. Then, they announced it will air on Friday nights, partnered with the struggling Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, suggesting that the show is being buried.
Whedon has been busy mounting a damage-limitation exercise in the Press and on the internet, though, and he does have a sizable devoted audience – but that wasn’t enough to save the late, lamented, and similarly shabbily-treated by the network, Firefly.
The show, incidentally, is about a group of “dolls”, operatives who have had their memories and personalities erased, so that they can be hired out by their bosses and specially programmed with skills and knowledge for special missions. Eliza Dushku, Buffy’s rogue vampire slayer Faith, takes the lead role as Echo, one of the dolls who starts to regain memories of her former life.
As usual at this time of year, there was a flurry of activity in the run-up to the mid-season break in the US, with a number of new shows being axed, along with a few second-season casualties. Here’s a note of the main losers.
Pushing Daises:Quirky, surreal, dreamlike fantasy about a man who can bring dead people back to life with a touch but not without consequences. Former Brookside babe Anna Friel played the dead girlfriend he revives – but is unable to touch ever again because a second touch consigns those he revives to a final, permanent death. The first season was well-received and attracted decent ratings but was cut short (from 22 episodes to just nine) by the Hollywood writers’ strike earlier this year. Season two began in the Autumn in the US and the audience failed to return. Episode 13 will be the last. Three episodes are yet to air in the US.
My Own Worst Enemy: Christian Slater’s first foray into TV, in which he played a mild-mannered family man, who suddenly finds out that he shares his body with a second personality – who just happens to be a cold-blooded, killer super-spy. Reminiscent of JJ Abrams’ Alias. But much like the main character, the audience were left in two minds about whether to tune in and the show was axed after only nine episodes.
Knight Rider: The updated version of the 80’s classic had no Hoff and a new, Transformers-like KITT with Val Kilmer’s voice. Unfortunately, the storylines were just as corny as the original and despite an attempt at a mid-season revamp, NBC cut the season order from 22 to 17 episodes and then cancelled the show. Eight episodes have been broadcast. The remaining nine episodes are due to start airing on Wednesday December 31, with the show driving into the sunset on February 25.
Eli Stone: Jonny Lee Miller stars as an attorney who has visions of impending doom. The currently-airing second season of 13 episodes will be the last.
Dirty, Sexy Money: Starring Six Feet Under’s Peter Krause as a lawyer working for a troubled, eccentric, rich family in New York. Will end after its currently-airing 13-episode second season.
Lipstick Jungle:Another show based on work from Sex and the City writer Candace Bushnell, also about female friends living in New York. Show will end after episode 10 of season two. The final two episodes are due to air in January.
The Ex-List:A 30-something woman is told by a fortune teller that she has already dated her soul-mate and that if she doesn’t find him again within a year, she’ll be alone forever. The fortune teller forgot to mention that the show would be pulled from the schedules after just four episodes. Nine episodes remain unaired.
Valentine:Greek Gods live in modern-day LA, where they help lonely individuals find true love. There wasn’t much love for the show, however, and it was axed after just four episodes. Four remain unaired.
Easy Money: Comedy drama about a family of loan sharks. Cancelled after four episodes. Four remain unaired.
Do Not Disturb: A truly dire sitcom set in a hotel – it was put out of our misery after only three episodes.
In addition, the following longer-running shows will also be taking their farewell bows after the current seasons end:
ER (after 15 seasons)
Boston Legal (after 5 seasons)
Battlestar Galactica (after 4 seasons; spin-off prequel show Caprica has been given the green light and is expected to air in 2010)
King of the Hill (after 13 seasons)
The L Word (after 6 seasons)
Late Night With Conan O’Brien (after 16 seasons)
MADtv (after 14 seasons)
The Shield (recently finished its 7th and final season)
Stargate Atlantis (after 5 seasons)
Hello and a very warm welcome to The Cathode Ray Choob, a brand new blog that aims to celebrate the very best TV shows, past and present, and keep you up to date with current trends and events in telly-land.
This a fairly quiet time of year in terms of ongoing TV shows. In the US, for example, most shows are on their mid-season breaks (the ones that haven’t been cancelled, that is). And in the UK, the Autumn telly season has just wound up to clear the schedule for the Christmas and New Year specials, followed by the Winter season that begins in January.
So, the Cathode Ray Choob will use the festive lull to round up the current state of play in TV – which shows have been cancelled, which ones have a rosy future and which ones have their fate hanging in the balance.
In addition, look out for some Christmas presents from the Choob, especially for you – the first of many over the coming months and, who knows, years. We’ll hopefully have a few regular features to keep you entertained along with informed, so keep checking back for regular updates.
To quote Larry Sanders: No flipping!