Sunday, 30 November 2008


Live at the Apollo
4x01 (28/11/08 edition)
Michael McIntyre (one of the absolute best observational comedians), American Rich Hall (lots of nice things to say about the British), and Rhod Gilbert (he's Welsh donchaknow) open the new series with a doozy of an episode.

2x03 Episode 3
Outnumbered's at its best when there's virtually no plot and the kids are allowed to shine -- unfortunately, this episode was a little too much of the former and not quite enough of the latter. Still, the next one looks like a doozy.

7x06 Accidental Discovery
Spooks has done pretty well for itself this series, I think. It's still not back in the real world as much as the early series were, but it's good spy-thriller entertainment nonetheless. Looks like next week's (or rather, tomorrow's) will be a doozy too.

Top Gear
12x05 (30/11/08 edition)
Tonight's episode was so low in doozying that I spent the first 10 minutes or more unsure if they'd shown an old one by accident.


Fall of the Rebel Angels: Poems 1996-2006 by Andy Brown
Part II (pages 29-36)


Blah Indeed by clydefro
(from clydefro at FilmJournal)
See here for my thoughts.

First Look At Gambit's Wolverine Appearance by Rafe Telsch
(from Cinema Blend)
Gambit, Gambit, yay! Not necessarily convinced by this photo, but there's time.
In other X-Men news, that exciting box set of the first two seasons of the amazing '90s animated series seems to have disappeared from the radar. Where is it? I want it!
Edit: here's an answer, in an article about the latest X-Men animated series.

Winstone Threatens To Leave U.K.
(from WENN)
I couldn't care less which country Ray Winstone lives in, but he's making a good point. "Winstone wants to leave his native Britain and start a new life abroad -- because the U.K. justice system is too lenient on criminals. [He] blames the government under Labour Party leader Gordon Brown for not doing enough to tackle crime and punish offenders... "I wouldn't mind if we actually see something being done with all the money they take off in taxes. [But we have] a legal system that doesn't support the coppers when things finally get to court... [Britain]'s just not that great any more, is it? Let's be honest. This country isn't going to the dogs. It's gone to the dogs. We're a mess.""

don't trust blah!

I've always thought blah! (also known as BlahDVD, or Blah DVD, or whatever) looked a bit dodgy and never trusted them enough to order from them. Not sure why, that's just the impression I've had.

Now, this piece by clydefro over at FilmJournal suggests I was right to be suspicious. I don't think customers routinely get that sort of treatment from more respectable sites like Amazon or Play.

I don't imagine many have heard of blah! anyway, and it's not like they're a great deal cheaper than several other places, so I'll be continuing to follow my instincts.

Saturday, 29 November 2008


Einstein and Eddington
David Tennant and Andy Serkis both give great performances -- as do the rest of the cast, it must be said -- in this excellent TV movie. What might have been a dry near-documentary is brought to life by a broadening of topics and themes -- it's as much (perhaps even more) about the First World War and its wide-ranging effects, as well as the boundaries and the applications of science, as it is about the specific theory the titular characters uncovered and proved (respectively).

Have I Got News For You
36x06 (28/11/08 edition; extended repeat)

Lead Balloon
3x03 Fax

1x11 The Labyrinth of Gedref

Survivors [2008]
1x01 Episode 1
Feature-length opening ep for BBC One's "it's not a remake of the TV series, honest" adaptation of Terry Nation's novel based on his famous '70s TV series. It's a strong start, dealing first with the horror of the virus' outbreak and the way it brings down the country before moving on to set up of the group of survivors we'll be following. There's also a hint of some Hidden Conspiracy in the closing moments. Very much a First Episode then; it remains to be seen if the remaining five will play as a serial or a series of stories. Also, considering the number of British shows that get remade for the US these days, this seems a prime candidate for such treatment in the future.


Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman, Andy Kubert & Richard Isanove
Part Eight [the end]
Well, that's certainly... the end... The problem with the final part is it deals almost exclusively with the bits of the plot I didn't like in the first place, and in trying to wrap up so many disparate strands -- and, apparently, throw some new ones into the mix at the last minute -- it ends up as a bit of a muddle, with an inconclusive finale. A disappointing end then, but not surprisingly so.

At the back of the book, there's an Afterword by Neil Gaiman that does a good job of explaining his thinking behind the series. Doesn't excuse the ties to normal Marvel continuity, if you ask me. There's also an interesting piece of the series' unique covers by artist Scott McKowen and a selection of pages showing the 'enhanced pencils' technique Andy Kubert used to illustrate the story -- comparing these to the final art shows how much impact the oft-ignored inkers & colourists have on finished comics! Rounding things off, there's the complete script for part one, an inclusion that's always great for anyone interested in writing comics, accompanied by early character sketches.


As has become almost as much of a tradition as the Doctor Who Christmas special, here's the pre-Christmas Radio Times with the Doctor Who cover -- even though the episode itself won't be on til two weeks after this edition ends!

Click to enlarge

Anyway, this is -- rather appropriately -- Doctor Who's 45th RT cover, just weeks after the programme's 45th anniversary. It's also the series' 23rd RT cover since it returned in 2005, and the 8th this year. Yep, Doctor Who sells.

Friday, 28 November 2008


8 Out of 10 Cats
7x13 (27/11/08 edition) [season finale]

Russell Brand's Ponderland
2x05 Class [season finale]


Enchanted (2007)
[#80 in 100 Films in a Year 2008]

Mamma Mia! (2008)
[#81 in 100 Films in a Year 2008]

Poem of the Day: Haiku Achoo

by Jack W. Staton

Last week I posted my poem Haiku Achoo, noting that it was surely a title that had been used before. Indeed, a quick search of the web revealed at least one other example, courtesy of For the sake of comparison and what have you, I'm sharing it with you this week:

Achoo! A-achoo!
Sneezing, I write my Haiku
And wipe my red nose.

So, dear reader, whose is better -- Mr Staton's, or mine? As with all good writers, I appreciate your honest feedback.

Thursday, 27 November 2008


The Graham Norton Show
4x08 (20/11/08 edition, uncut repeat)

Little Dorrit
Part 10 (of 14)
Today, it's the turn of Mr Meagles to receive a "go --!" cry, and the accompanying "hurrah!"

Never Mind the Buzzcocks
22x09 (27/11/08 edition)
It's the 198th episode special! Only on Buzzcocks, eh.

Three Apparitionses, two Sarah Jane Adventureses, two Survivorses, two Heroeses, and a single Spooks. Yes, I'm shockingly behind on any TV show whose name ends in "S". (Plus Lead Balloon, 8 Out of 10 Cats, Ponderland (just tonight's in each case), and Heroes Unmasked -- of which there are four.)


Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman, Andy Kubert & Richard Isanove
Part Seven
After all the action, the pace slows a tad, moving pieces into place for the final bumper-length part. There's some added plot twists for good measure, though it must be said that most aren't all that surprising.


Doctor Who Magazine: Special Edition #21
In Their Own Words - Volume Five: 1987-96
I'm always buying these things and not really getting round to reading them, but I did have a proper flick through this for once and read some bits, so there, including the very up-to-date (it references Tom Baker's Have I Got News...) Introduction by Benjamin Cook, and a rather good Afterword by Paul Cornell.


Don't dismiss Heat. It's a very superior product by Philip Hensher
(from Philip Hensher's column at The Independent)
Hensher is an interesting beast -- one minute he'll seem like a literary snob, slating the likes of Harry Potter and Alexander McCall Smith, but then merrily defend Heat magazine. Agree or not, at least he can make a reasonable argument.

What scandal lurks behind The Wire? by Philip Hensher
(from Philip Hensher's column at The Independent)
Everyone loves The Wire. Except, no one watches it. I really must get round to it myself...

Poem of the Day: To the Dead in the Graveyard Underneath My Window

by Adelaide Crapsey

How can you resist a title like that? Especially when it was written by a woman in 1914.

As for the poem itself, in my estimation it starts off well but begins to meander and go on a bit, getting a little too dense for its own good toward the end. Nonetheless, it's an interesting one.

Written in A Moment of Exasperation

How can you lie so still? All day I watch
And never a blade of all the green sod moves
To show where restlessly you toss and turn,
And fling a desperate arm or draw up knees
Stiffened and aching from their long disuse;
I watch all night and not one ghost comes forth
To take its freedom of the midnight hour.
Oh, have you no rebellion in your bones?
The very worms must scorn you where you lie,
A pallid mouldering acquiescent folk,
Meek habitants of unresented graves.
Why are you there in your straight row on row
Where I must ever see you from my bed
That in your mere dumb presence iterate
The text so weary in my ears: "Lie still
And rest; be patient and lie still and rest."
I'll not be patient! I will not lie still!
There is a brown road runs between the pines,
And further on the purple woodlands lie,
And still beyond blue mountains lift and loom;
And I would walk the road and I would be
Deep in the wooded shade and I would reach
The windy mountain tops that touch the clouds.
My eyes may follow but my feet are held.
Recumbent as you others must I too
Submit? Be mimic of your movelessness
With pillow and counterpane for stone and sod?
And if the many sayings of the wise
Teach of submission I will not submit
But with a spirit all unreconciled
Flash an unquenched defiance to the stars.
Better it is to walk, to run, to dance,
Better it is to laugh and leap and sing,
To know the open skies of dawn and night,
To move untrammeled down the flaming noon,
And I will clamour it through weary days
Keeping the edge of deprivation sharp,
Nor with the pliant speaking on my lips
Of resignation, sister to defeat.
I'll not be patient. I will not lie still.

And in ironic quietude who is
The despot of our days and lord of dust
Needs but, scarce heeding, wait to drop
Grim casual comment on rebellion's end;
"Yes, yes . . Wilful and petulant but now
As dead and quiet as the others are."

And this each body and ghost of you hath heard
That in your graves do therefore lie so still.

And after all that talk of death, remember: tomorrow's Funny Friday.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008


1x05 (24/11/08 edition)

The Devil's Whore
Part 2 (of 4)
Political, swashbuckling, sexy -- everything The Tudors always aims at but doesn't quite pull off.

Little Dorrit
Part 9 (of 14)
Go Frederick Dorrit! Hurrah! Elsewhere, things plod along at a snail's pace -- from my experience of Dickens, this has to be one of his scrappiest, made-up-as-it-goes, light-on-incident tales. Ho hum.

1x10 The Moment of Truth


BBC signs up for more of Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures by Ben Dowell
I bet all those people who moan that new Who isn't like classic Who don't watch SJA because it's a silly kid's spin-off, or something, whereas if they got off their high horses and gave it a go they'd discover it's often quite a lot like old Who was. Only more grown-up. Oh the irony, eh? Anyway, news of a third series is good news indeed.

A Different Approach To Action In Quantum of Solace by Devin Zydel
An interview with Dan Bradley, the man responsible for writing and directing some/all of QoS' major action sequences, specifically including the opening car chase and the Siena rooftop chase. So, he's the guy to blame then. Interestingly, he also worked on both The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum -- explains a lot, no?

The Doctor Who spin-offs that will never be filmed by David Brown
(from "In My Opinion..." at RadioTimes)
This is entirely dependent on you understanding which shows/films are being spoofed (I knew most of them), but also includes some rather cruel comments about Freema Agyeman's acting ability. Which, to be honest, I'm often inclined to agree with, but it makes a change to hear it (rather than the usual "oh, she's so much more intelligent than Rose, isn't it great!")

John Simm on The Devil's Whore by Amy Raphael
(from Times Online)
A nice interview with Simm, covering why he won't be watching the film remake of State of Play, why he won't be aiming at a Hollywood career, and why he won't be the 11th Doctor ("I'm the Master. Simple as that. I don't want to be Doctor Who. I might be the Master again...").

Movie Reviews: Australia
(from Studio Briefing)
"Like his previous film, Moulin Rouge, Baz Luhrmann's Australia is receiving wildly mixed reviews. The $130-million epic has had some writers describing it as Australia's Gone With the Wind, and that film is the benchmark critics are using to assess it... Luhrman has been able to recreate much of GWTW's "lush epic beauty... a gorgeous film, what strong performances, what exhilarating images and -- yes, what sweeping romantic melodrama. The kind of movie that is a movie, with all that the word promises and implies." But [another critic says] the movie "tries to be a sprawling, romantic epic. Instead, it's a melodramatic exercise in tedium. Rather than being old-fashioned or classic, it's old-school and conventional.""
I like Gone With the Wind and I like Moulin Rouge, so personally I'm liking the sound of it. Australia arrives in the UK on Boxing Day... so I'll probably catch it on DVD.

And finally, here's an "and finally..." story if ever there was one:

Bequeathed skull stars in Hamlet
(from BBC News)
"The skull held aloft by actor David Tennant in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Hamlet was a real one, it has been revealed. Pianist Andre Tchaikowsky left his skull to the RSC when he died in 1982 in the hope it would be used on stage. But since his death at the age of 46, it had only been used in rehearsals. Tennant held it on stage during the famous "Alas, poor Yorick" scene in 22 performances at the Courtyard Theatre, in Stratford-upon-Avon."


