January 2001

[Monday, 01st] So what's this new millennium of TV all about? About the same as the last one when you get right down to it. Reruns of Superman films [14:00, ITV], although it's so long since I saw Superman II that I'd forgotten most of it. And then we had the Count of Monte Cristo [18:00, BBC 2] becoming a reformed character after sorting out the bad guys; Mr. Smiley, who doesn't do all that much smiling, sorting out his bad guys [Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Part 7, 18:50, BBC 2] and actually catching the "mole" just before I switched over to the Battle Dome [19:00, Channel 5], which looks more and more an inferior cross between WCW and Gladia-TERs. Makes you wonder why you bother switching the box on, these days!

[Tuesday, 02nd] Interesting example of synchronicity here. During the slow bits of the film Deep Impact [20:05, BBC 1] I carried on reading Moonfall by Jack McDevitt. The film is about a comet which is on course to collide with the Earth. A team of astronauts goes up to blow it to bits and succeeds only into smashing it into a little chunk and a big chunk. So the US government sends a selected group of people to hide in purpose-built caverns for a couple of years while the dust and debris of the impact settles. The astronauts do manage to blow up the big chunk of the comet, converting it into bits that burn up in the Earth's atmosphere, but the little chunks impacts in the sea and provides a city-destroying tidal wave. In the book, the comet hits the Moon, which breaks up and drops big chunks of itself onto the Earth, wiping out large areas and drowning coastal cities with tidal waves.
   Second Sight [Part 1, 20:35, BBC 1] is the story of a detective chief inspector who finds, soon after beginning a murder investigation, that his eyes are being attacked by a virus. The virus produces weird visual effects and leaves him with intermittent and decaying vision. Fortunately, his ambitious female detective inspector is willing to be his eyes if she gets a good write-up in his report at the end of the case.

[Wednesday, 03rd] Another chance to view Inspector Frost in action! [Deep Waters, 20:00, ITV] We got a groping professor, a student sent flying down a flight of stairs, the reappearance of one of Frost's side-kicks, the poor old inspector being harassed by a pair of down and outs, who move in to his new flat, and Stephanie Turner looking glum and glummer as the mum of a dangerous nutter.
   In Part 2 of Second Sight [22:35, BBC 1], DCI Ross was groping his way around the police station, trying to create a mental map of the place, while struggling to get his head around the mystery of twin brothers, one of whom is the father by adoption of the murder victim. Only Ross sees the two brothers together, but he's subject to a phenomenon called 'completion' - his brain shows him things that he's expecting to see even if they're not there. In the end, the reason why the twins are never seen together turns out that the poor one murdered the rich one and took his place. And that's the key to the whole thing.

[Thursday, 04th] The aliens in Roswell High [18:00, BBC 2] were snogging their partners furiously, attempting to see the visions that Max and his girlfriend were seeing. The result was that Max found another part of the puzzle of his origins and he and his girlfriend ended up facing a Spanish Inquisition of parents.
   Buffy, the Vampire Slayer [18:45, BBC 2] was up against a bunch of demons, who were trying to bring about the apocalypse. She also seems to be on the verge of an alliance with the military unit based under the campus of Sunnydale College. Spike, the de-motivated vampire, was on the verge of staking himself out of frustration. But during a battle with the demons, he discovered that attacking non-human creatures didn't give him a migraine and at the end of the episode, he was all fired up to hit the streets and start killing demons and fellow vampires. So a happy ending for him.
   The Naked Gun 33 1/3 [22:35, BBC 1] got three stars and a diamond in the Daily Mail's Weekend magazine and a fair old hammering from the humourless sods who do reviews. It's a long time since I've seen it and I was able to enjoy it for what it is - not great art but a sequence of jokes and parodies of classic film moments. That's all it is, guys, just fun and the plot and the framework are irrelevant.

[Friday, 05th] It's supposed to be The New Bill [Appropriate Action, 21:00, ITV] but about all that's new is that it's an hour later and they've cut it down to only once a week. A local yoof criminal beaten up by vigilantes and a 15-year-old girl who's missing from home started things off. The whole episode had an insubstantial feel with the back-stabbing superintendent being no help, as usual. It turned out that the ex-para dad of the missing teenager was at the bottom of the whole mystery and he beat up the tearaway to warn him off his daughter. Not a lot of back-up for Sergeant Cryer from CID, the miserable git DI or the back-stabber.
   Raw Is War [22:00, Sky Sports 1] opened with the Undertaker bashing Rikishi then Stephie gave Stevo a job selling beer and hot dogs. The APA and The Wunn took on the Right To Censor crew before Stevo sprayed Stephie with mustard. The arrival of Tazz interrupted a harangue by Raven, his former mate, and they got into a Hardcore brawl which headed for the back-stage area and ended up in the locker room. Raven got a fall on Crash Holly - which seemed to be good enough, for no particular reason.
   Y2J and the Dudleys [in their bloodstained battledress] had a table match with the Champs - Kurt Angle, Edge & Christian. It was Edge's turn to go through the table. Test started off against the Crappler but he got involved in bashing Albert, who used to be his mate, along the way and the ending was a totally unconvincing WWF swindle.
   The Hardys and Kaientai leapt all over one another for a while, then the Hardys and Lita bashed Dean Malenko and chums. Kane 'beat' The Rock with the crudest of WWF swindles then we got Stevo versus William Regal with a mystery referee. We all thought it was going to be Saddam Hussein to prove that he's still alive, but it turned out to be Stephie, there to swindle Stevo as payback for spraying her with mustard and removing her top 'in this very ring'.

