British Invaders 288: 1990 (Part 2)

1990 was a dystopian BBC series from 1977 and 1978. Reporter Jim Kyle (played by Edward Woodward) fights against the British authoritarian regime of the near future.

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2 Responses to British Invaders 288: 1990 (Part 2)

  1. Steve Taylor says:

    You mean authoritarian not Right wing. This podcast is really spoiled by the sixth form politicing……..

  2. Eric Pavlyak says:

    Hello Chaps!
    I have been listening to your excellent podcast for years, although I have not offered feedback till now. Don’t feel bad as in all these years I have only given feedback to one podcast before now. The Facebook bit always put me off, although now I am on Facebook (a late arrival) I felt compelled to congratulate the two of you for all of your hard work in providing your retrospective reviews of classic British sci-fi oriented (not orientated? I hear that a lot!) television shows. Many of these I grew up with and watched in the UK (although I now live in Canada) and being born in 1963, I saw many of the programs discussed on ‘first run’. Which brings me to your review of the BBC series ‘1990’. I came across what I think was season 2 because the BBC ran it right after each episode of ‘Blake’s Seven’ (showing on BBC1) on BBC2. The BBC1 announcer described enough about ‘1990’ to make me switch channel, and although it was barely ‘sci-fi’, I was gripped immediately by this very interesting take on ‘1984’ updated to appear as a very recognisable and potential near future. Since then, having seen Edward Woodward in ‘Callan’, ‘The Whicker Man’, and to some extent ‘The Equalizer’, and a guest appearance alongside his son Peter Woodward in the ‘Babylon Five’ spin-off ‘Crusade’, I realise that he is just an incredible actor that is sorely missed since his passing. I even enjoyed his guest hosting appearance on the BBC1 sunday night Christian worship show (‘Highway’ I think) which I would have never watched without knowing he was on it. On top of that, the other actors were excellent dramatic actors, and the stories by creator Wilfred Gretorex just made a naive 14/15 year old like myself feel intelligent. Barely any sci-fi as I said, but brilliant writing. It was ‘slow’ but did not suffer for it, possibly because it followed an episode of ‘Blake’s Seven’ which gave me the sci-fi soap opera hit that i needed in the previous hour. The better (usually Boucher’s) dialogue scenes of ‘Blake’ just set me up for something deeper, and ‘1990’ delivered. To the best of my recollection, I came on board with season 2 of ‘1990’ which was started airing possibly a couple of weeks into season 1 of ‘Blake’. I had no trouble being pulled into this scary dystopian version of the UK, with the clever dialogue and realistic character portrayals completely compensating for the complete lack of special effects, spacecraft and laser guns, and painted a very realistic portrayal of, as I said, a realistic potential future United Kingdom. I quickly found the two novelisations, which I have read a number of times. So I have to point out that having since seen the first and second series of ‘1990’ on YouTube, do appear to cover every episode of each of the two seasons – not just an episode or two each – unlike the first ‘Blake’s Seven’ book, which if I remember correctly on got up to rescuing the crew from Cygnus Alpha (perhaps three episodes). How Gretorex was able to pack so much into each book without losing anything must be a testament to his brilliant writing. When I viewed both seasons of ‘1990’ on YouTube, I did not see anything covered that was not in the two novels. On viewing, the only aspects that surprised me were the plot twists that I had forgotten from last reading the books. On my initial viewing I always felt that ‘1990’ was like a distant prequel to ‘Blake’ and it was a development of that world which gave rise to the Earth Federation in ‘Blake’, perhaps two hundred years later. In addition, the ‘Servalan’ type character reinforced that feeling. Great that you also noticed that. I also have to mention that the BBC TV mini-series you covered with Benedict Cumberbatch (‘The Last Enemy’) feels rather similar to ‘1990’ – although updated for more recent time. Thank guys, I would have not known about that series without your fine review. I still have to track down ‘The Guardians’, which you also mentioned in your review of ‘1990’. One last comment about British TV drama. A certain ‘Blake’s Seven’ podcast hosted a comment that quite often “Blake’ was like the ITV drama “The Sandbaggers’ in space – lots of people talking in rooms and minimal action scenes. I instantly sought it out on YouTube and was lucky to find all two or three seasons available to view. I have to agree. It is not sci-fi at all, being an MI5/Whitehall drama show rather like ‘Callan’, or perhaps ‘Spooks’ but with less action. But it does hit the same drama spot for me that ‘Blake’, ‘1990’, ‘Callan’, and even ‘Star Cops’ do. I thoroughly recommend it to your listeners, although as I wrote, it has no sci-fi trappings at all. Well I have written tons of un-paragraphed words for you to parse so best leave it at that. I am afraid to ‘hit Return’ in case it posts! Thanks again for taking time in producing what is for me a most insightful podcast. I hope you never run out of shows to cover. Sorry about any typos – the font is a bit small for my ageing eyes. I tried to post right onto your Facebook page, but could not find anywhere I might type my comments. Cheerio Gentlemen. Keep up the good work. Regards, Eric Pavlyak (Toronto).

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