The Criterion Collection: Online Cinematique
The Auteurs

The famous Criterion Collection have relaunched their site, and now it's so much more than just a lot of info on their laserdisc/DVD/Blu-ray releases. Having teamed up with a venture known as The Auteurs (see further down), Criterion now make some of their movies available to view online, with the hope of expanding this to include most/all of them in the future. It currently costs $5 to rent them to stream, but you then get a $5 discount off that film's DVD or Blu-ray should you decide to purchase. I don't know if this rental applies worldwide (it certainly doesn't for all films, but might for some), but I do know they only sell to US addresses through their store.

The new site's also worth checking out just for the amusingly illustrated "guide to the new site" video, currently showing on the main page.

The Auteurs, on the other hand, is a sort of film club online -- there's a lot of info on movies, but also, and more importantly, many that can be watched -- some for free, some for a small fee. As with Criterion, they're US based and so focused on providing these films for US viewing, but some are also available worldwide. It's an intelligent site, so only movies that are actually viewable in your region will be offered for viewing -- if you go here (you may need to be registered & logged in) you should get a list of what you're allowed to watch -- though you can view the information and forums for every movie, and many of these have trailers or clips too.

It's a great idea, and one that will work a lot better when they get more movies online with international viewing rights -- as it stands (and, I should point out, it's currently at beta stage anyway), it's probably a lot better for Americans than anyone else. As I say, though, it's a great idea, and so I hope that such international expansion can be achieved.

Poem of the Day: Block City

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Children tend to get all the best things, it seems to me, and that goes for poetry too. While adults have to suffer Deep Thoughts and Complex Metaphors and all those other literary whatsits, kids get to enjoy poems like this.

What are you able to build with your blocks?
Castles and palaces, temples and docks.
Rain may keep raining, and others go roam,
But I can be happy and building at home.

Let the sofa be mountains, the carpet be sea,
There I’ll establish a city for me:
A kirk and a mill and a palace beside,
And a harbour as well where my vessels may ride.

Great is the palace with pillar and wall,
A sort of a tower on the top of it all,
And steps coming down in an orderly way
To where my toy vessels lie safe in the bay.

This one is sailing and that one is moored:
Hark to the song of the sailors on board!
And see on the steps of my palace, the kings
Coming and going with presents and things.

Now I have done with it, down let it go!
All in a moment the town is laid low.
Block upon block lying scattered and free,
What is there left of my town by the sea?

Yet as I saw it, I see it again,
The kirk and the palace, the ships and the men,
And as long as I live and where’er I may be,
I’ll always remember my town by the sea.

Rhythm, rhyme, and some fun. Why does growing up have to be so depressing?

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


Fall of the Rebel Angels: Poems 1996-2006 by Andy Brown
Part I (pages 21-27)


Daniel Craig On Shaking And Stirring James Bond by Devin Zydel
"I love those lines and I think they are absolutely valid but... if you drop them in just because a member of the audience thinks that it is not a Bond movie without them, they are bad gags."
A slightly different interview about what they were trying to achieve with Quantum of Solace, and what lies ahead for Bond 23. Hopefully, it'll be reassuring to both those who disliked QoS ("I do think Quantum of Solace is the end of this sort of intensity. The next... won't be so balls to the wall... Also, there will be a lot more gags.") and those, like me, who thought it was still pretty good ("If I start judging him or taking the piss out of him, which would be the worst thing to do, then it is all over and there is no room to go.").

Poem of the Day: Written in Her French Psalter

by Queen Elizabeth I

No, really.

No crooked leg, no bleared eye,
No part deformed out of kind,
Nor yet so ugly half can be
As is the inward suspicious mind.

Too true, Queenie, too true.

Monday, 24 November 2008


1x04 (17/11/08 edition)
Yes, last week's.

1x02 Albert
Most of it's of dubious quality still, although Mark Gatiss frequently gets some good lines. And some lines that were good til they were over written -- "I killed them with my bare hand. And this gun. Which I held in my bare hand." No need for that final sentence, chaps, especially not when he's holding said gun in said hand.

Lead Balloon
3x02 Panda


Fall of the Rebel Angels: Poems 1996-2006 by Andy Brown
Part I (pages 14-20)

Poem of the Day: The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

by Edward Lear

Let's kick off the week with a bit of loveliness; and who doesn't love this poem? It's made for a brilliant children's picture book too.

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea
   In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money
   Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
   And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love,
   What a beautiful Pussy you are,
            You are,
            You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"

Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl!
   How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
   But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
   To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
   With a ring at the end of his nose,
            His nose,
            His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
   Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."
So they took it away, and were married next day
   By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
   Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
   They danced by the light of the moon,
            The moon,
            The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Written December 1867, published in 1871. Not much more to add really.

Sunday, 23 November 2008


8 Out of 10 Cats
7x12 (20/11/08 edition)
Quite funny.

Have I Got News For You
36x05 (21/11/08 edition; extended repeat)
Extremely funny.

2x02 Episode 2
Very funny.

Russell Brand's Ponderland
2x04 Food
Moderately funny.

Top Gear
12x04 (23/11/08 edition)
Informatively funny.


Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman, Andy Kubert & Richard Isanove
Part Six
A mixed part -- the introduction of the Watchers drags it into an area of unwarranted complication & connection to the normal Marvel universe; the art and colouring begins to get a bit scrappy toward the end; at the same time, the plot is driven forward and the massive action set piece is a welcome change of pace.


Fall of the Rebel Angels: Poems 1996-2006 by Andy Brown
Part I (pages 1-13)


Day & Age by the Killers
My first listen of the Killers' new album, officially released tomorrow. More thoughts after another listen or two.

Articles: James Bond titles

Michael G. Wilson On Bond Titles: 'If we can get away with Quantum of Solace...' by Devin Zydel
"...we can get away with anything." And that sums up the whole article, really.

For those who are unaware, there are precisely four Ian Fleming-created James Bond titles that haven't been used as film titles...
  • All of the novels' names have been used -- Casino Royale was the last
  • Several film titles were taken from Bond-related paraphernalia -- GoldenEye being Fleming's Jamaican home, The World is Not Enough being the Bond family motto, and Licence to Kill being the character's famous, er, licence
  • And there have even been a couple of entirely original ones -- namely, Tomorrow Never Dies and Die Another Day.

  • The four that remain -- before they get into pilfering chapter titles or something -- are all short stories, and, for the most part, are perfectly reasonable titles for a series that includes such entires as Thunderball and The Spy Who Loved Me.

    "But what are they?" I hear you clamour. Well, there's...
  • Risico -- everyone who's read this seems to think it's a silly suggestion, so I presume the title must have a silly meaning within the story. In an of itself, there's nothing amiss about it, so why not?
  • The Hildebrand Rarity -- doesn't sound much like a Bond film, but then I'm sure some of the old titles didn't until they were. Makes the plot quite specific, unless they can come up with a very original meaning for that title.
  • The Property of a Lady -- very soppy, to be sure, but then so's The Spy Who Loved Me, and Bond's been a bit love-lorn of late anyhow.
  • 007 in New York -- no.

