Category Archives: Television and Movies

Karaoke and Cold Lazarus by Dennis Potter

I recently watched a pair of British Sci-Fi dramas by Dennis Potter filmed in 1996. Over the years I’ve seen references to Cold Lazarus here and there (including as the title of a Stargate episode) and decided to check it out. It’s the second part of a pair, the first being Karaoke. Apparently they’re available on YouTube in a huge playlist of Dennis Potter’s works (items 42-49).

The first story in the pair is a 4-part mini series drama about an author who discovers that he has pancreatic cancer. He’s also been going through some strange deja vu that I won’t go into because it would be a spoiler. I wasn’t sure what it had to do with science fiction until I saw the second story.

Cold Lazarus is a 4-part mini series and takes place hundreds of years in the future in a dystopian hyper-corporate oligarchy. It features a science lab doing experiments with a frozen head and some drama about what is to be done with the head that I also won’t go into because spoilers. The head used to belong to the author in Karaoke and the memories extracted include some scenes from that series.

Overall, they’re pretty typical for low-budget 1990’s British television dramas. There are some really interesting props and scenery in Cold Lazarus, especially the motorized chairs that look like giant man-eating plant pods. Wikipedia says that many of the props were purchased by a film company that later used them for a movie called The Vampires of Bloody Island, which I have not seen.

It turns out that the first story is very autobiographical. Dennis Potter had cancer and these were his final stories, not filmed until after his death from pancreatic cancer. Dennis hated Rupert Murdoch and had spoken out against him publicly. He went as far as giving his cancer a name. That name was Rupert.

I agree. Rupert Murdoch is a cancer and has made the world a worse place.

In any case, these two stories, while not multibillion-dollar blockbusters, are still interesting. Since you can watch them for free on YouTube, you might as well do it when your Netflix queue runs out.