Trust the Gene Genie

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bat's breath!

Who remembers the old '80s show "Voyagers"?

I don't know who in our household started watching it, but I can remember being 7 years old and sitting down every week to watch it and absolutely loving it. In fact, to this day when I hear the word "omni" I think if "Voyagers" first and the Book of Mormon second. It was a pretty great show.

Anyway, it's now out of DVD so Becky and I have been checking them out. Now keep in mind that I've dragged Becky along on these little strolls down memory lane before. You know, renting the shows you thought were brilliant as a kid to relive the childhood that's far into the past.

For every show that holds up to the test of time ("Greatest American Hero") there's 10 that simply suck on just about every possible level ("The Fall Guy" -- such a disappointment). So putting in "Voyagers" last week I didn't quite know what to expect. It could have been pretty bad.

I mean, the show is pretty high-concept for '80s television. Jeffrey, a 10-year-old orphan in 1983 finds Phineas Bogg, a guy in a vest and knee boots, who has just crashed through the window of his New York high-rise. Turns out he's a Voyager, a time traveller that goes around fixing history when it goes wrong. Using the omni device that flashes red or green depending on what needs fixed. Reluctantly, he takes the kid with him and off they go fixing history.

Well, the show has held up suprisingly well. And it's amazing what sticks out in your head 25 years on. Jeffrey's red and white striped shirt and white Nikes were instantly recognizable and the shot of Bogg and the kid flying through space when they time traveled was printed idelably on my memory. That image always stuck out. Wierd. And every episode ends with Jeffrey imploring the viewers to visit their local libraries and learn about the real history highlighted in the show. I'd totally forgotten about that but the second I heard it, it took straight back to being a kid. Crazy.

Anyway, as for the show itself, the acting is pretty bad and the producation values are understandably low, but the stories are a lot of fun -- not as predictable as you'd think -- and the chemistry between Bogg and the kid is surprisngly strong. It's been a lot of fun to watch. So, don't be afraid, go ahead and rent it. It shouldn't wreck any childhood memories.

Now on to something a little more current. Although, unintentionally this has something to do with time travel as well.

"Life on Mars." Ever heard of it? No? Well, that's about to change. It's a BBC 1 show that's getting an American remake for the upcoming television season. It ran earlier this year on BBC America.

Anyway, the show is absolute genius. It starts off in 2006 in Manchester. Sam Tyler, a hot-shot police detective is hot on the trail of serial killer when he gets hit by a car. When he wakes up it's 1973. The show's central mystery revolves around Tyler trying to figure out if he's in a coma in 2006 and just dreaming, has actually traveled back in time to 1973 or if he's just completely crazy.

It takes the tired old police procedural and completely turns the genre on its head. It's a lot of fun. Moreso because of Sam's boss in 1973, Gene Hunt. He just steals the show -- one of the most quotable characters in TV from the last 10 years. He's brilliant.

Anyway, I know what you're wondering. How can I see it? Producers have yet to release the show on DVD on the this side of the pond and it's completed its run on BBC America. Well, never fear. Thanks to YouTube, you can watch most of the show from start to finish. Like most British shows, it had a limited run -- two seasons. And each season is only eight episodes long. The guy that posted them all to YouTube gets lazy from time to time and you're left with only highlights of some episodes instead the whole thing. But most shows are intact and it's totally worth your time. But be warned. It's Brittish, which means the language can get a little rough. Although, they never drop the f-bomb. So that's something.

I'll get you started:


moonsover said...

Rob! Way to strike a chord with me, on both counts!

I LOVED Voyagers as a kid too. Really, along with Manimal, it was one of my all time iconic shows. Other shows like Greatest American Hero, The Fall Guy, Dukes of Hazzard, The Incredible Hulk were great, but more ... mainstream? Everybody seems to remember them. (Can't beat the Fall Guy's theme song, though.)

Oddly, the thing I remember very most about Voyagers is how Jon-Erik Hexum died. Seriously, every other time I see someone on tv or the movies fire a prop-pistol, I think of him shooting himself in his head with a gun filled with blanks. It was such a loss in my young life. It's like he's my Princess Di. (My JFK is the Challenger shuttle.) (Oddly, Kurt Cobain is not my John Lennon. Neither is Tupac - in case you were wondering. I don't really have one of those.)

Anyway, I'm ecstatic it holds up.

As for Life on Mars, Jenny and I (through the magic of bitTorrent) watched all the episodes last year. Thought it was great. I have a real weakness for British shows. Ok, that's not completely true. I have a real weakness for what I consider good British shows ... which basically means I like the shows I like and sometimes they're British. Which basically is not insightful at all.

Have you seen Hustle? It's a British con-artist dramedy that's kinda cheesy and mostly unbelievable, but something I couldn't get enough of. It's a poor man's tv version of Ocean's 11 or the Italian Job.

On another note, and I don't know if you feel this way, but why is it not offensive when the Brits swear? It's like when American shows swear, it's all done in anger, for shock, or for grossness. They swear like they think it makes them awesome. To the Brits, though, swear words are just extra adjectives. Normal as can be. Maybe they've been swearing for so many centuries more than us, that it's no longer a big deal.

TheRobRogers said...

It's good to have you, Ham. And it should be noted that the world still needs Manimal. (Why did you leave us?)

I've heard of Hustle and now with your recommendation I will check it out. And so true about the Brits swearing. Maybe it's because everything sounds more intelligent when said with a Welsh accent.

moonsover said...

Great news. I'm watching Psych right now and they just dropped a Manimal reference. As silly and over the top as Psych is, there are a few things I appreciate about it:

1. It doesn't take itself seriously.
2. Gus and Shawn's bantering relationship.
3. The 80's nostalgia references. They make me laugh out loud every episode.

Diana said...

Did you know that Meeno Peluce is Punky Brewsters half brother (with a name like Meeno he should be someones half brother...) Not surprising really.
Rob I don't remember Voyagers. I feel shafted. But I did watch the first episode on youTube and truly enjoyed it. Thank you.
Hustle is fun. Its totally a poor mans Oceans 11 AND British. Enough said.
I also feel shafted that Jon-Erik Hexum is dead. All the shows he would've made with that gorgeous face gone! What could've been haunts me still.

mike struth said...

yes I remember watching voyagers when it originally aired I too loved the show and watched it every week. Also I remember well the sad and untimely death of jon erik hexum. I tecently rediscovered the voyagers show on retro tv prompting me to buy the complete series on dvd now I can relive the past both mine and this great show by watching over and over anytime I want!!

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