  • Bets begin here...

    Doctor Who: An Introduction

    As regular readers will be aware, a little while ago I introduced a friend to the many delights of classic Doctor Who. Luckily I was gifted to be introducing an open-minded friend, meaning I didn't have to choose stories that skirted around the show's (at times) obviously cheap production values, and instead could focus on adventures I either knew to be good or had heard good things about. As we went I posted my comments on these eight tales, and now, in celebration of the programme's 45th anniversary, I've compiled them here, along with very brief comments on why I chose each story.

    I tried to produce a variety of choices, the only rule being that there would be just one four-part story for each Doctor... a rule I broke for three of the eight! Not without reason, mind: for the 6th Doctor, his two-parters have the same running time as everyone else's four-parters; for the 7th Doctor, I have no excuse beyond I decided that was the most appropriate story; and for the 8th Doctor, there's literally only one choice.

    So here's my "Beginners Guide to Classic Who" (if you will), though it's obviously missing the contextualising comments I gave my friend before and after each viewing.

    The 1st Doctor: An Unearthly Child
    As the first-ever story it seemed a natural place to start, even though I'd never seen it before. We both enjoyed it immensely.

    The 2nd Doctor: The Tomb of the Cybermen
    A bona fide classic, with the series' best-ever monsters. Simple.

    The 3rd Doctor: Spearhead from Space
    The relative shortage of 3rd Doctor stories on DVD forced my hand a little, but this is another classic tale. The number of firsts seemed to make it an obvious choice.

    The 4th Doctor: City of Death
    Though I've never seen it, this is oft cited as an absolute classic. That, plus Tom and Lala, Paris, and a script co-written by Douglas Adams, made it seem a good choice.

    The 5th Doctor: Earthshock
    More Cybermen -- so much for variety. But I still think they're a great villain, even in the '80s, and Earthshock is unquestionably one of the 5th Doctor's finest.

    The 6th Doctor: Revelation of the Daleks
    A limited choice for the 6th Doctor in my DVD collection allows this to be the only Dalek story.

    The 7th Doctor: Survival
    One of the earliest classic Whos I saw, and an appropriate connection into the new series. Also ironically titled as it's the last 'classic series' story.

    The 8th Doctor: The TV Movie
    The only choice. Besides which, I actually think it's quite a fun romp.

    Celebratory Finale: The Five Doctors
    It may not be the best story ever, but it's bizarrely fun and seemed an appropriately celebratory way to conclude.

    Feel free to discuss whether these are good or bad choices for introducing a newbie, or post any ideas of your own, in the comments section.

    There's no 9th and 10th Doctors in the list because, quite simply, we've both seen all of those, so no introduction required. However, if one were to be introducing a friend to new Who too, here are my thoughts...

    The 9th Doctor: The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances
    It has to be a two-parter to fit the same length as the other Doctors, and both of the other 9th Doctor two-parters are tied fairly heavily to the season's ongoing story. Well, the second one is; the first one's just a bit rubbish. More importantly, this is just one of the best stories ever. It's also worth considering Rose/The End of the World -- not a two-parter strictly, but they're a pairing specifically designed to introduce complete newbies. Of course, if you've already made your way through 13 hours of Classic Who, that's not quite as necessary.

    The 10th Doctor: The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit
    In my opinion you're spoilt for choice with the 10th Doctor, as almost any pairing of two individual episodes would work too. This one was an instant favourite for me though, and is a better example of standard new Who fare than his other great two-parter, Human Nature/The Family of Blood. Other major considerations should be The Christmas Invasion (best first story ever, to my mind); School Reunion (if you watched a Sarah Jane story during Classic Who); Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel (not necessarily that great, but big bonus points for having Cybermen, and when my Classic Who line-up included two Cybermen tales it's nice to continue their evolution); Smith and Jones/The Shakespeare Code (a great opening pair); and Voyage of the Damned (personally, I think it's big and fun). (While I liked most of season four, I think it might be a bit too involved to recommend as a starting point.) Oh, and Time Crash should definitely be watched.


    I'm sure you'll be pleased to know my friend wants to see more classic Who. Of course, from here on out, it's no longer an introduction -- now they're just great stories.

    Saturday, 22 November 2008

    Doctor Who: The Five Doctors

    Long ago, I promised a review of The Five Doctors, Doctor Who's grand 20th anniversary celebration, but never got round to it. Now, the day before the programme's 45th anniversary, I've jotted a couple of very quick notes. The problem is, it's been a while since I last watched it, so this will be decidedly brief.

    The Five Doctors, I think it's fair to say, is a mess. Not as much of a mess as Dimensions in Time would turn out to be for the show's 30th anniversary, but a comparison of the two isn't unwarranted. The Five Doctors struggles to squeeze five Doctors, something like six companions (plus cameos from others), the Time Lords, and as many villains as possible -- including Daleks, Cybermen, the Master, and various new ones -- into 90 minutes. A tall order. Dimensions in Time, on the other hand, attempts to fill about 12 minutes with seven Doctors, at least as many companions, the Rani, a host of other villains... and the cast of EastEnders. No wonder it's a God-awful load of rubbish. (I always used to get annoyed with those fans who said "thank God it can't be released on DVD!" (for contractual reasons, as it was for charity), because I thought, "surely it would be best if the whole series could be released, somehow, even if it is rubbish, at least for the curious to see". But having seen it on YouTube a while ago, I can safely say that it really is best left unseen.)

    By comparison, The Five Doctors looks like a masterpiece. It isn't, but what it is a lot of fun. The Doctors may not come together until the end, but when they do it's a riot. The final reveal of what immortality means is a wonderful conceit -- it's not a new idea, probably not even in 1983, but it's not what you'd expect from a "children's programme" and I'd wager most sci-fi of the era wouldn't have been so bold. These moments of cleverness are countered by some extreme silliness (Sarah Jane rolls down a hill and has to be rescued by the Doctor and Bessie -- and that's a cliffhanger if you watch the four-part version) and padded running around, but at the same time there's the Raston Warrior Robot, one of the series' finest ever creations, in its only appearance. Why oh why has that yet to be revived? Please Mr Moffat? Or even RTD -- he's got four specials left to do and has already mentioned his love for it.

    If you enter into it in the intended spirit -- a jolly romp celebrating the show's startling age, bringing together as many things that are great about the programme as possible -- then it's quite hard not to enjoy it as a nice bit of fluff. Plus it has the Cybermen as a major villain and basically ignores the Daleks, which is something I'll always approve of.

    Friday, 21 November 2008


    I'm off to Cornwall for the weekend, as of this afternoon. The reason I mention this perhaps unnoteworthy fact (though I know some who would dispute that) is that I'm not sure what the status of my Internet connection will be down there.

