Reviews

ST. ELSEWHERE (1982)

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Show ImageSt. Elsewhere was another quality product from MTM, the company that produced the superior police drama Hill Street Blues, and shared many of the innovative cinema verite techniques and edge of gritty realism that marked the Blues as cutting edge drama. Indeed, it was common knowledge that amongst MTM executives that the series was seriously considered to be a medical version of the critically acclaimed cop show. Located in a rundown inner city Boston neighbourhood, St. Elsewhere was the derisive nickname given to St. Eligius teaching hospital, a once great institution long since past its prime, which serves the urgent medical needs of the inhabitants of an area which is also in the same predicament. Led by the sensitive, but tough administrator, Dr. Donald Westphall, the series charted the constant merry-go-round of the daily tales of personal and professional triumphs and failures, which form the core of hospital life. Created by the accomplished team of Joshua Brand and John Falsey, who would later go on to create the quirky, Northern Exposure, St. Elsewhere was partly inspired by the real life experiences of a friend of Brand's who had worked in a Cleveland teaching hospital. With a deft mixture of warmly intimate drama on a human scale and the ever present backdrop of larger scale medical issues, the series successfully and effortlessly conveyed the sense of a fast-paced hospital through the expert use of hand-held camera work, multiple intersecting storylines and sharply written overlapping dialogue.

Although amassing an impressive eight Emmy Awards during the course of its five- year run, and despite attracting devotedly loyal following of dedicated core viewers, the show suffered from inconsistent ratings. On May 25, 1988, St. Elsewhere closed its doors to for the final time. In a move which was typical of Joshua Brand and John Falsey's established disregard for the approved dramatic conventions of network drama, St. Elsewhere's final, surreal, scene intimated that everything that had gone before during the show's run had been nothing but an elaborate fantasy played out within the enclosed imagination of the Westphall's young son. Much as its stable mate Hill Street Blues had revitalised the moribund police series of the time, so St. Elsewhere's fresh, edgy, complexly textured approach rejuvenated the safe and cosy medical genre in such a way that the groundwork was successfully laid for the future success of later US medical favourites such as ER and Chicago Hope, and as such, the series has more than earned its highly regarded place in U.S. television history. (Review: Stephen R Hulse)

STAR TREK (1966)

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Show Image If U.S. television can be said to have ushered in the birth of a genuine phenomena, then that phenomena bears the title of Star Trek; the brainchild and labour of love of former WWll pilot, LAPD officer and veteran TV scriptwriter Gene Roddenberry. The original series pilot The Cage, which featured high profile motion picture actor Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike, was rejected unbroadcast by wary network executives at NBC as being too cerebral. But such was Roddenberry's single-minded belief in the concept, that all opposition was swept aside, resulting in the network's (at that time) unprecedented green lighting for production of a second pilot. With Hunter bowing out of the project and such well known and viewer friendly names as Lloyd Bridges and Jack Lord passing on the revamped central character of the starship Enterprise's captain, the mantel ultimately settled on the shoulders of young, respected Canadian actor William Shatner as the embodiment of Starfleet's finest officer; charismatic Captain James Tiberius Kirk. Where No Man Has Gone Before, was a success. And with the airing of the first episode of the series proper, the core triumvirate of Kirk, his loyal and eminently logical Vulcan first officer, Mister Spock, and crusty chief medical officer, Doctor Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, ably supported by a groundbreaking, multi-racial gender mixed crew of 432, helped introduce the viewing audience to a genuinely polished and thought provoking range of stories. The Man Trap, saw the laying of the foundations of a televisual legend. A legend which more than forty-five years, numerous spin-off television series, motion pictures, and a multi-billion dollar merchandising juggernaut later, shows no evidence of losing its warp drive fuelled momentum. Its original 'five year mission' long since surpassed, Star Trek in all its myriad forms remains true to its founding credo: 'To boldly go where no man has gone before,' and in the process, it has touched the lives of millions. (Review: Stephen R Hulse)

STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE (1993)

