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Telly warbling

A disaster has occurred. I have run out of Remington Steele. Actually technically I haven't, as I'm keeping two episodes back for a rainy day, because *woe*. I need more episodes, damn it! But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. A green-and-grey, rain-speckled light, bereft of charming jewel thieves, but a light nonetheless. The other day I wrote a Doctor Who/All Creatures Great And Small crossover thingy for Obscure & British, and it got me thinking that I've never really watched that programme properly. All Creatures..., that is. Obviously I've watched Doctor Who. Watched it, bought it, yelled at it frequently. I'm practically married to it. Anyway. All Creatures Great And Small started in 1978, when I was three. It was my mother's favourite show, so was always on, but other than falling in love with their cars and their wonderful upright telephone, I didn't pay a great deal of attention to it. So the other day I went hunting on YouTube, and found series one. Hurrah! I've been dabbling, and it's surprising how many memories it brings back, despite me thinking that I hadn't really watched it. Siegfried! I hated Siegfried as a child. I'm not sure how much of that is because he was always shouting, and how much was because he's mean to poor Tristan, but I really did take a disliking to the poor man. Actually, it might have been his yellow waistcoat. And proper Helen! Turns out that Lynda Bellingham actually did more episodes as Helen than Carol Drinkwater did, but I still think of her as New Helen, and Drinkwater as the proper one. So clearly I was watching the show after all. The IMDb says that Helen mk i left in 1985, and Helen mk ii started in 1988, so goodness only knows what they did in the interim. Maybe she went upstairs for three years, like the kids do in soaps.

Peter Davison left for a bit, didn't he. I remember that, as I remember being annoyed by it. He was replaced by John McGlynn and a badger. I have nothing against badgers, but they're not sufficient recompense for losing the world's most accident prone vet. With the best will in the world, a badger isn't going to lead James Herriot in a string of semi-drunken misadventures. Well, he might. But it's unlikely. I only plan to watch series one anyway, so such woes are immaterial really. It's a very nice show, but the lovely telephone is pretty much the dramatic highlight of the piece. Basically I need exploding.

I also found Department S on YouTube though, which is good. Department S is a sixties espionage show, from the team behind The Champions, which means it features another threesome of two men and a woman investigating crime at Elstree Studios in London all over the world. It's not as good as The Champions, not least because the cast don't have that awesome chemistry that Craig, Richard and Sharron shared, but it's fun enough. It also has an absolutely terrific theme tune. I have seen some of the series before, but most of the episodes are new. New and promisingly explody. Mind you, at current rate of play it'll be three years before I get through all twenty-eight of them.

So yeah. Life has gone from impeccably dressed jewel thieves dodging cops and crooks alike, to mulling over the relative benefits of pig-keeping in Yorkshire, with a side order of dodgy floral print shirts trying to save the world. This has led me to several conclusions.

1. More television ought to have Pierce Brosnan stealing things in it. I think I may have mentioned that before, and time has only served to confirm the theory. Granted it might not entirely work in All Creatures Great And Small, but I'm certainly happy to find out.

2. Christopher Timothy must have hated the BBC. They gave him his own show, and then they cast Robert Hardy and Peter Davison to make with a two-pronged offensive and steal it from under him. He's like a bowl of porridge sat between two slices of chocolate gateau. And chocolate gateau covered in edible glitter at that. Poor sod.

3. Vintages phones rock.

4. So do vintage cars. Running boards!

5. It's a hard life being in a sixties espionage show. Even with all the old telly that I watch, and even with my usual indifference to ridiculous FX and questionable production methods, I was completely baffled by the end of Department S episode two. Sullivan and Annabelle are all wrapped up in cold weather gear, whilst chatting in front of a photograph of some trees. I couldn't figure that out at all, but they were actually having a sleigh ride (of course). Honestly, I thought I was immune to bad back projection, but this was so hilariously bad, I couldn't believe they were trying to get away with it. Given their expressions, I'm not sure that the actors could, either. To add insult to injury, they have really appalling outfits, too.

Become a spy. See the world! Or, at least, see lots of photographs of the world, and stand in front of them nearly convincingly. Good old 1960s. What would we do without them.


( 21 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Jun. 19th, 2015 11:18 pm (UTC)
Aw, I love All Creatures Great and Small! My whole family watched that series a few years back again and it was awesome.

Haven't heard of Department S, although I used to watch The Champions as a kid. I should check it out.
Jun. 20th, 2015 04:15 am (UTC)
It's much the same sort of thing as "The Champions" in terms of plot, but they're ordinary agents rather than superheroes. Sullivan is the required American import - he's quite dry, and nicely underplayed. Annabelle is ultra-efficient, and gets properly involved in a lot of the cases as the series goes on, which makes a nice change for the female on the team back then! And then there's Jason, who dresses like a 70s glam rock band. Their boss is black, which is quite remarkable for the era.
Jun. 20th, 2015 05:39 am (UTC)
Sounds like fun. :D And I'll see there's some episodes on youtube, so I'll bookmark that to watch later today. :D
Jun. 20th, 2015 05:56 am (UTC)
Jun. 20th, 2015 06:12 am (UTC)
Oooh, thanks!
Jun. 20th, 2015 09:34 am (UTC)
Christopher Timothy must have hated the BBC. They gave him his own show, and then they cast Robert Hardy and Peter Davison to make with a two-pronged offensive and steal it from under him. He's like a bowl of porridge sat between two slices of chocolate gateau. And chocolate gateau covered in edible glitter at that. Poor sod.

