Category Archives: television

Paul Starr (1964)

This was the pilot for a TV puppet show, in the vein of Thunderbirds, that never reached full production status. ‘Paul Starr’ (a name very much of its time – he sounds like a 60’s crooners stage name), had the vision, but didn’t match the technical brilliance of Thunderbirds. In ‘Paul Starr’, the suspension of disbelief is nowhere to be found – its some models on strings being guided by human hands. In Thunderbirds, the stage sets, modelling and the handling of the various ships and vehicles allowed you to believe that what you were watching was almost real. Some of the puppets themselves have that faintly eerie quality that the TV marionettes had at the time (like Stingray and Fireball XL5 and Supercar – some downright disturbing puppets in some of those shows).

More here;

Resident Evil – Deal or no Deal?

Deal ‘or no’ Deal is by far the best thing on telly (now that The Wire and The Sopranos are gone, and Doctor Who is only pretty good, but this is before Peep Show comes back next week). So let me elaborate – Deal “or no” Deal is THE best quiz show around, and i’m not even a fan of quiz shows! It makes afternoons on Channel 4 SEXY (yeah Carol Vorderman) and it has made me forget about the loss of William G Stewart from our Nations screens. Deal…is a tv programme designed for the 21st century – for example, if I miss the show at 16:15, I can watch it on ch4 plus one, or on 4OD, or on Virgin Media On Demand. If I watch it via 4OD or Virgin Media On Demand, you get the ads cut out, condensing the thrill of it all, but to really cut to the chase, you can just fast forward the talking bits and see the boxes flash by along with the Bankers offers. Depends what mood I am in, because with the superfast option, you miss all the tension and emotion as you find out whether the contestant dealt at the right or wrong time. I love the show, its gambling by proxy, and I really enjoy it when people win the ‘life-changing’ (one of Noel Edmonds favourite phrases) sums of money.

There is a sense of community amongst the contestants – this is not a game show where they pit player vs player, it is all about one of the team getting as much money as possible from the ‘Man’ (ie the ‘Banker’). Its kind of like David vs Goliath, with Noel Edmonds hosting and the other contestants giving advice from the sidelines. Noel Edmonds isn’t too smug or annoying. In fact, he is really very good, and has made the show his own with his ‘common touch’ and left-field moments (like taking contestants outside the confines of the studio, going into the control room, allowing other contestants to run the show etc).

Anyway, the reason I write about Deal or no Deal is not just to flag it as a great bit of entertainment (though it is), or to lay bare my admiration for it (though I have). No, the purpose of this post is to show up the hitherto unseen link between “Deal or no deal”, a TV quiz show, and the “Resident Evil” survival horror franchise. Astounding as it may seem, the quiet reflective periods of both games have very similar background music. Let me give you 2 example of the ‘Deal or no Deal’ music – on the first clip, the music kicks in straight away (sometimes it is hard to hear it, but bear with it);


If you are still not convinced, try running the Resi clip while watching the “Deal…” videos, so that you can hear the Resident Evil music play while contestants weigh up their options. It works for me.

I think I have given sufficient audio evidence – to create their unique brand of calm, the “Deal or no Deal” team have employed similair music to that used in “Resident Evil”. What does it mean? In my view, I think it means that this quiz show will be around when the T-Virus starts turning the East Wing and the West Wing contestants into raving revenants. The Bankers offer is a helicopter ride out of town, a Magnum 45 with a full clip and 2 tins of baked beans – deal or no deal??

Thames TV ‘night time’ ident & Armchair Thriller intro (1978/79)

(View the video here)

I am sure I am not the only kid who was scared stupid by this little piece of video. This series of thrillers (some novel adaptations) was shown at both primetime and repeated in the afternoons on ITV. It didnt really matter if you were staying up late or innocently watching the telly in the afternoon, as soon as the night time Thames ident came on (an alternative to the ‘blue sky’ version used the majority of the time), there was a general feeling of unease. It was reality turned inside out, like the walls suddenly dripping blood (which reminds me – click here for more ITV ghoulishness. Once the Thames music faded, the real scares began. A solitary armchair in a darkened room, then a shadow moving into view, and settling down into the armchair. I know it doesnt sound particularly frightening. Check out the video. The shadow effect, achieved with animation, really does a good job of cranking up the fear factor. Some of the episodes even lived up to the intros mood setting (like ‘Quiet As A Nun’).