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Show Image Originally intended to be a slightly different take on the standard Star Trek Starship-based series of adventures, by the end of its seventh and final season, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, had evolved into the darkest, complex and most pessimistic of all the Star Trek spin- offs. Under series creators Rick Berman and Michael Piller's able creative control, DS9 thrust the darker side to Roddenberry's optimistic universe into the spotlight and dared defiantly to be different. Once again, the tried and trusted Trek device of "family" was the glue which bonded the disparate political and emotional elements of the series together as the production team chronicled the intrigue and duplicity of life aboard a former Cardassian space station in orbit near a strategically crucial "Worm Hole" (a sort of inter-stellar super highway) to the distant Gamma Quadrant. Led by noted black Shakespearean actor Avery Brooks as Starfleet Commander (later promoted to Captain), Ben Sisko, the large ensemble cast brought a much needed tougher edge to the usual harmonious inter-relationships of the Trek universe. DS9 also broke with established tradition by presenting the viewers with a number of ambitions and complex story arcs which wove a complexly compelling tapestry depicting a galaxy at war and the very real, sometimes tragic effects of that conflict on the lives of the people involved. Ultimately DS9's greatest contribution to Trek lore was in proving that Roddenberry's original pristine view of the future benefited enormously from the added dimension of a darker, more starkly adult tone, previously only hinted at in earlier Trek incarnations. With the later seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Roddenberry's galaxy finally achieved adulthood, and both the Star Trek universe, and the viewers, reaped the rewards of that growth. (Review: Stephen R Hulse)

STAR TREK - THE ANIMATED SERIES (1973)

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Show Image Filling the long gap between the end of the original Star Trek series and the first of the widely successful movies, this animated version from the prolific Filmation Studio, chronicled the further voyages of the intrepid Starship Enterprise and its legendary crew, as they boldly continued seeking out new life and new civilisations. Adhering strictly to Gene Roddenberry's original vision for the series, the animated version succeeded in reuniting almost the entire original cast to lend their voices to their characters animated counterparts, with the notable exception of Walter Koenig's Chekov. (Budgetary limitations being cited as the reason for his exclusion, although the actor did notch up a credit as one of the show's scriptwriters). In Chekov's place however, two brand new alien characters were added to the bridge crew to showcase the diversity of races that made up Starfleet. In fact many of the live series' writers contributed to the new venture, including David "Trouble With Tribbles" Gerrold, D.C. Fontana and Margaret Armen. Although crudely executed animation wise, the show nevertheless exhibited a pleasing sense of intelligence towards its audience and respect for the established Trek ethos. In Britain, The BBC showed the 16 first series episodes in 1974, with the second smaller batch of just six stories following in 1976. Although now officially deemed not to be a part of the Trek saga, the animated adventures of Captain James T. Kirk and his crew helped to satisfy the insatiable need of the fans at a time when a live action return for their heroes was far from assured. (Review: Stephen R Hulse)

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION (1987)

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Show Image 26 September 1987 was the date which ushered in the rebirth and continuation of one of television's most enduring and celebrated legends. With the feature length premier of Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Encounter at Farpoint", Gene Roddenberry's galaxy spanning concept was revived for an entire new generation of viewers across the globe. Set seventy years after the legendary exploits of James T. Kirk and his original crew, ST:TNG featured an all new crew on an all new Enterprise, facing dangers and moral dilemmas which bore the unique hallmark of the highly detailed fictional Trek universe. As with the original series and all of its spin-offs, the key to ST:TNG's success was in the importance of the "Family" aspect of the core characters inter-relationships. Blessed yet again with a talented and committed ensemble cast, lead by Yorkshire born Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard (a choice originally resisted by Roddenerry himself, who favoured Cagney and Lacy's Stephen Mach for the role), the show took the now expected standard three seasons to define a unique identity of its own while staying true to the basic, underlying Star Trek ethos. With the arrival of Rick Berman as guiding light following Roddenberry's departure, ST:TNG forged a standard of excellence which almost single-handedly revived the moribund wasteland of televised science-fiction that held sway at that time, and in the process actually succeeded in the near impossible task of actually supplanting the parent show as the flagship of the Trek dynasty in the eyes of many, and at times even the most die-hard of original series fans. (Review: Stephen R Hulse)

STAR TREK: VOYAGER (19)

