Monday, 28 August 2017



Dr Who as a Woman
– The Unwinnable Argument –

You know the old saying you can't argue with a woman. So don't bother. So I won't. Making Dr Who a woman seems to be part of a trend lately in transgender character alteration, started last year with the remake of a all girly Ghostbusters movie and probably a whole bunch of other things. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy watching female driven roles in my dramas as much as the next PC wheelchair bound ethnic minority. Its not a big deal.

Sigourney Weaver in the Alien Franchise and Carrie Fisher, paved the way for women to take the power back, in a time when most women were portrayed as flimsy eye candy to harden guys dicks after blowing up a lot of expensive film sets and reaffirming a mans ego, in a male hero saturated film and TV industry.


As a man, a blokey bloke, the problem with Dr Who changing sex is simply that I can't argue with it. Its done and dusted and any opposition to the notion throws me into a tight grip of post neo feminist apocalyptica. So I'm fighting this battle firmly from behind the sofa, because there's nothing more terrifying I can think of, than a female Dr Who.

This unholy sacrilege, this mere whim if an idea - has nothing to do with feminism or girl power - its simply middle class PC twaddle, by the same rhetoric of our Tory government, that attempts to keep everyone happy, so we'll keep on voting, all designed to dull the mind, to nullify ones inner child.  And still blokes can't argue with it, because its all PC wow.

Welcome to 1984 - where You wont be able to argue with anything against the party line but maybe after reading this article, you the reader, (male or female) may have enough ammunition to throw back.  Because the lass they've gotten to pull it off as Mrs Who will I'm sure, do a sterling job and surprise everyone with her amazing Dr Who-ness and Dr Who might carry on like that for a while, while simultaneously losing so many loyal fans that it will quietly and serenely wither away, like a transgender dog that crawls under the house to die.


I recently saw an old clip of comedian Lenny Henry do his black Dr Who spoof. What surprised me the most was how brilliant and workable his portrayal actually was. Strangely it worked! In an alternate black dominated Universe, this might be the norm. We as men have a tough time dealing with girls getting in on our act. Just like the days of Shakespeare, where all actors, male or female were all played by men, yet we had a Queen governing our country.

Shakespeare today, uses all male leads as a jest of irony: we spoof it up and make fun of the concept, just as ludicrously as we once thought of a black man playing our beloved Dr Who. 

But if Lenny Henry could prove the feasibility of a Black Dr Who then why not a  female one?  Hmm, it pushes the boundaries a bit. Would we accept a male Wonder Woman (?) sorry I mean Wonder-Man.

But wait before you lynch me with sexism lassoo's, you might want to ask yourself – why is a spoof black Doctor more feasible than a female one? Or even an Indian one? Or a Chinese? In the 21st Century we have born witness to the first black president of the United States and who knows maybe a one-day, (If Trump hasn’t blown us all up) we might even see a female one.  

But this article is not about black guilt or Suffragettes, or breaking boundaries with female Presidents or some clever clever Shakespeare twist. 

I am concerned ultimately, that with changing the sex of the lead role (in a well established Tv series) will only divide an already divided fan base even further.

In other words, its simply the BBC's subtle way of killing off the series, by divide and conquer, to make way for more episodes of Gardeners World or whatever. They did it before in the 1980's by draining Dr Who dry to make way for East Enders and when the public pulled ranks (in opposition to BBC Controller  Michael Grades decision to axe the series), the BBC simply drained it altogether and made it so terrible and embarrassing to watch, that nobody would want to take it seriously anyway. They even threw in Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy for good measure to totally destroy the series credibility and gave them virtually no time to establish their characters what so ever.

To add further insult, they even went as far as to actually destroy original master tapes of significant Dr Who episodes, (a standard procedure to re-use tapes) yet some survived this cull, due to sympathetic staff, rescuing them from skips and such. If the British Broadcasting Corporation had had their way, there would be no Dr Who, no archive and no legacy, just a forgotten Tv series that your parents vaguely remember as being totally shit, apart from ‘that Cave Bird in the leopard skins’.

You only have to check out episode six of Quatermass II to get some idea of how half-assed the BBC can actually be, when it came to taking Science Fiction seriously (but that's another story).

Nevertheless, you can never totally off kill an idea and the indomitable will of Russell T Davis made a small triumph by returning Dr Who to our screens in super duper CGI wow. And made the series credible again. Now a whole new Millennium generation have grown up following that revival. Most I suspect, have never even seen an original episode nor are they ever likely to (due to its slow pace, non CGI not so wowness). That is also part of the problem. Fickle viewers, the social media generation, used to quick cuts, slick one-liners and the Matrix style of fighting your enemy's.