[Saturday, 06th] Another evening of American crunch started with the Saints at the Metrodome [17:30, Sky Sports 3 then 1]. The Saints went 3 and out from the kick off. The Vikings took just 3 plays to score - two for a first down then a 53-yard TD pass to Moss. The Saints stayed in touch with a 33-yard FG. 3-7. A long pass to Carter gave the Vikings a 1st and goal at the Saints' 1-yard line. The Saints kept them out of the end zone and they came away with a 24-yard FG. The second quarter was solid defence with no progress by either team until Culpepper rushed 30 yards then found Carter with a 17-yard TD pass. 3-17 at half time.
   The Vikings began the second half by getting to the end zone in 3 plays, finishing with a 68-yard TD pass to Moss. The Saints went into their no-huddle offense and Stachelski was all on his own in the end zone when he caught a 2-yard TD pass. The Vikings replied with a 44-yard FG. 10-27. After an exchange of punts, Tate intercepted Brooks' first play and started a drive which ended in the 4th quarter with a 2-yard TD run by Robert Smith. 10-34. Wong intercepted Brooks as the Saints were getting into scoring range but the Vikings had to punt. Jackson took a pass from Brooks 48 yards for a TD but a 2-point conversion attempt failed. 16-34 with 2:19 left. The first on-side kick attempt by the Saints ended with offsetting penalties. Jackson recovered the ball for the Saints on the second attempt but it hadn't travelled 10 yards. The Vikings recovered the third kick and Brister came on for Culpepper to see the match out.
   In Conclusion: A good win for the Vikings. The Saints were out-classed but they have a solid base for next season. Actually getting to the play-offs was an achievement and beating the Rams last week was as good as things could get for them.
   The Dolphins travelled to Oakland for the next match. The Raiders did nothing with their first possession and had to punt. Ogden returned the kick 43 yards to the Oakland 41. The Dolphins were getting into scoring range when Tory James intercepted Fiedler and took the ball 90 yards for a TD. After a Miami punt, the Raiders got to the Dolphins' 18-yard line then kicked a FG. 0-10. Another Dolphins punt pinned the Raiders at their 5.
   In the second quarter, a 32-yard pass to Kirby got the Raiders to mid-field. They converted a 4th and 1 foot and went on to kick a 33-yard FG. The Dolphins were starting to get the ball moving when Lamar Smith fumbled and the Raiders recovered at the Miami 43. A 7-yard TD pass to Jett made the score 0-20. The Dolphins got the ball with 1:47 left - and had to punt. The Raiders tried to end the half with a 57-yard FG but the kick fell short.
   Miami's opening drive of the second half was stopped and the Raiders returned their punt to the 46. Two rushes by Gannon kept the drive going and Wheatley topped it off with a 2-yard TD run. 0-27. Miami punted and the Raiders also had to punt when Gannon was sacked on 3rd down. They returned the compliment by sacking Fiedler on his first play. Gadsden for Dolphins responded by making a tremendous one-handed catch to gain 34 yards on the next play. Fiedler lost the ball with his arm going forward. James grabbed the ball and raced into the end zone. Then there was a long pause while the officials talked things over, ruled that Fielder had made an incomplete pass not a fumble and dismissed a fairly hopeless challenge by the Raiders. The Dolphins went for a 4th and 8 to keep the drive going - and didn't make it.
   In the 4th quarter, Gannon held on to the ball too long, lost it when he was sacked and the Dolphins recovered the ball at the Oakland 42. They went for a 4th and 4, and made it. Fiedler got off a pass to Martin, who was in the Raiders' end zone, but the play was called back for holding. Miami tried to make another 4th down and couldn't. The Raiders had to punt. James, having a great day, picked off a pass by Fiedler. More punts. Hoying came on for Gannon to give the back-up quarterback some time on the field of play. And when Allen intercepted Fiedler, that was it.
   The Raiders had enjoyed a week off and they were playing at home. The Dolphins were on the road after a crunching match last week. The fresher, less banged-up team won easily, and it was the first shut-out ever suffered by the Dolphins in the post-season period.

[Sunday, 07th] You have to be tough to watch American Crunch. Another 7 hours of it today, starting with the Ravens at Nashville [17:30, Sky Sports 3 then 2]. The Titans received the kick-off and the Ravens gave them 5 yards with an encroachment penalty on the first play. The Titans then drove 68 relentless yards to score a 2-yard TD via Eddie George. After an exchange of punts, the Ravens got moving - and almost managed a TD pass!
   The Ravens had to punt at the start of the second quarter, pinning the Titans at their 3-yard line. McNair had a pass attempt batted back to him. He caught it instead of getting out of the way, he was tackled and he lost 10 yards to bring up a 3rd and 19. So the Titans punted. Shannon Sharpe went 56 yards on a 3rd and 10 to get the Ravens to the Tennessee 1-yard line and running back Jamal Lewis went in for a TD. 7-7. Ray Lewis the linebacker crunched McNair and O'Donnell came on briefly as QB for the Titans. The Titans tried to kick a 50-yard FG but the kick fell short. Luckily, they got the kick off while the Ravens were still lining up and they got another chance from 5 yards closer after a neutral zone infraction penalty. Kick no. 2 was blocked at the line of scrimmage. Coleman blocked a Baltimore punt and the Titans got the ball back at the Ravens' 25. Del Greco - who used to be called Automatic Al - had another go at a field goal from 31 yards out, but he hit the left upright.
   In the second half, the Titans blitzed on 2nd and 3rd downs from the kick off and consecutive sacks on Dilfer forced the Ravens to punt. Coleman blocked the kick again(!) and the ball went out at the 29-yard line. Another FG attempt from 21 yards out and Del Greco made it this time. 7-10. Banks came on for Dilfer when a helmet to helmet shot sent him out of the match briefly. After an exchange of punts, the Ravens levelled the scores at 10 with a 38-yard FG.
   In the 4th quarter, McNair was hammered while scrambling at the Ravens' 20 and Del Greco came on again to try the field goal. Washington blocked him again(!), the ball flew to Anthony Mitchell, who got a convoy 90 yards to the Titans' end zone for a go-ahead TD. After more solid defence, a pass from McNair went through the hands of Eddie George. Ray Lewis grabbed the ball out of the air and zoomed into the Titans' end zone for his first ever TD. 24-10. And that was enough to tie things up.
   In Conclusion: The Ravens' offense didn't make any mistakes and their defence and special teams won the match. The Titans were good at blocking punts but the Ravens were better at blocking field goals. Next stop for the Ravens is Oakland.
   After a pause for breath, we headed off to New Jersey to watch the Eagles take on the Giants. The Eagles kicked off and Ron Dixon returned the kick 97 yards for a TD. Just 27 seconds gone! Solid defence stopped any scoring until the start of the second quarter, when the Giants kicked a 37-yard FG as the first play. 0-10. The Eagles had to punt - twice after a penalty - and the Giants got a drive going. But they tried a trick play, handing the ball back and forward, dropped the ball and the Eagles recovered it. More punts. McNabb lost the ball when he was sacked and the Giants grabbed it at the Eagles' 26. But the Giants' running back Tiki Barber, playing one-handed with a broken arm, fumbled and the Eagles got the ball back. Bad move. Sehorn intercepted McNabb, did some juggling while lying on his back, got up, caught the ball and went 32 yards for a TD. 0-17. The play survived a review by the officials (it was within the last 2 minutes). The Eagles closed the half by getting close enough to kick a FG. 3-17.
   Lots of punting in the 3rd quarter. The Eagles missed a 30-yard FG. The Giants had to punt, then they made a successful challenge, cost the Eagles a 1st down and forced them to punt again. The Giants left off punting long enough to kick a 25-yard FG in the 4th quarter. 3-20. Things were getting desperate for the Eagles. They went for a 4th and 2 - and made it. But they lost a challenge over the spot of the ball on another 4th down and the Giants took over on downs. The Giants had to punt, the Eagles blocked the kick and recovered the ball. Then they recovered their own fumble and got to the Giants' 10 yard line with 2:16 on the clock, no time-outs left and needing 3 scores. A TD for Small made the score 10-20 but an on-side kick attempt failed as there were no Eagles around when the ball came down - which is a hell of a strange way to play an on-side kick.
   In Conclusion: This was a dour battle of the defences but the Giants were better at making things happen. Their reward is a visit from the Vikings next Sunday.

[Monday, 08th] The WWF Classics [17:00, Sky Sports 1] has made a quantum leap from a hall in Smallsville to an arena in Metropolis. We're in 1986 now, somewhere in the period between Rocky Johnson and his lad, The Rock. At a time when Hulk Hogan was with the WWF, the Magnificent Murraco was a loser and Mr. Fuji was a manager. Just a few indoor fireworks away from the modern WWF - but the amount of time-wasting is about the same.

