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Join us for the latest on the best in extraordinary fictional television and film from the past, present and future, and analysis on its cultural impacts.

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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Knight Rider 2010 - out on DVDBefore getting into the meat of a review of “Knight Rider 2010”, a little aside as to what we have here. Back in December 2003, when a ‘reboot’ of Battlestar Galactica appeared, many of the less-than-convinced original fan base nicknamed it ‘GINO’ – Galactica In Name Only. Original Knight Rider fans, when they saw “2010”, should have had the foresight to name this 1994 attempt ‘KRINO’ – Knight Rider In Name Only. It’s more ‘Mad Max’ than ‘Michael Knight’ – who’s nowhere to be seen in this version of the format. We even get teased to think the Black Trans-Am of the original will be the hook to what has gone before, as various super cars in pristine condition are revealed from under assorted tarpaulins.

What we get instead is a Mustang more suited to a stock car race track. Admittedly, in the “Knight Rider 2000” movie, (CLICK HERE for our review) we were told that KITT’s body had long since been disposed of, but they could have gone for some continuity by showing this was where it had ended up. There’s an attempt to wed the concept to some sort of high-tech wizardry with the way the car is eventually controlled by a crystal with a link to beyond the grave, but I have to say it really is like putting lipstick on a pig. It is a very strained attempt to actually have a car which talks to its driver, but goes one further by having a hologram which, at times, sits in the passenger seat. There is no way this sits just ten years after the events of “Knight Rider 2000” – too much has happened. Sure, 2100 would have made more sense, but all in all, this is a DVD worth getting for anyone who wants to see how NOT to do a revival or a reboot.

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Monday, 19 June 2017

Knight Rider 2000 out on DVDIn the year 1991, when this pilot movie was from, the year 2000 was the future. Guns are banned and criminals are sent to cryo-prison where they are frozen for the duration of their sentences, to many, this doesn’t seem like much of a punishment. When the mayor is murdered with an illegal handgun, thought destroyed as part of dis-arming the Police, Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff) is brought out of retirement by Devon Miles (the late, great Edward Mulhare) to fight for justice one last time in “Knight Rider 2000”.

Michael returns to find KITT has been dismantled and the parts sold for medical research uses. Devon manages to recover all of KITT’s interior parts except one computer chip. The body is long gone, so KITT is rebuilt and installed in Michael’s classic 1957 Chevy. Michael teams up with former female cop Shawn McCormick (Susan Norman – later the character of Susan Buckman Merrick in Parenthood) who was shot in the head and now has the missing chip belonging to KITT embedded in her brain. With the help of KITT (once again voiced by William Daniels - as in the original series), Michael and Shawn must uncover the conspiracy in the Police Department.

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Monday, 12 June 2017

Star Maidens is back on DVDStar Maidens has found its way back on to DVD, courtesy of Simply Media. The title originally came to the home market back in 2005 through the now-defunct Delta Home Entertainment, but it’s enough of a curiosity that copies of that version still command a good price, so there’s logic in bringing it back into the foreground once more. It was originally shown as a regional opt-out in some ITV regions (HTV had it, ATV didn’t – which is why I got to saw an episode or two when I was in Wales at the time).  Popping up here and there between 1976 and 1978, it’s classified as an Anglo-German production, with a take on a planet whose dominant sex is female. This is something which The Two Ronnies would do their own version of in their serial “The Worm That Turned” in 1980, in which women rule the Britain of 2012, and male and female gender roles are completely reversed.

So, here’s your chance to get something in for late night schlock sessions in good company, with all 13 half-hour episodes in a twin-DVD digitally remastered set.  There’s plenty of reasons for Cult TV appreciators to pick up a copy as it stars Gareth Thomas, three years before he played Blake in the Blake’s 7. As per the previous DVD release, it also contains a bonus interview with Gareth, weighing in at a very respectable 34 minutes and covers much of his career, but with a focus on Star Maidens.

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Monday, 05 June 2017

1990 - Series 2 out on DVDFollowing on from the release of 1990 Series 1 earlier in the year, here we are already with the second and final series now on the shelves to complete this compelling story. Wilfred Greatorex described the format as "Nineteen Eighty-Four plus six" and details Jim Kyle’s (Edward Woodward) fight against a corrupt government in a disturbing then-future Britain, devoid of rights of any kind, in a world which is heading in the direction of the worst nightmares foretold by Orwell and Huxley . It is as relevant today as when it first aired, and is something a lost gem for Cult TV appreciators to get their hands on.

For those of you familiar with what has happened previously in this dystopian vision from 1977-8, here’s what’s changed between runs. Kyle’s actions at the end of the last series mean that Dan Mellor is no longer the Home Secretary, replaced by Kate Smith (Yvonne Mitchell), who Skardon (Robert Lang) sees as a threat. Delly Lomas and Henry Tasker have been moved away, to be replaced in one swoop by an old flame of Kyle’s, Lynn Blake (Lisa Harrow), put there to keep Kyle on a leash. And Kyle no longer has ‘Tiny’ Greaves as his editor – he’s gone to the ‘Alcoholics’ Laundry’ and been replaced by Tom Doran (Clive Swift) who now rather weakly fills his boots, he’s not much into putting the cat amongst he pigeons.

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Monday, 29 May 2017

The Brothers - Series 5 out on DVDThe Brothers as part of the Cult TV landscape? In the 1970s this Sunday night drama about a road haulage company was, ah-hem, something of a ‘juggernaut’ in the ratings. After four seasons, the show needed a lift, so colourful characters were brought in or given greater prominence via Cult TV stalwarts Colin Baker (the sixth Doctor Who), Kate O'Mara (who would later cross paths again with Colin in his Time Lord regeneration as the Rani) and Mike Pratt (Randall in the original Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)). They complicated the world of the Hammond family, so they are now nowhere near as cosy as they had been. They face an uncertain future with power struggles for the control of the family business, ill health, new additions to the family, and having to face the consequences of their own personal vices and demons.