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Show Image The Fourth television incarnation of the legendary Star Trek franchise, Star Trek: Voyager more than ably took up Gene Roddenberry's original and uniquely successful vision of humanity's future into the dawning of the new millennium. By opting to exile Voyager and her crew from the comfortingly familiar environs of the Alpha Quadrant and place the ship in the unknown and dangerous vastness of the unexplored Delta Quadrant some 70,000 light years from home, series creators Rick Berman, Michael Piller and Jeri Taylor successfully restored the original 'To Boldly Go' element to the expanded Trek universe in a way unseen since the original series itself. With it's mixture of Federation Personnel and Maquis freedom fighters the task of Voyager was to return home whilst truly boldly going where no man has gone before; in the process discovering new worlds and new civilisations, whilst remaining true to the Federations 'Prime Directive' in non- involvement in the evolution of the races it encountered. In keeping with established Trek philosophy however, Voyager was as much an examination of the human condition and the emotional interaction of its cast of core characters, as it was a standard science-fiction action/adventure series. With the respected and accomplished Kate Mulgrew as the driven, caffeine-addicted Captain Kathryn Janeway, the series is given a strong central core which bears striking similarities to many of the qualities exhibited by that other, most legendary of past Starfleet captain's, James T. Kirk. Original series memories are also deliberately called to mind by the close personal trust and bond of friendship between Janeway and her Vulcan security officer, Tuvok, while the most overt hark-back to bygone era's comes in the character of Robert Piccardo's wonderfully realised, drolly sarcastic, Emergency Medical Holographic Program known simply as 'The Doctor'. With the later addition of favourite 'Next Generation' baddies The Borg, and gifted and strikingly wonderful Jeri Ryan's arrival as the former Borg drone (Seven of Nine) slowly rediscovering her humanity, the series continued to evolve and refine its trademark style of the examination of both the well drawn and fully rounded central characters and the ramifications of their continuing involuntary exile. (Review: Stephen R Hulse)

STARS AND GARTERS (1963)

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Show Image Variety series that helped launch successful chart-topping careers for two of Britain's most popular singers, Kathy Kirby and Vince Hill, Stars and Garters, voted "The Best TV Series of 1963" by "Weekend" magazine, gave the appearance of being set in a pub filled with real customers as they were entertained with a mixture of music and jokes. The idea of a variety show set inside a club or pub was not particularly new to television and had been successfully employed as far back as 1947 in the long running Cafe Continental. But the inspiration for Stars and Garters was more likely a 1962 documentary called Time, Gentlemen, Please! in which Daniel Farson took a look at the pub entertainment scene in London. The documentary featured a comedian and disc jockey by the name of Ray Martine who, the following year, was chosen to compere the new Rediffusion light entertainment show. The producers of Stars and Garters tried to recreate the atmosphere of 'the local' by inviting members of the public into the television studio for the first show, hoping that they would add to the atmosphere. However, there was one thing they didn't count on: The 'guest' audience was expecting free booze and instead they were presented with weak cordial and coloured water! As the guests showed their disapproval in front of the cameras on the live broadcast a decision was taken that for future shows professional extras would be employed to make up the audience.

Resident singers Kathy Kirby, Vince Hill, Tommy Bruce, Al Saxon, Clinton Ford and Julie Rayne provided the musical entertainment. Ilford born Kirby had been discovered at the age of sixteen by bandleader Bert Ambrose and, soon after appearing on Stars and Garters made a big impact on the music scene with her first hit record, "Dance On", entering the charts in August 1963. Several more hits and her own BBC TV series followed and she soon became known as the 'Golden Girl of British Pop'. However, Kirby never really fulfilled her early promise and by the 1970s she had virtually retired from show business. Vince Hill, on the other hand, has proved a much more durable star. Born in Coventry, Hill got the taste for showbiz when his mother entered him for a talent contest in a pub, 'The Prospect', in Margate, Kent. Although he won the contest he was unable to accept the prize of a two-week engagement at the venue because he was only 15 and too young to have been there in the first place. By the time Stars and Garters came along Vince was already a successful radio personality having made the break from his group, The Raindrops, to embark on a solo career. He had already had a minor hit with "The River's Run Dry" (June 1962) and made appearances on Parade of the Pops, but almost didn't get the part on Stars and Garters. "Elkan Allen (the series producer) didn't want a ballad singer on the show," Vince told Television Heaven. "I did two pilots before I was given a regular spot." As far as the viewers were concerned it proved to be a popular choice.