[Tuesday, 09th] So the New Bill [Criminal Practice, 20:00, ITV] isn't on once a week - it's being broadcast on the same days as the Old Bill unless ITV has got something else to put on, like football or the Millionnaire show. Anyway, you need a broad back to be in the CID at Sun Hill these days with all the back-stabbing that goes on. And the new DI! He had to tell the idle female sergeant that he was furious with her because he has only one expression - glum. And he just sat there looking glum when his detectives were extracting the urine by spouting a load of pro-active management jargon horse-hockey at him. What's wrong with the guy? Has he been drinking cement, or what?
   Most Wanted [21:00, Channel 5] was made in 1997, so when they blew away the First Lady, a Hillary Clinton look-alike got wasted. The film got only 2 stars in the Daily Mail Weekend magazine but it deserved an extra star for having as much back-stabbing as a couple of episodes of The Bill. What was it about? An evil industrialist in cahoots with a covert military unit to cover up testing lethal substances on American soldiers; the covert military bunch stomping all over civilians, the press and the cops; and the CIA in the background pulling all the strings. Oh, yes; and stunts, and things getting blown up and bad guys getting wasted in large numbers.

[Wednesday, 10th] In the repeated Deep Space Nine episode [Facets, 18:45, BBC 2], Jedzia, the host of the Dax symbiont, got to 'meet' previous hosts by having their memories transferred briefly to her friends. Either the previous hosts were a bunch of totally whacko losers, or the other members of the cast were overacting shamelessly in their attempts to create a character which was different from their usual character. An "all plot and no action" episode which got the thumbs down from the audience.
   The Good Life [The Last Posh Frock, 21:30, BBC 2] continues to sparkle a quarter of a century after it was made. In this episode, Barbara ruined her one and only posh frock, Tom was his usual insensitive self and Barbara poured gravy all over herself as a form of masochistic protest. And Margot was rude to everyone.
   Big Stuff [20:00, Channel 5] gets the viewers up-close and friendly with big things them bombards them with numbers and invites them to let their minds boggle. First up was a Jumbo Jet, which is huge by anyone's standards. Then we had a look at how one-piece laminated sails for Americas Cup yachts are made. The sails are 100 feet high, they have an area of 2,2000 square feet and people in the factory fly over the three-dimensional moulds for making them on a hang-glider harness during the manufacturing process.
   The world's largest helicopter - Russian - of course, is longer than a Boeing 737 and it can carry a load of 20 tons. The Italians use them for scooping water up in vast buckets and tackling brush fires. The area destroyed by fire during the Italian summer has gone down by 50% since they started using the monster helicopter. Not a lot of people know that - mainly because Channel 5 doesn't have that big a coverage. After a look at an entire hospital in a jet aircraft - intended for use in the Third World, we were back to fighting brush fires - using a super-scooper aircraft this time. These machines can skim over the surface of a lake or river or the sea and scoop up 6 tons of water in a matter of seconds. And their fast repetition rate makes them extremely effective against forest fires. Mind satisfactorily boggled.
   McTaggart [Falling In Love, 21:00, ITV] opened with nocturnal sabotage and a sky diver plunging through a greenhouse and ending up in bits. The pathologist was his usual cheerful self as he pointed out a head here, legs there and the odd arm over there. This is all very suspicious as the guy was shown coming down through the glass in one piece and, presumably, he hit the ground in one piece. So when did he get fragmented? That was never explained. Part 1 ended with a woman in a car looking at WHOR painted in red on the windscreen. Maybe we lost something by not having a wide-screen TV set.
   The first corpse turned out to be a man with a manufactured identity in the style of The Day of the Jackal. At the end of Part 2, the bloke who created the identity turned up in a freezer with his head bashed in. More opportunities for the pathologist to be jolly. We found out that the dead men were bank robbers before some McTaggart trademark red herrings appeared. Then victim No. 3 was Psycho'd to death by a killer wearing rubber gloves and wielding a pair of scissors.
   The whole thing revolved around a tango club, which gave everyone an excuse to go tango-ing around, with or without a partner, from time to time. Eventually, two killers were uncovered: a frustrated husband bumping off the men who were cracking it with his neighbour and his severely repressed wife, who bumped off the neighbour with the scissors. Oh, yes, and Jackie got married at the end.

[Thursday, 11th] The Roswaliens were visited by the FBI agent who used to be at their school this week [Crazy, 18:00, BBC 2]. The forces of evil were successful in convincing the aliens and their pals that the lady was crazy. She was, but only because sinister forces had made her that way.
   Pool old Giles was turned into a demon by a former chum on Buffy, the Vampire Slayer [A New Man, 18:45, BBC 2]. After rampaging around for a while, Ripper as Rupert Giles is known to his ex-pal, was almost done in by Buffy but she didn't go through with it because she recognized him by his eyes. "Only you could look so mad with me!". We also established that Giles doesn't trust 'The Initiative', the sinister government-run organization, and the professor of psychology and head of 'The Initiative' doesn't trust Giles or Buffy. Sounds like the basis for a relationship. And what's in Room 314?
   Horizon [Life On Mars, 21:00, BBC 2] is taking 2 programmes to try to prove that there's life on Mars by proving that there was flowing water there once. The process of proof seems to involve drawing dodgy parallels between flood plains seen on the Earth and features in images of the Martian surface.
   We got the obligatory shots of some guy driving around in a car plus a very interesting camera technique involving fast-forward sequences at the start and end of shots, which was quite entertaining. The programme also debunked the myth of fossil Martian bacteria on a meteorite from Mars - they were just artefacts created when the rock sample was gold-plated before being examined by an electron microscope. More next week.

[Friday, 12th] WCW Worldwide is back after its holiday, coming from Manchester, England, this week [19:00, Channel 5]. Ian Harrison, the Big 'Un from Wigan, was put through a table by Sergeant A-Wall in front of his home crowd. Screamin' Normal Smiley, who's from Blackpool allegedly, did better against Kwee-Wee and finished him off with a Norman Conquest. A couple of Filthy Animals managed to bash one half of Kronik a bit but there was never any doubt that they'd get killed in the end. Big Vito bashed Scott Steiner a bit before getting well bashed himself. Then Diamond Dallas Page took on Shaun Stasiac in a Lumberjack match, except that most of the lumberjacks disappeared back-stage, brawling, leaving only Kevin Nash and a couple of Natural Born Thrillers at ringside. Of course, the match ended in a swindle right in front of the ref, so DDP's pal, Kevin Nash, gave the ref a Jack-Knife for incompetence. Something that should happen a lot more often!
   Especially on Raw Is War! [21:30, Sky Sports 1]. Vince, Stevo and Kurt Angle did the opening harangue and burned up Part 1. Then Y2J and the Hardys demolished the Radicalz before Lita was showered with what looked like yellow gloop when the humourist Dean Malenko bashed her with a vendor's tray. What were people in the audience doing buying yellow gloop, I ask myself!
   The Wunn's Lumberjack match with Val Venis ended with everyone piling into the ring to bash the Right To Censor crew. Then we got The Rock taking on Kane and Rikishi aided only by a couple of reluctant refs! Luckily, the Undertaker strolled into save The Rock from getting seriously killed. Raven started off a Hardcore championship match against Steve Blackman but Hardcore Holly shoved his nose in and got himself pinned by Raven, which kept the belt in Raven's hands.
   Edge & Christian delighted the audience by showing off the Dudley Boyz 'parents' and some 'Dudley baby pictures' before the Dudleys rushed in to deliver a 3-D to 'Pa Dudley' and a 'testify' head-but and a trip through a table to 'Ma Dudley'. Stephie put Trash into a match between Test and Albert, which was resolved by an appearance by a severely battered William Regal.
   A match between Kurt Angle and Stone Cold Stevo for the WWF championship began with the audience wondering what sort of a swindle would be pulled to keep the belt in Kurt's hands. William Regal appeared again - along with a junior scaffolding pole - but he just got bashed even more by Stevo. Then, when Stevo had Kurt pinned, enter Triple H to drag the ref out of the ring and slug him. As WWF swindles goes, this is the crudest. And then HHH proceeded to bash Stevo with the scaffolding pole while good old J.R. worked himself into a vocal frenzy in the background. And as he was in shot, we could see that he was standing perfectly still while doing his raving, proving that it was just bad acting.
   Memo to J.R.: When you're in shot and ranting, jump about a bit to make the rant look convincing.