In the ratings war, competition is life and death. But instead of supporting the fans, the series has already gained, the BBC has once again pulled 'operation Michael Grade'. That is to Divide and Conquer yet again.

Dr Who has fallen fowl of not only Political correctness but of the absurdity of Nowness: that somehow everything is better, if its brand spanking new and disposable. So bin Your old Vinyl records and a get Spotify etc get the new I-phone super slim, super breakable. But all it achieves is to leave one without a culture, or a history in a world where all that matters is what’s happening in the now -even if it’s not that good. So they (the faceless unaccountables) try to demean the history and culture of Dr Who by chucking a sexy woman at it and see if anybody notices. Fuck it. Why not just change everything? Its hip – its Now.

Trouble is once you start tinkering with an established format and changing the iconic things that make Dr Who work, it ceases to be Dr Who anymore: A point made a few years ago when several designers tried to re-invent the Daleks with spider legs and binned their iconic pepper pot shapes altogether, in favour of some tank looking things– dismissing the fact that  the original Shawcraft aesthetic pleased fans immensely, (which cemented the success of the series in the first place) and their original appeal spurned the huge Dalek Mania phenomenon of the 1960s. Another attempt more recently was with the terrible "Paradigm Daleks" also known as the Telly Tubby Daleks. The equally iconic Tardis Police Box was also briefly changed, much to fans concerns but it seems of recent that the fans aren’t being paid much attention to anyway. 

In that respect Dr Who has become the BBC's guinea pig for what they can get away with, a place to field test ideas - even if they suck. Because all that counts for them is corporate policy and what makes the viewing figures equate to profit. If the ratings fall below a certain threshold, alarm bells start ringing and panic buttons start being hit for a solution, any solution, even if it is stupid, such as making Dr Who a woman.
The age old rhetoric is of course things must move with the times.  But does it really? How long will we have to suffer in the wake of Nowness?  Sooner or later Dr Who will become inbred: Female Dr Who's snogging Male Dr Who's ! Then you end up with a ten year old kid playing Dr Who! Total Fucking Sci- Fi chaos !


You can just imagine all these up and coming writers and executives, all trying to prove themselves in some stuffy BBC office somewhere, brainstorming:
"Hmm. I know, while we’re at it, let’s change that scruffy police box into a swishy-swipey android phone !"
And why not ? The Tardis is bigger on the inside is it not? Simply have Mrs Who hold aloft her swanky new Tardis i-phone and shablam! We're on planet Scaro fighting those dreadful re-designed toy like tubby Daleks (that some middle class twat thought would increase the merch sales) so they can exterminate the last vestiges of the old order, the Artisans of planet Shawcraft,  then a quick swipe and woosh ! She's off again, probably snogging her new lesbian feminist (or hunky male but brain dead companion) fighting Cybermen minus (inevitably) their iconic handlebar head gear (because again, that's oh -so yesterday. Com) and so on. Fuck it all- let's just change the title to:
'The time lord formerly known as Dr Who' now starring my pet budgie because my wife said so.

Where is Verity Lambert when we need her? 
Now she was a girl with real balls. 
(oh god, that so came out wrong)

Anyway enough rant. Maybe you get the picture but if you don't - here's some more anyway:
Knowing what you know, does this give the viewer any choice ?


Would we change Supermans sex? No ! What we got was Supergirl, his sister. Because the peoples who toil on these things know there are certain laws you simply can't break, if you want your Golden Goose to keep laying them yummy golden eggs. Did we have a Mrs Spock in Star Trek ? - fuck no. 

They just made a spin off and called it Enterprise and that was fine 
- because us as viewers want choice. 
Or at least the illusion of choice. That’s why we had Dr Who Spin-offs such as Torchwood. Otherwise we’de have the fella who originally played Captain Jack Harkness, reappearing as Dr Who, stranded on Earth (in Whales) fighting for Torchwood. But why bother when you can have the best of both worlds and have a Tv spin off? It gives us choice. We can take it or leave it.

With choice, we can love Torchwood and bore of Dr Who and vice versa but as one and the same? Making Dr Who a woman leaves us with no choice at all. Where was the spin off Dr Donna series ? Never happened. So its now a case of fuck you - Dr Who is a woman now because I'm a muddle-class BBC twit-writer and  my wife is a feminist and we think Brexit is marvelous and...oh dear, welcome back to 1984 again.

Above all, Probably the most important point, is the shear pointlessness of the sex change idea. Call me old fashioned, but: it ain't broke why fix it? What can possibly be the logic in losing half your fan-base just to appease some muddleclass notion of PC purity?

Why is Dr Who now a woman? Because she can. Its mere logic and logic just for the sake of being logical, is just being wrong with authority.

