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Sunday Present

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Here’s Patrick Stewart playing Lenin in a 1974 British TV production. In this scene, he meets Leon Trotsky and explains his version of Marxism.

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  • Nathan Goldwag

    FALL OF EAGLES! Man, what a ridiculous show. Equal parts hilarious, unwatchable, and surprisingly great. And Patrick Stewart as Lenin is the highlight of the show. What’s even better is that the show received support from a pro-Soviet British group, and by the end basically just turns into a hagiography of Lenin. Man, I didn’t know anyone but me had seen this anytime this century.

    • I just discovered it today. It sounds delightfully terrible.

      • Nathan Goldwag

        It’s pretty great. Major plot lines are set up and dropped constantly, huge historical events go without mention, and the directorial style changes dramatically from episode. Plus, it had basically no budget so a lot of times they just cut in historical footage which can be……interesting. Like when they use what is clearly a film of American marines in the Caribbean somewhere to represent the WWI Eastern Front.

        • This sounds so wonderful

        • cpinva

          “Like when they use what is clearly a film of American marines in the Caribbean somewhere to represent the WWI Eastern Front.”

          was this film taken during the banana wars? i’m assuming so, since they would have still been wearing the old, wwI “doughboy” helmets at that particular point.

          ok, i’ll bite. i’ve never heard of this series before, but that’s what YouTube is for! must watch, must watch……………..

    • Todd

      Curd Jurgens as Bismark is also a highlight. All the royals are appropriately vapid.

      • ouk epaino

        Jurgens’ Bismarck is one of the great scenery-chewing performances. I also think Barrie Foster did a good job as Kaiser Bill

    • Woodrowfan

      My wife and I watched it a few months ago. By the time it’s over you want to shoot the Czar and his wife yourself….

      • Where did you find it?

        • FMguru

          I’m pretty sure it’s all up on YouTube. Thirteen episodes, each 53 minutes long.

          Stewart also had a compelling single scene in the BBC version of Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy. Captain Picard faces off with Obi-Wan Kenobi. He also had a small role in the 1984 movie adaptation of Dune, which is great fun. Atomics!

          • God bless You Tube

            • ouk epaino

              It’s astonishing it ever got made, really. “A thirteen hour soap opera about the fall of the Hohenzollern, Romanov and Habsburg dynasties” hardly seems like a compelling proposition.

          • LeeEsq

            It is. I watched The Last Tsar for so bad its good Sunday entertainment.

        • Woodrowfan

          Netflix has most of the discs. Youtube for the others..

    • Taylor

      Wbat exactly was hilarious and/or unwatchable?

      Besides Patrick Stewart as Lenin, the show also had Michael Kitchen as Trotsky. Kitchen may be more familiar to American viewers from Foyle’s War.

      • Nathan Goldwag

        Oh, I though most of the Austrian plot-line was terrible. None of the plot threads lasted more than an episode and it was confusing and muddled. Plus, the first German unification episode and the one that focused on the Russian secret police were just, I don’t know, tedious.

        The hilarity came from just the choice they made. Why does Lenin get introduced doing push-ups? Why is he informed of the Russian Revolution by a bicycling Irishman while sailing on Lake Geneva? Why is that Austrian minister breaking the fourth wall, and why is he never seen again? Why does the show tell us about the murder of Czar Alexander II by having Nicky throw jam in some guy’s face and have that flashback to Alexander’s face exploding? Why do they keep cutting to historical footage that has nothing to do with anything? Why does Franz Josef have a pair of bored secretaries? And so on and so forth.

  • wjts

    Meh. He’ll always be Sejanus to me.

  • cleter

    That’s the weirdest goddamned thing.

    Now I want to overdub that on some TNG Picard monologue.

    • Colin Day

      The enemy is not the Borg, nor the Ferengi, nor the Kardassians, but your fellow officers and crew members who fail to understand the principles of Star Fleet.

      • Star Fleet Leninism would make a good reboot of Star Trek. Spock can be Bukharin or something.

        • Malaclypse

          Commodore Decker as Stalin.

      • cpinva

        “The enemy is not the Borg, nor the Ferengi, nor the Kardassians”

        it is, however, the Kardashians. they have been consistently guilty of felony bad style. as punishment, they should suffer the ultimate: banishment to Filine’s Basement.

    • Gwen

      The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the Revolution… Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism is the principal on which our party is based.

    • Malaclypse

      Lenin and Trotsky at the Tauride Palace!

  • LeeEsq

    1. Do you think that Patrick Stewart was cast because he already had Lenin’s hair style or lack there of?

    2. They costume people were probably happy that Trotsky’s hair style was back in fashion in 1974. Saved them a bit of money and time.

