Life on Mars

Another week in lock down is over and it feels kind of unreal in a way, I think living off the suburbs gives a slightly off-key view on the events. Everyone in our own little living spaces not going out unless wearing protective gear it kind of makes me think of Colonisation sci-fi in a way.

My visual feast has been sort of continuing, earlier in the week I watched episode 1 of “Pathfinders in Space”, a 1960 kids sci-fi serial which stars Gerald Flood, was produced by Sidney Newman, and written by Malcolm Hulke & Eric Paice. You would be forgiven for thinking that I am going on an early British Sci-fi streak having watched “Spaceways” not so long ago, but I assure this is a pure coincidence. “Pathfinders in Space” is in fact the second in a series of four sci-fi serials written by Hulke and Paice, the first being “Target Luna” which “Pathfinders” refers back to on several occasions. Although the previous serial is merely recapped and doesn’t really affect the narrative I thought it unusual because it was unlikely “Target Luna” had been repeated and it was long before home video was about so the programme would have probably been forgotten about. Since “Pathfinders in Space” is primarily a children’s program with an educational element mixed in there is quite a bit of simple explanation as to how rockets work, G-Force etc, but it is worth pointing out that the serial went out in 1960 when the space race was getting into full swing and it would be a full year before Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, so manned space missions although near were still science fiction. As a show it is a little dated with the pacing something to be desired and for a children’s show it is incredibly wordy, but in other respects it is remarkable restrained in ambition, the rocket launch is for a moon landing and “Target Luna” had simply been about launching a rocket to do an orbit around the moon. I shall see how it all unfolds as it goes on, it is certainly worth watching from a historical point of view if nothing else. The following two serials “Pathfinders to Mars” and “Pathfinders to Venus” may not fair so well, “Target Luna” is a lost show but the “Pathfinders” collection does have the scripts as pdf documents.

The “Pathfinders in Space” collection was released by Network and came be purchased on Amazon or at the Network website http://www.networkdvd.co.uk

Thursday night I watched an episode of the 1965 BBC Sherlock Holmes series which starred Dougas Wilmer as Holmes and Nigel Stock as Dr Watson, Wilhmer’s portrayal of Holmes is held in high regard and from my point of view he certainly gives the definitive Holmes (Jeremy Brett) a run for his money. The episode in question was “The Devil’s Foot” which is a 1910 story which was included in the book “His Last Bow” and is a rather good tale which gets Holmes and Watson out of Baker’s Steet and London and into the fresh air of the Cornish coast for some rest and recuperation. Naturally this doesn’t go according to plan as the local Vicar calls them to investigate a strange case where a woman has died and the other two members of the family have gone mad. The story is easily fleshed out for the 50 minute duration and the BBC in-house style of the time does not really affect the production, in fact the episode appears to have a unusually large amount of location work for the time and the studio match doesn’t jar too badly either. Perhaps the only real let down is that the flashback sequences at the end when the case is solved aren’t edited together well and seem a little disjointed.

Last night I watch the 1920 German Expressionist Silent Movie “The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari” which I bought in a cheap boxset of silent movies years ago in a sale at the local Virgin Megastore (yes that long ago). The print isn’t the best in the world but it is certainly watchable and it is a curious film which is full of interesting visuals and a wonderfully weird set design giving the piece a surreal almost dreamlike (nightmare-like) quality. The plot is fairly simple and I can’t help but think that the surprise twist ending is a bit of a cop out but it is certainly worth a watch. The version I have is rather odd in that it is one of the famous prints where a number of sequences are played at double speed meaning that although the film has no cuts it shorter than it should be, later releases did of course resolved this issue.

The DVD was released by BFI Video and contains all the surviving episodes, plus reconstructions of two incomplete episodes plus five audio commentaries including contributions by Douglas Wilmer himself.

Last night I watch the 1920 German Expressionist Silent Movie “The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari” which I bought in a cheap boxset of silent movies years ago in a sale at the local Virgin Megastore (yes that long ago). The print isn’t the best in the world but it is certainly watchable and it is a curious film which is full of interesting visuals and a wonderfully weird set design giving the piece a surreal almost dreamlike (nightmare-like) quality. The plot is fairly simple and I can’t help but think that the surprise twist ending is a bit of a cop out but it is certainly worth a watch. The version I have is rather odd in that it is one of the famous prints where a number of sequences are played at double speed meaning that although the film has no cuts it shorter than it should be, later releases did of course resolved this issue.

In order to keep myself in shape I have been doing a little bit of weight lifting with some dumbbells I purchased a couple of years ago, well I say dumbbells- at the moment I can only find one so my exercise involves a lot of switching the dumbbell between arms but it is better then nothing. I have also been doing more in the garden weeding the flower and vegetable beds and removing intrusive plants from between the slabs and edges of the walls. This process wound the dogs up no end and they were barking for a solid 30 minutes until they’d worn themselves out (I locked them in the house but they were watching through the dining room window.

Since lock-down (actually slightly before) the most frequent thing I am being asked is “Have you signed the pledge???” or a variation of because I haven’t had a beer or any form of booze having stuck to Tea, fruit juice and water with the occasional cup of Ovaltine before bed to help me sleep. There is no particular reason I am not drinking other than the pubs being closed as I am mostly a social drinker and have never been a big one for drinking at home. So lockdown has certainly made me a lot healthier on that front I guess.

I have roughly measured the inside of the greenhouse and I think the air mattress will fit in, so should the warmer nights kick in I may well do my nocturnal observation on the local wildlife.

3 thoughts on “Life on Mars

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s