Last updated by at .

1990 – Season One

Some years ago, browsing through a second hand bookshop, I stumbled across a TV tie-in book for a show called 1990. I was instantly intrigued. A BBC drama starring Edward Woodward as Jim Kyle, heroic leader of a resistance movement in totalitarian Britain? How is it that I had never heard of this show? And how could I see it? Amazingly, for reasons long forgotten, I didn’t buy the book, but recently, after years of searching I finally got my hands on the series. Created by one of TVs great unsung heroes, Wilfred Greatorex, it ran on BBC2 for two season of eight episodes broadcast in 1977/8. But although 1990 was on at exactly the same time as Secret Army, a show with which it shares many similarities and themes and on which Greatorex was a creative consultant, it has aged far less well. The first problem is Gretorex’s opening two parter. It’s strong on character and ambience but frustratingly free of details. Who are the totalitarian rulers, how did they come to power, what are their objectives, how do they exert control? It’s only over the course of the first eight episodes that the details are, sparsely, pencilled in, and then it’s done so piecemeal, by different writers, that it’s hard to extract a definitive statement. But as the picture clears we are presented with a very sub-Orwell collection of oppressors. In the series’ fictional timeline the Unions have brought the country to a standstill. The economy has totally collapsed, and a strong arm, union-led left wing government has taken power. No one can work, buy food or be...

Farscape: What TV Was Invented For

Written halfway through Season Three, this article was a Starburst cover feature, designed to alert people that Farscape was well worth tuning in for. I later wrote a whole book on Farscape. In an age when each autumn bombards us with new Sci-Fi shows clamouring for our attention it’s hard to know which ones are worth the time and effort. A common tactic is to watch all the pilots and only follow those shows whose opening effort demonstrates real originality, or a spark that seems to promise greater things. Of course some shows get off to a great start and then lose the plot – Star Trek Voyager springs gruesomely to mind – but at least that way you get to see the best and avoid the rest. No one really knew what to expect from the Farscape premiere. Puppets were supposed to be a big part of the show and that didn’t inspire confidence. Plus it was filmed in Australia, and who ever heard of a great Australian TV show, let alone Aussie Sci-Fi. The cast were all unknowns and the production company, Jim Henson productions, had only had one real success, The Muppets, which didn’t bode well for their ability to handle mature, adult drama. Perhaps most worrying of all, the show was devised by Rockne S. O’Bannon, the man responsible for Seaquest DSV, and we all know what a mess that turned out to be. As it transpired, we were presented with Buck Rogers redux. The main character, Crichton, was a square jawed all-American hero who seemed to promise self-sacrificing heroics, Kirk style seductions and Gil Gerard...