  • Murc

    Jesus God, Stewart has barely aged. Does he have a portrait in his attic?

    (I am also convinced Bruce Boxleitner periodically feeds on the life force of other Babylon 5 actors to keep himself alive.)

    • kped

      I just did a double take watching this. he was born in 1940, meaning he was 34 here. Other than his voice deepening, he looks identical today!

      Now, I’d say he looked like an old 34 year old, but the man aged well!

      Here’s a good picture:

      http://www.pmslweb.com/the-blog/wednesday-funnies-welcome-to-the-chuckle-zone/34-patrick-stewart-doesn-t-age-humor/

      • In my senior year of high school, one of the assignments for our senior project was to do a PowerPoint presentation on a conspiracy of our choice. I don’t really remember what my choice was (and I forgot to transfer it before the account was locked out) but it had something to do with using Star Trek in the Space Race and evil Commie duplicates – I do know that Patrick Stewart as evidence of baldness arresting aging was one of the pieces of evidence.

    • Ahenobarbus

      The same year, he was in a BBC production of Antony and Cleopatra as Enobarbus. Quite good in it too.

      Apparently he also portrayed Clement Attlee in a TV movie at the time.

      • I love the 70s

        • EliHawk

          I really feel there’s a ton of probably pretty good miniseries/TV movie acting that’s just completely been lost to the ages, because nobody Netflixed or preserved them. All kinds of historical dramas with decent character actors playing historical figures (probably half of them Kennedys, but still), all just lost to time.

          • Murc

            The BBC routinely used to simply toss their film. It’s why a lot of early Doctor Who isn’t available, but they literally threw away a lot of other stuff as well.

            • Paul Campos

              The first several years of Johnny Carson’s version of The Tonight Show aren’t preserved, because NBC taped over the episodes to save money on tape.

              Also, there’s only one known tape of the original Super Bowl broadcast, because neither CBS nor NBC, which both broadcast the game, bothered to save one. Some guy had a super (heh) early version of a VCR and taped it. Either he or his son — I can’t remember which — has been trying to sell it to the NFL for years but they won’t pay what he wants, and of course he doesn’t have the legal right to sell it to anybody else or reproduce it.

    • NewishLawyer

      1. He is probably a workout/diet fanatic.

      2. He probably had work done.

  • Denverite

    Vaguely apropos of this (via TNG), if anyone is looking for a great Sci-Fi series to watch during the summer TV doldrums, The Expanse is excellent. Sort of think Game of Thrones meets House of Cards, but set 300 years in the future when we’ve colonized large parts of the solar system. The books apparently are good too, but I’m only halfway through the first.

    • mattius3939

      The first season of the Expanse is fantastic.

      I read the first book; the tv show is better. Ever write something and think to yourself, “oh, I should have done this or that with the plotline?” That’s how the Expanse reads to me – the book was a rough draft, the tv show the polished draft. The book is a very different story. It has most of the same characters, with several of the early plot points, but diverge wildly after the Martian Navy vessel is scuttled. The whole protomolecule plot is resolved in the first book. No mysterious forces in the book, pushing mysterious motives, either.

      One of the authors of the book, Daniel Abraham, writes another series called “The Dagger and the Coin” series. It’s fantastic, if you’re into fantasy fiction.

      • kped

        The Dagger and the Coin is a series of high fantasy novels by the American novelist Daniel Abraham.The first volume of the series, The Dragon’s Path, was first published in 2011 and the fifth and final installment, The Spider’s War was released in 2016.

        Jesus, can he help George R.R. Martin finish up Game of Thrones?

        • kped

          And looking more, he co-wrote 6 expanse books in this time as well. Some writers just have it easier I guess,the words flow quicker (not saying that’s good or bad, haven’t read the Expanse books, just noting the disparity in releases for the series).

          • mattius3939

            Yeah, some authors seem prolific. In my opinion, though, as fun as the Expanse and especially the Dagger and Coin are, those books are nowhere near as complex a story as GoT.

            • kped

              I think GoT has gotten too complex to be honest, Martin goes off in random directions that aren’t that interesting, and it’s making it harder for him to tell the core story. He thinks of new characters (who aren’t all that interesting), and then wanders off to explore their not entirely relevant back stories. It’s quite frustrating in the last two books.

              Honestly, given how he has been writing, and seeing the sample chapters he’s released already, there is next to no chance he finishes the story in 2 more books. He’ll need at least 3 books to move the pieces where they need to be (and that assumes he actually cares about moving them there, instead of placing more random road blocks in their path). Truthfully, I don’t think he finishes the series.