The Brothers: The Complete Series 5, contains all 13 episodes from Spring 1975 of this reignited format, created by N J Crisp (Dixon of Dock Green) and Gerard Glaister (Dr Finlay’s Casebook). Doctor Who aficionados will be able to see why Colin Baker gained nationwide fame and notoriety, and if this is this is the nature of your interest, this is an ideal jumping-in point. Although his Paul Merroney character was much-talked about in Series 4, he was actually only seen in a handful of episodes (“Partings” - Episode 4.5, “Hit and Miss” – 4.7, “Public Concern” – 4.8, “A Bad Mistake” – 4.12, “The Fall Guy” – 4.13). Series 5 is where he becomes an unmissable core of the proceedings.

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Wednesday, 31 May 2017
Rockliffe's Babies - out now on DVD

Seven trainee CID officers based in London tackle some tough cases and an even tougher boss in this BBC police drama series from the 1980s. Sgt Alan Rockcliffe (Ian Hogg – “Hitler: The Rise of Evil”, Doctor Who “Ghost Light”) can be the most charming and supportive leader, but if you make a mistake or catch him on a bad day, he will come down on you like a ton of bricks! Can the rookies solve enough cases to win promotion, or will they crack in the process?

Running for just two seasons (three if you include the spin-off series Rockcliffe’s Folly, not included here), Rockcliffe’s Babies quickly introduces us to the trainees, though interestingly we do not meet Rockcliffe himself until the end of episode one. They are a real mixed bag, with varied backgrounds and skillsets that - when pulled together - make a great team; sometimes, however, the PCs bicker and fragment, and that is when things do not run quite as smoothly, much to their skipper’s chagrin.

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Sunday, 07 May 2017

Born Free - out now on dual format Blu-ray and DVDBased on a true story and book by Joy Adamson, “Born Free” is the story of a married couple who raise an orphaned lion cub to adulthood and then attempt to prepare the tamed animal for release into the Kenyan wilderness. Virginia McKenna (“A Town Like Alice”) and Bill Travers (“Ring of Bright Water”) star as Joy and George Adamson, and the film won a couple of Oscars thanks to John Barry’s fantastic score and closing credits song sung by Matt Monro.

Treading a careful line between realism and sentimentality, the movie sucks you in with countless shots of cute and majestic animals that interact with the Adamsons like they are domestic cats or dogs. Anyone with a household pet will delight in seeing Elsa the lion cub play, destroy furniture, steal food and bond with her keepers. It is a relationship that cannot last because an adult lion cannot be controlled, and therein lies the film’s central theme.

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Monday, 24 April 2017

Drunken Master - out now on dual format Blu-ray and DVDJackie Chan stars in this 1978 hit about a young, pretentious kung fu student who is taught the art of drunken boxing as a punishment for shaming his father. Freddie Wong (Chan – “The Karate Kid” remake, the “Police Story” saga) tries to impress his mates by getting into fights and tricking a girl into kissing him. When his father hears the news he sends Freddie to sensei So Hi, a master feared for his infamously harsh training regime.

So Hi (Siu Tin Yuen – “Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow”) is an alcoholic whose deceptive combat skills depend on his inebriation. Never separated from his flask of booze, So Hi teaches Freddie the fighting styles of ‘The Eight Drunken Immortals’. He also puts the upstart through many gruelling physical trials to boost his strength, endurance and balance. Meanwhile, a deadly assassin is prowling nearby and our duo eventually stray onto his radar.

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Sunday, 23 April 2017

Hard Times - out now on dual format Blu-ray and DVDSet in early 1930s New Orleans, “Hard Times” stars Charles Bronson (“The Great Escape”, “The Dirty Dozen”) as Chaney, a mysterious, uncomplicated drifter who turns to illegal bare-knuckle boxing to earn some cash. The loner falls in with an unscrupulous manager called Speed (James Coburn – “Our Man Flint”, “Cross of Iron”) who, thanks to his serious vice issues, always finds himself in debt to some very unpleasant loan sharks.

Mr Speed wants to use Chaney to take on a rival’s unbeaten fighter but first he must scrape together enough money to qualify, by setting his sights a little lower. Tagging along is drunkard medic Poe (Strother Martin – “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, “Cool Hand Luke”). The movie marked the directorial debut of Walter Hill (also co-writer), renowned for “The Warriors”, “48 Hrs” and “Southern Comfort” amongst other hits.

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Sunday, 09 April 2017

The Blue Lagoon - out now on dual format Blu-ray and DVDBased on the 1908 novel by Henry De Vere Stacpoole, “The Blue Lagoon” follows cousins Richard (Christopher Atkins – Dallas, “The Pirate Movie”) and Emmeline (Brooke Shields – “The Midnight Meat Train”, The Middle) as they learn to fend for themselves and experience a sexual awakening after being marooned on a tropical island. The movie’s director is Randal Kleiser of “Grease” and “Flight of the Navigator” fame.

Initially the pre-pubescent youngsters have the knowledge and company of Paddy, the ship’s cook (Leo McKern – Rumpole of the Bailey, The Prisoner) to support them, but the lure of a barrel of rum puts paid to that. Thereafter the kids must care for themselves, and hope that eventually someone will come looking for them. As their vessel went down in flames they do not know if anyone else survived, and they could be considered lost forever.

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