Video Review

Tightly-Wound Buns and Flying Crabs: Thomas Dolby – “She Blinded Me with Science”

We start out with Thomas tooling down some road, driving one of those old-school motorcycles with a sidecar thing. (I never understood those contraptions. If you need the extra seating, just get a car, right?) Anyway, Thomas and his odd trench-coat are driving up to a collection of buildings in the countryside, where we can see a man with a jetpack standing on the roof of one of the structures. He looks a bit distraught (maybe he should get off the roof, that might help) and he’s shaking his head at us in a manner which indicates we should just go find a nice pub and not stop here.

But Thomas does, because he’s a free spirit (how else would you explain that insipid hat he’s wearing?), pulling into a little parking circle in an erratic manner that makes it clear he just learned how to drive the motorcycle three minutes ago. Some helpful title cards then appear on the screen, letting us know this is “Mr. Dolby’s arrival at the Home for Deranged Scientists”. How nice for him. But why would a deranged scientist voluntarily go to a sanitarium? They must have a really compelling brochure. (“We have lots of lovely bushes for you to look at whilst in a pharmaceutical haze. And free Wi-Fi. Call now!”)

Thomas and his odd cap head inside, where he finds a woman wearing spectacles and looking completely out of place at the reception desk. (She appears to be angry in some way. Did he not have an appointment? Do deranged people even understand what appointments are? Or reception desks? Is she tired of having to validate all the parking?) Thomas hands over some paperwork and takes off his coat, because it’s really far too big for anyone to be wearing if they want to be taken seriously. Sadly, this move does not impress Spectacle-Etta, as she merely grunts and continues to be determinedly dissatisfied with everything, ever.

The cameraman heads back outside to the lawn (probably because paperwork takes a lot of time to review and there’s really not an exciting way to film such a mediocrity) where we find several older gentlemen doing strange things. Bubble-blowing appears to be involved, and possibly some synchronized frolicking. Something else about trousers? Even the cameraman doesn’t know what these geezers are up to, so he gets bored rather quickly and we head back into the main building, because this is the thinnest part of the script so far and he’s improvising. We encounter the Receptionist Lady, who is apparently done with the wretched paperwork and is leading us (and presumably Thomas) into an inner chamber. There is a sign on the door that is vague and misleading, so anything could be happening in here, from barn-dancing to yodeling.

We are then presented with a man standing at and gazing out a window, perhaps searching for a better-paying job. He turns and comes rushing at us with far more enthusiasm than is comfortable, especially in England where one simply doesn’t show excitement unless another coronation has been announced. He shakes our hand and then proudly directs us to a nearby psychiatric couch, one that looks all vintage and possibly still reeks of Freud’s cigar. Oh. We’re going to do that now. Great.

Luckily, the camera switches angles so that we are no longer pseudo-Thomas, and we watch as real-Thomas plops onto the couch with great comfort and familiarity, indicating that he’s been to this rodeo a time or two. As Thomas wiggles his fanny on the couch and the doctor drops into a companion chair, Receptionist Lady (who might be “Miss Sakamoto” from the lyrics or Joan from central casting) decides to climb a short ladder and then fiddle with her skirt in what I’m assuming is supposed to be an erotic manner but really looks like she’s done got the crabs once again. Dang it.

This development causes Thomas and his hair to ogle her with barely concealed lust, a sure sign that Thomas has not been watching the right pornographic movies. It also causes the Doctor to suddenly be in a completely different video, one where he waves mysterious implements and does a small jig. Then the Doctor comes back to the right set, and he begins to scribble in his old-school notebook whilst Thomas tries to tell us why he’s here and what led him to wearing intense eye-shadow.

Thomas starts off by babbling about the stench of chemicals and scratching his head. (Uh oh, did Sakamoto’s crabs leap-frog their way across the room?) As if she heard our thoughts, Sakamoto and her severe glasses turn to give us a penetrating look like she’s a prison warden with her hand on the switch that controls the electric chair. Or maybe she’s just horny, because we quickly cut to another scene where she and Thomas are doing an odd awkward dance in a darkened but classical room, clutching at each other with barely-concealed passion and/or a desperate need to keep from falling down.

Oh wait, maybe it’s not Saka. This woman has long hair that is not wound into a bitchy receptionist bun, and as she slowly twirls with Thomas, we can see, courtesy of her revealing couture, that she has an odd, vaguely violin-themed tattoo on her back. Maybe this is Saka’s musical personality that takes control from the other personalities in her head when they are all standing on a dance floor? Saka Chaka Khan?

We briefly cut back to Thomas still on the couch, touching his nose and making sniffing motions. Let it be entered into the court transcript that this is a completely unattractive thing for Thomas to do.

Another shot of the questionable waltz, then we go back to original Sakamoto as she climbs back down the short ladder. She’s not carrying anything, like reference documents or prescriptions for tranquilizers, so she clearly did all that mess just to show off her legs. Harlot.

