Sunday, 31 July 2011

Top 7... 1960s Dr Who stories

Back to familiar ground for this top 7 - though trying to find a 7th we could all agree on proved to be something of a struggle...  we eventually rejected Tomb of the Cybermen and Dalek Invasion of Earth to leave us with

1 The Evil of the Daleks (1967,TC) - the plot at times makes as much sense as a RTD special, but the atmosphere just oozes out, Pat T is at his best and Debbie Watling's in crinoline. Just sublime. Only thing to decide is which is the better quote to her - the dalek's "You will not feed the flying pests" or Jamie's "Quick, Miss Waterfield - up your back passage!"?

2 The Gunfighters (1966,DM) - "He gave me a gun, he extracted my tooth,what more could you ask?" Long considered one of the worst historical Whos ever, with its appalling American accents and cavalier approach to the facts, Gunfighters has more recently been reconsidered and is now widely accepted as a pretty good satire on the TV Western genre of the 50s and 60s. On the other hand, we've always loved it as a screamingly good and utterly intentional comedy.

3 The Mind Robber (1967,TC) - From a first episode written at the last of last minutes with no budget (the previous story had to be cut from 6 episodes to 5 (which was still 5 too many)) by shoving the crew into a featureless white world, to Jamie becoming the first companion to "regenerate" when Hines caught chicken pox and was replaced for a while by his cousin (via the Doctor wrongly reassembling his face in a jigsaw puzzle) this should have been a disaster but proved a triumph - and very much a blueprint for much of MoffatWho in its fairytale setting.

4 The Power of the Daleks (1966, MI) "We are your... servants" Hartnell was gone and Who would never be the same again, as Pat Troughton was now the Doctor - or was he? It seemed unlikely at the time, about as unlikely as the Daleks providing a slave labour force for humans rather than the other way round, but only one of those two things proved to be a devilishly cunning ruse...

5 The Macra Terror (1967, TC) - "Macra do not exist. There is no such thing as Macra!" As a prequel to Gridlock, Macra Terror is unusual in having no cast members in common, but it nonetheless seems to work pretty well as a standalone story..

6 The Romans (1965, MI) - "Suitable only for morons" according to an anonymous member of the BBC's Audience Research panel, but "absolutely flawless" according to the Times TV review, this was Who's first overt attempt at comedy, with the humour mostly played out as an exquisite farce in the manner of (but much better than) the Tennant/Tate interplay in the Series 4 opener.

7 An Unearthly Child (1963, DM) A cliche, perhaps, but still a genuinely superb start to the Series - was a nation still taking in the news of Kennedy' assassination really ready for that unsettling theme tune and titles, with everything that followed? Only time will tell...

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Top 7... 70s Sitcoms

More precisely British 70s sitcoms, defined as those whose prime years were pre-Thatcher. Some heated debate here, but after swiftly rejecting by a two-thirds majority On The Buses and The Good Life we finally decided on:

1 Fawlty Towers (mi) - Much as we like to break with tradition, not having this top would be just perverse.

2 Are You Being Served? (mi) - lost its way in later years but the early series are still mostly hilarious

3 George & Mildred (tc) - a rare example of a spinoff completely outclassing its parent, this took the Man About the House landlords and created a classic 2-hand snipefest

4 Sykes (tc) - Eric and Hattie, ably supported by Derek Guyler, offering subtly absurd fare as only they could

5 The Life & Death of Reginald Perrin (tc) - also of the absurd, but this time faintly subversive to boot. And with a hippopotamus. That probably tasted like a Ukrainian unicyclist's jockstrap.

6 Rising Damp (dm) - more Rossiter, what's not to like?

7 Porridge (dm) - and we couldn't leave out Mr Barker's ouvre, could we?

No space for the likes of Dad's Army, or even the Likely Lads - good but not in any of our top threes, so not eligible to be in the top seven, sadly. If you want to tell us they should have been, or indeed suggest any others we've missed, please do leave a comment, we're very open to persuasion. Or bribery. or threats...

Monday, 4 July 2011

Top Seven... 5-minute cartoons

As ever, myself, Martin and Matt each picked three choices which were laughed at and voted on by the other two to create a final and definitive top 7. On this occasion the rejected choices were Paddington and The Perishers, so you know the threshold is pretty high...

1. The Clangers (Mr Postgate, we are not worthy)

2. The Magic Roundabout  (original series, none of your Nigel Planer nonsense thankyouverymuch)

3. Roobarb & Custard (original series, though the new ones were OK too)

4. Willo the Wisp (oh, go on, stop messing about...)

5. Dangermouse (the only rebel entry in an otherwise BBC 5.40 dominated list, but the original series was in 5-minute chunks, so I had to let it in)

6. The Wombles (the Cribbster! My favourite is still Wellington, though.)

7. Ivor the Engine (just for a change the remake, as we've not seen the original B/W episodes)