Thursday 31 January 2013


Here's another oddity from the MARVEL UK archives: the one-shot PLAYBACK from the Marvel Magazines imprint.  

The TV dedicated one-shot profiled numerous different TV shows across all the key genres (omitting - I think - News, Current Affairs and Documentary).  By way of a sample, and because the new series returned to British TV this week, I've rerun (ahem) the page dedicated to DALLAS by way of an example.  

Much like the HAMMER HORROR one-shot (which I'll run in a future post), this special was intended as a primer for a regular TV-devoted monthly.  Marvel did the same thing with BIZARRE (not to be confused with the creepy fetish/ gross-out magazine of the same name) devoted to unusual and obscure movies (and sure-to-be the subject of another upcoming post).

Unfortunately, this coincided with changes within the cash-strapped Marvel empire.  Responsibility for Marvel UK was transferred to Panini (soon to be sold) and the new management axed everything that wasn't core to their target audience of younger readers.  DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE survived (although the spin-off specials, yearbooks and poster magazines all shuttered) but the rest of the magazine group (Hammer Horror, Hellbreed, Bizarre and Playback) were all unceremoniously canned.  


  1. The Playback special was really quite well done, managing to spotlight some television productions that no one else really discussed at the time.

    I also remember a decent Blake's 7 magazine special from Marvel UK around this time that covered the whole series.

    1. Hi Jon

      I agree completely. It really did feel like PLAYBACK was going to break out of the usual narrow X-Files/ Babylon Five/ Star Trek coverage favoured by TV ZONE and the other (uncannily similar) Visual Imagination titles of the period.

      Do you remember THE BOX from (around) 1987? Despite reusing the Mulder + Scully = Bed cover from Rolling Stone (not that it mattered, it was an eye-catching pic), it also tried to cast a wide net in an effort to become the "Empire" of TV mags. I loved the three bi-monthly issues and I was dead chuffed to see it was going to go monthly from the fourth issue. And then I waited. And waited. They cancelled the bloody thing.

      There was also CULT TV magazine from Future...

    2. Oh.. and I've covered the BLAKE'S SEVEN SPECIAL (there were actually two) in a previous post.

      Click-click here:

    3. Thanks for the link. I remember both Blake's 7 specials, but it was the first one's painted cover that stuck in my mind. Doctor Who Magazine's similar painted covers they had for a few years were similarly very good too, although ironically by the mid-90s they stopped commissioning them. It's a pity, but was no doubt quite costly!

      Never got The Box, but definitely remember Cult TV though, so appreciate your post on that above! I think I got most of the issues of that before it fizzled out, but at least they finished on a high with the Greatest TV Moments article!

    4. Hi there

      Posting CULT TV did bring back some memories. It was a good little magazine and I was disappointed at the time when I realised I was reading the final issue.

      According to the BLAKE'S SEVEN MERCHANDISE BOOK (see the magazine post), that second B7 special had originally been commissioned as a Yearbook (a companion to Marvel's WHO Yearbooks) but - after it had been designed - that plan was abandoned and it became a second special. That probably explains why - to a certain extent - it covers the same ground as the first one. It's a real shame the yearbook didn't happen as - I think - it would have become the definitive book on the show.

      I'll dig out my copies of THE BOX and post them at some point.


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