And this logic only serves to divide us as a nation of Dr Who fans even more. One only wants to tune into the next Dr Who caper to enjoy childhood nostalgia, to revel in the familiar, to enjoy a good yarn, admire the clever costumes and sets and be totally inspired. But instead of expecting the familiar, we are forced to watch what the will of the party line tells us to watch: a governmental scheme to insure that its funding allocation for the BBC is justified, which means box ticking and incentive devices to encourage Television to be more ‘multi-cultural’ but instead it leaves it becoming bland.

Ultimately it boils down to a simple concept: the viewer and their nostalgia.
Take Kit out of Night Rider and  you lose Night Rider.
Take the Enterprise out of Star Trek and its not Star Trek.  
Take Albert Square out of East Enders...

On that note, imagine also: If a Mum comes home tired from work and sees the kids watching Dr Who, but its starring a woman who travels through time (using an I-phone called the Tardis, fighting spider robots called the Daleks) naturally she might be confused as to what she is watching.  Against her better judgement, the kids will insist its Dr Who but by all accounts does not resemble Dr Who in any shape or form and like poor Winston Smith in 1984, she will have to except the contradiction.

But sooner or late it becomes a re-occurring conversation across the land:

‘But where’s Dr Who?’
‘That’s Dr Who there!’ Say the kids.
‘What- the woman?’
‘Jesus!' Says Dad. ' give me the cave bird in the leopard skins any day’
‘Yeah. Looks shit' Say the Kids. 'is there anything else on?’

In the end, Dr Who becomes too homogenized with nowness, then blown to smithereens in a gender apocalypse that nobody was really paying much attention to anyway. In the end, we will no longer recognize a TV series disembodied from its own cultural history, we will tune out and mumble to ourselves about the good old days...when we hid behind a sofa. 

JS Adams 

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Kindred Sequels

Kindred Sequels:
The Spy Who Loved Me 
And why these are the most awsum movies ever made... 
By JS Adams

We seem to live in an age of instant knowledge and forgettability. One can merely scroll down a facebook feed, ponder over an interesting story and forget about it almost instantly. The same can be said of the subsequent Bond Movies that followed Moonraker and The Spy Who Loved Me. To which this article will address. 

Unless you are some sort of Bond Rainman who can honestly say they remember any particular bond plot from any Bond movie made in the post Moonraker era?  Now before you press the Wikipedia button, just sit there for a moment and think about that. Because a whole bunch of you will throw your best curveball at this argument since, like a I say we all live in the age of the internet, where many a teenage internet forum bottom feeders, hungry for pointless debate, can simply hop on Wikipedia and dump the whole nine yards of Bond Movie plots at me, character arcs and so on and watch my argument crash and burn like…er …that transport plane in The Living Daylights or whatever.*  But imagine I’m talking to you in the real world: face to face, mono on mono, out there in a café somewhere, far away far away from your computer screens, cut off from the internet and stuck with me for 10 minutes, while I make your  brain ponder over what James Bond plots you actually recall from only seeing a Bond movie just the once.  

Perhaps of any note might be the plot of Licence to Kill,  which still sticks in my noodle: with its revenge driven Timothy Dalton but beyond that, all those Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craige movies seemed to blend into each other in a mush of sleek car product placements and forgettable story-lines: I vaguely remember he was in love with some chick called Vesper (and M was a woman) and John Cleese was Q and the worst ever Bond car that turned invisable (!) but beyond I cant recall any of the plots, or even the villains, bar maybe Christopher Walken, Julian Glover and Robert Davi ( and I only remember him because he did such a great job as the bad guy in films like the Goonies). But even then I have to Wikipedia them just in case I’m going senile. But this article isn’t about senility, perhaps it has more to do with cultural memory and movie appreciation. Darn it all ! I just think The Spy Who Loved Me  (and in particular Moonraker) are the most awsum movies ever made. Please feel free to throw your eyes only up into the air. (drumfill groan). But I'm here to tell you why…

So what is it about Moonraker and The Spy Who Loved Me that sticks in my mind? Is it the cliché henchmen and crazy gadgets and simplistic outlandish plots for world domination? Perhaps this article may only apply to those who grew up watching those movies as they came out, I leave that to you the reader, who ever you maybe. **
    As for myself, I became aware of Bond because I was just old enough to see The Spy Who Loved Me when it first came out in cinemas in the Uk way back in 1977 and became hooked by its spectacle, that and Star Wars, which paved the way for Moonraker. Some of the most awsum movies ever made.
Moonraker and The Spy Who Loved Me, are essentially sequels within sequels: Moonraker is the sequel to Spy, sharing perhaps a little kindredness with former Bond outings such as Connerys You Only Live Twice with its archetype megalomaniac villain Blofeld (Donald Pleasence) and rocket base hidden within a volcano, which is of no surprise since MoonRaker and Spy, and You Only Live Twice were all directed by Lewis Gilbert. The latter two however pack in the gadgets, film sets, characters and model work on a level unprecedented in any bond move before, from submarine cars and jet skis to wrist dart guns and cool speed boats (with hang-gliders), to submarine eating Oil tankers and laser battles in space! But lets break these two awsum movies down into smaller chunks of awsumness: 