This is so, so true. And even I find All Creatures a little slow. One day someone will do the edited Tristan and Siegfried highlights and that'll solve the problem, because really it is the Siegfried and Tristan show. (Sorry, James.)
Jun. 20th, 2015 11:18 am (UTC)
They're so well cast, and they spark off each other brilliantly, and very believably as brothers. I like your edited highlights idea very much! Poor James.
Jun. 20th, 2015 12:02 pm (UTC)
Are you sure you can make it to the end of series one 'All Creatures'? Even for old TV not much happens, even when it does;p I'd be careful around Robert Hardy he's one of the very few people who can make real longbows - twang!

Department S! I keep thinking I might try it again and then I think of Jason King's facial hair and head for the hills!
Jun. 20th, 2015 12:49 pm (UTC)
It is slow! But the Farnon Brothers make it all worthwhile. Well, nearly.

Jason is fine in "Department S". It's only in his own show that he's an insufferable oaf. When he's balanced by Sullivan and Annabelle, I actually quite like him. He gets some great dialogue, too. Annabelle asks him at one point why he doesn't take aspirin for his headache (after he's been bashed over the head for about the ninetieth time), and he says "Because I couldn't bear the noise I'd make swallowing them." :D

"The Champions" is immeasurably better though.
Jun. 21st, 2015 11:30 am (UTC)
Jason King: the banoffee pie of 60's TV?
Jun. 21st, 2015 02:56 pm (UTC)
I would love to say yes or no, but I have no idea what you're getting at! Is banoffee pie edible when it's stood next to an American in a sensible brown suit?!
Jun. 22nd, 2015 11:14 am (UTC)
Banoffee pie good in small doses, but a big slice will make one sick!

The pie would still be edible next a brown suit, nom, nom... I'm not finding out if the same applies to jet setting writers in a kaftan.
Jun. 23rd, 2015 05:30 am (UTC)
I haven't seen any kaftans yet! I shall "look forward" to that with, um... Hang on, no I won't.
Jun. 23rd, 2015 10:53 am (UTC)
There was a two page spread of him in a blue Kaftan in TV Times - help!
Jun. 21st, 2015 07:43 am (UTC)
What I love about the really bad backdrop bits is that they'll show this grainy footage of the actual place then swap to the photo with the actor in front and expect no one to notice! It's almost endearing. :oD

I remember The Champions. I owned the video set at some point though I haven't replaced it on DVD. The chemistry between the three leads made up for the dodgy plots. Interestingly, William Gaunt barely seemed to age between then and 90s TV. He looked just the same to me.

I hope you enjoy All Creatures Great and Small. I never took to it (or maybe I never watched it properly), but I'm sure you could work Remington Steele in somehow.
Jun. 21st, 2015 03:00 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid it looks as though "All Creatures..." and I are not destined to be friends! Siegfried and Tristan are great, and I'm very much enjoying them, but the rest of the show is rather uninteresting. Beautifully made, with lovely period detail (I do love those phones!). But dull.

And yes, the conviction that they can get away with dodgy backdrops is hilarious! I suppose the truth of it is that they didn't care. There's an old saying from back in those days that TV is the theatre in your living room. And of course, nobody thinks anything of it when theatre scenery wobbles, or one person plays three different roles. TV was supposed to be the same. I'm not sure when they decided that it shouldn't be anymore. Some time in the 90s I think.
Jun. 22nd, 2015 10:25 am (UTC)
I could quite go for a night out on the tiles with a badger. I'm not sure what dance moves to expect though. Or whether barmen would be prepared to put lager in a dogbowl on the floor. (Actually that would be handy for a lot of drinkers round are way.)

How about retired jewel thief Brosnan back in the game as an OAP and being tracked down by the New Tricks guys? Dennis Waterman vs. Pierce Brosnan, it seems a little loaded and unfair as glamour imbalances go.
Jun. 22nd, 2015 10:35 am (UTC)
He's not an OAP yet! At least I don't think he is. He's 62, and I think you have to be 70 now to count. He was stealing things again just the other day. The man's incorrigible.

Not sure about the "New Tricks" idea. Don't they always solve their cases? TV 'tecs usually do. I'd prefer him to get away with it, if it's all the same. With apologies to Dennis Waterman.
Jun. 22nd, 2015 10:26 am (UTC)
I used to love, love, love "All creatures ... " as a kid. I may have to rewatch as well. I've also got the books ... :D

EDIT: Do you have the youtub link for it as well?

Edited at 2015-06-22 01:27 pm (UTC)
Jun. 22nd, 2015 11:58 am (UTC)
Cool - thank you ...
And I'm even allowed to watch it ... thank you GEMA!
( 21 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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