28 November 2007

Some favourites from my childhood

Following on from yesterday's list (and me only having heard of about three of the children's BAFTA winners) it got me thinking about some of the tv programmes and films I loved as a kid. I'll try and include only the non-obvious and obscure and avoid Star Wars, which cam out at exactly the right age for me and made me realise that film could be more than Disney Real Life Adventures and that space didn't look just like Earth (Dr Who) or like a set from The Magic Roundabout (Star Trek).

This list is totally random, not a definitive list and in no particular order. It's just ones I've thought off the top of my head.

Ulysses 31 - Japanese/French sci-fi cartoon based on Homer's "Odyssey". Ulysses is banished to the furthest side of the Universe and has to travel back to Earth, break the curse on his spaceship crew (frozen via Hades, facing monsters after killing the cyclops whilst saving his kids. All sorts of space monsters (Greek Gods) were battled and adventures ensued, with the help of what I still think is the coolest little robot in science fiction: the tiny red No-No, who made a funny noise when he ran around. From memory the animation was better than most cartoons around at the time. Really exciting and quite different. Mad theme tune too!

Return to Witch Mountain - Disney caper. I have no idea what happened but I missed then going to Witch Mountain the first time. This was an adventure about a brother and sister, Tony and Tia from outer space with special psycho-kinetic powers. Bette Davies and Christopher Lee were the baddies and they kidnap Tony to use his powers for a bank robbery or something, controlling him through hypnosis. Tia meets a street gang of young scamps who spend the film trying to rescue the brother.

As in all Disney films of it's ilk, all but one of the adults are baddies, the main villains, the truancy bloke trying to get the street urchins into school etc. The effects were probably terrible: people being levitated into the air by the power of the kids minds, and the like, but I thought it was cool enough for me to buy (and read!) the book. It stared those two kids who seemed to be in everything (Ike Eisenmann and Kim Richards). And it inspired many a playground game. Oh, how I wanted powers like that! I think I saw a clip on Screen Test and had to see it!

Battle of the Planets - Americanised version of the Japanese Gatchaman, BotP was just cool. Five kids with special powers fighting the evil Zoltan from thr planet Spectra, as G-Force the gang had a spaceship that could turn into the Fiery Phoenix for some reason and they made a human pyramid and spun around , that increased their powers or something. I never really knew what was going on but it was great. This was probably due to the fact that the American version was censored, with all the violent bits deemed fine of Japanese kids was too much for the English speaking world and were replaced by a robot in a space station giving G-Force advice. Another playground favourite. And everyone tried to do the Keyop voice! I used to fancy Princess too!

Glitterball - From the Children's Film Foundation, makers of many memorable Saturday morning films. A group of kids help a sentient silver ball (think Phantasm without the spikes) escape scientists looking to harness its power and go back into space where it came from. A magical big ball-baring, really. The alien ball is scared and lost but so realises the children are there to help. This was made before Spielberg's ET. Kids chase adults and magic helps them out again, I guess I liked these kind of stories. I read the book of this too. See, watching TV inspires reading!

The Amazing Cosmic Awareness of Duffy Moon - I really don't remember too mu8ch about this except the phrase "You can do it Duffy Moon, you can do it" repeated over and over. It was something about a little kid who was bullied but through the power of positive thinking could do things he never thought possible. Like running faster, getting the girl and growing taller! Funny the things you remember. (Also starred Ike Eisenmann, told you he was in everything).

Alarm in the Danube Delta - East German morning kids TV serial about a coule of kids in canoes. Apart from the bad dubbing that's all I remember. But the reason I remember it is cos me and my brother used to play at being the two boys on a boating lake one summer holiday.

Red Hand Gang - kids versus adults again. Solving crimes. The oldies won't believe these urchins but they always save the day in the end. Each kid had a quirk and specialism that helped out, like a young A-Team! I'm sure one of the stories was about a monkey who could communicate with sign language... maybe.

Press Gang - This came a bit later but a great comedy drama about the workings of a school newspaper. the straight-laced editor (played by Julia Sawalha - who I fancied at the time too!) was always battling to keep the paper running, keep the staff in check and keep the stories true. The attentions of Dexter Fletcher, the American schoolkid who she couldn't stand/fancied the pants off didn't help.

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