Armchair Thriller entry at Wikipedia

Armchair Thriller fan site with video and episode guides

TV Heaven guide to the show

One of the episodes even made it into the Channel 4 list of 100 Greatest Scary Moments, just behind the magnificent Suspiria by Dario Argento.

Just to make sure all your childhood fears are reawakened, check out this slide below, with the following explanation from the Armchair Thriller fan site;

“The slide …… was used for the “coming up” announcement before each episode…”

What were they trying to do to us Kids????

SWAT (TV series) intro – 1976

Dont know a lot about the show – it was a short-lived Aaron Spelling series from the 70’s. Not even sure if we got to see it in the U.K. The main reason I am posting this is becasue of the FANTASTIC theme music. A version of this, by the group Rhythm Heritage, got to No.1 on the US billboard chart in 1976. Its an uptempo funky classic with a real urgency about it. It got sampled by Lauren Hill on ‘Sweetest Thing’ and The Prodigy on ‘Funky Shit’. For more information, check out the links here and here

More about Rhythm Heritage

You can get ‘Theme From SWAT’ by Rhythm Heritage on this fine album and find out a bit more info on DJ Pogo here

SWAT the TV series at Wikipedia (not much information on there to be honest)

Someone called SuperFuzz has put together a good mix of early hip hop classics including ‘Schools Out’ by Mekon feat. Schooly D, which samples ‘Theme from SWAT’. Well worth listening too, he also gives a tracklisting and some observations. Here’s the link;

Italian Spiderman (Good Guy), Japanese Spiderman (Good Guy), Turkish Spiderman (EVIL!!!!)

These are all on youtube – the first is a spoof ‘theatrical trailer’ for a ‘long lost’ Italian version of Spiderman from the 1960’s. All very tongue-in-cheek, but with a lot of humour and knowledge of the respective Countries film output and cinematic conventions.

Here is the blurb from the youtube entry;

Unearthed for the first time in 43 years and lovingly restored at Maxischermo Studios Milan, this rare theatrical trailer for the 1964 Italian classic ‘Italian Spiderman’ is a real treat. Featuring Franco Franchetti of ‘Mondo Sexo’ fame in his last ever role before being killed in a spear fishing accident in 1965. Director, Gianfranco Gatti, reminisces on ‘Italian Spiderman’; “I have made some mistakes in my
life…bad, bad mistakes”.


Wiki entry for Japanese Spiderman TV Show
Wiki entry for ‘3 Dev Adam’
Review (with clips) of ‘3 Dev Adam’

Another TV Hijacking!! November 22nd, 1987

Talking of TV Hijacking, which I did a couple of posts back, led me to doing a bit more research on this subject. There’s not a huge amount on the subject, because there haven’t been that many ‘hijacks’ (in the sense that the signal has been taken and used for subversive purposes – see my earlier post about ‘Vrillion’). I did, however, come across this incident in late 1987 on American TV. The Wiki entry summarises the incident neatly;

“The Max Headroom pirating incident was a television signal hijacking in Chicago, Illinois on the evening of November 22, 1987; it is an example of what is known in the television business as broadcast signal intrusion. The hijacker was successful in interrupting two television stations within 3 hours; and, as of 2007, neither he nor his accomplices have been found or even identified.”

taken from

The hijack occured on 2 seperate occasions that night on 2 seperate channels – one interruption during a sports bulletin, the second during a showing of the Dr Who episode ‘Horror Of Fang Rock’ (here’s a news bulletin on the incident);

Damn Interestings take on the hijack
An Article on the Incident
Transcript of an email from 1987 where the issue is discussed
TNS article part I
TNS article part II

Finally, theres a couple of other places you can see this;

Labyrinth 13 report

The Hijack footage on Vimeo