Vince has enjoyed a hugely successful career as a recording artiste, TV personality and stage star. His biggest chart success was with "Edelweiss", from the musical 'The Sound of Music' in 1967. Through the '70s and '80s he had several hit TV shows including They Sold A Million, Musical Time Machine and his own musical chat show Gas Street. He says that he thoroughly enjoyed his time on Stars and Garters and thinks it's a shame that the light entertainment format seems to have disappeared from our TV screens. He has even tried to revive Stars and Garters in recent years in one format or another.

Ray Martine (born Raymond Isaacs) had begun his show business career playing at the Bridge House pub in London's Canning Town and this proved to be successful enough for him to give up his job in textiles and menswear. With the benefit of gags written by Dick Vosburgh and Marty Feldman, the Cockney/Jewish comedian soon became a firm favourite with viewers. Like Kirby, Martine never fulfilled his early promise of stardom, but this may have been due to his reputation of being difficult to work with. Vince Hill remembers that at first he took something of a dislike to Martine. "I thought he was bit too cocky when I first met him and didn't like him at all," recalls Vince. "However, we soon became very good friends and got on famously." It was a reputation that stuck though, and after he was replaced as the host of Stars and Garters Ray Martine was rarely seen on TV again. He made a brief comeback in 1970 in a show called Jokers Wild. Stars and Garters, without Martine was retitled The New Stars and Garters for a few weeks during October - November 1965 and was presented by former Emergency-Ward 10 star, Jill Browne, with assistance from Willy Rushton. The format was used (only on this occasion the setting was a Northern working man's club) in the 1970s Granada show Wheeltappers' and Shunters' Social Club.

STARSKY AND HUTCH (1975)

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Show Image A worldwide smash of seventies cool, gloss, and gun blazing action from the prolifically successful stable of Aaron Spelling, Starsky and Hutch was the epitome of the ratings winning, audience pleasing, mismatched buddy sub-genre of the cop show beloved by US television producers. Initially inspired by a brief 1975 newspaper article in the New York Times by Aaron Spelling's production partner, Leonard Goldberg, relating the story of two cops hand picked by the residents to clean up their crime-ridden area, Goldberg went to writer William Blinn and charged him with developing a series from the basic premise. Blinn set to work and fashioned an idea tentatively titled: Nightwork. Due to the prohibitive cost of night shooting, the idea was reworked and what emerged was the rating busting exploits of two young, chalk and cheese undercover cops working the particularly tough beat of the inner city area of LA.

After a prolonged and extensive talent search, the vitally important central roles were given to two young, relatively unknown actors. David Soul (born Solberg) was cast as the fair-haired, softly spoken, sensitive, well read, and yoga-loving Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson (Soul had come to the producer's notice due to his quietly menacing performance as a vigilante cop in Clint Eastwood's second big screen outing as Dirty Harry in Magnum Force), while the dark-haired, street-wise and junk food loving persona of Dave Starsky was given substance by Paul Michael Glaser. (Who was also helped to the role via the big screen, as Topol's son-in-law in the musical Fiddler On The Roof). Rounding out the regular cast were Bernie Hamilton as Capt. Harold Dobey (played by Richard Ward in the pilot) the duo's long suffering boss, and as the hip, fly, terminally jive-talkin' full-time bar owner and part-time snitch, Huggy Bear, Antonio Fargas habitually stole the show almost by dint of his outrageous dress sense. Another star of the show that became an instant hit with the viewers was the 1974, limited edition, white go-fast striped, blazing red Torino driven by Starsky and christened "The Striped Tomato". In this, the series boasted the coolest TV car since The Batmobile. As the seasons rolled by and the show's body and bullet count continued to mount, both the stars themselves as well as various pressure groups voiced ever-stronger concerns about the level of violence on display. In the UK where the series became an instant hit, police chief Kenneth Oxford complained that the example set by Starsky and Hutch caused his own police officers to "drive like bloody maniacs." One episode, "The Fix", a story about drugs, was refused broadcast by the BBC. In reaction to this, later stories moved away from overt instances of violence to focus on more emotional, relationship slanted issues. Robbed of the excitement and energy generated by the earlier non-stop action, the series lost its way and the once high viewer interest was lost along with it. (Co-writer: Stephen R Hulse)

STEPTOE AND SON (1962)

