Aliens In The Family

A few years after the success of Dinosaurs, The Jim Henson Company tried its hand at another live action/animatronic sitcom. Aliens In The Family last for two episodes on ABC in 1996, before it was pulled from the air (it returned later on Saturdays to finish its short run).

Created by Andy and Susan Borowitz, the show featured in the TGIF strand alongside the newly launched Muppets Tonight.

One of the alien characters was Bobut, an infant with a high IQ who was constantly plotting to rule the world and bestow nasty fates on everyone he lived with. Here’s a picture of him.

Only joshing. This was an alien who lived among humans. This is what he looked like.

Oops, wrong picture again. THIS. This is what he looked like.

Urkel, of all people, didn’t like the show, blaming it, among others, for Family Matters move from ABC to CBS.

When TGIF started off, it was designed to be a night for families, for mothers, fathers, everyone at the end of the week to gather and watch television programs that were wholesome and good enough for everybody. And somewhere along the line, Winnie the Pooh and the Muppets started emerging around us and it became kids’ night. And we lost a lot of credibility.

Anyway, here’s a clip from Aliens In Family, where Bobut is dressed up like ET.

What Was On Telly The Day I Went To University?

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really enjoy my first term at University, and spent a lot of it in the editing suite making my own fun, or in my room watching a portable black and white television. I would have missed most of what was on TV the day I arrived there though, and this is what I didn’t see, thanks to the BBC Genome Project.

There was a repeat in the morning of Dallas: The Final Years, which I guess is just another way of saying the last season. Then a bit later there was something called Won More Time, which looks to be a compilation of clips from game shows. On this particular day, it focused on the show Who’s Bluffing Who?.

And after Animal Hospital and some other gubbins, another quiz show popped up, this one called That’s News To Me. Then the usual run of news, weather, Neighbours, and Knot’s Landing, before Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cakes, and another quiz called The Great British Quiz, hosted by Phillip Hayton.

Later in the evening Noel Edmond’s bought us another episode of Telly Addicts.

I’ve no idea if this was the cosier sofa-based version, or the more glitzy game show type one at this point, but I’m sure someone can tell me.

At half eight though, we were treated to a Best Of The Kenny Everett Television Shows compilation. Then a bit later Billy Connolly continued his World Tour Of Scotland. Omnibus introduced us to Enigma and Robert Harris, a show which I remember seeing, so maybe I was already back in my room by that time. After which, Barry Norman reviewed Forget Paris and Funny Bones, and looked back at the year 1955 on Film 95.

Over on BBC Two, after Prince Valiant and Harry and the Hendersons, Playdays stopped at the Why Bird Stop. Working Lunch was on a bit later, and that’s when Adrian Chiles was still good on the telly.

In a genius piece of scheduling, the Grand Prix highlights were preceded by an episode of Brum. Kudos BBC Two, Kudos.

Today’s The Day, a quiz hosted by Martin Lewis which I watched the crap out of, was sandwiched between the Indoor Bowls coverage.

At six, Space Precinct came on, the Gerry Anderson show, which was on its second episode by this time. And at nine, my favourite episode of The X Files was first broadcast on British TV. It was Duane Barry.

After which Michael Moore attempted to get politician’s to hug him on TV Nation. This segment in fact:

What I remember most about TV Nation was Michael’s promo segments that he filmed for the BBC, aired before Newsnight, trailering his show afterwards. I’m convinced he called Jeremy Paxman a bastard in one of them.

I wish I could find that footage.

What Was On Telly The Day I Was Born?

I was a bit distracted on the day of my birth, so I don’t know what I missed on telly that day. Thanks to the BBC’s Genome Project though, I can have a look and see what was on.

BBC One showed an episode of the Mister Men featuring Mr Mean and Mr Tickle. I can’t remember much about Mr Mean, but I was always rather partial to Mr Noisy’s shoes. And apparently, Mr Noisy lives right next door to Mr Quiet. Sounds like a sitcom premise to me. Anyway, it was a more innocent time …

Because it was a Sunday, there was a lot of religious programming on, before an episode of Parents And Children looked at decoding kid’s drawings. Then after the Farming programme (why are these always on a Sunday too?), this very episode of Erica On Embroidery was on:

Then came the adult literacy show On The Move, featuring none other than Bob Hoskins. I’ve no idea if it was this episode, but this one is about coffee.

Music Man, The High Chaparral, and a documentary about Joe Davis the snooker player followed. Then there was a Blue Peter Special Assignment about the twin towns of Cambridge and Heidelberg, before more religious stuff, and the second episode of series five of The Onedin Line.

The Sunday Film was Triple Cross with Yul Brynner and Christopher Plummer.

After the News, Everyman examined The Salvation Army, before The Editors looked at who controls the news. A quick look at the Weather, and BBC One would have shut down something like this:

There was bugger all on BBC Two.

Mr-Noisy

What Was On Telly Thirty Years Ago Today?

Ever wondered what was on telly exactly thirty years ago? Well, thanks to the BBC’s Genome project, we can have a look at old copies of the Radio Times, and see what was (scheduled, at least) to be broadcast.

A quick scan of the BBC One listings, and we see that this was a time when the BBC still showed live Cricket throughout the day, and that Frank Bough was still presenting Breakfast Time between visits to nefarious houses of iniquity. Tony Hart did some drawing between episodes of Rocky & Bullwinkle, while Kate Copstick popped up on Playschool.

Later on, the kids got a bit of Heidi to watch, before Bruno Brookes took us through the Top Of The Pops. Then one of The Goodies talked to us about Bodymatters (guess which one).

Much later, and just before close down, I was surprised to see there was an episode of Rhoda on. This was a spin-off of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Auntie decided to show us an episode from season two that was first broadcast 11 years before.

Then after the Weather, BBC One went to bed.

Meanwhile, over on BBC Two, there was seven hours of this:

Quark and Captain Nice

Buck Henry won an Academy Award for his screenplay for The Graduate, and co-created the smash hit TV show Get Smart with Mel Brooks. In amongst that though, he created two much more short-lived shows, Quark and Captain Nice.

Quark aired as a mid-season replacement on ABC in February of 1978, and was cancelled less than three months and eight episodes later. It starred Richard Benjamin, as the commander of a trash collecting space ship.

As you can see from the title sequence, it was a clear parody of Star Trek – listen again the music – as well as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars.

It’s on DVD and YouTube if you want to see it for yourself.

A decade earlier, Henry tried his luck with Captain Nice, which happened to air at the same time as CBS’s Mr. Terrific (well, half an hour before it actually).

Here’s a promo for the show too: