Wednesday, 5 May 2010



Was this the best we good do in 96? Yes


By Hugh Ponsington Smythe, lecturer in 1990s Studies at Loughbourough polytechnic

Now the 80s are over, the 90s are going to make the 60s look like the 50s.’ Dennis Hopper was very wrong when he said that. He expected a bacchanalian feast. We got a feast of the banal.
Have a look at a few 90s icons: they look just like 80s ones, but with some 40s austerity thrown in. I’m thinking Eurythmics here: Sweet Dreams vs Sweet Dreams (unplugged).

The pre-millennial angst that characterised the late 90s was surely a re-run of the anxious 20s, rather than the euphoric 1890s, in that it felt like an inter-war era, minus the actual wars.

90s fashion was, in many important ways, simply 80s fashion glimpsed through a dark green gauze, with all the contrast turned down, but still with many of the same shapes and a great deal of taupe. The 80s grown up, as it were. More responsible, and with a mortgage.

90s automotive fashions had yet to achieve the contemporaneousness of Noughties designs (a 90s Saab is just an 80s one, with a smaller wing) and we were a very long way from the digital age, our current decade’s iconic leitmotif.

In many ways, the 90s can be summarised with one item: this shirt, with the Peruvian Inca pattern, by Jean-Paul Gaultier, that I paid £600 for in 1993. It truly reflected both the decade’s aspirations and its failures. The style said that ‘we are now trying to be more aware of the world, by just sticking a new pattern on an over-tailored shirt; we can feel the veneer of a new age’.

Then, when we get it home, we realise that it looks immediately and tragically dated. We learn. We grow. And we’ll then move on to something else, probably minimalism. No wonder Kurt Cobain shot himself.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010


In the mid to late 90s there were 2 shit melodramatic teen dramas that spawned a slew of future stars - Party of Five and Dawson's Creek.

And for some reason, they all had to star in horrors...

Scream Trilogy - Starring Neve Campbell from Party of Five

So many films copied Scream's mix of recognisable twenty somethings playing teen faces and knowing pop culture references, it's easy to forget how good it was when it first arrived - the best teen horror since the first Nightmare on Elm Street.

I Know What You Did Last Summer - Starring Jennifer Love Hewitt from Party of Five

He's a fisherman! With a hook! And he won't die! These films were really bad, the second slightly less than the first. Seem to have just been made as an excuse to look at Jennifer Love Hewitt's unfeasibly perky breasts, which is no bad thing.

Disturbing Behavior - Starring Katie Holmes from Dawson's Creek

Similar in tone to The Faculty, here teens are being made into Stepford jocks by evil teachers, and only a few can resist. Katie Holmes plays the most annoying / less convincing punk rebel ever, but this is a pretty neat little thriller with a good Pied piper inspired ending.

Urban Legend - Starring Joshua Jackson from Dawson's Creek

Staying in post modern Scream territory, this is about a campus where people are getting killed off in the style of urban myths,and is pretty damned good. Featuring Robert "Freddy" Englund as a tutor, and co-starring future beached car crash party girl Tara Reid.

Final Destination - Starring Kerr Smith from Dawson's Creek

Technically this came out in 2000, but I'm counting it as the last of the good 90s teen horrors. By now everyone knows the drill - teens cheat death and it catches up with them, this felt pretty fresh first time.

But where's Dawson?

He bucked the horror trend and starred in 1999's Varsity Blues, a pretty good high school football drama, kind of an update to Tom Cruise's All The Right Moves.

But the best late 90s teen horror featured no Dawsons or Party of Five actors...

The Faculty

A truly awesome high school alien thriller, with a strangely subversive drugs save the day twist. Even Josh Hartnett's hair couldn't ruin it.

Monday, 3 May 2010





Don't pretend it wasn't that bad - it was total horseshit.


Mel Gibson revives an old TV western favourite! And?

The Firm

This film was actually quite good, if you watched it. But seriously, have you ever sat down and thought "I know what I really want to watch - early 90s legal thriller The Firm?"

Air Force One

Ooh, Harrison Ford is dangerous when he's angry! Is he? What's the difference between this and Executive Decision and Passenger 57? I'm not sure.

Clear & Present Danger



Nothing to say on this.OK, one thing - when the song by Jamiroquai is the best thing about your film, you know you're in trouble.

The Flintstones

Total horseshit but somehow you know this one will be coming back again.


Found this book at a second hand shop in Brighton the other day, and like a total student, I bought it. What light could it cast on the mid 90s?

Edmonds...Lumley...Brad from Neighbours...yes please

NB Apologies for crap photography, don't have a scanner

Sharon and Tracey from Birds of A Feather make the contents page. No sign of Dorian.

Article titled "The laughter makers", featuring Jasper Carrott and Robert Powell as "The Detectives" (sub sub sub Police Squad style spoof), Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse as Smashey and Nicey (weaker characters but fondly remember when Enfield was king of the playground catchphrase in the 90s)and Mr Bean, of course.

More laughter makers - Brian Conley, Jo Brand (she's eating a big bar of chocolate, hilarious)and a very young looking Michael Barrymore. Coming out, the dead butcher in his pool, Celebrity Big Brother - it was all still to come. Would Michael have looked quite so pleased if he'd seen his own future? We'll never know - or care.