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Show Image Steptoe and Son began life as a one-off play entitled 'The Offer' from the BBC's highly regarded Comedy Playhouse series. The central characters were the repulsive mitten wearing 'dirty old man' Albert Steptoe, (a wonderfully faultless performance by Dublin born actor Wilfrid Brambell), and his 38-year old son Harold, (equally well played by Harry H. Corbett), two rag- and-bone men who lived in Shepherds Bush. In common with most of the truly great character driven comedies the simple premise of the series, as developed in Galton and Simpson's masterful scripts, brilliantly tightrope walked the narrow line separating laughter from tragedy. Something that had never been attempted in television situation comedy before. Breaking new ground, the core of this success lay in the delicately delineated dynamics of the central characters complexly antagonistic relationship. It was in the presentation of Harold's pretentiously overblown -ultimately doomed- dreams of escaping his resolutely low brow father to better himself, only to find both himself and his ambitions constantly undone by the senior Steptoe's devious and cold-blooded manipulation of the younger man's innate decency, which helped ensure that the series frequently attained the heights of genuine tragi-comedy. The most obvious basic truth of the series, apparent to the viewers if not the Steptoe's themselves, was their sadly obvious co-dependence. The older Albert and the younger Harold were two sides of the same coin, neither whole without the other, no matter how much they affected an air of mutual dislike. It was this essential truth, coupled with consistently excellent scripts and performances from two actors who quite obviously understood the subtle subtext of the concept, which ensured a continuity of comedic quality rarely surpassed in television to this day. The series ran from 1962 to 1974 and there were two feature films, 'Steptoe and Son' (1972), and 'Steptoe and Son Ride Again' (1973).

The series was a resounding success in the UK and became the benchmark by which all subsequent sitcoms were measured by. It's success was spun off into radio adaptations and recordings by Pye records and specially written sketches were made for the BBC's end of year Christmas shows as well as a Royal Command Performance where Harry H. Corbett and Wilfrid Brambell appeared on the same bill as The Beatles. The Writing team of Galton and Simspson had been responsible for the classic Hancock's Half Hour scripts which included 'The Blood Donor' and 'The Radio Ham', and in 1999 the were awarded in the Queen's New Years Honours List. Wilfrid Brambell appeared in The Beatles first feature film 'A Hard Day's Night,' in which he played the role of Paul McCartney's grandfather, and in purposeful contrast to his TV character was referred to throughout as 'very clean.'

Corbett's untimely and premature death excluded the chance of further series, however all of the originals (including the early black and white recordings), continue to be shown on television and are available on DVD. The series was re-made in the USA as Sanford and Son, and other foreign language versions of it were made around the world. Steptoe and Son might well have been rag and bone men, but the comedic legacy they palmed off on us, the viewers, was priceless beyond their wildest imaginings. (Co-writer: Stephen R. Hulse)

STINGRAY (1964)

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Show Image Gerry Anderson's third venture into Supermarionation, and his first to be filmed in colour (even though it could only be shown in black and white on it's first run in the UK), Stingray was possibly the first puppet series to win the appreciation of an adult audience, and laid down a winning formula that would be fully realised in Anderson's next series...Thunderbirds. Stingray was a high-tech, atomic powered, super-sub armed with sting missiles and captained by Troy Tempest. As was the norm with Anderson heroes, Tempest's physical appearence was modelled on a favourite movie actor of Gerry Anderson's wife -in this case James Garner. Based in Marineville at the headquarters of WASP (World Aquanaut Security Patrol), the crew of Stingray came under constant threat from Titan, lord of the underwater city of Titanica, who was the leader of evil Aquaphibians, (the humans were dubbed 'Terrainians') a submerged race of people who roamed the deep sea in their mechanical Terror Fish crafts, that were able to fire missiles from their gaping fish mouths. On land, Titan's agent was Artura, code named X20. Accompanying Tempest in Stingray were co-pilot George 'Phones' Sheridan (nicknamed so because he was in charge of the ships hydrophone sonar system) -and Marina, the green haired daughter of Emperor Aphony of Pacifica. Marina was captured by Titan during a raid on Pacifica and enslaved for a year. She was rescued by Troy Tempest and Phones after helping them escape from captivity and impending execution. Like all her people, Marina was unable to speak, communicating with her own kind by means of mental telepathy, and with others by sign language. The crew received their orders from Commander Shaw, who was crippled in a sea battle and confined to a hoverchair. Shaw was based at Marineville headquarters where he was ably assisted by Sub Lt Fisher and his own daughter -Atlanta, who was voiced by Lois Maxwell, the actress who starred in the original James Bond series of movies as Miss Moneypenny.

