TV & Radio Category
Television and radio programme reviews, trailers, highlights, twilights and cinema news. Also the neglected gems from years past.
DID you find the death of Robin Williams entertaining? Fox News sure did:
Mic Wright’s Remotely Furious: forget football, forget athletics, it’s all about sheds
Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year (Channel 4)
With Eurovision been and gone, Britain’s Got Talent over and X Factor still over the horizon, I’ve been jonesing for a televised competition to root for. Alright, so there was The World Cup and The Commonwealth Games but neither of can compare with…Shed of The Year. Presented by the ever-enthusiastic George Clarke as part of his Amazing Spaces series, the competition throws light on a hidden sub-species in British life – the Sheddies.
A trailer has appear which shows a historic collaboration episode between The Simpsons and Family Guy. Of course, everything ever is ‘historic’ because it is something that happened in the whole of man’s annals, however, this one is of note because it is bound to make two hugely popular things and tarnish them slightly.
The special episode sees the Simpson and Griffin families meet up, and they make pals and of course, fall out.
The Griffins visit Springfield and Peter and Homer bond over food, planes while Bart and Stewie skateboard and prank call Moe. It’s all the stuff you’d expect.
The fall-out seems to occur over beer differences.
So, with that, let us look at the (long) trailer of The Simpsons and Family Guy, and also, a load of other brilliant and weird crossover shows.
You’ll be surprised at which of your favourites have locked antlers.
Simpsons vs Family Guy
Beer. Slapstick. Tasteless jokes. Noticing skin colour differences. It’s all here.
Roseanne vs Absolutely Fabulous
Here’s a wonderful thing – two of the funnest, best and daftest TV shows ever written, crash landing into each other and probably one of the most successful crossovers. The perfume scene is still wonderful.
Mork & Mindy vs Happy Days
Many don’t know that Mork & Mindy was one of the many spin-off shows from Happy Days, so it is always worth showing off the times The Fonz and Mork met. It isn’t particularly good, but it is fascinating to watch – like a lorry load of pigs crashing on a dual carriageway.
Fresh Prince vs Diff’rent Strokes
This whole mash-up was designed for one joke and one joke alone. You can watch the clip below and wait for it, if you haven’t guessed what it is.
Batman vs Green Hornet
Batman met Bruce Lee in an episode of the show which involved a daft fiendish plan designed to stop super heroes from doing their job by turning them into giant postage stamps. Seriously. There’s actually two versions of the episode, where the heroes swap roles for their respective shows.
Power Rangers vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Okay. What can you say about lycra-clad kung-fu getting helped out by three zany turtles who can also do martial arts? Nothing. Watch the clip and enjoy the cheapness.
Cheers vs St Elsewhere
Two gigantic, iconic shows wander into each other, with some of the St Elsewhere crew turning up at the Cheers pub for a drink. This kind of thing should happen more often.
Ally McBeal vs The Practice
Two of the biggest shows in America came together for a special which will have passed most UK viewers by because we didn’t give any love to The Practice.
Magnum PI vs Murder She Wrote
Seriously. While this is not the best video, this is proof that Magnum once worked with Jessica Fletcher. That’s amazing.
The Mill (Channel 4)
Penguin Post Office (BBC 2)
Outside the sun was shining, inside The Mill was on the telly, dragging all light and hope from the world. The first series of Channel 4’s historical drama based on the archives of the Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire was one of the broadcaster’s biggest hits in 2013, presumably acting as a kind of televisual cosh for viewers. Series 2 is shaping up to be no less gloomy with a script that levers in historical references with all the skill of a bemused GCSE student flicking through Cliff Notes.
LONDON Live has really nailed this ‘appointment to view television’ thing:
STUDENTS get drunk, do stupid things and feel homesick: those were the shocking secrets uncovered in the first episode of The Secret Life of Students, Channel 4’s latest slice of unflinching voyeurism. While it focused on a clutch of freshers at Leicester University, the twist this time was that the programme makers were able to delve into their subjects’ social media postings, texts and Google searches, flashing their contents up on screen as the unsurprising stories unfolded.
