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Alex G

Alex G

Wednesday, 05 August 2015 23:00

Nor The Moon By Night DVD

Nor the Moon by Night - out now on DVD“Nor the Moon by Night” is a three-handed tale, where two of the three stars will be well-known to Cult TV appreciators. However, it is the female lead of the trio who is an enigma, to die young and now almost forgotten, tragedy striking at a time when her acting career could have been going either way. Patrick McGoohan, creative force and star of The Prisoner plays Chief Warden Andrew Miller of a game reserve, with his less-constrained brother Rusty acting as Deputy Warden, given form by Michael Craig – Captain John Anderson of Triangle fame, who would eventually decamp to Australia and play Dr William Sharp in 262 episodes of GP from 1989 to 1995.

Known as “Elephant Gun” or “Rencontre au Kenya” in some territories, the starlet playing alongside our male duo is Belinda Lee. Her character, Alice Lang, stuck in England looking after her bedridden mother, has pen-friended Andrew for four years, and yearns to join him in Africa. Andrew treats the romance as more of a business transaction, marriage being something he is expected to do. When Alice’s mother dies overnight, it seems she is finally free to begin love’s great adventure, only for it to be almost immediately derailed. Duty means Andrew has to see to some elephants which are keen on escaping his reserve. And so, Rusty is sent to deputise, meeting Alice from her train at the local Duikers Drift station.

Monday, 10 August 2015 23:00

Ironside Seasons 1&2 on UK DVD

Ironside - Seasons 1 and 2 out on UK DVDRaymond Burr was a giant of the small screen in more ways than one. Following 271 episodes over nine years from 1957 as the lead in Perry Mason, few expected the actor to go immediately into another potentially long-running show. In fact, waylaid by just a cameo in the pilot episode for the Robert Wagner starrer It Takes A Thief, Burr went into what would be an eight year, 195 episode engagement on Ironside (which, for reasons only known to the hierarchy at the BBC, became A Man Called Ironside in the UK – perhaps Auntie thought folk might think it was a series about domestic science without making that type of qualification!).

This is a show where all four of the major characters are incredibly well-drawn, complement each other well, and make even the most mundane of scripts sparkle. This is NOT one of your run-of-the-mill police procedurals – it has style, gloss and pace. Thanks to Fabulous Films, you could have won one of three sets of the first two seasons of Ironside (a total of 54 one-hour episodes) in our prize competition.

Monday, 27 July 2015 23:00

Weird Al Yankovic’s UHF Blu-ray

Weird Al Yankovic movie UHF comes to Blu-rayWeird Al Yankovic was, for a time in the 1980s and 1990s, the go-to guy for the parody record. Inheriting the crown once worn so merrily by The Barron Knights in the UK, he would take hit songs and re-word them, making mirth from songs which in the main were originally a little too pompous for their own good. Michael Jackson’s “Beat it” and “Bad” became “Eat it” and “Fat” respectively, Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” became “Another One Rides the Bus”, Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” became “Like a Surgeon”, Richard Harris and Donna Summer’s “MacArthur Park” became “Jurassic Park”, and so on.

Weird Al did attempt to conquer visual media too, and the finest of these efforts is without doubt the 1989 movie “UHF”. Featuring some song parodies in amongst the story of a local TV station in America taking on Channel 8, the corporate ‘big gun’ broadcaster just down the road from it, those of a certain age will get most of the references, making this very much a lost comedy gem. Thanks to Fabulous Films and Fremantle Media Enterprises you had the chance to win one of three copies of the brand new UK Blu-ray release in our prize competition!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015 23:00

No That's Me Over Here - DVD

No That's Me Over Here - Out no on DVDIf you are a fan of Ronnie Corbett, of his rambling monologues on The Two Ronnies in particular, then this discovery in the archives will no doubt be for you. Imagine that facet of Ronnie’s character placed in an office and home situation comedy environment, with a rival sparring neighbour who he also shares an office with, and a wife whose patience is tested at every turn. And here you have 13 half-hours made by London Weekend Television in 1970, courtesy of Network Distributing.

Created by Barry Cryer, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle, No That's Me Over Here features Ronnie as an office worker at City Life and Fire Insurance Company Ltd. Like so many office situations, we see him creeping up to the boss, being distracted by secretaries, and jostling for position with his rival who’s on the same position on the ladder as him. It’s the standard fare of facing life as a 40-something, with a little Monty Python surrealism thrown in there for good measure.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015 15:02

Thunderbirds Are Go (2015) on DVD

New Thunderbirds Are Go - Volume 1 out on DVD but not Blu-rayWhenever disaster strikes, International Rescue answers the call from their hidden island base, somewhere in the south Pacific. The five Tracy brothers pilot remarkable, cutting-edge vehicles - from the depths of the oceans to the highest reaches of space, all for one purpose: to help others in need. And that, just like its 50 year-old predecessor, is the premise of Thunderbirds Are Go, the first 13 episodes of which are out now on DVD, this being ITV’s reboot of a formula which SHOULD have everything any audience member could want – action, peril, drama, and loads of explosions.

Except… there aren’t many, if any, explosions. The action is so scattergun and machine-gun it’s difficult to build up any anxiety, creeping dread, or any empathy for the characters in peril. Of course, it’s at this stage that the three-line whip comes into action, deflecting any criticism with the stock phrase: “you are NOT the target audience”. I am beginning to feel like Captain Kirk in “Star Trek V” when he politely asked the deity-in-waiting: “Excuse me… what does God need with a starship?” Well, I regret to say, I’m here today to call the Emperor out. This dude is not wearing any clothes!