Well for starters you have Caroline Munro. Fresh out of  At the Earths Core, she actually turned down the part of bad girl Ursa in the Superman Movies, to play villeness henchgirl: Noemi opposite Roger Moore. (well, who wouldn't?) As a staple heroin and pin-up girl of sci fi, horror and fantasy films in the 1970s, her career included The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Star Crash, The Dr Phibes movies, Captain Kronos and later as hostess of er...Tv gameshow 321 (!) with Ted Rogers and Dusty Bin. Mmm. 

Anyway. Other hot chicks worth drooling over were of course the curvaceous delights of New Yorker Barbara Bach, as leading lady Agent Triple X Anya Amasov, helping to calm the waters between USSR and The USA in her own indelible calming and sophisticated manor. In a way her character represents the best interests of mother Russia: forming allegiances towards peace, an idea superseded with the plot of the Sean Connery film Meteor. Bach carved her career in modelling for catalogs and fashion magazines such as Vogue before moving onto small movie parts in Italy such as movie producer Dino de Laurentiis production of Homer's famous epic poem The Oddyessy. in 1980 she married Ringo Starr leading her to forming the Self Help Addiction Recovery Program (S.H.A.R.P.) with guitarist George Harrison.

Meanwhile, in Moonraker, Texas girl Lois Chiles, famous for playing victims in movies such as Death on The Nile, gets to save Earth as CIA agent Dr Holly Goodhead, (probably the worse bond girl name innuendo ever) She got the role  by chance when she was given the seat next to Lewis Gilbert on a plane flight and soon found herself with Roger Moore filming in Rio De Janeiro. However, during production, tragedy struck as her brother Clay was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease and died shortly after, leaving Chiles deeply effected  and after Moonraker wrapped, she pulled out of movies for three years. In the final shot of the movie, she got to  'attempt re-entry' with Bond: The whole snogging Bond scene in zero G effect was pulled off using fiberglass body casts of Lois and Roger, laid upon each other, covered by a bedsheet, whilst hoisted up and down by hydraulics, causing blood to rush up Roger Moores nose and eyes.


French actress Corinne Cléry plays Corinne Dufour a helicopter pilot in the employ of Hugo Drax. Prior to Moonraker, she once modeled for the french equivalent of Playboy magazine: Liu and got acting gigs in films such as Joël Le Moigne's Les Poneyttes. She shot to fame for her steamy portrayal of sexy photgrapher 'O' in the controversial erotic exploration  movie Story of O (1975.  In Moonraker however, she's been demoted to bond victim and savaged by Draxes hounds of death. But her presence on screen, however brief has staying power, so much so, that you really want Bond to appear from the bushes and tackle those fucking mutts. Unfortunately Corinnes talents are wasted as a bond girl in this movie as stiff competition between her and Chiles may have knocked her off the top spot as leading lady. Who knows. 


Aruban born, and raised in England and the Netherlands, Emily Bolton plays 007's contact in Brazil, Manuela. After a quick vodka martini, Bond unties her night gown, (without much protest from her) after all its her duty for England right? Or something like that. Other roles included parts in Voyage of the Damned (1974), Ken Russells super flop Valentino (1977) as well as Space 1999 and POW series Tenko. However her part in Moonraker is just as brief, almost becoming Jaws next victim but where Bond failed miserably at saving Corinne Cléry from mad dogs, he swoops in effortlessly to knock Jaws off balance 
and lets a torrent of Mardi Grass carnival goers do the rest.
Above all bond girls, perhaps french actress (and former air hostess) Blanche Ravalec is the most memorable for actually not being a Bond girl as such but very much a Jaws girl. As the unlikely love interest for Jaws, their initial meeting is pure comedy. However producers were not convinced that the irony would work and tried to pair 7ft tall actor Richard Kiel with a woman of equal height but Kiel pointed out that his own wife was 5'5 and Ravalec fitted the bill nicely as Jaws Babe Dolly.


