Thursday, 30 June 2011

The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets - 20 Minutes of Oxygen Video (2011)

This is new and thrown in my general direction by The cellulord.  Thank you John.
Never heard of them until about twenty minutes ago but its a good song, a great little video and because it's got a spaceman in it, I'm duty bound to blog it here.
It's been made on the cheap but its hugely effective with a cheeky little nod to Stanley Kubrick in regard to the practical effects.
Lovely backpack!


Monday, 27 June 2011

Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

Escape from the Planet of the Apes is the third in the Apes cycle and in a cunning about turn sees the Apes arrive on the planet of the humans.
Cornelius, Zira and Dr Milo escape the destruction of the Earth, as seen at the end of the second film, by salvaging Taylor’s spaceship from where it crashed in the first film, repairing it and piloting their way back through the timewarp to modern day Earth.... well, Earth of 1971 or thereabouts.
This has to be one of the best openings of any film, ever.  At first it seems as though some of the astronauts lost in the previous two films have managed to find their way back home and are about to be welcomed back to Earth right up until they reveal that they are not who or even what they appear to be.  It’s a great shock moment as the helmets are removed and the three chimpanzees are revealed.  And the rest of the film is just a good and continues to shock and surprise all the way to the end.
Interestingly, I‘ve read that these spacesuits were once the silver Mercury type and are the same ones that appeared in such shows as Get Smart but as real world spacesuits shifted colour to the Apollo white so too did their fictional counterparts.  This will need a bit of research but what is a fact is that at least one of these ape suits ended up in the Mos Eisley Cantina on the  back of a Star Wars alien.... but then didn’t quite a few of the things we’ve been looking at over the last few months.


Sunday, 26 June 2011

Something for the Weekend 6

It's been a busy week or so and I've neglected to post anything simply through being elsewhere and doing other stuff.  So here's a little something for the weekend, a late night treat to make the most of the last half hour of Sunday night.
From Space 1999 season 2, (1976-77) Catherin Schell as Maya and Barbara Bain as Doctor Helena Russell

Goodnight and sleep tight.


Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Mouse on the Moon (1963)

The Mouse on the Moon is the 1963 British film adaptation of the novel by Leonard Wibberley and the sequel to The Mouse that Roared. In this one, the people of Grand Fenwick, an independent micro state within England, take themselves off to the moon in a rocket propelled by exploding wine.
Rather than being a farce, though, the film is actually a sly satire on the space race and the cold war.
Following the discovery that it’s only export has a tendency to combust, the Prime Minister of Grand Fenwick asks the American Government for financial support but rather than telling them the truth he says it is to fund Grand Fenrick’s space program.
Little believing that the duchy’s attempts will amount to very much, they give them the money and more, for the positive publicity of the act.  Not to be outdone in the propaganda stakes, the Russians respond by gifting them an old rocket.
The PM’s plan is to explode the rocket on launch, thus hiding the fact that most of the funds have been spent on updating the plumbing of Grand Fenwick.  It's to this end that Professor Kokintz, the local scientist, is charged with setting up the pyrotechnic display.  However once Kokintz hooks up with Vincent Mountjoy, the Prime Minister’s son, and discovers that he has aspirations of becoming an astronaut, the two of them plan to make the rocket space worthy and genuinely set their sights on getting to the moon.
Which is why, on the launch day, before delegates from America, Russia and Britain, the rocket unexpectedly ascends into the heavens to begin its three week trip to the moon.
Potentially humiliated, the Super Powers are then forced to rush their own space programs forward, intending to still win this very literal space race with their faster ships.
Unfortunately for them, Kokintz and Vincent arrive much quicker than anticipated and are on hand to greet both the superpowers upon their arrival, even inviting them back to their ship for tea to discuss who gets to claim ownership of the moon
Realising that the real victory will actually be in whoever returns home first, the Americans and Soviets both race back to their ships only to end up burying themselves into the deep lunar dust in their haste.  And so when Kokintz and Vincent return to Grand Fenwick during their own memorial service, it's with the hitch-hiking astronauts from  the other two countries.
I remember watching this one years ago and being entertained by the silliness without actually being old enough to understand what it was saying.  I would love to see it again now but it seems to have become somewhat of a forgotten classic.