MONKEY Dust foretold the ISIS jihadis – Black Country chapter:
The Flying Circus Comes To Town: Python’s hidden gems
THE Flying Circus is back in town, for one last hurrah – or rather a string of them – at London’s O2. The famous old sketches will be enacted again, and the audience will be word-perfect even is the performers aren’t.
The story can be found in a special programme here…
In honour of the reunion, but in the spirit of discovery, we offer a selection of the Pythons’ most obscure back pages….
The album that never was
Monty Python albums weren’t just a way of reliving the sketches in the days before video recorders; they were classics in their own right. Far from being mere cash-ins, they were actually superior to the TV shows, and played a crucial but unsung role in establishing the Monty Python phenomenon.
Back in the day, a generation of schoolboys learned French verbs and poetry by rote, then spent their spare time committing Monty Python sketches to memory in similar dead-parrot fashion, using the tie-in albums and books for homework. Meanwhile in America, where the shows were virtually unknown, the records (on the ‘progressive’ Charisma label) became an integral part of the post-Sixties ‘stoner’ culture. FM djs gave them airplay, and rock stars championed them at every opportunity. They were known as ‘The Pythons’, which sounded like a rock group, and before long they were de facto rock stars themselves, with sell-out live tours and screaming fans. There was even a live album, replete with extra swearing. (The albums were quite risqué, in marked contrast to the strict censorship of the BBC at the time.)
HOW do you cut a very tall tree in a very tight space. Scott Augur explains:
“I walked around this thing with a plumb bob. I got back at various angles and looked at it. There was no limb weight to one side or the other. It was just, if you were going to try to shoot a tree between two buildings with five inches of clearance on both sides, this would be the tree to use,” he said.
Measure twice, cut once.
THE Dispatches team over at Channel 4 has uncovered shocking evidence of the way that Perrier is woefully overpriced, actually being more expensive than honest to goodness beer and cider. Clearly the Frenchies are simply ripping us all off:
An investigation by Channel 4′s Dispatches found three supermarket chains selling lager cheaper than sparkling Perrier water.
Tesco sold multipacks of Fosters, Carlsberg and Carling lager at 69p a pint and Strongbow cider for 65p a pint. This compared with Perrier mineral water costing 73p a pint.
In Asda, the same beers could be bought for 72p a pint, compared with 76p a pint for Perrier.
And at Sainsbury’s, 20 cans of Fosters lager was 72p a pint while 15 cans of Strongbow cost £8, equating to 69p a pint, 7p less than a pint of sparkling water.
Alternatively of course the Dispatches team are simply being dipsticks. Perrier is a luxury good: a Veblen Good even. It is in fact just water with bubbles put into it: it’s not naturally bubbly at all. And they deliberately make it and advertise it as being expensive. The point being that no one actually likes the stuff it’s just there to be expensive. So that when you buy it people can see that you’re the sort of person who buys expensive bottled water. That’s how it differentiates itself from the supermarket bottled water which is 19p for two litres in the same aisle.
PAUSE for thought?
Hello… and… uh… welcome to… er….welcome to… uh… this… uh… article… in which we, er…. will be… uh… touching… on… an issue which… er, which is… uh… becoming increasingly prevalent in… the…uh… in the… broadcast… media.
Listen to Radio 4’s Today or PM flagship current affairs programmes and you will hear the mellifluous Scottish tones of two presenters in an increasingly intensive competition to break the world record for dead air by the simple expedient of… pausing… between… almost every… other… word.
But this phenomenon is nothing to do with uncertainty, or nervousness, or an inability to string two words together. These are assured, experienced, eloquent, senior journalists.
So why do they do it?
WATCHING Meet The Mormons (Channel 4) felt like taking part in a bizarre game of Where’s Wally? as the camera caught glimpses of the Church PR people lurking just out of shot. There are 200,000 Mormons in the UK and the elders at the church’s Salt Lake City HQ seemed to think giving director Lynn Alleway access to a young British missionary could up that number. But for viewers whose knowledge of the sect stretched no further than Osmonds, this hour-long look at 20-year-old Josh from Sussex beginning his two years mandatory missionary work was far from edifying.
