Wednesday, 23 July 2014
In the dark days before DVD boxsets and cable and satellite and YouTube, between the fall of Betamax and the rise of the sons of TiVo, there was just telly. Three and a half channels of terrestrial British TV (Channel 4 didn't get going until the afternoon episode of Countdown in those days), pumping out any old material they felt like - coz what else were you going to watch?
In this shiny and glorious modern age of instant televisual gratification, with repeats of old Only Fools and The Sweeney eternally circling the plugholes of Dave Ja Vu and ITV4, it might feel like everything we've ever watched, everything that was ever made, is now available for us at the click of a mouse or the touch of a remote (or the fiddly swipe left - hold - tap twice manoeuvre of a tablet or smart phone). But I don't think that's so - I think there are countless shows that were made, shown the once and have since languished nearly forgotten, naught but vague memories treasured only by social inadequates who rarely left the house between 1985 and 2001 (ahem).
But fear not, for I have undertaken - for once without resorting to IMDB for obsessive fact-checking - to dredge the deep dark recesses of my memory, like an Adventure Game contestant consigned to the black hole of the Argonds, with only the voice of Johnny Ball and Leslie Judd to guide me. Here then are my half-remembered telly shows.
Oh, quick disclaimer: I'm not saying these shows are necessarily any good. I bet they've dated really badly. In fact a lot of them were well ropey at the time. Best filtered through the rose-tinted lenses of a failing mind.
The One Game
A bloke who invented a popular board game is hunted? tormented? by his old business partner, played by Inspector Chisolm off Minder. The main bloke is utterly forgettable. The theme tune is a bit like the Clannad music from Harry's Game (not disappointing radio 4 sitcom Old Harry's Game). I remember really wanting to own a copy of the game, and always assumed the main characters were based on distorted versions of Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone of Warlock of Firetop Mountain fame.
Knights of God
A sombre dystopian drama starring an utterly forgettable teenage lad, not unlike him from Merlin or one of the teenagers in The Tripods. It's Future Britain and it's gone really religious and police statey, like with armed monks and cool swords and black helicopters full of blokes who look like Federation troopers from Blake's 7. It's a bit like a non-drag version of the Two Ronnies' The Worm That Turned. And it had the excellent John Woodvine as the father-abbot and the second Doctor and even Blake himself. The theme tune was a stirring medieval Monty Python and the Holy Grail type affair. SPOILER: the boring lad turns out to be the true king of Britain or something.
That one with the evil computer game about killing people
Oh you know. It was probably another 3-parter. There was a CD or DVD that you put in your PC and a (possibly bald) man's face came on the monitor screen and talked you through doing bad things. And then people in real life started getting killed. A bit like playing Atmosfear with terrible consequences. It was probably called Killgame or murder.com. It wasn't great. Play 7th Guest instead.
This one was really quite good. Even though I can't remember any of the actors who were in it. It starred an American (I think. He may have been Canadian or a Nicola Bryant fauxmerican) actor playing an American actor playing a fictional detective-priest called Pulaski. The hook being that members of the public confuse the callow actor with his heroic character, leading to him and his entourage becoming involved in all sorts of investigative hijinks. It felt a bit like Lovejoy with less antiques and saucy posh ladies. Cool thriller theme tune.
The one with the alien invasion with the bloke from Remo
Oh, it's on the tip of my tongue. It's all British apart from Fred Ward as an American military guy - presumably Michael Brandon was busy being the token American somewhere else. There were aliens and... other stuff. It was ultimately disappointing and evidently eminently forgettable. Thinking about it now, it feels like an episode of Nu-Who without a smarming know-it-all Doctor taking a pop at anyone in a uniform.
In which the most exciting and spooky thing happens at the end of episode one and it all dribbles away after that. There's this woman investigating something and there's these kids who have a secret friend called 'Mister Scarecrow' who hides near their remote farm and he turns out to be a Murderous Monkey Man armed with a blade who SPOILER kills the investigative woman at the end of episode one, leaving some boring bloke to follow it up. Gets mixed up in my head with First Born, The Nightmare Man and inexplicably Law and Disorder starring Penelope Keith.
Okay, that's it. Brain scoured.
Must... resist... scouring for clips of... Call Me Mister on... YouTube...