              • Murc

                Martin goes off in random directions

                This isn’t true.

                He thinks of new characters (who aren’t all that interesting), and then wanders off to explore their not entirely relevant back stories.

                “Interesting” is of course entirely subjective, but everything else here is not true in an objective sense.

                Well, I take that back. “Not entirely relevant” is doing a lot of work here. If you mean “not 100% relevant to already-established plotlines” this is of course true, but that’s weak, weak tea.

                instead of placing more random road blocks in their path)

                This, again, has never happened, unless you’re defining “random road blocks” as “I find these plots un-interesting.”

                Which is of course your right as a reader, but own that opinion. Don’t imply Martin is rolling a d20 and then consulting the Wandering Monster table rather than working to a plan. That isn’t what is happening.

                • mattius3939

                  Ugh.

                  Is there an eye roll emoticon?

                  This isn’t true.

                  Little Finger is probably the best example: “we’re going here – no wait! we’re going there! haha! no one will expect if I do this! Now we’ll go over there! Why? Because people won’t expect it!”

                  Arya took, what, a million pages to get to the house of the dead? “I’m going to see my half-brother at the wall! Oh no, I got taken in with a bunch of prisoners! oh no, I got kidnapped by the Hound!” etc etc.

                  I find all of the characters to be boring at some point, which I think is what kped’s saying. Did Dany really need to be advised by each and every faction outside of westeros? And then have half of westeros come to her to further advise her? And did we need to see each and every conversation, and be informed about what they were eating? Does Cersei really need to sit around and snipe at the various forces closing in on her for 1400 pages, rather than 1200? Did the mayor of white harbor really need to eat eel pie for 17 straight pages?

                  Most of these characters are just spending pages journeying around until Dany shows up. Everyone’s in a holding pattern because the core story is 3 books long while the side quests are an infinite number of stories long. GRRM is a world builder. Which is great until it comes time to close a world.

                • Murc

                  Little Finger is probably the best example: “we’re going here – no wait! we’re going there! haha! no one will expect if I do this! Now we’ll go over there! Why? Because people won’t expect it!”

                  Again, this isn’t what happened. You might not like how Littlefingers plotlines have been handled but objectively speaking this isn’t how they were constructed.

                  Arya took, what, a million pages to get to the house of the dead? “I’m going to see my half-brother at the wall! Oh no, I got taken in with a bunch of prisoners! oh no, I got kidnapped by the Hound!” etc etc.

                  You are making the assumption that Arya getting to the House of Black and White was the only possibly important thing and everything else was just time-wasting filler.

                  Not finding the war in the Riverlands, the Brotherhood Without Banners, Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch’s chevauchee, Sandor Clegane’s entire character arc, and how Arya’s experience as a refugee, assassin, and de facto leader of a band of refugees changed her at all interesting or compelling reading is of course your right as a reader, but you can’t really claim they were pointless wheel-spinning.

                  Did Dany really need to be advised by each and every faction outside of westeros?

                  This didn’t happen. She did attract a lot of attention, yes, but not the amount you ascribe. More to the point, even if she had, she has the last three dragons in the world. That makes her a big deal.

                  And then have half of westeros come to her to further advise her?

                  If by “half of Westeros” you mean “four dudes. Maybe as many as eight if you count Quentyn’s entourage.”

                  Does Cersei really need to sit around and snipe at the various forces closing in on her for 1400 pages, rather than 1200?

                  Cersei’s downfall as a ruler took precisely as long as Eddard Stark’s did and involved less page count.

                  Did the mayor of white harbor really need to eat eel pie for 17 straight pages?

                  Again, this didn’t happen, and Wyman Manderly’s eating habits were used to mask the single most sublime piece of revenge in all the books.

                  Most of these characters are just spending pages journeying around until Dany shows up.

                  Objectively speaking this is not the case. The fact that you don’t find Essos interesting and want the books to be about what happens when Daenerys goes all Aegon on Westeros doesn’t make everything that happens until that itch is scratched pointless.

        • Mellano

          Jesus, can he help George R.R. Martin finish up Game of Thrones?

          Maybe that was the implied punchline, but Abraham’s co-author in The Expanse books, Ty Franck, is/was literally George R.R. Martin’s assistant. Presumably if it was possible for him to help Martin along, it would have happened by now.

          • Brett

            If Martin dies before completing the series, Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck are at the top of any list to complete it posthumously (assuming Martin wants that to happen – I don’t think he had a positive view of Sanderson completing Robert Jordan’s series, although I thought Sanderson’s Wheel of Time books were good).