A representative from the Church was always just out of shot and often creeping into view as Alleway worried that the young man was struggling to cope with his challenge. We saw him in tears early on before resigning himself to the constant attention of his mentor, a Swiss missionary named Elder Bauman who was not much older than him but far steelier in his determination to knock on every door in Leeds and remain upbeat despite the constant knock-backs.
FROM the Sonny & Cher show, here’s mom and Chastity (now Chaz) before the female-to-male gender transition. Is it wrong that I still find Cher sexy in a Tweety Bird outfit? Don’t answer that.
But do enjoy a handful of great publicity photographs from the 1960s – 1980s. Some are odd, some awesome – all are interesting.
AS impossible as it is for me to believe, Glen Larson’s version of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979 – 1981) turns thirty-five years old this year.
Today, this cult-TV series is often remembered for its spandex fashions, its gorgeous female stars and guest stars, its penis-headed robot Twiki (Felix Silla/Mel Blanc), and its oppressive re-use of familiar or “stock” visual effects in the space dogfights.
Though Buck Rogers in the 25th Century had its weak installments, for certain (like the dreadful “Space Rockers”) it was also a light science fiction series — a romp, essentially — and the series is recalled fondly by fans on those terms too.
EPIC Intros presents Michael Parks in Then Came Bronson:
“Hang in there”
THIS is an extremely strange complaint from the BBC here, that Eastenders is just too white for the part of London that it’s supposedly about:
EastEnders is ‘twice as white’ as the real East End according to the head of the BBC Trust, who has called for the corporation to do more to ‘provide an authentic portrayal’ of modern Britain
Acting head of the BBC Trust Diane Coyle, said the popular BBC One soap is also too young and has too many people born in the UK to be an accurate reflection of an area such as Walthamstow, one of the boroughs on which the fictional Albert Square is based.
In her first public speech since taking over as chair of the BBC’s governing body Miss Coyle – who is in the running to replace Lord Patten as head of the trust – said the programme did not provide an accurate picture of modern day Britain.
JEREMY Paxman has taken his quizzical expression and sardony to pastures news. The BBC’s Newsnight will find a new bullshit wrangler.
Paxman became the best thing on Newsnight. He set its knowing, sneery tone. He’ll be missed by many.
So. Let’s see his best 8 moments:
The Michael Howard Loop
THE success rate of old television shows brought to the big screen is a sad one, to say the least. Time after time, great shows have been adapted to film with less than stellar results. Sure, there have been a few good ones, but they’re the exception, not the rule. Here are some of the tragic attempts made in the last decade or so. This list is by no means comprehensive. There are many more examples of Hollywood’s inability to get it right, but this is all I can ask of you to stomach in one sitting.
Fat Albert (2004)
I’m sure there are people who enjoyed the Fat Albert remake… but then, I’m sure there are also people who like to get peed on.
To quote Roger Ebert’s review of North (1994): “I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.”
The Honeymooners (2005)
Science Fact of the Day: If there exists an alternate universe composed entirely of anti-matter, then the greatest film ever made in that universe is The Honeymooners.
Get Smart (2008)
This film adaptation somehow managed to discard all the camp humor and charm while retaining every shred of stupidity. (slow clap)
The Flintstones (1994)
Charlie’s Angels (2000)
The Charlie’s Angels film adaptation bears just enough resemblance to the TV series to be insulting, but also finds new ways to be terrible in its own right. Thanks to tons of hype, it made big piles of money on its release… but as time wears on, it sinks deeper and deeper beneath the bargain bin; forever forgotten unwanted.
The Mod Squad (1999)
The Mod Squad adaptation could have been good. Just a few minor tweaks like rewriting the script from scratch and firing everyone involved is all that it would have taken to make this better.
McHale’s Navy (1997)
To paraphrase Mark Twain’s review of an Ambrose Bierce book: “For every laugh that is in this movie, there are five blushes, ten shudders and a vomit.”
The Avengers (1998)
The Avengers adaptation is a pus-filled bedsore of a film that should be avoided like an exploding bag of hepatitis. But, otherwise, it’s not too bad.