On a bizarre tangent, it is also interesting to note the majority of confusion over whether Blanche Ravalec's character Dolly actually ever wore braces in the original cinematic version or not. Yet no evidence of this exists, not on video or Dvd releases. Nevertheless, there are some out there in the internet world, who still remember the theatrical release, who insist that this was the case, despite Blanche Ravalec stating that she never did. Regardless of this, forums have cropped up all over the internet in the last few years with numerous individuals concurring that Dolly did in fact have Braces. And if you think about it, the scene where they first meet would certainly made more sense (and would have had tons more impact) if she did have braces: and playing back the scene in my own mind where they first meet, Jaws smiles first, revealing those glinting metal chops, then she smiles back with glinting braces but wait ! They're gone! WTF? Could this be the Mandela Effect?

The Mandela effect is supposed to be us remembering traces of alternate time lines, such as certain historical facts being altered (the idea that Nelson Mandela died in prison instead of becoming president) or famous logos like the VW sign that differ today to how we remember them, the changes are usually subtle but enough to make you stop and wonder...
Of course there could be
another reason: 

That's right. Moonraker made tons of money for all concerned and in an age of ever growing paranoia from terrorism, Trump, and heavily funded witch-hunts over pedophilia, we've seen em bringing down the likes of Jimmy Saville,  Rolf Harris and various top brass at the BBC. So its a no brainier that the scene with Dolly and Jaws can only be twisted out of all context, into something conveniently suitable for yet another lawsuit.  Just look at what happened to Micheal Jackson, yes he was weird but there was not a shred of proof he fiddled kids and yet he was bled dry in lawsuits. And when it comes to a very large male hooking up with a very small young girl in pigtails and braces, this is all way too much for today's molly coddled nanny state, ever too weary to punch the lawsuit button at any given opportunity. So it is quite possible that, at some point in the last few years, nervous executives trying to save the dwindling popularity of this movie, most likely had the scenes with Dolly digitally altered for VHS, DVD releases, and later with Blu Ray. Roll on 1984. If anything the idea that our history is being erased is not far from the truth, but it is more to do with avoiding (and creating) law suites on a infinite monopoly board, set up by the rich to govern the poor. The argument is an interesting one, yet to be debunked. But lets come back to reality, (or at least a reality) and check out some more chunks of awsumness.

But beyond the skin,  when it comes to music in these two bond films, nobody did it better than Carly Simon’s lusty drunk anthem: Nobody Does It Better composed by Marvin Hamlisch which was nominated best song of the year and became a gold hit single for singer Simon. For the films music sound track, Hamlisch also filled in, covering for bond stalwart John Barry who was unable to score the movie due to tax reasons, forcing him to leave the country. Hamlisch’s approach was the total opposite to Barry's classical strings: favoring a more electronica disco feel. In retrospect, the nobody does it better song fits around this arrangement nicely, its signature late night bar piano intro, occasionally returning throughout the movie to accentuate shots, such as Bond on the boat in the Nile or morphing into other instruments such as electric guitar or sexy sax for Bonds more intimate moments with triple X agent Anya. 
When John Barry finally makes his return in Moonraker, the mood of the music changes to slower ethereal and yet grandiose qualities, particularly with the space scenes: the sun dawning on Draxes space station, the slow moving scenes without gravity, all encompassed within Barrys use of horn sections, military drums, and thick cello strings accentuating that NASA feeling of man accomplishing something that is bigger than just himself. Like Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moons surface for the first time amid the awe of space itself, Barry’s 2001 inspired score, gives the accomplishment of Draxes mad plan to dominate space itself, a certain national anthemic grandeur: that kind of one small step for mankind feel, like it is the music of the gods.


To top it all, an awsum movie like Moonraker deserves an awsum diva to pull off the title track song 
and nothing less than the talents of Shirley Bassey will do. With awsum songs Goldfinger and Diamonds are Forever under her belt, this would be her third and last offering to the Bond franchise. With less than a month to get the job done, Basseys management team had zero time to promote the song before the movies premier release, affecting its potential for commercial success. The song Moonraker however works in nicely throughout the film, cropping up in various interludes within scenes of Rio and outter space. 

Bah ! Who needs Daniele Craig when you can have the Bond that you grew up with. Take your pick but Roger Moore will always be James Bond 007. 
With smirking good looks and wit dryer than a shaken vodka martini,  Roger puts the world to rights in a record seven Bond movies. Some were pretty bad but none more better and extravagant than Spy and Moonraker.  Before smirking and eyebrow wiggling became his trademark bread and butter, Roger refined his skills by smirking and eyebrowing his way through many a Tv series such as Ivanhoe, and later  The Saint, and pulling hot chicks with Tony Curtis in The Persuaders!  until that is, George Lazenby could no longer cut it as 007 and the rest is Dvd, Blue Ray, online streaming, collectors box set whatever history. But besides Roger, what else is awsum about these two movies? Well lets have a further look...