The series drew its crossover audience thanks to superior model work by the ever-improving AP Films Company, and it's fast paced action packed storylines. There was also an unrequited love triangle, with both Marina and Atlanta vying for the attentions of Tempest. This greatly enhanced the appeal of the show to the adult section of the audience by introducing an undercurrent of emotional sophistication to the series beyond anything previously seen in what was still widely considered, at the time, to be strictly a children's genre. It's an often quoted and popular misconception that Stingray was the first UK series to be filmed in Colour. In fact, The Adventures of Sir Lancelot had, at least some episodes shot in colour, and that series was made in 1956. Stingray was, however, the first of Anderson's series to be shot at his new Stirling Road studio complex on the Slough Trading Estate. This housed three shooting stages, production offices, a preview theatre and 12 cutting rooms. Although most of the scenes took place under water, hardly any of the models were ever immersed in one of the two large tanks housed within the studio. Reg Hill and Derek Meddings came up with an idea where one of the tanks was filled with fish of differing sizes from three inches to half an inch in length. The tank stood on a piece of curved backing paper on which a seabed was painted, known as a cyclorama. A shadowing effect was acheived by cutting shapes out of a disc placed in front of the light that when turned created a moving pattern. The surface of the tank was then disturbed to get a rippling effect. Models were then filmed between the tank and the cyclorama to give the effect of 'swimming.'

With Stingray, Anderson's Supermarionation and near filmic storytelling techniques took another step nearer to the culmination of sophistication which would ultimately be displayed in Thunderbirds. Exciting, expertly produced, and vitally important for paving the way to an adult acceptance of this type of entertainment, Stingray can now be seen as an important evolutionary step for Gerry Anderson's unique brand of televisual entertainment genius.

THE STRANGE REPORT (1968)

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Show Image Anthony Quayle starred as retired Scotland Yard Commissioner turned private pathologist Adam Strange who was called into action whenever the authorities were baffled. Strange employed the latest techniques in forensic investigation, which he undertook in his own laboratory in his Paddington flat. The series was a little too strange for critics at the time who found many of the off-beat plots just a little too baffling. The Sunday Times described it as "pretty well incomprehensible and wholly barmy." The show was produced by London born Norman Felton who had produced long running US series' Dr Kildare and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The series starred the obligatory US actor Kaz Garas and also former Doctor Who girl Anneke Wills. Quayle was more likely to be seen at the theatre than on television and although he starred in numerous TV movies (such as Moses the Lawgiver, this was his only leading role in a series of any length.

THE STRANGE WORLD OF GURNEY SLADE (1960)

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Show Image The Strange World of Gurney Slade was a strange show indeed. The brainchild of East London child prodigy Anthony Newley, the idea for the show was developed in partnership with Morecambe and Wise scriptwriters Dick Hills and Sid Green, and took place in a surreal atmosphere in which the hero would trip in and out of reality whilst interacting with inanimate objects, animals, or people who stepped out of advertising posters. Whether the series was meant to be a comedy or merely a sideways glance at life in general is difficult to fathom, although interviewed in 1960, Newley stated, "There is no rhyme or reason for what I do, I merely take life and turn it upside down. We hope to achieve humour without setting out to be deliberately funny." Allegedly, David Bowie, along with a number of other rock musicians, cite it as an important influence on their early work. (In fact Bowie states that he drew on his memories of it as the basis for his role in the sci-fi movie The Man Who Fell to Earth). It's possible that Gurney Slade (named by Newley after a Somerset Village of the same name) was years ahead of its time, but it definitely proved to be too strange for the audience of 1960 and four shows into its planned six show run, it was removed from its primetime slot to a late night one.