The Beverly Hillbillies (1993)
Say what you will about the original series, it was pretty funny. The film version, however, seems to be saturated in some sort of comedy-repellant.
My Favorite Martian (1999)
To quote TIME magazine’s review of the silver screen adaptation of Myra Breckinridge: This film is “about as funny as a child molester.”
Dukes of Hazzard (2005)
To compare the Dukes of Hazzard TV show to the movie is to understand the difference between lovably dumb and abrasively retarded.
I Spy (2002)
What a hot mess this was. But let’s not lose sight that there have been some damn good adaptations as well (ex. Star Trek, The Addams Family, Mission Impossible, Starsky & Hutch).
The problem is there seems to be no end to the awful adaptions. There’s Steve Martin’s horrific fail, Sgt. Bilko (1996), Will Smith’s nightmare rehash of Wild Wild West (1999), Matthew Broderick’s retarded abyss known as Inspector Gadget (1999), Tom Hanks’s foray into fecal cinema, Dragnet (1987), Disney’s steaming turd called George of the Jungle (1997), Will Farrell’s waking nightmare, Land of the Lost (2009), Johnny Depp’s public humiliation, Dark Shadows (2012) ….. you get the picture.
What happens to these film adaptations that everything that was good about the original series is sucked out? Hollywood seems to think that jettisoning the heart and soul of a TV series is okay; what matters is retaining the “brand”’. Thus, only the name and appearance stay the same. Yet, what made the originals so enduring are lost in the shuffle as these misguided film adaptations shit themselves as they fall off the cliff.
Mic Wright’s Remotely Famous: Beckham on a bike versus berks in their bedrooms
FOOTBALL. Football. Football. Adrian Chiles trying to be funny. Football. Football. Football. Gary Lineker marshalling his panel of experts like a sedated zookeeper at the world’s most boring chimps’ tea party. Football. Football. Football. Betting ads. Football.
There’s your all-purpose review of the next month’s worth of television as the rest of the schedule is buried beneath the sheer weight of balls being bashed our way from Brazil. We’ll get every spit, cough and fart from the England camp until our inglorious departure from the tournament and reporters will continue to be baffled as to why the residence of Brazil’s shanty towns aren’t entirely delighted about millions of pounds being spent on facilities they’ll never benefit from.
CAR crash TV:
PRESENTING BBC man Alan Yentob being amazed by Ray Davies’ listed pear tree.
Spotter: Andy Dawson @profanityswan
CHRIS Carter’s landmark TV series The X-Files (1993 – 2002) proved not only a ratings blockbuster throughout the 1990s, but a cultural phenomenon too…the Star Trek of the Clinton Age, essentially. The series, which starred David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson proved so popular that its success led to movies, comic-books, toys, and even spin-offs such as The Lone Gunmen (2001). Chris Carter even had the opportunity to create another masterpiece for the era: Millennium (1996 – 1999).
But importantly, The X-Files also dramatically proved to network executives that horror and science fiction could play well on television if presented intelligently, and with a strong sense of continuity.
Accordingly, the years between 1995 and 1999 saw a veritable flood — a genuine boom — of horror-themed genre programming hit the airwaves.
These series had titles such as American Gothic (1995 – 1996), Strange Luck (1995 – 1996) , Dark Skies (1996), Kindred: The Embraced (1996), Poltergeist: The Legacy (1996 – 1999), Psi-Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal (1996 – 1999), The Burning Zone (1996 – 1997), Sleepwalkers (1997), Prey (1998), Brimstone (1998 – 1999) and Strange World (1999).
Most of the series above lasted only a season, but nearly all of them involved, like The X-Files, aspects of the police procedural format, and elements of the horror genre, namely the supernatural or paranormal. Many of the series also involved government conspiracies, or an “Establishment” attempt to hide some important “truth” from the American populace.
Below are my choices for the five best of this post-X-Files pack.
Nowhere Man (1995)
Created by Lawrence Hertzog, Nowhere Man ran for twenty-five hour-long episodes in 1995 and quickly proved a paranoiac’s dream. The series involved Thomas Veil (Bruce Greenwood), a photographer whose very life was “erased” in the premiere episode (“Absolute Zero”) by a shadowy conspiracy.
