Tuesday, 31 March 2009


2x02 (30/3/09 edition)
In which Rufus Hound summarises four years' of Doctor Who's arc plots in one very long sentence. Impressive.

The Wire
1x01 The Target
With BBC Two airing The Wire rather late at night, I'm intending to watch every episode the next day -- so, the episode that was actually on TV this evening was 1x02 (just in case this has confused you).
For my thoughts on this episode, look here.


David Cronenberg Making Plans For Eastern Promises Sequel by Eric Ditzian
(from Movies Blog at MTV)
I've yet to see the highly acclaimed Eastern Promises... but now I know the big twist ending, thanks to this article. And Cronenberg himself has warned against this! Bastard news article writers.
Anyway, if you've not seen it, let the title and following quote satiate your interest:
"“We are going to have a meeting very soon between me, [screenwriter] Steve Knight and [producer] Paul Webster to discuss what the script would be,” Cronenberg said. “I have some very strong ideas about what I would like to see, but I would like to hear what they have to say as well. And then after that, if all goes well, Steve goes away and writes a great script. If we all like it, we make it.”"

First Footage of Sherlock Holmes Shown At ShoWest! by George 'El Guapo' Roush
(from Latino Review)
Sounds pretty cool -- despite the involvement of Guy Ritchie and Jude Law, and potential irreverence to the source material, I'm still quite looking forward to the film. At the very least it will be Interesting.

Here's a Poster Featuring Downey As Sherlock Holmes... by Merrick
(from Ain't It Cool News)
That's quite a cool poster too, if you ask me.

Okay, Hot Toys Is Getting Absurd
(from Topless Robot)
This new 'Heath Ledger's Joker' action figure is mad. Not only is it freakishly accurate, not only is it crazily accessorized, but its eyes move. No, really, they do. Check out the full article for more on that.

The Wire 1x01: The Target

The Wire arrives on the back of 7 years' (yes, 7 years!) worth of massive hype. Is it as good as everyone says?

On the strength of one episode, it's hard to tell. Some series' brilliance strikes you clearly after just one episode -- The Wire is not one of those series. This makes it a bit of a struggle to see why it's so widely acclaimed as the greatest TV series ever made. Equally, fans go on about how it takes time to get into and the story is really spread across many episodes (as if 24 didn't do that even earlier, and numerous series haven't used the same idea since; or, indeed, as if we aren't used to long multi-part adaptations of fiction), so I'll give it more of a chance yet.

This has raised some interesting points for me, however. As many fans are keen to tell you, The Wire is more like a novel than traditional TV, actually telling one story over all 13 episodes of the season. Of course, as I've noted above, this is a much-imitated style nowadays -- it's exactly what legal thriller Damages does, for example -- but The Wire really does it: where other shows still try to make each episode function in itself somehow, this doesn't matter to The Wire, where you're served one thirteenth of the drama.

Is this a valid use of the form? By which I mean, should it actually see the episodic format as a virtue and make each episode moderately self-contained (as Damages does). If it wants to tell one long story, why isn't it a novel, where it is theoretically uninterrupted? (Of course few people read novels in one sitting, but you're aware it's one whole work, whereas a season of 13 episodes is, in one way or another, 13 separate but connected works.)

I don't have an answer to any of this, but it's something I'm wondering. We'll see how things progress over the next 12 hours.

Monday, 30 March 2009


Law & Order: UK
1x06 Paradise
Another strong episode, if still subject to the series' penchant for worthiness... though at least it seems to be aware of it, turning it into a character flaw rather than just blunt writing. Well done.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

The Mentalist
1x01 Pilot
Sherlock Holmes meets Derren Brown by way of any old US cop show in Five's latest import. As a fan of at least two out of those three things, this is very promising.


Big Nothing (2006)
[#12 in 100 Films in a Year 2009]
This is the third new film in a row I've watched on TV, an unusually high number for me.


Robin Hood tops Primeval in ratings by Neil Wilkes
(from Digital Spy)
"The return of Robin Hood beat the return of Primeval in the ratings... The BBC drama averaged 5.62m (25.8%)... Its ITV1 rival, also launching its third run, put in 5.27m (23.7%)...
Hood suffered from being up against Harry Hill's TV Burp... but when Primeval began Hood's audience jumped from 5.65m to a peak of 6.74m (29.7%) within five minutes.
The audience for Hood was roughly on par with that for the first episode of series two, which managed 5.76m... Primeval, meanwhile, was down around 500k on its second series premiere, which delivered 5.72m."
Clearly I wasn't the only one who preferred the Hood. Their overall closeness may not be enough to jolt ITV into moving them out of direct competition, sadly, though Primeval's drop from last year and Hood's spike when Primeval began might convince them...

Weekend Report: Monsters, Haunting Scare Up Big Business by Brandon Gray
(from Box Office Mojo)
But never mind them -- this is an "oh dear" update on Watchmen:
"Watchmen's rapid descent persisted, this time dissipating 59% to an estimated $2.8 million... The superhero drama did lose more than half of its screens and showings from last weekend, but there were still many more than enough to satiate any remaining audience interest. On its 21st day, it crossed the $100 million mark, but it was the slowest of any movie that opened to over $50 million to reach that milestone".

Sunday, 29 March 2009


Quantum of Solace (2008)
[2nd watch]
A much, much better film than many think -- I certainly appreciated it more on a second viewing. I suspect that, in time, this one may be reevaluated, much as On Her Majesty's Secret Service has been. Though it took that a couple of decades...


Daniel Craig On Pushing James Bond Forward by Devin Zydel
(from CommanderBond.net)
Fairly long interview with the incumbent Bond actor, discussing Quantum of Solace and touching on Bond 23.

End of Rainbow Captured On iPhone Camera, No Pot Of Gold by Sean Fallon
(from Gizmodo)
I drove past the end of a rainbow the other day. I didn't take a photo, because I was DRIVING.

Saturday, 28 March 2009


BBC One Sessions
Annie Lennox
Like Duffy's at Christmas, I found myself watching this quite by accident. I'd forgotten just how many well-known songs Annie Lennox had been involved in, and the others were mostly very good too.
Was able to watch it on BBC HD, though mostly just listened, but when I looked up it did look prettier.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

The Graham Norton Show
5x03 (19/3/09 edition, uncut repeat)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Robin Hood
3x01 Total Eclipse
Robin Hood and Primeval both returned tonight, foolishly scheduled against each other. I chose Hood to make a point, though will be sure to catch up on Primeval later. They clash again next week; hopefully after that one channel will see sense and move their programme out of the way.
As for the programme itself, it was nicely action packed. It's nice to see they've learnt this lesson, as it was sometimes lacking during the first season. Also watched it on BBC HD, which was quite nice.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


Runaway Train (1985)
[#11 in 100 Films in a Year 2009]

Friday, 27 March 2009


Moving Wallpaper
2x05 Episode 5
Best episode yet, by a sizable margin. Next week is the finale, but there's no Renaissance paired with it. Presumably that'll be the week after, then...
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

The Wire
Prequel 1985 Young Omar
With BBC Two showing The Wire from the very beginning (starting next Monday and continuing on every weeknight), here's a short prequel clip. I have no idea if this is actually part of the series (i.e. excerpted from an episode), or an online exclusive, or from one of the DVDs, or what, but here it is anyway. There are several other featurettes, trailers and prequel clips on the site as well.


The Ultimate Collection by Electric Light Orchestra
Never really listened to ELO before (apart from the odd song, of course), but there many I recognised among these 38 tracks but hadn't realised who they were by.


The Best And Worst TV Episode Titles by Dave Golder
(from SFX)
The list of worst titles (on a second page) includes a variety of puns that, really, fall into the "so bad they're good" category.

The Birth of the Babylon 5 Story by J. Michael Straczynski
(from TheJoeStore)
"In 1999, J. Michael Straczynski allowed his original notes on Babylon 5 to be released via his Last Word column in the Babylon 5 Magazine (Vol. 2, Issue 9). These notes were the first written record of Babylon 5, made moments after he had his inspiration for the series while taking a shower. Though the magazine is long gone, on this, the 10th anniversary of this column's publication, he wanted to share the origins of Babylon 5 again."

Poem of the Week: Cabbage

(after 'I like that stuff' by Adrian Mitchell)
by Roger McGough

This is, to my mind, Good Poetry. It's funny, but with a serious point too, and therefore very dark. I may set my sights on writing stuff like this, only I'm not sure I'd be good enough.

Humphrey Bogart died of it
People are terrified of it
I hate that stuff

Peter Sellers was laid low with it
one in five of us will go with it
heart attack
I hate that stuff

Monroe's life turned sour on it
Hancock spent his last half hour on it
sleeping pills
I hate that stuff

Jimi Hendrix couldn't wait for it
Chemistshops stay open late for it
I hate that stuff

Mama Cass choked on it
Blankets get soaked in it
I hate that stuff

Women learn to live with it
No one can live without it
I hate that stuff

Hospitals are packed with it
Saw my mother racked with it
I hate that stuff

Few like to face the truth of it
We're all living proof of it
I hate that stuff

Schoolkids are forcefed with it
Cattle are served dead with it
I hate that stuff

First published in 1979 in Holiday on Death Row, this was copied from his 2003 volume Collected Poems (in which some poems are revised, though there's nothing to indicate which). The latter volume contains 397 pages of work spanning almost 40 years of his career, including seven previously unpublished pieces.

Thursday, 26 March 2009


Orangutan Diary
2x03 Episode 3
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

And that's all for today.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009


2x02 To Be a Somebody Part 2
And this is the episode. (See yesterday for what I'm wittering about.)
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

I've Never Seen Star Wars
1x02 John Humphrys
Humphrys is brilliant, and handed out some very fair scores too.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Mad Men
2x07 The Gold Violin
Finally -- finally -- caught up with Mad Men!
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


La Antena (2007)
[#10 in 100 Films in a Year 2009]


Review of Lesbian Vampire Killers by Simon Crook
(from Empire)
"If Nuts magazine made a horror movie, this, for better or worse, is what it would look like."
It's reviews like this that explain why LVK only managed to open in 4th place in the UK last weekend, taking under $1 million. Painful.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


2x01 To Be a Somebody Part 1
This is the story that really made Cracker famous -- or so it seems to me, as it's the events of this three-part story that have always been discussed when I've heard about the show. It's a shame to watch it knowing what happens, but it's still great drama, as yet with no hint at where it all ends up. Naturally I won't go spoiling things for anyone who doesn't know.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

Mad Men
2x06 Maidenform
I usually try to avoid sinking this blog to such base topics, but oh my January Jones looked good in that bikini! And Elisabeth Moss underwent some kind of transformation at the end too!
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry
Chapter Three: VIII
As my poetry-to-be-assessed is erring towards the comic, I decided it might be best to actually read Fry's section on it (which is what 3.VIII is). Oh my, there's some filthy stuff in here! Truly truly so too, not just to delicate poetic sensibilities. I doubt my work will be so pleasantly depraved, but it certainly is enlightening to read.


Finish Him!
(from Empire)
"The 50 Greatest Movie Finishing Moves" -- i.e. lots of cool deaths with lots of cool quips. Missing out "shocking, positively shocking" may be a sin.

Harry lets Tales of the Black Freighter and Under the Hood play out before his eyes! by Harry Knowles
(from Ain't It Cool News)
The Watchmen DVD tie-ins don't hit UK shelves for something like another month yet, though are already available in the US. Surely this is a very, very bad business decision, as it drives potential legal consumers to less-than-legal methods in order to see them sooner? Certainly, I was all prepared to buy these on DVD upon release, but when it's so far off it notably increases the temptation to acquire them another way for now and then purchase the Complete Edition release that will inevitably include them. Yes, that is illegal... but nonetheless, Warner would still not get the money they'd've otherwise earnt, and they'd really only have themselves to blame.

Twitter: How Small Interface Changes Are A Big Win For Everyone by Mark Ghuneim
(from Online Media Daily at MediaPost)
A rather in depth article, but interesting if you're interested.

And look here for a piece on the British Government potentially banning certain books.

more book bannings

First the US Government bans a load of books for no good reason, and now the British Government has the potential to do something similar...

Graphic artists condemn plans to ban erotic comics by Jerome Taylor
(from The Independent)

A coalition of graphic artists, publishers and MPs have condemned Government plans to introduce a new set of laws policing cartoons of children, arguing that the current broad wording of the legislation could lead to the banning of hundreds of mainstream comic books.

A couple of quotes from within the article. First, a spokesperson:

We do not oppose any legislation that protects children from abuse, we understand the need for it, but some parts of the Coroners Bill do need rewording and clarifying... This new legislation could be used for the wrong reason and if used incorrectly thousands of people could become criminals overnight. The Government refused to impose minimum tariffs on cheap alcohol because it was unfair to punish the majority for the crimes of a minority; yet this legislation does exactly the same.”

And author Neil Gaiman:

If you accept -- and I do -- that freedom of speech is important then you are going to have to defend the indefensible. That means you are going to be defending the right of people to read, or to write, or to say, what you don't say or like or want said. The Law is a huge blunt weapon that does not and will not make distinctions between what you find acceptable and what you don't. This is how the Law is made.

Let's hope common sense prevails. Though that has a poor track record...