Monday, 29 June 2015 23:00

The Avengers (Series 5) on Blu-ray

The Avengers Series 5 comes to Blu-rayJohn Steed (played by the late, great Patrick Macnee) and Mrs Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) made a huge global impact in The Avengers. With the new release of Series 5 on Blu-ray, containing all but one of Rigg’s colour episodes, we see the duo bending slightly to cater for the American audience. The Stateside viewers had been able to seek out the previous Series 4, filmed in monochrome, which had been bought by American network ABC on the agreement that Series 5 would move into colour. And you had the chance to win one of three sets on Blu-ray that we had on offer in our prize competition.

Despite having to import some Americanisms (‘flats’ are now ‘apartments’, ‘lifts’ are ‘elevators’), this is still shot as a travelogue of the British urban climes and countryside, with empty roads and green and pleasant lands acting as backdrops on so much of the location shooting. No doubt some Americans of that era got their impression of Brits and our country from watching The Avengers – and in some respects we’ve never shaken those sensibilities. How many English villains in Hollywood movies come over as if they’ve just been exported from an episode of The Avengers?

Wednesday, 24 June 2015 23:00

Thunderbirds Are Go/TB6 on Blu-ray

Thunderbirds Are Go and Thunderbirds 6 - out now on UK Blu-rayWith a new reboot on ITV, it wouldn’t be long before the Blu-ray versions of the big screen movies from the 1960s of Thunderbirds would finally make their way to the UK. We’re talking about “Thunderbirds are Go” (1966) and “Thunderbird 6” (1968). Mostly forgotten, even at the time, due to very lacklustre box office returns, they are far more than being double-length TV episodes, filmed entirely in an extreme cinematic aspect ratio, with no carriage over of footage from the small screen adventures. And you had the chance to win one of three copies of both releases which we had up for grabs in our prize competition.

Gerry Anderson often told the story that Lew Grade confided in him that he couldn’t make his mind up whether the first of the movies would out-perform James Bond at the Box Office or not. The problem was that even the sales line that this was your chance to see International Rescue in glorious colour, something not afforded the monochrome television audiences of the time, did not make the case for the cinema audience to buy their tickets. Perhaps they were too dumb to realise these were all-new adventures, with everything illustrated on a much bigger canvas?

Wednesday, 27 May 2015 23:00

Jean-Pierre Dorléac's Naked Truth

The Naked Truth - out nowHave you ever wondered what the role of a costume designer entails? Or indeed how it differs from other clothing-specific titles and job descriptions within the TV and movies business? Jean-Pierre Dorléac, well-known to attendees of the Cult TV Festival, tackles the demarcation at the same time as pulling back the curtain on this aspect of Hollywood, in his book “The Naked Truth”. Covering the years from 1973 to 1985, the choice of timeframe is very deliberate. This was the era when the classic glamour creators of Tinseltown were almost totally side-lined, replaced by pushy wannabes with no background or knowledge in their craft. All brought about by bean counters who put the bottom line ahead of quality.

This is the story of what Jean-Pierre needed to do to make ends meet, while establishing his name so as to be thought of when relevant projects neared production. As many a media person will tell you, networking is essential. It really is a case that what you know is not nearly as important as who you know. Connections beget contracts. So whether it was work for the theatre, television, film, couture, burlesque, ballet, or stars who wanted to make an impact when they were seen out-and-about, Jean-Pierre was civil to everyone, as he sorted the wheat from the chaff.

Monday, 18 May 2015 23:00

Andromeda Strain mini-series DVD

The Andromeda Strain mini-series on DVDBased on the 1969 best-selling novel by Michael Crichton (he of “Jurassic Park” fame), a mysterious virus is brought to Earth by a returning US military satellite. This problem with Project Scoop is the cue for Wildfire, an elite team of scientists, to convene in a secure complex to attempt to stop the ever-mutating life form, before it ends life on Earth. And YOU had the chance to win one of three copies we had up for grabs in our prize competition.

This version of “The Andromeda Strain” was nominated for six Primetime Emmys – Best Miniseries, and within that description’s categories, cinematography, picture editing, sound editing, makeup, and sound mixing. Where the 1971 movie didn’t define what exactly the ‘Andromeda’ virus was, in this adaption we have a suitably 21st Century investigation, with wormholes and alien races being considered before a solution a lot closer to home is discovered.

Monday, 27 April 2015 23:00

The Professionals Mk III on Blu-ray

The Professionals - the third production block of episodes out on Blu-rayCI5. The Professionals. Here we have the latest instalment in the overhaul of episodes, bringing a sheen and quality which cannot be ignored. Lewis Collins (abrasive Bodie), Martin Shaw (cultured Doyle), and Gordon Jackson (boss Cowley) are the stars, and this set contains 13 more of the 57 episodes. Once again, the stories are all forensically restored from the original negatives. It has been said many times before about these releases from Network, but you could put these prints on in primetime right now, and the audience would never know they were watching something from the cusp between the 1970s and 1980s.

Many armchair pundits suggest that there is some sort of subsiding variation in the quality of these episodes from earlier stories. Most viewers will probably be dumbstruck at this conclusion, as there are plenty of attempts here to play with the conventions of the format established for the show. Characterisations are put into place to make our trio of stars more human, and there are plenty of moral dilemmas for the actors to pull at in their performances.

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