STRANGER ON THE SHORE (1961)

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Show Image Adventure stories are traditionally concerned with familiar hero figures lost in outlandish countries. In Stranger On The Shore, which debuted on BBC television at 4.45pm on 21 September, 1961, the country was familiar enough to the watching audience, but the heroine was not. Marie-Helene (Jeanne le Bars) came from a small boarding-house in Normandy: she could speak a little English, mainly what she had picked up from tourists; but this was her first visit to England and she found it a very foreign land indeed. From the moment she arrived at Victoria Station-a tired bewildered figure clutching her sole possessions in a small suitcase-life was full of extraordinary surprises. What would appear to us as normal and common-place behaviour was a constant wonder to Marie-Helene. She gradually adjusts to the culture shock of being an au-pair with a pleasant enough family in the seaside town of Brighton in Sussex. Head of the family is David Gough (Richard Vernon) and his wife (Beatrix Mackey) who have two children of their own; Penelope (Amanda Grinling) who is around the same age as Marie-Helene, and a younger son, Paul- nicknamed 'Podger' (Denis Gilmore). The whole arrangement seems very suitable. But it represents a problem for Marie-Helene that at times becomes nothing short of an ordeal. For Marie-Helene is shy. She has come to England to improve her English and finds there is much more to be learnt than just the language. Her hosts are anxious to help her, she is anxious to settle down: and yet with the best will in the world things begin to go wrong. She meets other foreign girls but they turn out to be not the type of people she would normally associate with at home. But home is very far away and in this alien land of England, anything may happen. It is a real adventure for Marie- Helene, and calls for an enormous amount of courage. Stranger On The Shore appears to be a sadly forgotten BBC drama, which held a captive tea-time audience and was considered strong enough for a sequel, Stranger in the City, starring the same cast. What is best remembered is Acker Bilk's atmospheric theme tune which was the first UK recording of the 1960s to reach Number One in the US charts. (Adapted from the original Radio Times review by Sheila Hodgson)

THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO (1972)

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Show Image Based on the novel Poor, Poor Ophelia by Carolyn Weston and produced by the legendary Quinn Martin (The Untouchables; The FBI; Cannon and others), The Streets of San Francisco is probably best known today as the police drama that launched a young Michael Douglas - son of the legendary film actor Kirk Douglas - to film stardom. It was also the best known role for co- star and veteran actor Karl Malden, who parlayed his "Streets" role into a series of memorable commercials for American Express Travellers Cheques. Set in the beautiful Bay Area, Streets of San Francisco focused on widower Mike Stone (Malden), an experienced veteran of the San Francisco Police Department who was assigned to the Bureau of Inspectors Division. His partner was young Steve Keller (Douglas), a college educated man but inexperienced cop. Besides the gorgeous scenes of San Francisco and reasonably plausible scripts, the main reason the show worked was the chemistry between the older Malden and the younger Douglas; the two had a professional and working relationship that was in many ways like father and son. That bond ensured a large and loyal audience; at one point in the mid-1970's The Streets of San Francisco was third-ranked ABC's most popular series iun the USA.

In 1976, Douglas left the series to pursue what would become a successful film acting and producing career. Producers had Steve Keller written out by having him shot and wounded in the final episode of the fourth season. After recovering, Keller decides to leave the SFPD and become a teacher. To replace Douglas, Richard Hatch became Mike Stone's new partner, Inspector Dan Robbins. But the dynamic of the show changed; fans thought Hatch was nowhere near as good or as compelling as Douglas. The ratings dropped, leading ABC to cancel the show in 1977. A stream of now-famous names passed through "Streets" during its five-year run, including Nick Nolte; Dabney Coleman; Leslie Nielsen; Cheryl Ladd; Ned Beatty; and a young bodybuilder who would later become a movie action hero: Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Streets of San Francisco was in many ways typical no-nonsense 1970's drama that showed the jobs and morals of cops in black and white terms. But it was Karl Malden and Michael Douglas who helped make it one of the era's most memorable police procedurals. (Review: Mike Spadoni)

STRYKER OF THE YARD (1961)

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Clifford Evans Stryker of the Yard featured "The plain clothed men of the C.I.D." the TV Times of 1964 informs us. The series did in fact start out as a number of early 1950s b-movies, originally made for the cinema and was distributed throughout the UK by British Lion Films. These were then cut down for US television where the 35-minute films were condensed to a 25-minute format and shown on NBC in 1957. In November 1961 the first of a series of 15 episodes was shown in some ITV regions in a late night slot. All the episodes were titled The Case of... starting with The Case of The Black Falcon and ending with The Case of Uncle Henry in January 1962. The series was repeated in 1964 then occasionally between 1966 and 1972 with a final complete run on Channel Television. Welsh actor Clifford Evans played the lead, his first major television role, before playing a major part in The Power Game, as building tycoon Caswell Bligh. He is also notable for having been among several British actors to play the character of Number Two in the sixties cult TV series The Prisoner.