Things on Television
Odd details from television, which isn’t exactly movies, but sometimes it comes close…
Friday, 18th November 2011
When bank teller Henry Bemis goes down to the bank vault for some peaceful reading in this Twilight Zone classic episode ‘Time Enough at Last’, he takes with him a newspaper that gives us a good quick explanation of what’s about to go seriously wrong with the world. The headline reads H-Bomb Capable of Total Destruction.
Not much might survive the subsequent apocalypse, but the newspaper itself shows up again, four episodes later, in ‘What You Need’. In this case, it’s the violent loser Renard who has the paper brought to him, hoping to use a mysterious fountain pen to divine the winners of the listed races.
The recurrence of the newspaper might be an in-joke by the programme’s makers, or just a handy reuse of a prop. As the latter episode continues into the evening, however, there’s no chance that the two episodes take place on the same day. (Unless Bemis is still carrying yesterday’s paper…)
Monday, 7th November 2011
In Judgment Night, an episode from the first series of The Twilight Zone, the British Ship SS Queen of Glasgow makes an ill-fated voyage through the dangerous waters of the Atlantic Ocean in 1942.
One odd omission from a British vessel is any mention of tea, and this isn’t entirely by chance. The original screenplay did call feature references to the British sailor’s favoured refreshment, but they were cut.
One of the sponsors at the time was General Foods, who were selling an instant coffee called Sanka, and they objected to this reference to a rival beverage. Eventually, one line was changed to a reference only to a ‘tray for the bridge’, and elsewhere, the characters are seen drinking only coffee.
Monday, 31st October 2011
Following on from the appearance of ‘The Bell Ringers‘, here’s another of Charles Ahrens’s coin-operated machines.
This one is a little more ghoulish; it takes the form of the front wall of a prison, through the door of which we get to watch a condemned prisoner being hanged.
Just as ‘The Bell Ringers’ fitted perfectly with the catholic sensibilities of Graham Greene’s story in Brighton Rock, ‘The Executioner’ suits the themes of The Wench is Dead, one of the later episodes of Inspector Morse, which sees the Oxford detective re-examining a 19th century murder which resulted in the hanging of two men—wrongly, according to Morse.
Wednesday, 26th October 2011
In the first episode of The Twilight Zone, airman Mike Ferris stumbles around a deserted town, unable to either recall who he is, or work out where everybody else has gone.
The town itself should have been familiar to him, though perhaps not as much as it is to film viewers today. The episode was filmed in the Universal Studios backlot known today as Courthouse Square. The set was built in 1948 for An Act of Murder, and by the time this Twilight Zone episode had been filmed, it had already been used for the Ma & Pa Kettle films, as well as B-movies It Came from Outer Space and Tarantula (compare the picture above with the second photo in our post about Tarantula).
The square was later used in To Kill a Mockingbird (which led to it being known temporarily as Mockingbird Square), and in the eighties it appeared in Knight Rider and Gremlins and, most famously, the Back to the Future films, which gave it its current name. You can see the courthouse itself in the still below, albeit without the clock tower: like many features of the square, the clock has come and gone as needed by the various productions.
Jude Law may have recently played Watson in Guy Ritchie’s 2009 film Sherlock Holmes, but this wasn’t his first brush with the great detective. Back in 1991, Law appeared in the Granada television series The Case-book of Sherlock Holmes, with Jeremy Brett in the title role.
In the episode ‘Shoscombe Old Place‘, Jude Law plays Joe Barnes, a young man who comes to a stable looking for work, beause he’d “like to be a jockey more than anything in the world”. At first he’s turned away by stable owner Sir Robert Norberton, but before long he’s back, the young innocent drawn into a sinister scheme involving death, spaniels, and cross-dressing.