The Tomorrow People - Series Three - Secret Weapon (1975)

I know I said this show was that bad that it would be ages before I got round to watching another episode.  Well I lied.  I watched the first episode of the third series primarily because I had a free 25 minutes and everything else waiting to be viewed was longer but what a treat.

There on the wall.  That looks a lot like a spacesuit but why would it be hanging up in a parapsychologist's lab?  Perhaps its something else.... although it does look sort of familiar.
And whats that over in the corner
Why it's a space helmet and not just any space helmet but the one that goes with the suit, the one that was last seen at the end of season 2's The Doomsday Men.
Yes it's one of Gerry Anderson's old UFO suits just hanging around making a room look interesting.

Random acts of illogical set dressing ?  Or a brand new game called: Spot the Spacesuit?
....No, its the first one isn't it.


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Diamonds are Forever was the 7th of the James Bond films and Sean Connery's penultimate performance as the iconic spy.  I'm not going to go into any great length about the film it self except to say that, unsurprisingly, it has diamonds at the centre of its plot.  Diamonds that are to be used in a giant laser in a scheme orchestrated by the evil Blofeld.
And somewhere in all of this there is a scene where Bond interrupts what appears to be the faking and filming of a moon exploration before eventually nicking off with a Moon Buggy for a chase around the desert outside the moon themed hanger.
Is there a subtext here for those lunar landing sceptics or is it just a bit of fun?  I personally think it's just an excuse for a car chase with some visually unusually vehicles.
Cool or what!


Friday, 10 June 2011

Goodies - Invasion of the Moon Creatures (1973)

The Goodies was a British comedy series that first aired on the BBC on the 8th of November 1970 and clocked up a total of 76 episodes over 9 series, ending its run with its final series broadcast in the early 1980’s over on the ITV channel.
The Goodies were Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie.  The three men co-starred and co-wrote the series where each week quite literally anything could happen and the trio could find themselves just about anywhere as long as it provided the opportunity to cram in as many gags as possible or parody current events or trends.
In the episode; Invasion of the Moon Creatures from the 4th series and broadcast on the 8th December 1973, we see Bill and Tim take a trip to the moon in pursuit of Graeme’s first experimental moon rocket and its lost crew of specially trained rabbits.
The two of them then don some of Gerry Anderson’s second hand UFO spacesuits as they mess about on the moon’s surface before being captured and brainwashed by the now hyper-intelligent rabbits.  They are then returned to earth, dressed as giant rabbits, vanguards of the invading rabbit forces, and just have time for a quick parody of A Clockwork Orange’s ultra-violence before the show wraps to the sounds of its rather brilliant theme tune.
I loved the Goodies as a kid and, though rarely repeated, a recent handful of episodes that were shown over the Christmas period were still just as silly and entertaining as I recall.
And Invasion of the Moon Creatures is as fine an episode as any, cool spacesuits excluded.


Sunday, 5 June 2011

The Tomorrow People - Series Two - The Doomsday Men (1974)

We've already talked about The Tomorrow People series two and about how not very good it was to begin with and how it got slowly worse as each story followed the next.  And it's all true except that there is a bit of a treat lurking in among those final four episodes.
The Doomsday Men is about a military cult that intend to stop a peace treaty being signed by taking over a nuclear space platform and threatening the world with destruction unless the world's leaders do what they want.
Just prior to all that taking place, one of the crew of the Damocles is cut adrift while working spaceside and is doomed to a cold death but for the intervention of  The Tomorrow People who decide to stage their top secret rescue mission by jaunting into a big old white van.
Anyway what happens next is that I suddenly get a little excited because I realise that what we're looking at here is one of the spacesuits from Gerry Anderson's UFO series.
Now I've already explained in previous posts that these suits guest-star in a number of other TV shows throughout the 70's but this appearance was a new one on me and helped me make it through to the last episode of this dreary, stupid story
It was also quite funny to hear John, leader of the T-Peeps, refer to the spacesuit as old fashioned in one episode.  Really?  Well it certainly wasn't as cutting edge and modern as that rust-bucket of an old van you were cruising the upper atmosphere in earlier!
So there you go.  Another little outing for one of the coolest spacesuits there ever was and I feel sure there must be even more yet to be covered.  Well I know there's at least one more because that's what the next post is going to be about.  We're heading to the Moon in search of rabbits!