 Well enough said.


Set wise, the architecture of the villains pads in these two movies is just as  insanely brilliant and quite unforgettable: bearing the unmistakable stamp of set designer Ken Adam, who previously worked on You only live Twice, Diamonds are forever, Goldfinger and Thunderball.


I guess all Bondian megalomaniac wanabees would be nothing without their secret hidden bases, wether its a base inside a volcano, a submersible city, or an extravagant space station :  we owe a huge gratitude to the work of  Ken Adam for pulling these awsum ideas off 
and making them a reality.
The most memorable set pieces in The Spy Who Loved Me are undoubtedly the exterior and interior sets for Stromberg's Atlantis and the SS Liparus oil tanker built, who’s models were built by Special effects designer Derek Medding’s, (who also designed and built the Submarine Lotus)

Between Meddings and ken Adam, the film sets for Spy are realized in spectacular fashion: the Atlantis, a curvaceous four legged sub aqua palace that rises slowly from the ocean in all its Ken Adam magnificence, sporting helipads, laboratories, speedboat docks, labs, shark tanks, ornate dining rooms and funky 70’s study & aquarium. 

 The only thing missing on it is a disco tech but that would have been taking it way too far.
But not to be outdone by his own work, Ken Adam had his sights on taking Bond fans to a new level with the SS Liparus oil tanker (supposedly the worlds largest oil tanker) but what makes it remarkable is the fact it feeds throughout the movie on a steady diet of nuclear submarines. 

007 Stage: Accommodating three full size submarine props floating in a giant water tank, its interior for the time was the most impressive film set ever made for a Bond film akin to Blofeld’s Volcano base in You only live Twice. 
Thus becoming the famous 007 Stage, it required a mammoth effort from all involved to get the building itself and the Liparus set completed within a record 17 weeks. It is said that Stanley Kubrick came in to light the film set. To recover costs, the 007 Stage was built to be a permanent structure that could be rented out to other productions, until it was burned to the ground and had to be rebuilt, after Ridley Scott rented it. Twat.


Above all, Ken Adams’s work on Moonraker laid the gold standard for extravagance: beautifully gilded with some of his most innovative design work, particularly with the sets built for Hugo Draxes various dens and Space Station. However, the film nearly didn’t get made at all when the UK government of the time suddenly decided to put up all its taxes making the 007 Stage at Pinewood (or any UK sound stages) unaffordable. 

In order to counter this and make Ken Adams outlandish designs a reality, the producer Albert P Broccoli moved the entire Bond production to Épinay and Boulogne-Billancourt in France. Working with the French however caused friction between the two film crews: the French were used to working their rota of 11am till 7pm Monday to Friday with the weekends off, while the English were used to working all the hours god gives to get any film finished on time. It seemed as if Moonraker would never be completed for its deadline at all, if it wasn’t for the way out designs provided by Ken Adam which suddenly got the French inspired and working all hours building space sets, even bringing in their families to help. These massive film sets alone were also the largest ever constructed and required more than 222,000 man-hours to build (roughly 1000 hours by each of the crew on average).
Moonraker was to be Ken Adams’s last and best Bond film and towards the end of the film, his sets get madder and madder: Even a simple corridor in Draxes jungle lair, are bent and slanted beyond recognition, the great hall with its water features and glass like rock gardens putting Mayan and Egyptian builders to shame, while other sets only exist for a mere few seconds before folding in on themselves and regressing into the floor, to serve as an amusing death for Bond at the hands of Draxes Moonraker rocket boosters. Much like the Star Wars movies, the sets in these latter two Bond films captivate the audience as much as the actors that reside within them. By the time we have followed Bond up into outer space, we are totally gob smacked by a gigantic three level Space Station set, holding the largest number of actors in weightlessness (on wires) ever filmed.


When it came to the special effects, the producers turned to several American companies who quoted them extortionate fees, leaving the bond crew to figure it out themselves. Turning once again to model maker genius Derek Meddings, both films model work encompassed his unique flair for miniature realism, picked up from his experiences working on model-orientated serials such as Thunderbirds. Moonraker in particular made great use of ideas for compositing model shuttlecrafts, space battles etc by exposing the same piece of film footage multiple times: filming each aspect, rolling the film back and exposing it to another aspect. One shot in particular had about 80 roll back shots crammed into it, to create a spectacular space battle. 


To give realism to the destruction of the space station, Meddings acquired several shotguns to literally blast the models to pieces and playback the desired shots in slow motion to emulate the effect of chaos that metallic debris would have on zero gravity of space. The results of these effects were so impressive that the film was nominated for academy award for best special effects. 


 Not only awsum model work, but oh yes hot space chicks (and abbots) with lazer beams. Wowcha !