The Doctor and Thomas continue to chat, with Doc scribbling frantically and Thom pulling up one pant leg to show something that we don’t care about. (Another title card pops up, proclaiming “Suitable for Treatment!” I think that card should have started the video.) The Doctor is suddenly inspired to do that waving thing with his implements again, looking manic, and Saka arrives bearing refreshments in the form of a wooden puzzle that Thomas must decipher for some important reason. We watch him bang at that thing for a bit until the cameraman gets bored once again and we head back outside.

To find those older gentlemen are still frolicking about and being very invested in doing annoying things. One of them is prancing with a jacked-up butterfly catcher, another is playing hopscotch whilst looking through a telescope that is pointed at the ground, and some interns seems to be pushing a non-responsive patient along on a gurney as they rush to somewhere important. (Oh wait, that last one might actually be serious. These people take pills like a kid eats Skittles, so sooner or later one of them is going to hit the jackpot of unsatisfactory chemical interaction and there’s a flat-line issue. We should probably send flowers and a card with a nice quotation. Alas, poor Yorick, I didn’t know you at all.)

We eventually make our way back to Thomas, still on the couch, and he seems a bit peeved that we’ve been away for so long. (Dude, there was a Code Blue on the lanai. Un-clench.) But before we can become close friends again, we head into a montage of various happenings around the Happy Valley Home for Head-Jacked Scientists. There’s some man on the lawn wearing shoes that look like smoking guns (symbolic of the Reagan Administration?), more of Jet-Pack Guy on the roof, not knowing what he’s doing but determined to do whatever it is (symbolic of the Thatcher Administration?), and some nuns with those creepy, overblown hats strapping Thomas onto a gurney (symbolic of record executives having no idea what to do with new-wave music?) Just guessing.

The gigantor-hat nuns eventually roll Thomas into a room that has a nice little contraption that they can strap to his head, so they do. The headgear looks menacing, in that “does this have anything to do with a lobotomy?” kind of way, but Thomas doesn’t seem to be fighting the procedure. (Maybe he can get some new musical ideas for his next record? At least for the remixes.)

Next we have a brief shot of someone playing a violin, then we’re back outside where the older gentlemen have gathered and are doing a group dance that has little relation to the music that we are hearing. (So that’s how raves started. At an understaffed sanitarium where Thomas Dolby lusted after a dark-haired woman who may or may not have an STD. Why does this suddenly make me think of the Brexit initiative?)

Okay, we’re now in the “operating room” (or possibly a Tesco), where Thomas is still wearing his fancy metal bonnet, the Doctor is now wearing one of those old-timey head bands with a mirror stuck in it, and some previously-unknown German-flavored people are wearing evil grins. Oh, and Sakamota is no longer wearing her severe bun, letting her locks tumble and confirming that she did indeed slow-dance with Thomas in a darkened ballroom that isn’t a ballroom whilst wearing slutty attire.  This will have to go in her personnel file, I’m afraid.

Speaking of the ballroom that really isn’t, we head back there briefly so we can watch Thomas use a violin wand to play the tattoo on Saka Chaka Khan’s back. (Saka doesn’t move a millimeter while this mess is going on, indicating disinterest and boredom, so you know Thomas better find another form of foreplay or there’s going to be a heated discussion and possible privilege-reduction. No more Jello for you, young man.)

And we’re back to Thomas on the gurney, presumably post-lobotomy, and we watch him watch several smartly-dressed young boys head past him into a secret room. (Symbolic of game night for certain Catholic priests?) Then we have another montage, letting us know that Thomas is actually still talking to the Doctor in the Freudian-Slip Suite, the Jet-Pack Guy still hasn’t found what he’s looking for, the creepy nuns are still being really mean due to unspecified sexual deprivation, Sakamoto is back to her “I’m still pissed off about something” attitude, and Afternoon Tea has been seriously compromised what with all the rude interruptions and the lack of a proper biscuit.

New title card, this one announcing “Mr. Dolby rejects Science and things Scientific”.

So he’s become a Republican?

We wrap things up with Thomas and that coat we don’t like heading out the door of the asylum while looking subversive and shady, followed by a shot of the Doctor emoting in a dark corner and proving that any licenses he may have had should be ripped from his over-active hands. Then we wrap things up once more with Thomas again heading out the door, this time in his white couture from the apparently dream-sequence lobotomy, followed by a shot of the Doctor being shoved into a wheelchair and then subsequently shoved into a nearby river while people look the other way and wait for a rerun of “Are You Being Served?” Apparently we’re being given an alternate version of reality in case the first one didn’t adequately satisfy our prejudices and ignorance.

Symbolic of the staff at Fox News? You decide…


Click here to watch this video on YouTube. (There’s a comment that this video is blocked in the UK. Not sure why or if this is even true, since I’m not there.)

