Monthly Archives: May 2009

Video Killed The Radio Star: David Brent – If You Don’t Know Me By Now

If you don’t know David Brent by now, you will never, never know him.

So, then, the story behind this one goes like this: Sacked Slough paper company boss David Brent decided to use his redundancy money to fund a long-dreamed-of bid for chart glory. In his youth, you see, he had been part of a band called Foregone Conclusion. Despite claiming that they had toured extensively – and that their support act had been a then unknown Scottish band called Texas – Foregone Conclusion disappeared and were forgotten.

Now middle-aged, Brent recorded a version of schmaltzy classic If You Don’t Know Me By Now, releasing it on his own Juxtaposition Records label, and had a video shot. Not surprisingly, the single flopped, his career fizzled out and he was last seen working as a cleaning products salesman.


Filed under Classic TV, Video Killed The Radio Star

It’s Classic Clip Friday: Six Feet Under – The End

I really enjoyed Six Feet Under, though at times I did find it a bit of a slog to get through.

There were a few peaks and troughs during the HBO show’s five seasons but, overall, it was always worth watching and it certainly remains one of the best American dramas of recent years.

For those unlucky enough not to have seen it, the slightly surreal family drama revolved around the Fishers, a family of undertakers in Los Angeles. It was very much a character-led drama, with a rich vein of black humour running through it, which explored our attitudes to relationships, death and mortality.

Most episodes began by portraying the death of the Fishers’ latest client, which would usually provide the main characters with cause to reflect on and explore their own lives, mortality and (often stormy) relationships with each other.

One of the more memorable techniques the show employed was having the characters conduct imaginary conversations with the “ghosts” of the dead people they encountered. Most notably, these included recurring appearances by the family patriarch (played by Richard Jenkins), who was killed at the start of the show’s first episode.

The final series was something of a return to form after a few odd, unsatisfying detours in season three and four, and the final episode gave us what is arguably the best-ever ending to a TV series.

To set up the clip, which is the last 10 minutes or so of that final episode, the producers shocked viewers a few episodes earlier by killing off one of the main characters, eldest Fisher brother Nate (Peter Krause) – though he continued to appear in the last few episodes as one of the show’s “ghosts”.

By the end of the final episode, the youngest Fisher child Claire (Lauren Ambrose) has decided to leave home and head east to pursue her dream of becoming a photographer. She says her emotional goodbyes to her mother (Frances Conroy) and her brother David (Dexter star Michael C Hall), who has finally found contentment with his partner Kieth and their adopted kids.

Claire sets off in her car, puts a CD in the player (the song is Breathe Me by Sia Furler) and so begins an extraordinary and very moving montage. The further Claire gets from home in her car, the further ahead in time the montage moves, slowly revealing the fates of all the show’s surviving main characters.

It’s only fitting that a show that demystified death and meditated on mortality to such wonderful effect should not just end and leave its characters in a perpetual limbo but, instead, showed us their final fates. Truly an astonishing and outstanding piece of television.

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Happy Birthday Choob Me!

It’s the Choob’s birthday today (the Choob who writes and assembles all this nonsense, that is, not the blog itself) – and because I’m so generous YOU all get a present!

It’s a Top Of The Pops Extra, featuring 80s post-punk popsters Altered Images – with the ever-adorable Clare Grogan on vocals – singing (what else?) Happy Birthday.

Gorgeous Clare also, of course, starred in the film Gregory’s Girl (not to mention Red Dwarf) and I don’t know a guy from my generation who didn’t fancy her rotten – and doesn’t still!

Now, there used to be a great video of the band performing the song on Top of the Pops back in 1981 but it has become corrupted somehow and is all-but unwatchable, so here is the next best vintage “live” video, from another 1981 TOTP performance:

And as an extra-special birthday treat, to compare and contrast in a then-and-now kind of a way, here is a live (and lively!) performance by lovely Clare (now aged 47) from one of those 80s nostalgia gigs in September 2008:

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Filed under Stuff, Top Of The Pops Thursday

Top Of The Pops Thursday: The Killers – Mr. Brightside

The toughest decision after deciding to feature Las Vegas rockers The Killers this week was choosing which song to spotlight, since they have so many crackers.