What also makes these two films interesting is the way they tie to each other in terms of repeating characters. Much like Sheriff J.W. Pepper reprises his role from Live and Let Die to The Man with the Golden Gun, we see the same with the seemingly indestructible Jaws in Spy making his popular return in Moonraker. Due to popular demand from film fans and family members of the production crew, Howard Kiels awsum character was back and we the public adored it for every slapstick moment of Jaws getting his ass kicked over again and again, surviving everything that Bond throws at him: from falling out of a plane, to surviving re-entry in outer space. Who is to say, that perhaps on some subconscious level, Jaws was the inspiration for the unstoppable cyborg in The Terminator, who, like Jaws turns from baddy in one movie to goody in the next. It is also perhaps no accident that his character was created to hopefully attract a young Steven Spielberg who was working on a film of the same name. One character who ultimately did not return was Barbara Bach’s character Anya from Spy, who was to return in Moonraker in the sequence with General Gogal, as the woman shown in his bed as he complains on the phone about his numerous ‘problems’ but this idea was shelved within a few weeks into shooting.

In both films we see the archetype megalomaniac villains speak out against the cold war in their most extreme ways with Bond merely there to re-address the balance with humor and sillyness that you may love or cringe at.
Don’t forget, 1970’s England was caught in between the escalating insanity of the cold War. American subs would track Russian subs and British subs would do the same. Perhaps the most stupefying aspect of all this underwater hide and seek was the fact these machines carried with them the seeds of death that could potentially wipe out all life on earth!  These were and still are to this day, literal doomsday weapons prowling the oceans, waiting to annihilate us all, so in that respect, I really don’t think the masses of non internet savvi cinema going Joe public of the time would find much life affirming fun and giggle watching a Fleming-authentic Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy type Bond movie that we have to put with today and neither did the production crew of those movies either. We'll leave that boring espionage spy rubbish for Sir Michael Caine and future Bond (Pierce Brosnan) to sort out in The Fourth Protocol. 

Moving with the times, Bond embraced the threat of nuclear conflict by mirroring its absurdity: Stromberge and his alternate Nemo like world beneath the waves and in Moonraker too, Stromberg’s successor Hugo Drax wishes to counter our predicament also (of impending nuclear holocaust) by wiping out all mankind with toxic nerve gas to make way for his race of supermen. How is any of this, in anyway, not in touch with the anxieties of the everyday man, who has to read the latest bad news about Russia threatening to do this or America threatening to do that? In the 'error' of Donald Trump and Putin, we still face the problem, that mass annihilation of the human race will always come down to a few good men...
or not. 


What also sets The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker alone from previous bond movies is the comedic and nostalgic tone of these two films: like Wryly Cayote, the terrifying terminator like Jaws becomes more and more comical with each failure to dispose of Bond, who wise cracks and smirks his way to saving the various maidens from Jaws’s fumbling clutches. References are made to slapstick: In Moonraker, Bond’s gondolier is attacked by a knife throwing hit man, appearing from his coffin who dies by his own hand, lovers embrace unaware their boat has just been snapped in half, pidgins do double takes as Bond gondoliers across the piazza in Venice, the same alcoholic ‘Man with bottle’ from Spy, looks at his drink in both movies, as he did when Bond emerges from the Adriatic sea in his Lotus submarine car, (even disposing of an unwanted fish as he drives up onto the beach).  Nostalgia comes into play with Bond and Anya roaming across the desert to the score from Lawrence of Arabia.  In Moonraker, a security keypad plays the familiar 5-note leitmotif from Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and the familiar 2001 Space Odyssey tune is used during a pheasant hunt and later Elmer Bernstein's theme from The Magnificent Seven is used for Bonds poncho horse ride scene. To top it all Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Overture is heard when the gargantuan Jaws falls in love with dolly, a girl almost half his height ! 

Moonraker was notably panned by critics for taking its absurdities too far, for as critics being far too busy dissecting the wrong parts of the movie completely missed the subtext: of cold war rational, appeal for world peace in a time of extreme tensions between supper powers. But Bond films are not made just for film critics, they are made for the general public and kids in particular and the box office success of Moonraker made it the highest grossing bond movie ever made ($210,300,000 worldwide) and owed its success to the cultural shifts sweeping the western world. 