Saturday, 4 June 2011

The Tomorrow People - Series Two (1974)

The second series of The Tomorrow People ran from February to May 1974, and consisted of three stories spread over thirteen episodes.  They're all written by Roger Price and while he might come up with a good story idea he just can't do the dialogue or maintain character or plot logic.  What I'm saying here is, as somebody who's working their way through the DVD box set, that this is slow and painful going.
I've often wondered if my enjoyment of watching old Doctor Who episodes is because its comfortably nostalgic and reminds me of being a kid.  If that's the case for the BBC show then it should also be true of the ITV one but alas its just not.  The adventures of the good Doctor are timelessly entertaining because by and large they are well written and populated by actors who can.  The Tomorrow People by and large is the polar oposit and even the story I remember the most fondly; The Blue and the Green, just falls apart over its five episodes.  The rest of series two then get worse.  And what I'm really saying here is that it might be quite a long time before I build up the courages to sit through series three.
And so to the new revamped AE suits which feature in this series.  I quite like them as it goes.
Despite the motorbike'ness of the helmets they have a style about them that is their own.  Gone is the shiny silver of the first series to be replaced with a less showy blue/grey fabric. I also like the tubing and the backpacks and even though they're probably made on the cheap like eveything else about this series, the consistancy between the elements even makes the helmet seem a part of the whole.  Well done who ever that costume designer was but for their contribution, there would be nothing positive to say.
And that's about it really...... except  for.... well... just wait for the next post and see.


Thursday, 2 June 2011

Look-In #31 (1973)

I've mentioned Look-In before so I won't repeat myself  by explaining what it was - Click the label below for details - but here we have another fine cover and this time it's painted artwork, which is how I remember them always being even if that wasn't actually the case.
Pictured above is the series 1 cast of The Tomorrow People resplendent in their AE suits to celebrate the launch of the show's comicstrip within its pages.  If I've got my maths right this came out about the same time as the final episode aired and must have filled the void between that and series 2.

Look-In had been a good friend to the children's show by running a preview feature in issue 18, the week before the series began its first TV transmission.  They've also been a good friend here by visually stretching the show's budget to suggest that there was actually a spacesuit for every member of the team.  To the best of my knowledge, inhibited by his questionable acting abilities, the little chap that played Kenny, rarely got out of the underground base let alone all the way into outer space.


The Tomorrow People - Series 1 (1973)

The Tomorrow People was produced by Thames Television for the ITV network.  This children’s sci-fi show was broadcast in its original form from 1973 to 1979.  Its basic premise concerns the “break out” of the next stage of human evolution; Homo Superior, AKA, the titular; Tomorrow People.
Being a children’s series, the main cast of the show were themselves children or young adults.  This served the story logic well as it is revealed in the very first episode that it’s during adolescence that the Tomorrow People’s psionic powers come to fruition.
Telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation and a nifty underground base are just a few of the perks of joining humanity’s elite but far more important than that is, of course, access to some shiny silver space suits!
Well now that I’ve named them such I should probably point out that in the show’s vernacular they’re better known as AE Suits which basically means that they are inclusively rather than exclusively spacesuits.  You see; AE stands for Adaptable for any Environment but in reality this translates as; this show has almost zero budget and these things are going to have to serve all elements of the plot from Arctic to volcanic wear.
The ones pictured here are only seen in the first series and were perhaps a little too tight-fitting to be practical or just too hot to wear beneath the studio lights but by series two they had been replaced by an updated design and a far more forgiving fabric.
And yes, those are modified motor bike helmets there but If I really wanted illustrate how cheap this show was, I would be posting pictures of the monsters and explaining how thinly the plot could be spread over multiple episodes.
And not that it has any real relevance to this blog but I feel compelled to add that, despite its many failings, the central premise of the Tomorrow People is a solid gold idea and that its theme tune and opening credits must rank as one of the all time classics of British children’s television.  Go You Tube it.  In actualization, it remains the best bit of the whole show.