    But don't worry, the moment has been prepared for! I may not be able to keep you up-to-date with my latest cultural experiences, but there are a couple of items that will appear over the weekend regardless (I recommend checking just after 1pm for those). "Updated every day", remember. Connection or not, I'll be back Sunday night at the latest, so I can fill in the missing time then if necessary.


    Poem of the Day: Haiku Achoo

    by Richard Nelson

    It's another Funny Friday entry for Poem of the Day this week, with this seasonally-appropriate haiku penned by none other than your faithful cultural guide (i.e. me). This was composed for no reason other than I wanted to, and is a completely original premiere just for this blog. Aren't you lucky?

    In cold winter months,
    breeze biting inside one's nose
    means swift expulsion.

    I'm sure that excellent (if I say so myself) title must've been thought of and used before, but what's truly original these days, hm?

    Thursday, 20 November 2008


    Big Cat Week
    2x04 (6/1/05 edition)

    Little Dorrit
    Part 8 (of 14)
    The story finally gets going! Hurrah! Now there are actually characters to genuinely care about and others to genuinely dislike -- I already can't wait for the Dorrit family to get their comeuppance (they bloody better...)

    Never Mind the Buzzcocks
    22x08 (20/11/08 edition)


    The Cable Guy (1996)
    [#79 in 100 Films in a Year 2008]


    Chuck Klosterman reviews Chinese Democracy by Chuck Klosterman
    (from A.V. Club)
    Don't worry: despite the title, I don't think you're actually expected to know who Chuck Klosterman is; certainly, the article begins by explaining who he is. Sort of. And then the article is primarily worthy of note for pushing your B.S. monitor to the max. "Chinese Democracy is (pretty much) the last Old Media album we'll ever contemplate in this context—it's the last album that will be marketed as a collection of autonomous-but-connected songs, the last album that will be absorbed as a static manifestation of who the band supposedly is, and the last album that will matter more as a physical object than as an Internet sound file. This is the end of that." What a load of self-important claptrap.

    Poem of the Day: The Avenging Angel

    by William Wilfred Campbell

    Another World War I poem, but I came across this one quite by chance. It's dedicated "To Flight- Lieutenant Robinson and all the heroic aviators of the Royal Flying Corps", which might lead you to assume Campbell was a British airman, just as his death in 1918 might lead you to assume he was killed in the War. Neither is the case, however: Campbell was a Canadian poet, an ex-priest (he had a crisis of faith and resigned in 1891), and died of pneumonia on New Years Day 1918.

    Don't let the length put you off, it's a surprisingly quick and rewarding read. More at the other end...

    When the last faint red of the day is dead,
         And the dim, far heaven is lit
    With the silvern cars
    Of the orient stars,
         And the winged winds whimper and flit;

    Then I rise through the dome of my aerodrome,
         Like a giant eagle in flight;
    And I take my place
    In the vengeful race
         With the sinister fleets of night.

    As I rise and rise in the cloudy skies,
         No sound in the silence is heard,
    Save the lonesome whirr
    Of my engine's purr,
         Like the wings of a monster bird.

    And naught is seen save the vault, serene,
         Of the vasty realms of night,
    That vanish, aloof,
    To eternity's roof,
         As I mount in my ominous flight.

    And I float and pause in the fleecy gauze,
         Like a bird in a nest of down;
    While 'neath me in deeps
    Of blackness, sleeps
         The far, vast London town.

    But I am not here, like a silvern sphere,
         To glory the deeps of space,
    But a sentinel, I,
    In this tower of the sky,
         Scanning the dim deep's face.

    For, sudden, afar, like a luminous star,
         Or a golden horn of the moon,
    Or a yellow leaf
    Of the forest's grief,
         When the autumn winds are atune;

    There is borne on my sight, down the spaces of night,
         By the engines of evilment sped,
    That wonderful, rare,
    Vast ship of the air,
         Beautiful, ominous, dread.

    One instant she floats, most magic of boats,
         Illusive, implacable, there;
    Throned angel of ill,
    On her crystal-built hill,
         O'er a people's defenceless despair.

    Then sudden, I rise, like a bolt through the skies,
         To the very dim roofs of the world;
    Till down in the grey,
    I see my grim prey,
         Like a pallid gold leaf, uncurled.

    And I hover and swing, until swiftly I spring,
         And drop like a falling star;
    And again and again,
    My death-dealing rain,
         Hurl to the deeps afar.

    Then I hover and listen, till I see the far glisten
         Of a flame-flash blanching the night;
    And I know that my hate,
    That has lain in wait,
         Has won in the grim air-fight.

    Then I curve and slant, while my engines pant,
         And the wings of my great bird tame;
    While the sinister Hun,
    In his ill, undone,
         Goes out in a blinding flame.

    (Other sources have pointed this out, so, in case you're unaware, "the Hun" was a slang name for the Germans in World War I.)

    The Avenging Angel was written and first published in 1917. I've chosen it for the clear, easy-to-follow language, considerably aided by an equally clear and consistent use of rhyme. The rhythm makes it very readable also. For all these reasons, as well as the interesting subject matter (for one, it seems rather pro-war (or, at least, pro-RAF), making it a distinct counterpoint to the Owen I posted), it makes a worthy addition to the list.

    Wednesday, 19 November 2008


    The Devil's Whore
    Part 1 (of 4)
    Andrea Riseborough leads a relatively starry/recognisable cast (including the likes of John Simm, Dominic West, Peter Capaldi, Maxine Peake, Michael Fassbender, Tom Goodman-Hill, and, next week, Tim McInnery) in this drama about the English Civil War. It may sound a tad staid as a setting, but the title is more of a clue: there's buckles being swashed -- and, indeed, buckles being undone -- left, right and centre. Hurrah! And some weird fantasy elements too. It doesn't feel like History, which is a good thing, and is all rather exciting executed, even if some of the direction is a little odd. Worth watching if you missed it; I'm very much looking forward to the rest.

    Little Dorrit
    Part 7 (of 14)


    The Green Mile (1999)
    [#78 in 100 Films in a Year 2008]
    It's like the anti-Shawshank. Not in terms of quality though.


    Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman, Andy Kubert & Richard Isanove
    Parts Three - Five
    I know it doesn't affect the quality of the story, but it's annoying how thin the pages are here. Clearly wanting to use glossy paper stock but wanting to keep costs down, it's all glossy but thin, making it too easy to turn two pages at once, especially as the glossiness helps them stick to each other.
    As for the text itself, I'm still not certain. It occasionally falls into the usual traps of big team-ups/crossovers, especially regarding "assumed knowledge" -- for a book that looks very accessible to newcomers, due to its "fresh start"/no continuity approach, you'd think it would be free of this, but too often you feel you should know who someone is or will be.
    On the bright side, a magic-based character like Dr Strange feels much more at home in a weird Elizabethan world than he would in the modern 'almost real' superhero world that the numerous film adaptations have given us. Plus, things are beginning to come together (I'd hope so too, as I'm over halfway now), and there's a very well-built cliffhanger on Part Three.


    Doctor Who (before the Tardis) by Tom Geoghegan
    (from BBC News Magazine)
    A really very weak article about the newly-released documents I mentioned earlier today -- it's full of slightly-off facts and ill-informed opinion. The comments are also largely hilarious, especially the woman who thinks the article is suggesting the TARDIS should/will be removed from the show. Bless. Other people demonstrate why they're not in charge, wittering on about new series episodes being "so fan fiction" or "blatant nostalgia" and therefore not appealing to kids. Yeah, cos they show still being the most-watched by kids on the whole of TV clearly means it's too nostalgic or too simplistic for them, doesn't it.

    Fox Lines Up X-Men: First Class by Chris Hewitt
    (from Empire Online)
    "If a movie studio can develop mutant powers, then we’ve discovered Twentieth Century Fox’s: the ability to create X-Men spin-offs." This one is, essentially, "teen X-Men". Yay, angst!

    Introducing... Premakes! by Chris Hewitt
    (from the Empire Blog)
    Well, now, here's something that will never catch on.

    Sergeant to pull out of Strictly
    (from BBC News)
    Mark my words, the BBC'll have 3,000 complaints before the week's out -- that's what the British public do these days.

    World War Z, And Why You Should Care by Helen O'Hara
    (from the Empire Blog)
    "for my money it's the best horror novel in decades, and one that absolutely deserves the wider audience that cinema would bring."

    Poem of the Day: Kubla Khan

    or, A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment
    by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

    So, I forgot Poem of the Day yesterday. Easily done, but I'll try to avoid doing so again.

    Today's poem is another fairly famous one, based on an opium dream the author had. I'd wager this is several hundred times better than any drug-induced poetry you might get today.

    In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
    A stately pleasure-dome decree:
    Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
    Through caverns measureless to man
         Down to a sunless sea.
    So twice five miles of fertile ground
    With walls and towers were girdled round:
    And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
    Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
    And here were forests ancient as the hills,
    Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

         But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
         Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
         A savage place! as holy and enchanted
         As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
         By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
         And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
         As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
         A mighty fountain momently was forced:
         Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
         Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
         Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
         And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
         It flung up momently the sacred river.
         Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
         Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
         Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
         And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
         And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
         Ancestral voices prophesying war!

         The shadow of the dome of pleasure
         Floated midway on the waves;
         Where was heard the mingled measure
         From the fountain and the caves.
    It was a miracle of rare device,
    A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
         A damsel with a dulcimer
         In a vision once I saw:
         It was an Abyssinian maid,
         And on her dulcimer she played,
         Singing of Mount Abora.
         Could I revive within me
         Her symphony and song,
         To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
    That with music loud and long,
    I would build that dome in air,
    That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
    And all who heard should see them there,
    And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
    His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
    Weave a circle round him thrice,
    And close your eyes with holy dread,
    For he on honey-dew hath fed,
    And drunk the milk of Paradise.

    "There is widespread speculation on the poem's meaning, some suggesting the author is merely portraying his vision while others insist on a theme or purpose. Others believe it is a poem stressing the beauty of creation, and some read sexual allusions throughout." (Source: as ever, Wikipedia. It's much better than some people say.)

    The Genesis of Doctor Who: The Creation of a Television Hero

    Heard of the BBC Archive? Unless you're very into TV history (or sci-fi -- this kinda geeky thing always gets reported by sci-fi mags) then probably not.

    Essentially, the BBC are now releasing online selected documents from their history, for the first time allowing public viewers the chance to "explore who we are and see how attitudes have changed over the years through selections from an archive which began over 70 years ago... go behind the scenes to find out how the BBC archives are maintained, uncover forgotten stories from the Written Archives and see how broadcasting has changed through the decades." These are the sort of documents previously only available to Proper Researcher People and the like.

    To tie in with the programme's 45th anniversary, the Archive have released a selection of documents from the birth of Doctor Who in 1962/3 -- that's the programme, not the character.

    The collection, which can be read here, contains six documents and a photo gallery. The latter is a selection of 17 colour and black & white photos of the show's first cast and crew, mostly taken in the early '60s when the show was beginning, but with some from the '50s (on other productions) and '80s (when some of those cast members returned to the programme). It's not an especially comprehensive gallery, and most of the images will be very familiar to long-term or attentive Who fans, but for those unaccustomed to how the relevant people looked it's probably a nice primer.

    The former includes the following documents:
  • Titled simply Science Fiction, the first document is a four-page 1962 report looking into whether the BBC should make science fiction drama for TV.
  • Equally simply titled, Report: Science Fiction is a three-page follow-up document, also from 1962, on the kind of stories BBC science fiction dramas might handle.
  • The third document contains two pages of general concept notes for a science fiction drama, though what's suggested doesn't necessarily resemble the final product...
  • The first series-specific document is titled "Dr. Who": General Notes on Background and Approach, a four-page outline of both production style ("a series of stories linked to form a continuing serial") and content (list of characters, etc).
  • Skipping ahead quite a lot, the penultimate piece is a Radio Times article previewing the very first episode, An Unearthly Child, as well as that episode's listing in the schedule.
  • Finally, a two-page Audience Research Report reveals both reaction and ratings. It's intriguing to learn that, in those days of just two channels (versus the hundreds we have today), Who's initial viewing figures were about half what they are today.

  • As well as these scanned images, each document is available in a plain-text version (very handy if you needed to quote it for any reason), though these unfortunately have to be viewed page by page and miss out some accompanying notes.

    But that's an incredibly minor criticism of a fascinating and valuable project. It won't be of interest to everyone, or even every Who fan, but it's an incredible opportunity for those who are interested. One of the things that most intrigues me is that the BBC were so specifically looking for a sci-fi show, as I'd always assumed Who was born out of the desire to create something educational.

    Tuesday, 18 November 2008


    Bill Bailey: Part Troll
    As screened by Channel 4 a week or two ago. I didn't think I'd seen this before, but then much of it seemed very familiar -- though still hilariously funny. Perhaps C4 aired it previously, no doubt cut down (as they almost always seem to do with their stand-up) to fit an hour-with-ads slot, while this version filled an hour-and-a-half slot and so may have been uncut (there will still some jumps however). Anyway, it's very funny, I recommend it.

    The Graham Norton Show
    4x07 (13/11/08 edition, uncut repeat)
    Robin Williams was the only guest this week... but that's OK, cos he's hilarious (even if he did most of the same stuff at Prince Charles' 60th birthday gig).


    Doctor Who Magazine #402
    Including some nice articles on Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart -- even down to an edition of That Annoying Column that is actually (shock! horror!) likable. Though it does include an editor's footnote saying the writer should be fired -- ironic that my usual feeling should appear on the only one I've actually liked. Elsewhere this issue, there's other interesting stuff. Oh yes. (Only other bit I really remember: a good review of the Sarah Jane Adventures series on DVD.)


    The Enterprise Through The Ages
    (from Empire Online)
    And there I was thinking all of Star Trek's spaceships looked basically the same...

    JJ Abrams On The New Star Trek Trailer
    (from Empire Online)
    In 32 hi-res stills, director J.J. Abrams talks Empire through the just-released Star Trek trailer. "Part of [Kirk's] story in this movie," says Abrams, "is becoming the man that we all expect to see" -- so it's Star Trek Begins by way of Batman Begins and Casino Royale then. J.J. Abrams: never knowingly involved in something original.
    [Watch the trailer here.]

    New Coraline Poster by Helen O'Hara
    (from Empire Online)
    "It's the new film from author Neil "godlike genius" Gaiman and stop-motion director Henry "godlike genius" Selick."

    Click to enlarge

    Quantum of Solace Debut US Weekend Total Updated: $67.5 Million by Devin Zydel
    Turns out, the new Bond didn't do quite as well as everyone thought. Still recording-breaking by a considerable margin though.

    Trailer Breakdown: Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince
    (from Empire Online)
    Entirely worth reading for one throwaway comment: "Dumbledore has, in other words, got mad skills."
    [Watch the trailer here.]

    Zack Snyder Talks Watchmen by Helen O'Hara
    (from Empire Online)
    A different report about the same screening I mentioned yesterday -- so here be spoilers -- but with some more detail from Zack Snyder's interview, including this amusing/interesting/complex (and spoiler-free) bit of info: "Snyder also talked a little about Under The Hood, a DVD extra chronicling 1940s costumed adventurers The Minutemen. "Eric Matthews did that; it's a mock documentary. The complicated thing is that it's done as a 1985 [when the film is set] TV retrospective looking back at the publication of a book that's supposed to have come out in 1972. That's very cool.""

    Monday, 17 November 2008


    1x01 Alive
    Oh dear, what's with all that poorly-dubbed laughter? Especially as it isn't even put on all the gags. Most of which were distinctly over-written, it must be said; and most of those that weren't were underwritten. It's almost good, at times, though never as good as it could be. Fingers crossed for improvement.

    3x07 Eris Quod Sum

    Lead Balloon
    3x01 Gas

    7x05 On the Brink
    This week's plot is partially borrowed from the news, partially borrowed from Casino Royale. Also, I watched it when it was on! Hurrah! Though, it was on BBC Three last week, so...


    Story by Robert McKee
    Chapters 17 - 19
    Fade Out
    [the end]
    A damn useful book. Highly recommended for anyone attempting or interested in screenwriting.


    Final Secret Crisis Invasion - But at What Cost? by Newsarama Staff
    Comics can be seriously ludicrous. This year, the two major publishers have each had major 'events', spanning new titles, miniseries, and issues in existing books: Secret Invasion for Marvel and Final Crisis (what's the betting that'll turn out to be a misnomer?) for DC. Obviously buying all the various issues would be very costly, but as they're doled out month by month over a year (or more) it can be easy to miss just how much one is spending. And the totals it would cost a dedicated comic fan to buy all of the relevant stuff? $378.78 for Secret Invasion, $135.08 for Final Crisis (or up to $317.56 if you include relevant prequel series published in 2007). It's because of things like this that I don't buy comics.

    Getting Into The Graveyard Book With Neil Gaiman by Zack Smith
    Neil Gaiman discuss this & that, including why we won't learn much about his forthcoming two-issue Batman story -- titled Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? in tribute to the famous Alan Moore Superman story -- until it hits shelves.

    Quantum of Solace Sets Bond Box Office Record With $70.4 Million Debut by Devin Zydel
    James Bond Finds Solace At International Box Office For Third Straight Weekend by Devin Zydel
    Quelle surprise. And it's expected to continue to do very well, even in the UK, where despite a lot of negative reaction it's only dropped 41% of business into its third week (while that might sound a lot, it really isn't).
    The focus on the US by Bond fansites amuses or annoys me alternately, considering Bond is a British character in fairly British films who's always done a lot better in the rest of the world than he has in the US -- when most films were getting 50% of their total from the US and 50% the rest of the world, Bond was doing more like 40/60 (respectively), if not higher. Ah well, you can never escape the Americans' overdeveloped sense of self importance.

    SFX 177 Preview: Red Dwarf News by Dave Golder
    (from SFX)
    Teeny tiny snippets of new info on the forthcoming Red Dwarf specials. The new issue of SFX (which this is obviously taken from) is out on Wednesday, so there may be more then. (It also has some form of huge Watchmen feature. Yay!)

    Watchmen – First Look by Jayne Nelson
    (from SFX)
    Absolutely bursting with spoilers -- including about changes they've made, so even people who've read the book may wish to skip this one.


    A highly amusing exchange on IMDb's Yes Man boards. Here's a direct link to the relevant three posts, but I'll quote them here for the sake of ease (slightly edited for clarity and linkage):

    This is actually based on the book Yes Man by Danny Wallace... It really is an excellent book, I highly recommend it, but this film looks like typical Hollywood comedy garbage.

    The Hollywood movie machine produced Trading Places, Groundhog Day, The Big Lebowski. All good comedies. But I agree that the typical Hollywood comedy is garbage.

    That's why I used the word "typical".


    100 Films update

    It is, once again, over a month since I last posted an update from my other blog, 100 Films in a Year. There have been numerous reviews posted there since then -- including one of Quantum of Solace, just 17 days after I actually saw it -- so here's a summary of them:

    from 2008...
  • After the Sunset (2004)
  • Batman: Gotham Knight (2008)
  • Casino Royale (2006)
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
  • Hitman: Unrated (2007)
  • The Invasion (2007)
  • Quantum of Solace (2008)
  • Shoot 'Em Up (2007)
  • St. Trinian's (2007)
  • Stay (2005)
  • Zodiac (2007)

  • Also...
  • Inside-Out (a short)

  • Quantum of Solace also means that I finally have a "Q" in my collection (unlike the film! Haha!) Only "X" and "Y" to fill now -- damn having seen all the X-Men films! (Well, I suppose there's the unwieldily-titled X-Men Origins: Wolverine to look forward to next year.)

    from 2007...
  • 300 (2006)
  • Before Sunrise (1995)
  • Before Sunset (2005)
  • The Black Dahlia (2006)
  • Citizen Kane (1941)
  • Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2005)
  • Great Expectations (1946)
  • Miracles (1989)
  • Starter For Ten (2006)
  • Transporter 2 (2005)

  • There's still more to come from both years.

