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18. Captain Scarlet

Jim Shelley warms to TV’s representation of women, men, sons and golf lovers

Tapehead no 18

After recent fly-on-the-wall exposes by Beam and Da Silva and Network First, the glamorous, partially clad world of the supermodel receives another voyeuristic, gratuitous going over this week.

In Friday’s Captain Scarlet, Angel Interceptor pilots Destiny and Symphony go undercover in the episode Model Spy.

Posing as waif-like anorexics, Destiny (“it’ll be great to get out of uniform”) and her partner (the rather ropey Symphony) infiltrate the cocktail and cabin cruiser set of Monte Carlo to protect the head of a French fashion house from the grip of the fashion-unconscious Mysterons.

“How do I look?” pants Destiny, as she emerges draped in Valentino. “Wow!” gasps Captain Blue, hiding his feelings.
“Mmmh!” smiles the once politically correct Lieutenant Green.

Showing his customary dedication, Captain Scarlet provides deep, deep cover by posing as a hard-working, networking, PR man.

“Darling! How are you? We must do lunch sometime.”

But can the cool Cap cope with the Mysterons’ own undercover supermodels, one of whom looks exactly like Linda Evangelista – only more realistic?

More bitchiness and bad fashion in Sabotage, Channel 4’s new,
post-Big Breakfast, but not post-feminist, all-female quiz show, where contestants such as the manageress of the Hacienda answer questions about Supermodels, Getting Married and Chocolate.

Hosted by Maria McErlaine, it’s a girly, giggly, gushy quiz show. At least one contestant proves that not all models are dumb. Some of them are REALLY stupid.

This week’s Cutting Edge, The Club, tells of the sort of deeply conservative golf club where Daily Express readers are actually regarded as somewhat left-wing and lady golfers are accepted only on the understanding that they are forbidden from playing on Saturday or Sunday mornings. But as one chap points out, the ladies will still be washing up after breakfast then anyway.

Conflicts develop as other new members – “artisans…working class types” – begin to infiltrate. Standards fall, and in a club where even the ball is expected to behave decently at the AGM, the club Chairman admonishes one (a Greens Committee Member), telling him, “you’ve been highly offensive.”

Well he should know.

The star of the show is an eccentric long-haired buffer called Preston Lockwood (“God I’m a diabolical player !”). Preston’s golf swing is a sight to behold, a deranged scything action that teeters unsteadily between elegance and collapse.

As one member explains, even the loss of one’s wife is regarded as a minor inconvenience as long as one is a member of The Club.

Conflict of a specifically Freudian nature erupts in this week’s Living With The Enemy as psychologist John Heron forces a group of parents to confront their feelings about their children and their own parents.

“Imagine this chair is your dad,” Heron tells a 50-year-old professional Punch and Judy man. He encourages him to tell the chair the things he’d wanted to say to his father when he was a teenager.

“Say, ‘Dad I need and want your love’.” Heron then turns to the Punch and Judy man. “Do you have any friends?” Heron demands of the boy, who is by now blubbing away like his father. That’s the way to do it.

The chair on the other hand remains stoic throughout.

In front of an audience of equally traumatised parents, Heron forced both father and son to acknowledge the fell towards the way their parents humiliated them. This, he concludes brightly, shows they do share common ground. Presumably he thinks humiliating them together on television provides just enough extra common ground to practically cure them.

Screened after the watershed (at 10.20pm), this is the kind of viewing that is actually too disturbing and hard-hitting for children or parents of any age.

Sabotage: Mon, 9am-9.30, C4
Cutting Edge – The Club: Mon, 9pm-10pm, C4
Living With The Enemy: Tue, 10.20pm-10.50pm, BBC1
Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons: Fri, 6pm-6.25pm, BBC2