This act of erasure was undertaken because Veil publicly revealed a top-secret photograph called “Hidden Agenda.” Soon even Veil’s wife, Alyson, (played by Millennium’s Megan Gallagher) claimed not to have any memory of him. She had been “gotten to.”
As the series continued, Thomas began to uncover secrets about the photograph, and about his enemies too, a sinister cabal or conspiracy called “The Organization” (think The Syndicate on The X-Files).
Nowhere Man picks up primarily on The X-Files’ conspiracy vibe, but also features a strong if oblique connection to another TV paranoia trip: The Prisoner (1967). There, the prisoner, Number Six (Patrick McGoohan), was trapped in a bizarre European “village” for spies and ex-spies; but here Veil finds himself in an Information Age trap where the prison is the global village itself.
Nowhere Man is cleverly constructed, right down to the hero’s name — Veil — and so the series’ final episode saw the “veil” over his eyes lifted at last. Today, this series would be ripe for either a movie or TV reboot.
American Gothic (1995)
American Gothic is the tale of Caleb Temple (Lucas Black), a youngster of questionable lineage who lives in the town of Trinity, South Carolina. In the premiere episode, little Caleb sees his father go stark, raving mad, and his sister Merlyn (Sarah Paulson) murdered by the nefarious sheriff, Lucas Buck Gary Cole). Then he learns that not only is Lucas Buck Caleb’s biological father…he may also be the devil.
But before Sheriff Buck can seduce Caleb to the dark side, the sinister force must contend with two most unwelcome “do-gooders” in Trinity: reporter Gail Emory (Paige Turco) and a Yankee upstart with a dark past, Dr. Matt Crower (Jack Weber).
Both carpet-baggers realize Buck is up to no good, and take steps to protect Caleb, but must simultaneously deal with their own personal demons. Gail’s parents died in Trinity twenty years earlier and Lucas Buck just happened to be the person who discovered their bodies. And Matt is still recovering from a drunk-driving incident in which his wife and daughter were killed.
Created by Shaun Cassidy, and produced by Sam Raimi, this soap opera horror owes as much to Twin Peaks (1990 – 1991), perhaps, as it does The X-Files. But all the x-trademarks are present, from a focus on corrupt (or actually evil authority figures…), to storylines which involve police solving crimes in a small-town.
American Gothic succeeds in part because of Gary Cole’s central presence and enormous charisma as the evil sheriff, a figure who can seduce anyone with a smile, and who is even taken, on occasion, to whistling the theme song from The Andy Griffith Show.
Dark Skies (1996)
Like all the TV series featured on this list, there can be little doubt that NBC’s Dark Skies was granted a prime-time berth because of the success of The X-Files.
There’s also little doubt, however, that Dark Skies is an original, visually-distinctive, and involving program. The one-season series showcases a memorable, growling regular performance from the late J.T. Walsh as the leader of a top-secret alien-hunting organization called Majestic, and features rewarding and intricate plotting across the span of the catalog’s nineteen hour-long shows.
The series is a period piece, interestingly, that concerns alien abduction — one of the key concepts explored in The X-Files.
Dark Skies opens immediately after President Kennedy is inaugurated and the age of Camelot commences. Two young Americans who are filled with enthusiasm — John Loengard (Eric Close) and Kim Sayers (Megan Ward) — go to Washington to serve the country and the new president but quickly become disillusioned when they learn that all is not as it seems. Aliens have infiltrated the highest levels of the American government.
While it’s true that Eric Close looks like he was incubated at a David Duchovny Clone Farm, and that matters of conspiracy in Washington were also heavily featured on The X-Files, Dark Skies nonetheless forges its own unique identity. It does so by replaying key events from human history — the first TV appearance of The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, for instance, or the Kennedy Assassination — through the lens of alien infiltration in human affairs.
That was the “literal” level upon which Dark Skies operated, but the series also, overall, served as a metaphor for politics in the U.S. Naivety and idealism quickly give way to cynicism and dark agendas, and it’s a struggle to know who to trust, and who to believe in.
