Sunday, 23 February 2014

Just one more thing...

Columbo Night

Gamma Longcat had a great idea that we should watch lots of episodes of Columbo, which is one of his favourite TV programmes, so yesterday we watched three of them and they were all great.

The first one we watched was called Troubled Waters. It was from season four and was made in 1975. Columbo is known for having famous guest-stars in it, and this had three of them!

The main guest-star was Robert Vaughn, who played the murderer of the week. His job was to be caught by Columbo.

The second guest-star was Dean Stockwell, who played a hologram that only Columbo could see or hear the manny who was framed for the murder. His job was to get cleared by Columbo.

The third guest-star was Patrick Macnee, who played the Captain of the ship where the episode was set. His job was to be exasperated by Columbo right up until the point when he realises how clever Columbo is really. Since that is a job he shared with almost everybody else who has ever been in a Columbo episode, he also had the job of being cooler than everybody else because he is John Steed.

The second one we watched was Identity Crisis, from season five, also made in 1975. While this one had Leslie Nielsen in it as the murder victim, the main guest-star was Patrick McGoohan.

Oops, that's the wrong picture of him. But as he was playing a spy, there were plenty of Prisoner references in the episode too.

Patrick McGoohan was in four episodes of Columbo over the years, and this was his second (and best) appearance in the series. While Troubled Waters was a good story, and almost a typical example of the Columbo format except for being set entirely on a ship, Identity Crisis was great because it was less like a typical Columbo and more like a spy story that Columbo had wandered into... and unraveled everything as a result.

So, how can we top that for the third and final episode of the night?

It's Captain Kirk!

In 1976's Fade in to Murder, the first episode of season 6, William Shatner plays the murderer. And The Shat is at his hamtastic best, making this a classic Columbo.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Over The Hills And Far Away

Horizon wants to have deep themes of colonialism, slavery and rebellion, but really it is about Avon rescuing everybody while Blake takes his top off!

Blake and Jenna teleport down to the planet Horizon first and get captured. The rest of the crew then have to decide who has to teleport down and get captured next.

Avon says:
"I am not expendable, I'm not stupid, and I'm not going."

So it is Gan and Vila that teleport down and get captured next, then Cally teleports down by herself and gets captured.

"And then there was one."

Avon is left alone on the Liberator with only Zen and Orac, and he has the dilemma of whether to teleport down to try and rescue them and maybe get captured too, or to fly the Liberator away to safety.

Paul Darrow acts these scenes magnificently (as always), and you can see the agony of decision in Avon's face.

It looks as though he is going to decide to fly away, as painful as that is for him to leave Blake and the others behind...

... but in the end the decision is made for him when Zen tells him that Federation Pursuit Ships are on their way, which means he will have to try and rescue the others. Avon smiles because he is happy really that he will have to do this.

Avon teleports down and rescues the others in an exciting scene on film with plenty of explosions and Federation baddys getting shot.

Meanwhile Blake, in an attempt to not be upstaged by Avon's action sequence, takes his top off. This is very rude - you can see his moobs and everything!

Avon is clearly impressed by the sight of Blake shirtless. Insert Galaxy Quest quote here if you want.

With the score at one all, Avon sadly refrains from trumping Blake by taking his own top off.

Blake puts a shirt back on for the last scenes aboard the Liberator, much to the disapproval of Avon and the viewers at home.

Horizon is a good episode, but it is caught awkwardly between much better episodes that come before and after it.

Sunday, 9 February 2014


Not long after playing Curtis in the gritty WW2 drama Secret Army, Christopher Neame somehow found himself playing the baddy Skagra in the Doctor Who story Shada. If you don't know Shada, that's probably because it is the one they never finished making so it was never shown on TV.

Fortunately they did make enough of it that we can see the costume Skagra wears in it; one of the most fabulous costumes of the era - and the era was the 1970s, and the same year as Blakes 7 season two, so that's saying something!

I wonder if Christopher Neame was paid to be in Shada, or if just getting to wear the costume was enough for him? It would have been for me. You can tell Ronnie Corbett is impressed.

You can't see his bag in that first picture; it's the bag that really sets the ensemble off...