[Saturday, 13th] Robot Wars [19:45, BBC Choice] saw Rambot go out in the eliminators for not being under proper control and Millennium Bug, a slow, clumsy walker, get flipped. Judge Shredd 2's self-righting mechanism didn't. Arnold, Arnold Terminegger wasn't big and strong enough. Behemoth started well but X-terminator 2 came back from a slow start to win the heat final.
   Vince, Triple H and Stephie wasted the first 20 minutes of Smackdown! [22:00, Sky Sports 1] before the Right To Censor crew outnumbered and outmanoeuvered The Hardys and The Wunn. The Crap Rapper managed some high flying before Test almost kicked his head off. Then Test zapped our battered Goodwill Ambassador for no apparent reason.
   Edge & Christian wound up member of the Oakland Raiders NFL team in the audience until the Crapper joined them to take on Chris Jericho and the Dudleys. Enter Stevo with a steel chair to break things up and confront Vince. The Usual Suspects - Kane, Rikishi, The Undertaker and The Rock - all ended up lying around, zapped, like the cast at the end of Hamlet. Eventually, Riskish got the decision and that was it. But no. The Rock and The Undertaker started bashing each other, and then Kane choke-slammed everyone else. And suddenly, that was it for the programme - except that it was only 11:35 and the programme was sheduled to go on to 11:55. So what happened in the missing half-hour, Sky Sports? Eh?

[Sunday, 14th] We switched on for the divisional championships [17:30, Sky Sports 3] then we went out to take advantage of one of the last opportunities to see the space station Mir pass over Romiley. When we got back to the TV set, the Giants had started their match with the Vikings at New Jersey, 2 minutes had gone from the game clock and the Giants were kicking off after scoring a touchdown! [TD pass to Ike Hilliard - ed] Two Vikings got in each other's way when the kick arrived and the Giants recovered the ball at the Vikings' 17. Then Collins tossed a pass to Comella and it was 0-14. The Vikings had to punt but they pinned the Giants at their 2. Tate intercepted a pass from Collins which bounced off Dane's head but McDaniel intercepted a pass from Culpepper in the end zone by taking the ball away from Chris Carter. Morgan intercepted a deep pass attempt by Collins but the Vikings had to punt.
   In the second quarter, the Giants had a short field and got to the 2-yard line, but they had to settle for a 21-yard FG this time. The Giants blitzed the Vikings to a standstill then increased their lead with an 8-yard TD pass to Jureyvicius. The Vikings went 3 and out and the Giants' next drive produced another field goal. And they finished their first-half scoring with another TD pass to Hilliard. 0-34.
   The ball was stripped from Culpepper on his first play of the second half. The Giants recovered the ball at the Vikings 29 and scored again with a TD pass to Toomer in the corner of the end zone. 0-41. 5 TD passes gave Collins a club record and tied the NFL playoff record. Robert Smith managed a rushing 1st down for the Vikings then Culpepper was intercepted again. A 51-yard FG attempt by the Giants hit the left upright.
   The Giants punted for the first time at the start of the 4th quarter. Sehorn intercepted Culpepper in the end zone to keep the Vikings' side of the score sheet blank then the Giants sent on back-ups to give them some on-field time while they chewed up the clock.
   In Conclusion: Most people were expecting the Giants to win, but not by much. The Vikings' defence was weak in the secondary but no one expected the Giants' offense to be able to score so freely. They set a new record for practically every statistic of an American crunch match and they're now an interesting problem for whoever meets them in Super Bowl XXXV.
   The Raiders received the kick off in their home match against the Baltimore Ravens, who sacked Gannon on 3rd down. 4 punts later, Gannon was intercepted by Bailey at the Raiders' 19. A 36-yard FG attempt by the Ravens hit the right upright. Another 3rd down sack on Gannon. 2 more punts. Dilfer was swamped by Raiders on 1st down at the Ravens' 4. 2 plays later, he launched a pass to Shannon Sharpe, who went 96 yards for a TD. Hoying had to come on for Gannon after he was injured by a foul which escaped a penalty. Hoying was intercepted when Jett just stopped instead of completing his pattern. The Ravens added a 31-yard FG to their score and then it was just more work for the punters until the half ran out. 10-0
   The Raiders intercepted Dilfer's 3rd play of the second half, got to the Ravens' 2-yard line but had to kick a 24-yard FG. 10-3. A 29-yard FG restored the Raven's 10-point lead. The Raiders had to punt but Pope recovered a fumble by Jamal Lewis. Starks intercepted Gannon. The Ravens couldn't move the ball but their punt pinned the Raiders at their 2-yard line. Gannon lost the ball, Ray Lewis recovered it and the Ravens added a 21-yard FG to their total. 16-3 with 7:28 left.
   Hoying came on again for Gannon. The Raiders successfully challenged a fumble call which was clearly wrong on the replay. Rison caught a pass in the end zone but he lost the TD for pass interference as he had pushed off from a defender with both arms just before catching the ball. When Sharper intercepted Hoying, that was the end of the Raiders' hopes.
   The Raiders' offense had been used to scoring 30 or more points per match. Baltimore's mighty defense stopped them in their tracks and the not-so-brilliant offense got enough points on the scoreboard to get the Raiders anxious and then desperate. A well constructed win and the Giants had better watch out come January 28th.

[Monday, 15th] After considering the age of the Earth last week via the evidence in its rocks, Earth Story [19:00, BBC 2] pondered its looks, starting from Wegener's theory of Continental Drift at the beginning of the last century and proceeding via the great ocean surveys of the 1950s to the on-going study of the mid-ocean ridge. Great stuff for geology buffs.
   Cleopatra's Palace [21:00, Channel 4] lies somewhere in the sea off Alexandria, swept away by an earthquake and a tidal wave. French underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio has been Time-Teaming the site for a decade or so and he and his crew have the same knack of building grand visions out of a few scraps of evidence. This programme was vintage 1999 rather than up-to-the minute but interesting just the same. One thing that looked rather reckless was the decision at the end to put statues and so on back where they'd been found on the sea bed. Looks like an open invitation to collectors of illicit artefacts to me!

[Tuesday, 16th] The Bill [No Victim, 20:00, ITV] started with a jumper who didn't then a mugging that wasn't. A copper bashing his wife, was it? Well, it was only one of the layabouts from Barton Street, not one of Sun Hill's finest. But no! The wife was battering herself and also her husband when she wasn't getting totally paralytic. WPC Worrell seemed to be working to her own personal agenda and eager to get the wife to prosecute her copper husband. The trial, however, was very short as we were running out of time. In fact, there was just about enough time in the episode left for the wife to murder her long-suffering husband with a large knife off-camera. What have you done, Di Worrell? And when's Dave going to tell his wife about Polly? That looks like another doomed relationship.
   There are a lot of films around which look familiar at the end. The Net (21:00, Channel 5] fell into that category. Sometime in the past, I've switched over to this film after watching something else. Now I know what the beginning's all about too. This female computer expert, who works from home, gets caught up in a conspiracy against the security of all official computers in the good old US of A. She comes back from a holiday to find that her electronically documented life has been shunted into a siding and replaced by a criminal's. So she has to find ways to fight back. And the ending looks like a WWF Hardcore match with the bad guy getting clocked with a fire extinguisher.

[Wednesday, 17th] Tom and Barbara had a short holiday on The Good Life [19:30, BBC 2] and Jerry and Margot proved that they could handle all of their animals and so on with a bit of style - well, for a day or two. Margot was even polishing the goat's horns as an exercise in style. Not that the Goods trusted them to cope, of course. Apparently, there was a drought on when this episode was made. A far cry from our present floods.
   Operation Delta Force [21:00, Channel 5] was one of those films that need the TV fully loaded with ammunition. The bad guys fired off millions of rounds and didn't hit anything much. The good guys fired off about as many millions and zapped the bad guys. But it was all in a good cause. The Africaaners didn't get to spread the plague around and win themselves a homeland and the good guys didn't croak from the plague.

[Thursday, 18th] The plot thickens on Roswell High [Tess, Lies and Video Tapes, 18:00, BBC 2]. The sheriff is feeling threatened by the FBI's alien hunter, the demented FBI lady who showed up last week has been written off, someone has been spying on Michael and the new folks in town are doing weird things to Max. Worse, the new girl, Tess, can do alien stuff - like repairing broken ornaments by unconventional means.
   Buffy, the Vampire Slayer [The I in Team, 18:45, BBC 2] starts off thoroughly teamed up with The Initiative. In fact, she becomes a pager-carrying member of the gang. And what's in Room 314? Some kind of demon-cyborg which Professor Walsh and her medical staff have knocked together while imitating Dr. Frankenstein. It also looks like Spike, or Hostile 17 as he's known to The Initiative, is being drawn into Buffy's gang as a permanent member. The Initiative is making life much too hot for a lone de-natured vampire. Professor Walsh decides that Buffy is a threat to her organization and tries to take her out. But she underestimates the powers of a slayer. Buffy has scarcely finished telling her she's going to regret it before the demon-cyborg is taking out the Prof! Gripping stuff.
   Back to reality with a bump. Horizon's second program about Mars [Destination Mars , 21:00, BBC 2] considered the problems of getting there. The trip comes in 2 flavours: 1. Take a year to get there, spend 1 week on the surface and spend another year getting home; 2. Get there in 6 months, spend 500 days on the surface waiting for the Earth and Mars to return to close proximity and spend another 6 months getting home.
   Plan 1. went phutt with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and given a 1% bone loss per month without gravity, getting to Mars as fast as possible seems the better option. The Americans are considering Plan 2. Their idea is to send robot factories and living quarters on ahead to make air, water and fuel, and send the astronauts off with just enough fuel to get to Mars.
   The trip, however long it lasts, is not going to be easy - especially if there is a 90% chance that one of the astronauts will need Casualty-type treatment during the trip. And if anyone breaks a limb, amputation will be the only option as the medical profession has no information on how broken bones heal in free-fall. Going to Mars is not something to be undertaken lightly.
   The Planets - Brief Encounters [21:50, BBC 2] showed America going to the Moon between 1965 and 1972 with mainly crap music in the background.

[Friday, 19th] WCW Worldwide [21:00, Channel 5] opened with an embarrassing defeat for Team Canada by the Young Dragons. Screamin' Norman Smiley wasn't big and strong enough for Lex Luger, but Goldberg soon frightened Luger out of the ring! Current tag-team champions Kevin Nash and Diamond Dallas Page had an untidy brawl with the Natural Born Thrillers, then 3 Filthy Animals took on Jeff Jarrett and the Harris Brothers. The match was only going to end one way, and it was Kidman's turn to get slugged with the break-away guitar. And luckily, the ref was too blind to spot the wreckage in the ring.
   Bam Bam Bigelow and Sergeant A-Wall got into a table match - the Buffet of Brutality, according to the commentators. Both men went through the first table together and the ref ordered them to fight on. Enter Mike Awesome to bash Bigelow and let the Sarge send Bam Bam through the next table on his own. Scott Steiner and Buff Bagwell used to be tag-team partners. Now, they're deadly enemies. Unfortunately for Bagwell, he's better at strutting than taking on someone as big and strong as Steiner, and a Recliner settled his hash.
   Raw Is War [21:00, Sky Sports 1] actually started with a match! The Hardys and Lita took on the Right To Censor crew, and Lita gained the winning pin-fall after Chyna turned up to put the frighteners on Ivory. Then we got a harangue by HHH. Boring! Test took on Raven in a Hardcore match which drew in Hardcore Holly and Steve Blackman. An intervention by William Regal in the back-stage area proved decisive. The Rock and Kane versus Riskish and the Undertaker? Perm any 2 pairs from 4. A dastardly attack by Kane on The Rock and a Last Ride finished things off.
   The Crappler brought on a step-ladder and showed us a film of his greatest hits on Chris Jericho. So Y2J snuck up on him and bashed him out of the ring with the ladder. The Dudleys were supposed to team up with Stevo for a 6-man match but Edge & Christian zapped them in the back-stage area. So would it be 3 against 1 for Stevo?
   Hardcore Holly and Steve Blackman both bashed the ref during their match, so he baled out and left them to it. A Spanking Match between Trash and Jacqui raised the question of how would anyone know when someone won? When Kurt Angle arrived to drag Trash out of the ring and Jacqui semi-debagged her, that's how. Tazz and Kaientai were unlikely partners for a match with Raven and Too Cool, in which Tazz suffered the attentions of The Worm. Then it was time for the big match. Stevo versus The Champs - Kurt Angle and Edge & Christian. Only Stevo had hired the Acolyte Protection Agency as his partners, so the Champs didn't stand much of a chance. Everyone else legged it, leaving Stevo to sort out Kurt. Then HHH put in an appearance and we got another tedious harangue while he tried to provoke Stevo into hitting him. Enter Kurt to give HHH an Olympic Slam. Hooray! At least it shut The Game-er up!

[Saturday, 20th] We didn't get to watch Robot Wars [19:45, BBC Choice] this week because those stupid sods at the Beeb put on last week's tape intead of this week's. What a useless bunch!
   Do the Jonathan Creek stories [21:05, BBC 1] seem even more implausible at a second showing? Is this possible? I ask myself. The Omega Man was all about a disappearing alien and it has a plot which was as ingenious as it was unlikely. And I would have thought people going down with severe mercury poisoning would have given the game away!
   With a pay-per-view coming up, Smackdown! [22:00, Sky Sports 1] was bound to be long on messing about and short on action. Chris Jericho climbed up a ladder to start things off by telling the Crapper to come and get some. But he got Perry Saturn instead and then a sneak attack by the Crappler. Bub Bah Dudley was well battered but he still managed to beat Edge before being put through a table. Jacqui had the APA on her side when she took on the Hardys and Lita - and the Acolytes proved just too big and tough for the opposition to handle.
   En route to the ring for a bout with Val Venis, Test took a detour to attack William Regal and tear his jacket to shreds. So when Val threw Test out of the ring, Regal to the opportinity to bash him with a steel chair to show him who's boss. The King was going crazy over the cheerleaders for the Chicago XFL team - enter the Right To Censor crew to put a stop to it then enter Chyna to zap Ivory! And do it again on tape as 'moments ago' to waste a bit of time.
   Steve Blackman's on-going feud with Hardcore Holly continued. Enter Raven with a Kendo stick to bop both of them. The Usual Suspects plus Kane and Stevo had a brawl with HHH as ref. Kurt Angle was zapped by The Rock, Triple H was Stone-Cold stunned by Stevo, and The Rock and Stevo were choke-slammed by Kane and the Undertaker. Carnage!

[Sunday, 21st] The Time Team [18:00, Channel 4] went on an unusual mission to Wales. They found lots and lots of things which didn't stand up to close examination. The 'Neolithic Tomb' wasn't; the ruined keep of a 'Norman' castle was a Victorian bodge-up; the 6,000-year-old standing stone had foundations which were so shallow that it could be rocked by one-human-power and the 2,000-year-old sword was genuine but lying on a strand of barbed wire which was less than 20 years old. Most of the fakery was blamed on a 19th Century cleric who had been a collector of antiquities - but there was quite a bit of 20th Century faking going on, too.
    On Star Trek [The City at the Edge of Forever, 18:55, BBC 2], the Doc was injected with some stuff which made him totally paranoid and he dived through a time portal into the 1930s America and changed history. No Starfleet or USS Enterprise! So Jim and Spock followed him to put things right. And Joan Collins got zapped by a truck, which should teach her to look both ways when she crosses the road.
   UFOs & Aliens [20:00, Channel 5] was a mish-mosh of bits and pieces and weird lights in the sky. Israel is the place to be if you want to see a UFO these days. The film that followed it, Contact, was more of the same, although it made a valuable statement about life in the US today - religious nuts will always screw things up!

[Monday, 22nd] It's strange to realize that something as recent as the Great Alaskan Earthquake provided the key to working out where the ocean crust goes when it has expanded from the mid-ocean ridge, and how the continents were formed. Earth Story [19:00, BBC 2] began by telling us that all of the continents are made from the same sort of rock which is being produced by the volcanoes around the Pacific. The programme moved smoothly from barnacles left high and dry in Alaska to plate tectonics, and explained how water taken into the earth in subduction zones reduces the viscosity of molten rock, allowing it to percolate to the surface and sprew out as lava. The water also transports minerals - gold, silver, lead, copper, etc. - to the surface, which is why a volcano is a good place to go prospecting except during an eruption.
   Underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio reckons he had an ancestor on the French flagship Orient, which was sunk by Nelson's fleet during the Battle of the Nile in 1798 [Napoleon's Lost Fleet, 21:00, Channel 4]. The divers certainly seemed to be finding lots of goodies during the 1998 expedition - gold coins, encrusted objects alleged to be muskets, cannon balls and musket balls in abundance and the bones of sailors dead for 200 years. Orient was torn to pieces when bow and stern powder magazines exploded, and the shocking force of the explosion and the huge loss of life is said to have stopped the battle for 10 minutes. M. Goddio's team found the lower part of the Orient's main mast. The British recovered the upper part and it was eventually used to make Nelson's coffin when he was killed in the Battle of Trafalgar 7 years later.

[Tuesday, 23rd] PC Smiff had an episode named after him on the Bill [20:00, ITV]. His aim is to get out of a Sun Hill administered by the back-stabber, but he had to prove that he can be politically correct first, and that involved a bodyguard job for a pair of homosexuals. The older one was ex-army and got on okay with Smiffy. The younger one was dead stroppy and he couldn't resist winding up a sitting target. Later, Smiffy got to arrest him for attempted murder after getting a lot of aggro from the idle female DS and the back-stabbing superintendent. Life's great at Sun Hill these days.

[Wednesday, 24th] The final series of Deep Space Nine [18:45, BBC 2] opened with a bit of a scene-setter episode. Major Kira is now a colonel and in charge of the space station, Odo is still head of security, Worf, the doctor and Chief Meany are all off on a suicide mission against the Kardasians, the Romulans are as treacherous as ever, the wormhole is still closed, cutting the Dominion troops off from support, and Captain Cisko is going off to find out what happened to his mother instead of fighting the Dominion and the Kardasians. Oh, yes, and the Dax symbiont has a new host - an unnamed young lady who's a bit of a midget compared to Jedzia.
   In The Good Life [19:30, BBC 2] Margot scored a rare victory over the forces of Good, Tom & Barbara. They failed to discover that she was going to a weight-watchers' class, not having an affair.

[Thursday, 25th] The Roswell aliens [Four Square, 18:00, BBC 2] were following the new girl in town and trying to work out what she was up to while fearing the worst. Shock horror! Max had a vision of himself and the others hatching from their pods, and it turns out that the blonde girl is a fourth member of their hatching-group!
   It's all going pear-shaped on Buffy, the Vampire Slayer [Goodbye, Iowa, 18:45, BBC 2]. The Prof's cyborg-demon is wandering around, zapping wise-guy American kids; Willow's mate is deliberately sabotaging joint witchcraft ventures; Riley is going cold turkey as he comes off the drugs which the Prof fed to him and his fellow soldiers; Spike's getting hounded by The Initiative and beaten up by demons, who object to deactivated vampires going round killing demons; and, shock-horror, Buffy wears seafood pyjamas!!!
   Miami has paid $27 million for a bunch of holes in the ground, we learned on Horizon [21:00, BBC 2] - and no one knew what they were at the time. Suggestions included a UFO landing ground, part of the soakaway system of a 1950s septic tank and valuable archaeological evidence about the way of life of long extinct Florida citizens from before the arrival of the Spanish.
   What the archaeologists found was a series of rectangular basins following the circumference of a 38-foot circle and lots of circular holes in and around the basins. They eventually came up with the idea that nomadic Indians had a permanent settlement by the sea and that it was raised up on poles as protection against the tidal waves generated by hurricanes. There were clusters of round holes because rotting wooden support posts had been replaced with adjacent new ones after 50 years or so.
   The site showed evidence of human habitation but not at ground level. There was 2,000-year-old charcoal but no signs of fires on the surface - hence the idea that the houses were on raised platforms. Among the finds were shark-teeth with a neat hole drilled in them so that they could be attached to a club and unused stone axes from a site in Macon, Georgia, which lies 1,000 miles distant from the settlement in Florida. The ancient Americans were well organized and they had occupied the site continuously for at least 350 years from estimates of the rate of rotting and replacement of the support posts for their platforms. And they were pretty good at killing the Spanish until they went extinct.

[Friday, 26th] The artist formerly known as Lieutenant Loco outbid semi-commissioner Mike Sanders in the skulduggery stakes to open WCW Worldwide [19:00, Channel 5]. Sanders brought the cruiserweight championship belt into the ring but he was the one who was bashed with it and pinned. The remaining 2 of 3 Count had the nerve to take on the tag-team champs Diamond Dallas Page and Kevin Nash, and got severely killed for their trouble.
   After an interlude for some messing about to strip the tag-team champs of their belts and a batch of commercials, Evan Karagias and Jamie Noble - rejects from 3 Count and the Young Dragons respectively - got well bashed by the Natural Born Thrillers before coming back at the NBTs with a ladder. Finally, they got clobbered while they were arguing among themselves.
   Goldberg had no trouble in wiping the floor with Shane Douglas - the streak goes on! Reno took on both members of Kronik on his own and got taken apart. Then heavyweight champion Scott Steiner took on US Champion General Rection. The General started well but he couldn't last the distance and a Recliner did for him in the end.
   On The Bill [Family Honour, 21:00, ITV], the back-stabber was the ringmaster at the reopening of a community centre on a sink estate to a background of yobism. Meanwhile, the wife of the local MP had just battered her baby to death - or had she? There were accusations and counter accusations from the wife and the MP husband, and the idle DS soon had the husband tried and convicted. There was only Sergeant Ackland doing her job properly, which was lucky for all concerned. The MP turned out to be a bit of a thug and an arrogant bastard but the killer proved to be the obvious suspect - the older brother of the dead infant. And in the background, we had the distraction of gangs of kids battling and wrecking the place. Finally, the back-stabber told Sergeant Ackland that she's doing a great job. If she's getting compliments from such a dodgy source, it looks like June Ackland would be well advised to consider joining SO19 with Smiffy!
   Raw Is War [22:00, Sky Sports 3] opened with another bitching session by the Game-er, who got screwed on the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Enter our Olympic Hero to put him in his place, Y2J style. Finally, we got some action in the ring, except that Test didn't take all that long to win William Regal's European Championship, even though he's an American. The Hardys weren't fighting as a team and they didn't stand much chance against the Acolytes. The Crappler then teamed up with the newly returned Big Show to take on Y2J and The Rock. The Show demolished Y2J and he was carted away, leaving The Rock on his own. The Rock bashed the Show with the bell and escaped from a cross-face by grabbing the ropes. Then Chris Jericho made a surprise return to zap the Crappler ready for The Rock to pin him. Then everyone got a token choke-slam from the Show - including the Crapper.
   Ivory, now the self-styled 10th Wonder of the World after her victory over Chyna, pulled off a successful swindle on Molly Holly with a little help from Stevie Richards. Kane was winning his battle with Rikishi when some character called Haku did a run-in to 'decimate' Kane. Which brought the Undertaker to the ring to give his brother a helping hand. The new tag-team champion Dudleyz were wearing their bloodstained battledress for a confrontation with Lo Down. Di Lo Brown brought one of the belts into the ring but he got clobbered with it. Then the Dudleyz hauled Tiger Ali Singh into the ring and gave him a 3D through a table!
   Al Snow's hardcore match with champion Raven never got into the ring. Al snuck up on Raven while he was pushing his shopping cart of weapons - which included a Frankenstein's Monster doll [a weapon?] - and they both headed into the back-stage area. Al Snow got a pin-fall and held the belt for about 10 seconds before he was clobbered from behind by the driver of Raven's getaway car and pinned by Raven. Kurt Angle and Trash versus Triple H and Stephie was an untidy brawl. The match, and the evening, ended on a bright note when Stevo did a stroll-in to zap HHH with a Stunner.
   Note to J.R.: If you ever read your own Ross Reports, you'll find out that the Big Show isn't 500 pounds any more. The whole point of his enforced absence was to get his weight down and he has shed 62 pounds, according to the Ross Report.

[Saturday, 27th] BBC Choice managed to get an original tape for this week's Robot Wars [19:45]. Hypno-disc killed The Predator in heat 1, Onslaught didn't make heat 2 and was replaced by V-Max, which flipped Cerberus - minus its head which was too heavy - and the decapitated hell dog was unable to right itself. Gemini was confirmed at the Pinball Champion before Hypno-disc mangled V-Max. The idiot driver of Terror Bull spun his robot round and round on a flame pit and it conked out - scared of winning and having to face Hypno-disc? In the event, Raizer Blade, which was stopped and dead at the end of the first heat but which suffered less damage than The Predator, limped into the arena for the final and conked out more or less straight away. Hypno-disc was very merciful in the circumstances.
   The Undertaker and Rikishi opened Smackdown! [21:30, Sky Sports 1] and they were interrupted by run-ins by Haku then Kane. What a surprise that was!. Vince McMahon arrived mad, fired his driver and hit the ring for a harangue, which wasted a bit of time. The next match was a tag-team affair which started with one Hardy and one Acolyte on either side and finished with the teams reunited. Y2J tackled the Big Show with The Rock at the announce table. But the first run-in came from the Crappler, who attacked the Show. The Rock then joined in, got bashed, hit the Show with Jericho's belt, watched Y2J jump on the Show from the side of the ring then Rock-Bottomed the big guy!
   The crap rapper got rowdy with Tazz for a while, then K-Kwik was distracted by Kaientai, who did their bad overdub routine at ringside. A Tazzmission finished things off. Exit the Japs, laughing evilly. While Triple H was following a trail of beer cans in the car park, looking for Stevo, Christian took on Test for the European title and got zapped. The Hollys versus Right To Censor almost ended in a swindle but Ivory hit Bull Buchannan with her belt and Hardcore Holly got the pin.
   Backstage, Stevo sprang a trap and HHH clobbered Vince with a steel tray before getting his ass kicked. Kurt Angle got well bashed by Kane before they reached the ring. Rikishi and Haku zapped the Undertaker while he was watching the match on TV backstage then they came down to the ring to give Kane more of the same. The Undertaker came out to ring next and he got another bashing. Victory for the Island Boys tonight.

[Sunday, 28th] I've not seen Stargate SG-1 for a long time [Bane, 17:00, Channel 4] and I was quite surprised to see all the original cast members still in place. In this episode, Teal'c is stung by a giant, DNA-converting bug, which reproduces by turning other creatures into an appropriate number of replicas of itself according to the victim's body mass. Mayberry was interested in the bug as a source of weaponry but he finished the episode unbashed and unshot by the Colonel but out of luck. Teal'c, meanwhile, made a complete recovery, thanks to the grey-haired scientist, and zoomed off to play shoot-'em-up with giant waterpistols with a new friend.
   The Time Team [18:00, Channel 4] were in the Cotswolds looking for a Roman villa. The initial problem was that the site was vast and there was a lot of surveying to be done. The finds indicated that they had an Iron Age site and a site from the first years of the Roman occupation right next door to each other. Trench after trench went in, and in the end, the computer graphics people were able to create 3 grand buildings on the site. And who's still around from that time to argue with them?
   Much the same happened to Spock as to Teal'c on Star Trek [Operation Annihilate, 19:10, BBC 2]. A plasticy jellyfish creature injected Spock with stuff that created enough pain to drive a lesser being mad just after Jim's brother was found dead. As Spock is a Vulcan, he was able to control the pain and a spot of UV radiation from satellites soon fried the creatures. Spock was apparently blinded by the doctor's first treatment but it turned out to be a false alarm. Vulcans have a third eyelid, which activates when they are exposed to intense light and Spock forgot about it!

Super Bowl 35 ReportThe Giants won the coin toss for Super Bowl 35 at Tampa, Florida, and chose to receive the kick off. The Ravens gave them 5 yards for an encroachment penalty on the first play but Collins was almost intercepted on 1st and 3rd downs as the Giants went 3 and out. So did the Ravens, but their punt left the Giants at their 12. Burnett got the first sack of the day on Collins and there was another punt.
   The Ravens restarted at their 49. Dilfer tossed a 3rd down pass into the end zone but it bounced off Johnson's fingertips. The Ravens had to punt and pinned the Giants at their 2-yard line. Another interception opportunity went uncollected, the Giants made some room for themselves, then they had to punt. The kick was returned to the Giants' 22 but a holding penalty put the Ravens back at the Giant 41. A 38-yard TD pass, Dilfer to Stokeley, opened the scoring. After that, the first quarter ended with punt, punt, punt.
   The Giants went 3 and out in the second quarter after starting at their 41. The Ravens also had to punt after a sack on Dilfer. The Giants started at their 40 and got to the 50-yard line via two 5-yard penalties. A trick play with the Giants tossing the ball to one another behind the line of scrimmage came to nothing as the receivers were well covered when the forward pass eventually came. Ray Lewis tipped a pass attempt and Sharper grabbed the ball for the Ravens. Armstead intercepted Dilfer and rumbled into the end zone - but the play was nullified by a holding penalty. Griffin got a sack for the Giants and the Ravens punted.
   The Giants were moving the ball nicely when a sack by Washington left them with a 3rd and 18. Barber got a lot of it but the Giants had to punt. The Ravens started at their 12 and a 44-yard pass to Ismail got them out of the hole. The drive ended with a 47-yard field goal by Stover. 10-0. A 15-yard face-mask penalty against the Ravens put the Giants at their 28 after the kick-off. Two big plays later, they were at the Ravens' 29. Then Collins was intercepted at the 3-yard line by McAlister and the Giants lost the chance to score a FG at least. The first half ended with the defences in charge and the Ravens winning the field-position battle.
   Jermaine Lewis returned the opening kick-off of the second half to the Ravens' 32 but lost 10 yards for holding. The Ravens got the ball moving but a joint sack by Strahan and Griffin forced a punt. The Giants started at their 21 as Dilfer went to the locker room to have his injured left hand X-rayed. A sack by McCrary left the Giants with a 2nd and 18, and Collins' next play was intercepted. With Banks on as quarterback, the Ravens tried a 41-yard FG but the kick went wide left. The Giants went 3 and out, and the next punt, by the Ravens after Dilfer's return, set a new record for the most punts by both teams in a match. A piece of Super Bowl history followed.
    Starks intercepted the first play of the Giants' next drive and hared into the end zone. 17-0 Ravens. Ron Dixon of the Giants returned the kick-off 97 yards for a TD. And then No. 84 Jermaine Lewis returned the Giants' kick-off 84 yards for another TD!!! Three TDs in 36 seconds of playing time, 24-7 Ravens. Normality returned with the Giants going 3 and out.
   A Ravens punt at the start of the 4th quarter pinned the Giants at their 8-yard line. Collins gave everyone a fright by losing the ball on second down. The Giants recovered and punted again, but only to their 38. Jamal Lewis got the ball to the 3-yard line. Then he rushed into the end zone, lost the ball at the end of the play but was awarded a TD. The Giants challenged just before the snap, so the kick didn't count. Replays showed that Jamal Lewis was still holding the ball when its nose crossed the plane of the goal line, and the ref agreed. TD Ravens, 31-7.
   Dixon fumbled the kick-off return and the Ravens recovered the ball. This was the Giants' 5th turn-over. Jamal Lewis got the ball to the Giants' 21 and the Ravens added a FG to their total. 34-7. At this point, there were over 5 minutes left but a stalemate continued to the end and the Giants were unable to score any consolation points. Each punt added to the record for the most in a match. Ravens' linebacker Ray Lewis was voted MVP.
   In Conclusion: The Ravens' defense is now considered to the the best ever in the whole history of the NFL and they certainly proved it today. The experts were predicting a 3-point win by the Ravens. Right team, but no one expected them to score so many points. Offense, defense and special teams all got on the score board in what was a complete team performance. The Giants were lucky to come second.

[Monday, 29th] Earth Story [19:10, BBC 2] considered how the Earth's continents move around on their plates and concluded that the Earth's core is a ball of iron at a temperature higher than the Sun's surface. Everything happens by convection - hot plumes rising, cold material sinking, and Iceland exists only because it's sitting on a hot plume.
   The Search For Atlantis [20:00, Channel 5] charted the power of the myth from ancient Egypt via Plato to modern times. The story is all about the eternal search for something for nothing and the power of self-delusion: Columbus was looking for an off-shoot of Atlantis when he sailed to the west. Spurious connections also litter the Atlantis story, such as the assumption that pyramids in Egypt and South America were the product of the same culture. There are people who want to believe in Atlantis and people who get rich from writing about the idea and re-inventing it. More next week.

[Tuesday, 30th] I watched Star Trek Voyager when it received its pre-repeat showing on Sundays and I certainly don't remember any of the current run of alleged repeats [Investigations, 18:50, BBC 2]. They come from a period when Kes was aboard and before Seven Of Nine, and this episode marked the end of the spy. Independent operations by Tom Paris and Nelix flushed out the traitor and Nelix wrote him off. So cue the next problem.
   The Bill [Words of Wisdom, 20:00, ITV] started with the back-stabber telling Sergeant Ackland she should become an inspector - but he was telling that to the other uniformed sergeants as well. Meanwhile, the uniforms were having to deal with the local crime kid and the stakes had got as high as assault, robbery, causing criminal damage and possibly murder by the end of part 2.
   The 'murder' became a possible assault victim pushed into the river, and then a bullied girl doing an Ophelia act. It turned out that her mum had been too busy being a 'community leader' to notice what was happening to the daughter. And then the bully's brother had to be nicked for trying to fit him up. Not a very satisfying day at Sun Hill.

[Wednesday, 31st] Deep Space Nine [Shadows and Symbols, 18:45, BBC 2] had an episode of resolution. Captain Cisko found the missing Orb and reopened the worm hole, even though the plot of DS-9 was portrayed as the ravings of a madman written in pencil on the painted wall of his cell in an asylum! Colonel Kira also won her weapons-drawn stand-off with the Romulans.
   The Good Life [The Weaver's Tale, 19:30, BBC 2] featured Tom being diabolically clever to ensure that Margot bought a spinning wheel despite Jerry's attempts to clamp down on her spending. Tom was planning to borrow the spinning wheel to make yarn for his ten-quid loom. The only problem was that the 'spinning wheel' was really a musical box-style novelty and non-functional, so that was ten quid down the drain!

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