The tag-line for the short-lived series Prey on ABC-TV was “We’ve just been bumped down the food chain,” and the series concerned a beautiful geneticist, Sloane Parker (Debra Messing), who learned that a look-alike species — homo dominants — was gaining a foothold on power in North America.
A brilliant scientist not unlike Scully (Gillian Anderson), Sloane came to work with one of the dominants, Tom Daniels (Adam Storke), to help reveal the breadth of the dark conspiracy.
The X-Files often concerned genetic mutants like Victor Eugene Tooms, or other freaks of nature who, in some way could represent one possible future for humanity. Prey likewise involved a similar scenario, but taken to apocalyptic levels. Mankind was losing ground to superior beings, yet those beings were not aliens or monsters…but ones created under the auspices of evolution, by Mother Nature herself. The human race had become outmoded.
So the question became: can man outwit, defeat, and outlive its replacement species?
Over the course of Prey’srun much information was learned about the new species, including the fact that it lacked human emotions but possessed ESP. Prey was also weirdly prophetic. One episode involved school shootings — less than a year before Columbine — and the entire premise seemed to forecast the War on Terror.
In particular, the homo dominants looked and sounded like us, and therefore could imitate humans flawlessly. So your neighbor could actually be a sleeper agent, just waiting for the right moment to strike. In 2004, this was the premise of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica.
Brimstone (1998 – 1999)
Created by Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris, Brimstone aired on Fox as the lead-in to Chris Carter’s Millennium on Friday nights, and ran for just thirteen hour-long episodes before an untimely cancellation.
The series starred Peter Horton as hangdog Detective Ezekiel Stone, a former Manhattan-based police officer who died in 1983…and promptly went to Hell. Stone did so because he took the law into his own hands and murdered his wife’s rapist, Gilbert Jax. Two months after that act of vigilantism, Stone was killed in the line of duty, and he has been trapped in the Underworld ever since.
As the series commences, however, 113 of the “most vile” criminals in Hell manage a jailbreak and return to Earth to wreak havoc. The Devil (John Glover) – trying to cover his ass with the Man Upstairs – recruits Detective Stone to pursue the fugitives and send them back to Hell and permanent incarceration.
Ezekiel can do so only by destroying their eyes, the so-called “windows to their souls.” In exchange for his service, Stone gets a much-valued second shot at human life, happiness, and redemption. Each time Stone kills an escaped convict, a strange runic tattoo (representing the convict’s “number” or identity) burns off his body. Stone must also deal with the fact that some of escaped convicts are extremely powerful, with terrifying supernatural abilities
As the Devil informs the detective: “The longer you’ve been in Hell, the more it becomes a part of you.”
The villains featured on the series reflect The X-Files concept of the “monster of the week.” They are literally twisted creatures from Hell, and the roster includes an unrepentant rapist (“Encore”), a shape-shifter with multiple personalities (“Faces”), a lovelorn poet who kills virgins (“Poem,”) and even a Bonnie and Clyde-styled pair of thugs (“The Lovers.”)
Presented in a kind of de-saturated or silvery-steel color-scheme, Brimstone was another police procedural of the 1990s, like the X-Files, but it proved an original initiative because it worked overtime to diagram a universe of nuanced morality. Despite the presence of God and the Devil in the stories, Brimstone always explored shades of gray, not the least in terms of Stone’s behavior. Did he deserve a second chance? Did he deserve to go to Hell in the first place?
In exploring these issues, Brimstone proved more than your average X-Files knock-off and emerged as a memorable supernatural noir. The series’ sense of humor, revolving around a man from 1983 living at the turn of the century, also proved stellar.
Mic Wright’s Remotely Furious: The Secret Life of Babies beat the boring days of BA
I NEARLY skipped The Secret Life of Babies on ITV this week for fear that it could never life up to the greatest documentary on the inner-workings of the baby mind: Rugrats. While the makers of The Secret Life of Babies failed to catch any of their subjects talking or tumbling around on quests, they did reveal a lot most of us probably didn’t know about the bouncing little bundles of joy. One of the most striking scenes was the moment when a baby looked on utterly unperturbed as a leopard pounced at the reinforced glass dividing them. Plants, on the other hand, are babies natural nemeses. The theory is that infants are naturally adverse to foliage in case its poisonous. Quite why nature didn’t instil them with a fear of sharp teeth remain unexplained.
THE phrase “Where’s my jetpack?” has become something of a collective outcry in recent years. Since the 1950s, we’ve been indoctrinated with visions of the future full of spaceships, time travel, instant food, laser guns, and best of all, dazzling sci-fi duds.
Instead, here we are in 2014 and things haven’t shaped up to that Utopian model at all. Sure, communication technologies have exceeded our expectations, but the “Jetsons” lifestyle still hasn’t arrived. Thanks to pop culture’s broken promises of delivering robot maids and whooshing Star Trek doors in a timely manner, we are all a little disappointed.
Here’s a list of sci-fi TV shows and movies and the dates they were supposed to take place. Some are reasonable… some way, way off the mark.
1. LAND OF THE GIANTS
Land of the Giants is set in 1983. This is one of the more blatant errors in calculation. Fancy tourist spaceships are still nowhere in sight, and we’re 31 years past the show’s setting.
The TV series UFO. was actually set in 1980. As you will recall, the SHADO facility was one of the grooviest places on earth. Everything was painted mod colors with babes in mini-skirts or unitards strolling the hallways… and there was Moonbase. Well, it’s 34 years past due, and still no purple haired Moonmaidens.
Anyone who watched Space:1999 knows the show should’ve been called Space:1976. Evidently, earth-toned velour track suits were in vogue on Moonbase Alpha.
4. LOGAN’S RUN
Logan’s Run is set in 2274. Even though it features teleportation devices, I guess it’s far enough away in time that I can go along with it.
5. BLADE RUNNER
Blade Runner is set in 2019. We officially have five years to go before we have to start worrying about those pesky replicants.
6. TOTAL RECALL
The year is 2084 in Total Recall. I was kind of hoping that virtual reality thing would come around a bit sooner. Although, the three-breasted mutant women and cars driven by Howdy Doody robots can wait.
7. FORBIDDEN PLANET
Forbidden Planet is set in the early 2200s. Can we reasonably expect interplanetary travel and Robbie the Robot in a couple hundred years? The “plastic educator”, a device capable of measuring and enhancing intellectual capacity, seems doable.
8. THE JETSONS
The original Jetsons was supposed to take place in 2062. If I could pick any science fiction universe to live in, it would be The Jetsons, without hesitation. Sure, you still had to work and deal with overbearing bosses (Mr. Spacely was a dick!), but it was more than compensated by the Utopian awesomeness of it all.
9. PLANET OF THE APES
The crew in Planet of the Apes left earth in 2006 in their spaceship traveling at near light speed. Spoiler alert: They crash landed on Earth in the year 3978.
10. ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK
The tag line for Escape from New York:
The year is 1997. The Big Apple is the world’s largest penitentiary. Breaking out is impossible. Breaking IN is INSANE.
The 1927 film Metropolis is set in 2026.
12. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
2001: A Space Odyssey was right on the money for a lot of things, but it overshot its wad on artificial intelligence and suspended animation.
Alien is set in 2122. Again, filmmakers have a tendency to underestimate the time it will take to develop this suspended animation thing. It’s the only feasible way to have interstellar space travel, so I understand their motives.
14. BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY
The Buck Rogers TV series is set in 2491. This show was overflowing with sci-fi tropes: lasers, spaceships, groovy fashions, and wisecracking robots. Since it’s still 477 years away, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.
15. BACK TO THE FUTURE II
Back to the Future II is set in 2015. Only one more year until the hoverboard!
16. STAR TREK
The best method to avoid having your film or TV show woefully outdated may be to set it far beyond the present date like Dune, which is set thousands of years ahead. Or, opt for the Star Wars plan and have it set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. But the best plan of all may have been Star Trek which used “Star Dates”, which kept the timeline purposefully ambiguous.
Sadly, that was all ruined by Star Trek: The Next Generation which was set in 2364, which allows us to extrapolate that the original series was about 100 years prior. This really blows the mystique and pisses me off…. what say you, Dr. Bones?