Originally published in Backup Dancers From Hell.


19 replies »

  1. It has always been a mystery to me just WHY Thomas Dolby failed to achieve the global and lasting acclaim of for example Bowie or The Beatles or Queen … quite extraordinary 😂 I must thank you for finally clarifying that baffling video. A video that has haunted me in all the wrong ways for many years (though I do seem to think that I rocked that bitch bun receptionist look once upon a blue moon – or was it more ‘Miss Trunchbull’ than ‘Miss Saigon’ – I can never quite decide ….*moves seamlessly on*

    Liked by 3 people

    • I will admit that I had a Dolby fetish during his heyday. (I had the cassette version of his “The Flat Earth” which I played repeatedly until everyone in my college dorm was ready to slap me out the nearest window.) Then again, I had lots of musical fixations in the 80s, as I was a huge fan of “new wave” and I still am, an admission that strikes fear and horror in the hearts of my more discerning acquaintances and parole officers. And yes, I also once rocked the bitch bun, but that’s a story for another time… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I just love it when someone writes about Catholics, Republicans and jello in a made for movie saga! Do I hear snoring…..Brian, Brian…. did this one wear you out?!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Okay, it took me many minutes to figure out what the heck was being discussed… blame it on the less than satisfactory intake of caffeine present this morning. I subsequently grabbed a clue (needed it, was successful in snagging one too *moo*) and here’s a link for anyone else who is going “Okay Brian…this is hilarious, but a visual aide wouldn’t be out of line…)

    And that guy on the roof? Suicidal bug guy… having inhaled too much of his spray because the %$#@ wind was blowing and his boss was a tool who sent him out to spray and kill ANYWAY.

    The old guy (psychiatrist?) was the videographer’s weird uncle whom they got at the last minute after Boris Karloff died unexpectedly after agreeing to do the video, even though it was ‘new-fangled”.

    Natasha *koff koff* Spectacle Etta (BWAHAHHAHA) is a spy from the newly destroyed Soviet Bloc, who got the video gig as a way to infiltrate American consumerism and taint ‘young minds’…propaganda IS real…

    And that old fellow on the lawn doing hand springs (they gave him some Viagra – Beta testing it back then) and the subsequent er RISING of things previously presumed dead, rendered him giddy. He later broke his hip and sued the fledgling video star, which is why Mr. Dolby faded from public regard. Lawsuits killed the video star (not to mention radio…)

    Another winner, Sir Brian, and a dozen roses for you and your choice of a hand made tailored (isn’t that the same thing??) suit from Brooks and Brothers…(not to be confused with Brook Brothers). No tailors were harmed in the making of “She Blinded Me…”

    Liked by 2 people

    • My apologies. I tend to forget that some of the newer residents here at Bonnywood Manor are not yet familiar with some of my quirky ways. I have a separate blog where I only do music video reviews, and every once in a while I slap one over here. (Okay, I just scrolled through my email and I see that you found your way to Backup Dancers From Hell, so this comment is a bit redundant for you, but perhaps it can help someone else who is tuning in for the first time and isn’t sure what to make of this post.)

      Thank you for your very insightful scholarship on some of the other elements in the video. I was so busy with what was already on my plate that I couldn’t get around to everything. (I think the “Viagra – Beta testing” is my favorite bit.)

      Trivia: The Backup Dancers From Hell site on WordPress is actually a reincarnation of one of my older sites on Blogger. While there are 35 or so posts on the WordPress site, there are four HUNDRED on the blogger site. I’m slowly cleaning them up (some of the old ones are not as funny as I thought at the time) and moving them to the new site. Still, I’m always looking for fresh material. You may or may not care for music videos, but if you have any suggestions, I would heartily welcome them.

      Now, I’m going to sit on the porch and wait for my Brooks and Brothers suit. I hope it’s the nice camel-hair number I noticed on their site the other day… 😉


  4. This was one of my jams from back in ye olden times. Every time it came on the radio, it got cranked to 11. Yes, that video was ridiculous. It was the 80s. Everyone was probably coked up and the concept meeting was in a room with assorted pills in a dish.
    Code blue on the lanai? Oh, how I loved that one! This was high brow entertainment for us in those magical Ronnie Raygun years. “Well….”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Even though the 80s have a bad rep (and they should, from a political and equality perspective), I still had a really good time. The conservatives were so busy clamping down on and controlling everything, the only way to get a little release was to stretch the boundaries in the “safe” zones of music and dance and art. I was all over the New Wave scene, waiting breathlessly every Tuesday at the grungy but hip record store for the latest releases that were wild and weird and thought-provoking. Good times…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t gone through ALL the videos, but if you never lampooned (yeah, it’s a real word and you knew that)…why not “Video Killed the Radio Star”….if you can stand the pitch. Which to me? Sounds like someone inhaled a LOT of helium before trying to sing. You gotta admire dedication! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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