With the advent of Star Wars, Moonraker, much like its predecessor was merely moving with the times: By 1977 when The Spy Who Loved Me was released, Star Wars had become a surprise big box office hit outstripping its contemporary's, such as Annie Hall, Saturday Night Fever and notably Speilburg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. By 1978 the sci-fi trend increased with movies like Superman, Star Crash and BattleStar Galactica and it is understandable that producer Albert P Broccoli and his crew were excited about following this sci-fi trend. Had Spy been followed by its intended successor (For your Eyes Only), the series momentum would have been forever lost among the battle for sci-fi orientated movies that now dominated cinema theaters by 1979. During that year, sci-fi movies were finally being taken seriously again with  top budget extravaganzas Star Treck: The Motion Picture and  The Black Hole, opening the theater doors for middle-league movies such as Time after Time, The Spaceman and King Arthur and Ridley Scott's Alien franchise. Even Australia got in on the act, tying into the sub genre of Post apocalyptic movies with George Millers Mad Max series.

Moonraker accompanies Spy perfectly but in a way it also spawned the series ultimate problems: New Ideas. Once Hugo Drax had been dispensed by Bond to the outer reaches of cold space and his flying stud farm blown to smithereens in usual spectacular Bond fashion, there was very else little to follow all this up with, in terms of topping it and Moonraker spelled the end of an era for the extravagant Bond films of the 1970’s. Not only was Moonraker to be Ken Adams last and best Bond film but many of the key production crew were moving on also, including Bond director’s Lewes Gilbert and Guy Hamilton.

As the 1980’s loomed, the mood of the times was shifting away from Star Wars type movies in favor of returning to more realism and grittier approaches in For your Eyes Only which finally appeared two years later in the bleakness of 1981. But time was running out for Bond: Roger Moore was evidently struggling to cope with Bond in the post Moonraker era of the 1980’s and this point, Moores familiar comical non-chalent style no longer seemed appropriate for younger 1980’s audiences, now being fed on a diet of a new breed of warrior: the muscle bound action hero. Enter Stallone and Schwarzenegger. Bond had had his day. 

It should have all quite happily ended with the spectacle that is Moonraker, paving the way for ultimate cult status in collectable video and Dvd box sets of all four of Roger Moore's 1970s classic Bond films. But unfortunately the movie business is a still a business. If anything Roger should have quit while he was still ahead with Moonraker but a paycheck is a paycheck I guess and instead of retirement or choosing other more suitable roles, he kept Bond up for another three tiresome sequels by which point his age was becoming an issue, in an age of gritty muscle men like Rambo, Snake Pliskin and Indiana Jones.  

With the dawn of the new millennium, in our so called sophistication of the internet savvy world, Moonraker seems laughable by most ‘Bond Scholars’ but are we talking books here or movies? Because Bond in scripture and Bond in celluloid has about as much in common with each other as Shakespeare's The Tempest has with Forbidden Planet. Movies are notorious for adapting books in the most loosest terms, because invariably a movie needs to cover the widest net possible in order to break even at the box office. All a writer has to do is sit there and type much like I am doing now but to adapt a novel takes some doing. 

Often the logistics of bringing Ian Fleming’s ideas into the 1970’s proved too lame for the big screen spectacle hungry masses or too complicated (due to an agreement with the Fleming estate, the Bond producers held only the rights to no more than the title of “The Spy Who Loved Me” – and so the story had to be written from scratch) and as a result all four Bond movies made in this time discarded the novels narratives almost entirely favouring simpler plots and more extravagance, which for kids like myself growing up in this time was great. We could understand a relatively complex spy movie and be totally blown away at the same time. 

Bond has always been made for the big screen. Its about popcorn as it is about a story. It is the cinema experience you take from it, that stays with you and makes you want to be Bond. In a way The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker are repeating the successful cocktails of Dr No, Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice, adding a twist of 1970’s humor and sense for the absurd, akin to Adam West’s Batman and with this you have some of the series most interesting Bond villains, plots, gags, gadgets, hot chicks and some of the the most awsum action scenes and stunts ever filmed: starting with Live and Let Die and culminating in The Man with the Golden Gun before being refined in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker


Never before in the Bond series had these aspects been so closely metered out, so eloquently realized and put down in celluloid as they had in these latter two bond movies. Who can forget Nuclear Submarines being eaten by a giant super tanker? Or Bonds famous ski-parachute jump Or Stromberge feeding his secretary to his pet shark?  Who can forget a space shuttle being hijacked in mid air?
Or a Lotus Espirite that flips into a submarine ? Or even that cool speedboat with the hang-glider?  And who on earth could ever forget an awsum henchman like Jaws and his infamous return or his surprise allegiance with Bond and fighting with lasers in space?  This was not about adapting Fleming in purity and cold war academic reading, this was about pure unadulterated fun.

*Ironically I had to google plane crashes in bond Movies and suddenly remembered The Living Daylights using my brain! (pats self on back)

** This article doesn’t entirely agree with me but it might be more palatable for haters of films such as Moonraker :

Other (more comprehensive) blogs on Bond can be found here: