Posts from 20th December 2005

Dec 05

THE FT TOP 13 ENDINGS: 8: The Ending of TV Serials You Never Saw

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There was a time when if you missed a telly show, you really MISSED that show. Even when domestic video recorders came along in the late 70s this didn’t really change things that often. If you’d missed something there was never a way to find someone who had coincidentally recorded that show, and by a stroke of luck they had a Philips Video 2000 recorder too. To make things worse (and going even more TV Cream on you) the long running serials for kids that they showed in the 70s during the summer holidays were not programmed to take account of the fact that some regions went back to school at different times. And it doesn’t matter that someone told you how it ended in the playground, you have to see it, cos anyway they are rubbish at explaining it, and the magic just doesn’t work without the colours and the moving shapes…

Now there are cheap-ass DVD manufacturers churning out all this telly from the pre VHS era, and not just the classic Quatermasses. Things like The Omega Factor (British 70s X-Files sort of thing), The Tomorrow People (homo-erotic kids sci-fi with amazing theme tune), The Children of The Stones (another 70s fantasy show obsessed with standing stones). And I’m willing to bet that for every one of these sold to someone with fond memories of the whole show, there are FIVE poor bastards who only want to watch the last episode, to finally get it out of their system 30 years later.

Of course this is just the closing step in the capitalist trap of the serial story, Dickens blah blah, that seems to be coming back into fashion with big telly serials of late (24, Lost, Dr Who). But there is a real swizz factor with these pricey DVDs. Thank heavens for stealing telly via BitTorrent, eh readers? And although the real trick in selling a serial would be to never let it end, a part work of the infinite, it is the discontinuity of an end, even worse, an end you never actually see, that endures in the memory.

I have now finally cauterised those open wounds, those missing telly finales that I have been carrying around in my head all this time. I know how Sapphire & Steel end up looking out of a cafe window into the star-field in the title sequence, trapped in infinity with no way out. I know that the girl in The Changes pleads with the spirit of Merlin trapped in a rock to return Britain back to its modern ways. I’ve seen how The Children of The Stones ends with the double-whammy “Did it all really happen?” + “It is starting again” combo (for both of which see the Top Endings later on I’m sure).

They were all crushingly disappointing of course. Readers – do not do as i have done. Leave those endings a mystery and you’ll be more the happier.

THE FT TOP 13 ENDINGS: 9: You Have Been Watching

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It is the last minute of Are You Being Served. Captain peacock appears to have ended up in a ridiculous situation, and Mrs Slocomb has mentioned her pussy. John Inman makes a double entendre and the studio audience go wild. Good luck to them all. And then the theme tune kicks in, all Pink Floyd cash registers but better.

And what does it say on the screen?


This perturbed me much as a child. How did they know that I had been watching. Did it say it when I was not watching. Soon the relatively simple philosophy behind the presence of the phrase unraveled to me, I realised that if I had not been watching I could not see the message. It was almost as if this statement, conditional on how my presence, had a mind of its own. It fascinated me.

And then my Dad told me it referred tot he cast. I had been watching John Inman, Wendy Richard and all the girls who played Old Mr Grace’s helpers. Nevertheless, I prefer my reading, and have been looking for plates ever since which say “You Have Been Eating” on the base.

… to put away childish things

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“While boys often expressed nostalgia and affection toward Action Man… renouncing Barbie appeared to be a rite of passage for many girls”