Space Invaders

Space Invaders screen shotNot just the name of a crap crisp, Space Invaders were the big video game of the late Seventies and early Eighties. According to wikipedia the game was invented in 1978 (so like the Rubik’s Cube it qualifies for popandcrisps even though it didn’t filter through to most of us until the eighties).

In the original game, strange skull-like aliens in regimented armies would blip across the screen to be shot at by your ship at the bottom, with houses in between that would provide shelter but be gradually destroyed by the alien fire and your own fire.

There are generally two types of rank-file aliens, sometimes more, and a mothership style saucer that flies across the top once in a while. Each time the aliens blip across the screen, they go down another row and get quicker. If they get to the bottom before you’ve shot them all, you’ve lost. They can also shoot you and if you lose all your lives you’ve also lost. After you’ve destroyed all the aliens, another batch appears, which is exactly the same as before so not like going up a level (although in some games they start quicker or lower on each new screen).

The best replica free-web space invaders game I’ve found is this site.  According to that site, the targets in the game were originally soldiers not aliens, but this was thought inappropriate for children to be shooting at.

I had a hand-held space invaders game in about 1982, and before this I would watch the demos in the arcade under my Dad’s flat, him refusing to give me 10p for a game. Other games in the arcade were Tracer and Pac-man and a strange caterpillar game, of which I also loved to watch demos.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

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Advertising in the Seventies

In 1970 TV advertisements were more like cinema ads with the posh voiceovers and orchestral music. Take a look at this precious collection of eight ads. Want to emigrate to Australia or join the men in mining?! The sinister voiceover for Tufty is worrying as his friend gets hit by a car because he didn’t take his mummy with him to the ice cream van. We don’t get these types of scary voices now unless it’s in the advert about not paying your car tax. I wonder what that says about society/government 40 years on?

For mash get smashBy 1976 ads had changed quite a bit and they were more like short films. ‘The family’ was sacrosanct at this time when most were falling apart and the adverts that we saw on TV were either fictionalised sets of idealised family life or images from the past. This montage of seven ads clearly demonstrates the shift. The burger ad here is a classic example of the short film style of ad. The bird in the BT ad is reminiscent of Roobarb & Custard, a very British cartoon. However, the American influence is obvious with the Yorkie and Corona ads, both British companies. The Smash advert is classic ironic sci-fi in which we all believed that robots would replace us in the future.

The 3p Curly Wurly ad with school kids and Terry Scott playing the school boy role is funny. Very ‘Just William’ and possibly true to some school experiences but not mine! More like 1940’s or 50’s. Tufty was replaced by Charley Says, a difference in animation style and also the funny cat made to make you laugh rather than a fluffy toy style squirrel. But still as sexist with the asking mummy business (plus, can you imagine a kid being called Vera now?).

And just in case anyone hasn’t got lost down memory lane already, what about this Thames TV linkage. Classic!


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

The Bionic Woman

Lindsay Wagner as Jaime SommersI named my doll Jamie after Jamie Summers, the bionic woman (although I’ve just found out from Wikipedia that her name was spelled Jaime Sommers). Anyway the fact that I named my one and only doll after her demonstrates how much I loved the character and the programme. Although The Bionic Woman was a spin-off from The Six Million Dollar Man (who cost about as much as a house in London would today so maybe not that expensive), for me Jamie was much more important than Steve Austin. Lindsay Wagner in 2007 receiving TV Land awardJamie was played by Lindsay Wagner who I always thought looked like she could be a member of my family and I imagined being like her when I grew up. And wow, she is still beautiful now. Isn’t it amazing what a bit of bionics can do for you? She only looks a couple of years older than me! One of the things that was excellent about having a bionic woman was that in most of the other action programmes around at the time, the woman would be the victim. But like with Charlie’s Angels and Wonderwoman, this was the new idea that women didn’t always have to be rescued but could rescue themselves. Annoyingly though, they were still soppy over men and swooning as soon as the male rescuer turned up. For instance, the whole reason that Jamie was bionic was because she was Steve’s girlfriend and if she hadn’t been then she’d have just died or been disabled after her skydiving accident. The Bionic Woman with the Bionic DogThere was also a fabulous dog called Maximillion who used to bite through iron bars to escape from the cages he kept getting shut in. When he did this, the film went into slow motion and there was this strange echoing music, the same as when Jamie jumped or listened through her bionic ear. I always marvelled at how he bit through the metal but my mum, ever ready to dispel my sense of wonder, told me that they were probably made of sugar. The Bionic Woman was remade in 2007 but according to Wikipedia was stalled during the Great Writers’ Strike and then didn’t continue. I haven’t watched any of it as I was quite cynical that it might spoil my memories of the original so I can’t comment on whether it’s any good.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Joe 90

Joe 90 on his video coverOf all the supermarionations, my favourite was Joe 90 which was repeated through the Seventies though it was first shown in 1968 and according to Wikipedia only one series was made. So technically if you’re going to be picky I shouldn’t be talking about it here. However, this is my site so I will.

My name being Joe (and I spelled it like that then) and having blonde hair and glasses made me a candidate for being called Joe 90 as an insult. I think it happened twice before the children who were trying to insult me realised that I was pleased to be called Joe 90 and so they stopped. Of course.

Joe 90 inside the space ballThe idea behind Joe 90 was that he was the son of a scientist who created a machine called BIG RAT and these special specs that made him have superpowers and he was a the first Spy Kid.

During the opening sequence Joe was sat inside a big space-age ball, with a bells-and-whistles computer. It all looks laughable now but it definitely has the culty kitsch that will outlast computer fashion.

Joe 90 merchandising packagePersonally I think the whole thing was to get kids to think that glasses were cool. A bit like Popeye and spinach. Sort of. And sell toys of course.

The supermarionations were all interrelated with some of the puppets from one show appearing in the others. Now they are having a major comeback (again) so there’s sure to be more about them soon. It’s showing on Sci Fi UK channel. Like with many of these programmes from when I was a kid, it outshines the modern equivalents by far.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room