            I don’t think he’ll die before completing the series, though.

            • wjts

              I’m pretty sure Martin has said that if he dies before it gets finished, it doesn’t get finished.

              • That may have something to do with him writing his books on Wordstar ’87, with one finger. (That is absolutely not a joke, BTW).

              • Mellano

                Martin has said this, though IIRC Jordan said the same thing as well for a long time. Then he eventually recanted and put together material for someone else to finish up.

                Jordan also lived with a terminal diagnosis (or for all practical purposes terminal) with enough time to consider how he wanted to leave the series, though. That may have contributed to his decision.

        • msdc

          Ironically, Daniel Abraham was the guy who helped George R.R. Martin fuck up Game of Thrones (well, A Song of Ice and Fire) by convincing him to split up the fourth and fifth books by cast and location.

          • Brett

            The problem is that if they’d split it up by chronology instead, you’d have two books neither of which would have had complete story arcs within them. Martin had a lot of stuff done for the POV chapters that went into A Feast for Crows when he finally abandoned the “five-year time skip” idea, so it made sense to do that first (especially since nobody thought it would take him another six years to finish Dance with Dragons).

            Speaking of which, it’s been almost six years since A Dance with Dragons came out. It’s probably foolish to hope for the book in the near future, but he did seem to think it was a serious possibility that he might finish it by the end of last year, and did an apology post when he didn’t.

  • JonH

    I’m looking forward to Armando (VEEP) Ianucci’s The Death Of Stalin, which is in post-production.

    Jeffrey Tambor as Gregory Malenkov
    Michael Palin as Molotov
    Steve Buscemi as Khruschev

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      Wow wow wow. Glad to see Palin on camera again. Seems like it’s been a while.

  • msobel

    Let no one call it “Picard with a beard.”

  • Jake the antisoshul soshulist

    The Federation was a socialist utopia in the early seasons of TNG. Later seasons were more realistic after Roddenberry died.

    • Sly

      The economics of Trek was always an afterthought, even post-Roddenberry. Apparently explaining FTL travel and teleportation is doable, but the hows of achieving a post-scarcity utopia has to be swept under the rug.

      Having said that, I still think Quark using supply and demand to explain peace negotiations to a terrorist is one of the best scenes of DS9.

      • EliHawk

        Nog taking the piss out out of Federation’s currencyless economics is also great: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wx5I7uEEEYo

        • That scene, the root beer scene, and the “like the Borg” speech represent a huge part of what I love about DS9. Three critiques of the Federation and its place in the galaxy, all different but somehow connected, all valid but not necessarily the whole story.

          And it’s a particularly incisive critique coming from Nog, who, after all, is in Starfleet at that point, and by any reasonable measure has made a more serious commitment to Federation values than Jake ever has.

      • SIS1

        The problem with that scene is that it assumes Vulcan’s wouldn’t be able to logically figure this out without the concept of “money”, but basic energy saving for example is a fundamental drive of evolution.

        As for how the post-scarcity utopia is set up, in the Star Trek timeline humanity gets to post-scarcity from what is essentially a post-apocalyptic situation. As it where, most of the previous social structures had been wiped away by the eugenics wars. Easier to create anew when the old has been blown away.

    • Brett

      I wouldn’t say it’s unrealistic given what we’ve seen of the Federation. The Federation has replicators that can replicate most goods and even entire scenarios (although the replication isn’t always 100% as good as the real stuff), advanced computer networks, extensive automation, and their weird “hologram+force field” thing that theoretically gives them a very flexible supply of simulated labor. I think of what they have as a cruder version of the Cultureverse, where the regular inhabitants get what you might call a “stipend” of goods and services generous enough to cover their regular needs.

      Then again, it makes you wonder why they do Starfleet. Are they all just enthusiasts for science and exploration, even if it means they’re going to be stuck as Second Warp Coil Technician for years? Do they get special privileges back home that go with rank in Starfleet?

  • NewishLawyer

    Patrick Stewart sort of looks like Lenin. Why did they keep the horrible 70s haircut on Trotsky?

    • Colin Day

      Because Trotsky had a lousy 70s haircut?

  • JonH

    Hey, how’s this for an idea: Global Marxism Cinematic Universe

    During the credits at the end of the film that introduces Lenin, Samuel L. Jackson appears as Eric Hobsbawm, and recruits Lenin to join a new Initiative.

  • Terok Nor

    It still beats T. J. Hooker. Punk! Scum!

    • Colin Day

      What about Boston Legal? Or Miss Congeniality?

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