I’m sure we’ll revisit them at some point (as, indeed, we will most of the bands featured so far in Top Of The Pops Thursday) but for now I’ve settled on this performance of Mr. Brightside on BBC2’s Later… With Jools Holland in 2004, shortly after the release of their first album, Hot Fuss, and possibly their first UK TV appearance.

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A Word From Our Sponsors… Weetabix

Take a tasty, wheat-based breakfast cereal, mix with a familiar childhood song, add a splash of Monty Pythonesque humour and voila! A very funny advert guaranteed to give you  a good start to any day.

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Tuesday Is Theme Tunes Day – Blake’s 7

Okay, enough messing around – all the theme tunes spotlighted in this weekly feature are good… but only one can be the best.

And the best is Blake’s 7. I may have mentioned in other posts that Blake’s 7 is my all-time favourite TV show. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, it’s the best TV show ever made, cardboard sets, dodgy special effects and all.

It’s easy to be snide about the show, and plenty of people are, but considering it debuted 31 years ago and was clearly made on a shoestring BBC budget, the producers did a great job in making something so entertaining, compelling and memorable that it’s still fondly recalled and there is frequent talk of a revival/remake.

Despite all the budgetary and technical limitations, what elevated Blake’s 7, particularly in the first two seasons, was the overall quality of the writing and the characterisation. Even when an actor was chewing the (flimsy) scenery, the interaction and verbal sparring between these very complex, flawed characters was riveting.

For once, TV sci-fi heroes were not whiter-than-white and did not exist in some cosy, idyllic Utopian future (I’m looking at you, Star Trek) – the heroes were rebels and criminals, living in a future in which a subservient human race, controlled by drugs, is ruled over by a corrupt dictatorship.

And, as I said, the show had the best TV theme tune ever, written by Doctor Who veteran Dudley Simpson. It remained constant in the opening titles throughout the show’s four seasons, although the visuals did change a couple of times – and were mostly pretty ropey, even I must admit.

Here is the original version of the opening titles, which was used in seasons one and two. It’s preceded by a rather cool little CGI sequence of the Blake’s 7 spaceship, Liberator (the best-looking spaceship ever designed) which, I believe, was created for the DVD release:

Here is the season three title sequence, in which the visuals are much improved:

And finally here are the completely revamped season four opening titles, redesigned to take account of the fact that the crew had a new spaceship, Scorpio:

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Filed under Classic TV, Tuesday Is Theme Tunes Day

The Monday Movie – True Grit

“Fill your hands, you sunuvabitch”

With that challenge, John Wayne‘s one-eyed, world-weary, bad-tempered, drunken US Marshal Rooster Cogburn grips the reins of his horse in his teeth and gallops towards outlaw “lucky” Ned Pepper (played by Robert Duvall) and three of his henchmen, a rifle in one hand, a pistol in the other, both guns blazing.

The film is 1969’s True Grit and the scene is one of the great classic Western gunfights, not to mention one of Wayne’s finest on-screen moments (for which he won an Oscar).

Note in particular the twirling, one-handed rifle reloading – a trick that Arnold Schwarzenegger would homage 22 years later in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

The scene comes near the end of the movie. For the uninitiated, it comes after Cogburn is hired by headstrong 14-year-old girl Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) to help her track down the man who killed her father and bring him to justice. After a long search, aided by Texas Ranger La Boeuf (played by singer Glen Campbell), they find him holed up along with Pepper’s gang.

Apparently, the Coen Brothers are planning a True Grit remake that sticks closer to the source novel, by Charles Portis, than the John Wayne movie.

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