Sunday, 16 February 2020

You Say Potato, I Say Potatoe

On the 15th June 1992, then-Vice President of the United States Dan Quayle, on the campaign trail for that year's presidential election, visits Muñoz Rivera Elementary School and commits one of the most famous political gaffes in history when he "corrects" a 12-year-old pupil's spelling of 'potato' to 'potatoe'.

Ten days later, Fox airs a repeat of The Simpsons; appropriately enough, the episode is "Two Cars In Every Garage, Three Eyes On Every Fish". The blackboard joke in the opening sequence is usually "I will not xerox my butt", but for this repeat, a new joke is hastily added: "It's 'potato', not 'potatoe'". (On the 18th June there was a repeat of "Bart the Lover", which uses a shortened intro with no blackboard gag; presumably nobody had thought of the joke at that point, it was deemed too much work to completely re-edit the opening, or there wasn't enough time to do so.)

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Humongous Replay Value

"Play again and again. New puzzles, new friends and new challenges await each time you play!"

Those words, or something along those lines, appeared on the covers of the large majority of Humongous Entertainment's point-and-click adventure games for children (latterly known as the Junior Adventures range), released between 1992 and 2003. But just how much replay value was there to be had? How many times could you hypothetically play the same game and not get the same set-up twice? How many unique configurations did each game have? Shall we go through each game and find out?

Monday, 6 January 2020

Edit Wars #13

7 - 13 August 2000: The main competition part of the fourth series of Robot Wars is filmed.

14 - 15 August 2000: Various specials and side tournaments for the same series are filmed. This includes the Sumo Basho tournament, which will be broadcast across the first eight heats.

The fact that the non-competition stuff is filmed after all the fighting, but most of it broadcast first, would not be a problem... were it not for this.

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Weekly Ending / Best of 2019

It was always my intention to start writing a blog some day. Several of the pieces I have written over the last few years have existed as ideas in my head for anything up to a decade before I finally got around to them here; it was not until I answered a question Andrew Ellard had about an adventure gamebook on Twitter that I found I needed a space to write something, and once I had the space I decided to set myself the totally arbitrary target of seeing how long I could keep it updated at least once a week for.

To my surprise, that has turned out to be very slightly more than exactly three years and (including this one) exactly 200 posts, and the magic of pre-scheduled posts has finally run out; going forward, the blog will not be updated weekly, but whenever I happen to have a new thing to talk about, or I can finally afford to shell out for the eighties obscurity I want to discuss, or when the BBC finally start answering my e-mails about releasing all two thousand hours of Robot Wars rushes.

Until then: Much thanks to, apart from Mr Ellard for providing the impetus to start the thing in the first place, John Hoare, Wesley Mead, Steve Williams, Ian Symes, Darrell Maclaine-Jones, Tim Byrne, Jonathan Green, Rebecca Fisher and everyone else who has ever left a nice comment on an article, linked to something I've written on somewhere far more widely-read, checked a specific copy of an adventure gamebook to see if it still has a mistake the earlier printings did or given me some interesting information about late changes to a TV schedule. You've all been very kind, and I doubt the blog would have kept going for so long without you. Beneath the cut, you will find a selection of my favourite pieces from the last year; hopefully, there'll be something new along soon.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

The Chronicles of the Chronicles of Narnia on the BBC

The very first adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was broadcast on the BBC Home Service in September 1959, as part of their Children's Hour strand. It lasted for 6 40-minute episodes, adapted by pioneering radio producer and writer Lance Sieveking, and as you might expect, nothing is known to survive of it today. (Sieveking's Wikipedia article states that the adaptation he did was of The Magician's Nephew, but this appears to be an error based on a 2005 Guardian article about the forthcoming film.)

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Christmas Clue Cuts

Christmas Day 2003: I'm Sorry I Haven't a Christmas Carol makes its premiere on BBC Radio 4. It is quite a remarkable accomplishment by writers Graeme Garden and Iain Pattinson - using a comedy panel show as the template for an adaptation of A Christmas Carol, with chairman Humphrey Lyttelton cast as Ebenezer Scrumph, regular panellists Garden, Barry Cryer and Tim Brooke-Taylor as (amongst many other roles) the Ghosts of Christmas Pissed, Present and Queen Boadicea (The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come having been delayed due to unforeseen circumstances), and regular pianist Colin Sell as Colin Crotchit, with Stephen Fry as the narrator and other members of the show's extended family of semi-regular panellists making up the rest of the cast.

October 2004: I'm Sorry I Haven't a Christmas Carol is released on CD and audio cassette, as a specially extended edition boasting "over 20 minutes of never-before-heard material".

December 2019: Some idiot with an arbitrary target of keeping his blog updated once a week for as long as possible decides to write something on that extended edit.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

27 on 4 2

Well, Channel 4's premiere of Season 27 of The Simpsons started on the 4th November, and wrapped up on the Tuesday just gone. Before it started, I used all my mystic powers to predict what episodes might be censored, or even dropped altogether, and now it's time to look back and see just how accurate I was. I can't say this is a definitive list of all the censorship cuts, but it probably covers everything worth mentioning (I didn't manage to catch their showing of "'Cue Detective", but I can't think of any cuts they might have made to that anyway).

Sunday, 1 December 2019

A Comprehensive Guide to Doctor Who Repeats on the BBC, 1963-1989

Back in the day, of course, if you missed an episode of Doctor Who that was it. No VCRs, no catch-up services, nothing. You'd have to get a friend to re-enact it for you in the playground, wait for the Target book to come out, or hope the BBC repeated it at some point. Would you like a list of every time that last thing happened?