Noel Edmonds, of "death obeying stunts" fame. Still a massively annoying bearded egotist, but at least he isn't talking about cosmic ordering.

Interview with Noel's co-star Mr Blobby, who to be fair had his moments.

Workout with Mr Motivator and his GMTV weathergirl sidekick (no, me neither). I'm genuinely not sure if she passed for hot in 1995, but suspect that somehow she did, in her grotesque outfit. Indeed, i probably wanked off over her at some point.

Not sure if TV Times are trying to play up or wind down any kind of sexual chemistry angle here. Motivator is the muscly black man of middle England's worst nightmares, but then it's hard to feel too threatened by the raw libido of a man in glasses and a bumbag. But then, he is pointing right at her vagina there.

Also, why does his cap say "BAD ATTITUDE"? In what way? How is showing housewives how to keep fit in a non threatening camp way any indicator of a bad attitude? Classic 90s behaviour.

PS I bet none of these exercises remotely work.

Dan Falzon who played hunky Ric Alessi in mid-90s neighbours. He was once mauled by a lion on a photoshoot.

CONCLUSION: Mid 90s TV looked both really banal and eerily similar.

Most of these people are still regulars on our TV, and I even heard rumours of Birds of a Feather being brought back.


I don't want to render this whole blog obsolete by just reposting stuff from my other blog, but this serves as a jump-off in tone:


By Alan Timms

Do you remember 1996? Don't worry, it's a rhetorical question (unless you are 12 or under). You know what they say - If you can, you were there. No, that's not right - If you can't remember it, you weren't there. Anyway, what a year it was. One of the very best. Infact, I'd go as far as to say that 1996 was the best year of all time, a year that was so great that sadly it has cast a long shadow on everything that's come since. Brilliance casts a long shadow, as someone might have said.Which makes me think of Some Might Say, and those crazy Gallagher brothers. In 1996 those two mad Mancunians were literally on top of the world, with that same world I just mentioned at their feet. Everyone had gone "mad for it", proven by their record-breaking sell out run at Knebworth. What a weekend that was! 12 years later, they're still picking up the empty Stella cans!

Aah, Stella - a real man's drink. We were all supping it back then, like it was going out of style, necking one long cold one after another and chucking the empties behind us in a consequence free environment. It wasn't just our heroes Gary and Tony in Men Behaving Badly that were doing that!

Do you remember the long, mild summer of 96? How could anyone forget! A whole nation swelled with pride as we got to host Euro 96, and see Gazza scoring THAT goal, and Davey boy Seaman making THOSE saves!Who could forget as Terry Venables' boys came so close to not losing? As the words of Three Lions roared around Wembley, that day we all had a bit of Skinner, Baddiel and Broudie in us - and loved it.

What about the Spice Girls? Sporty, Sexy, Dizzy, Mel and Vicky B...the girls next door that made us all want to live next door to them. "If you wannabe my lover..." the fab five sang in harmony, and the answer coming from every red blooded male in the land was clear - we do! (If we could fit in some time when we weren't ogling Jo Guest!)

What about at the cinema? Who could forget the knockout triple threat of Twister, Independence Day and Mission Impossible in that crazy summer? But there were films for grown ups too - as Broken Arrow testified.Fashionwise, it was the golden age. White Reebok trainers, some designer jeans and a YSL shirt please - bob's your uncle. Ralph Lauren Polo for the more sophisticated gent, and Lacoste for the posers.

On the telly, a young man called Johnny Vaughan thrilled and delighted us with his cheeky cockney charm - as did his lovely co-host Denise Van Outen (right fellas?!) These two felt like the madcap brother and sister you never had! (Maybe not your sister - that would be weird)

God, as I'm writing this I'm getting quite emotional. 1996 - "the third summer of love". Major in Parliament and Britpop on the radio; Kevin Keegan going mad on the telly, the unforgettable Atlanta Olympics, Trainspotting and Dunblane. There'll never be another 1996. All you can do is close your eyes and just try to remember what it was like to actually be there. Sigh.


This is a new, occasional niche blog dedicated to the 1990s, a decade that already seems to have become part of the 80s in our amorphous collective memories.

This blog will not feature important events of the decade like New Labour, the death of Diana or the first Iraq war, but rather stuff like Lovejoy, Saved by the Bell, Hyacinth Bucket, Northern Uproar and Broken Arrow. Ok, not Broken Arrow...

My reasoning is that we're so obsessed with the 80s - music, fashion, films etc, that even though the 90s revival is long overdue, we're just having another 80s one again. And as a friend observed, slowly everything just becomes 80s in your mind - even up to about 1997.

Not much really did happen in the 90s, there was no 9/11 moment. But that's a good thing! There was still some great music, film and TV, and lots of dubious guilty pleasures of one sort or another to remember. And a lot of shit to mock as well, from an era that already looks very innocent, pre-Big Brother and the proper explosion of the internet.

The idea is that the blog will have lots of writers so if you want to talk about anything in pop culture between 1990 and 99, let me know.