    Poem of the Day: A Martian Goes to the Cinema

    by Richard Nelson

    Today's poem is by me!

    Tasked with writing a poem in the genre of Martian poetry (see last Monday), I initially struggled for a topic before alighting on one I had plenty of ideas for. Much redrafting later, I'm pretty pleased with the result. The only bit that seriously bothers me is the title -- it completely gives the game away. I don't think it's hard to guess the subject, but the title ruins even that little piece of ambiguity. If anyone has any better suggestions they're most welcome.

    In the dark, strangers sit
    in forced silence, except
    for the crunch of card balls.
    The crowd fill their stomachs
    for the endurance test:
    avoid waste disposal
    for two, or three, or more
    turns, under assault from
    loud sound and moving light.

    Super-powered people --
    who can change size at will
    from moment to moment,
    travel from place to place
    in an instant -- compel
    these silent endurers
    to suffer emotions
    they avoid, at all cost,
    in life outside this room:
    fear and violence and
    death and pain and true love.

    They can craft, from nightmare,
    with silicon numbers,
    impossible creatures;
    mis-remember the past;
    mis-predict the future;
    and say Martians are green,
    though clearly we are not.

    And when the names of their
    torturers scroll by -- so
    slow, so many -- they rush
    to the waste disposal,
    to the safety of home,
    in discussion of all
    they endured, together.

    For the observant (or, rather, the unobservant, as I'm pointing it out), the piece is written in trimeter -- i.e. three syllabic pairs per line. Much English speech naturally falls into pentameter -- i.e. five pairs per 'line' -- which may or may not having anything to do with us having five digits on each hand & foot, but I've decided that's why, and so as Martians only have three digits (of course) they would (semi-)logically speak with a deference to trimeter instead of pentameter. It's somewhat thin logic, I know, but good enough for me.

    Tomorrow, poetry by someone who isn't me; or 'real poetry', some might say.

    Watchmen full trailer!

    Yes, yes, yes, and yes again. This looks nigh-on perfect.

    Two wonderances:

    In the comic, the group of heroes don't have a name -- the "Watchmen" of the title is more a concept and a reference to the famous quote, not the name of an actual group. So either the audio for the trailer has been cleverly edited to help ease selling the film (most people who haven't read it assume the title does refer to the group, which isn't unreasonable as most comics' titles do), or they've changed it so the group is called that. Personally, that's a change I can live with, but it'll annoy some.

    Secondly, is it really wise to be releasing the full trailer for a film out in March now? That's three-and-a-half months away. Unless they've got a big plan up their sleeves, aren't the General Public either going to get tired of it or forget all about it long before the film itself arrives? Maybe they should learn some lessons from Doctor Who's publicity department.

    Anyway, those points aside, it's absolutely brilliant. And it uses a Muse song. So go watch it here.

    Sunday, 16 November 2008


    2x01 Episode 1
    The first series of Outnumbered was one of the Best Things Ever and, thankfully, series two has set off at the same level of quality.

    7x04 A Chance for Peace
    While I'm watching this series of Spooks at around the same time it's broadcast, I've only seen episodes on iPlayer so far -- meaning I've still not watched an episode of Spooks on first broadcast since 1x02, way back in May 2002! (I've spent the last year catching up on DVD.) And as it's technically shown first on BBC Three, and I'm watching at BBC One pace... well, there's always 8x01 (probably)...

    Stephen Fry in America
    Part 6 Pacific [series finale]

    Top Gear
    12x03 (16/11/08 edition)


    5 Reasons To Skip Quantum Of Solace by Josh Tyler
    (from Cinema Blend)
    Like Quantum of Solace or not, these are five really bad arguments why it's really bad. Unintentionally very amusing.

    Elisabeth Sladen (The Sarah Jane Adventures) Interview by Will Martin
    (from Last Broadcast)
    Among other Sarah Jane factoids, Ms Sladen reveals this snippet: "The joy now is doing the DVD commentaries, although unfortunately I’m not anymore due to contractual reasons with 2entertain, we couldn’t come to an agreement." Oh dear.

    Bond from the Beginning #3: Goldfinger

    The archetypal Bond film, and it's easy to see why: the unrelated pre-titles, the credits, the song, the girls, their names, the villains, the locations, the gadgets, the Q scene (actually not repeated similarly for at least 17 years), the score, the ultimately unfeasible plan... It doesn't have everything (see earlier for the poor puns, see later for the volcano bases and cat-stroking baldies), but it has enough that no Bond-summarising article can be written without noting its significance.

    Personally, I've never fallen as deeply for Goldfinger as others have; it doesn't have the grit of From Russia With Love and it doesn't meet the ridiculous excess of You Only Live Twice. I find it to be less than the sum of its parts; but those parts are mostly so excellent that its still a greatly entertaining film, and, I'm sure, not undeserving of the adulation lavished upon it by so many.

    post... on a Sunday?

    Today is Sunday. Post is not delivered on a Sunday. That's just The Way Of The World.

    But today, I got post. Today. Sunday. Sunday! And this from the same postal service I've had to complain to several times for delivering my post to the wrong address.

    So, I'm not complaining -- especially as the delivery brought me my 900th DVD (more on that later) -- but I am rather surprised.

    I mean... it's Sunday!

    Bond from the Beginning #6: On Her Majesty's Secret Service

    I used to proudly lay my allegiance with the fans who believe OHMSS is an underrated classic; now I'm not so sure, though I wouldn't say it's among the worst -- all told, it's a mixed bag.

    The first third is an unusual (for Bond) love story, which unfortunately seems quite hollow after Casino Royale did the same thing so brilliantly. Finally the actual 'Bond film' gets underway, complete with proper spying... and a ridiculous kilt-based outfit. The final third holds all the action sequences: crammed into 40 minutes there's two ski chases, a toboggan chase, a car chase, a helicopter raid, a large gunfight and an avalanche; the latter is especially well realised. This unbalanced structure undoubtedly helps unbalance some fans' view of the film.

    Elsewhere there's an effort to remind us this is the same series: the titles are full of clips from the previous films and there are numerous other references. While the reasoning behind them at the time is clear, we're now familiar with Bond's changing face and they're just intrusive. As the new Bond, Lazenby is certainly no Connery, but he could be worse. His performance helps sell the final scene, which is still incredibly sad (indeed, while Casino Royale's romance plot may be more convincing overall, the death scene isn't a patch on this).

    The direction is largely fantastic (though there are some dire sped-up shots) and the score is perfect; the instrumental main theme is probably my favourite ever.

    There's still a lot to be said about OHMSS, but my opinion (for now) is that it's neither as bad nor as great as most of fandom would claim.