Monday, 23 March 2009


2x06 Pretty Girl in a Leotard
As if it wasn't complicated enough, they throw more balls into the air! On the other hand, it contradictorily begins to draw disparate elements closer together -- as we're about to pass the halfway point, that's always welcome.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Law & Order: UK
1x05 Buried
A surprising number of famous guest stars this week. Considering the teeny tiny size of some of their roles, one wonders if they might return later. On the other hand, it was a very good episode, dealing with a lot of issues as effectively as can be done in this format.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

Mad Men
2x05 The New Girl
Filling-in-tastic! A great episode of this great, under-seen series.


Introducing The Xbox Air
(from The Customer Is Not Always Right)
Absolutely hilarious true story.

MSM: stuck in the dark ages by Anton Vowl
(from The enemies of reason)
More slamming of the papers. Enjoying this blog immensely.

Stella Artois launches spoof 24-style ad in style of Jean-Luc Godard by Mark Sweney
(from guardian.co.uk)
"Stella Artois has launched a viral ad campaign... featuring spoof trailers for US films and TV shows, shot in the style of French Nouvelle Vague directors such as Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut. One of the online ads is a spoof trailer for Kiefer Sutherland drama 24... with laid-back lothario Jacques Bauder ignoring warnings that he has only 24 hours to save St Tropez."
And you can watch them here.

Also, see a hilarious Coraline review here and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Conner being decidedly un-Christian here.

"atheists are less than human"

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor “on the attack” against people of reason by Gavin Orland
(from gavinorland.com)

Murphy-O'Connor, on Radio 4:

We have to stand up to [non-believers]. There is something not totally human if you leave out transcendent [God] and [atheists] are not fully human. They have an impoverished understanding to what it is to be human.

As if the Pope wasn't bad enough, here's another idiot! Believe in God by all means -- I don't and I think you're wrong, but it's your choice.

But don't claim I'm less of a human for not believing in it, because I'm more than happy to start hunting down whatever information is out there on all those kiddy-fiddling priests and all the murdering done in the name of the Lord and throw it back at you.

amusing Christian Coraline review

Review of Coraline by Michael Karounos
(from Christian Spotlight on Entertainment at ChristianAnswers.net)

As Neil Gaiman himself said, "Funniest Coraline review ever".

It's by Christians, see; the ludicrous kind. Some of the people there clearly deserve our pity; others, our condemnation. It's good they're not too prolific.

Excuse me while I go laugh at some more of their reviews... including a particularly misguided one of Quantum of Solace (out on DVD today, incidentally; £7 in Tesco 'til Wednesday. Just in case you didn't know).

Best of all, perhaps, is Watchmen -- purely for how many Christians agree with Rorschach, clearly the most psychopathic of the characters. That is priceless.

Sunday, 22 March 2009


Dancing On Ice
2009 Final
God I hate Ray Quinn. I'm mentioning it purely to say that.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

I've Never Seen Star Wars
1x01 Clive Anderson
The intriguingly-titled radio series transitions to TV, filling the Room 101-shaped hole in the schedules. (Interestingly, the second series of the radio version has only just finished broadcasting. One has to wonder if it will continue if the TV version takes off...)
The concept is fairly simple: comedian Marcus Brigstocke subjects a guest to five cultural experiences that they've never tried before. For example, his first guest is Clive Anderson, who is made to spend an hour in a flotation tank, read Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, play the National Lottery, watch Withnail and I, and have a go at judo.
It's a slightly unusual format, but also quite a fun one with lots of potential. And, obviously, varied cultural experiences are right up this blog's street.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Lark Rise to Candleford
2x12 Episode 12 [season finale]
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

6x12 Food (extended edition) [season finale]
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


Dunblane apology from Sunday Express
Why did the Express say sorry? by Anton Vowl
(from The enemies of reason)
"There was a time when you couldn't mobilise support for a campaign... Facebook, Twitter and blogs -- those things contemptuously dismissed by 'proper' journalists -- weren't about; there was no way of connecting together separate angry people... Whatever you think of online petitions, and many doubt their effectiveness, the one against the Express gained 10,000 signatures in a very short space of time...
Newspapers haven't learned it yet, but they will soon. You can't get away with it any more. People are watching. People are checking. And, more importantly, they can mobilise support against you very efficiently when you step out of line."
Lots of other good points here too. The Express flatter themselves to death (sadly, not literally) in their apology though.

And an instance of blatant theft...

Take a look at this article, posted 11th November 2008: Book of phone numbers 'left on doorstep' (by Andrew Taylor, from )

Now, take a look at this one, posted 12th November 2008: Security Leak ('by' Dave East, from Dave: the blog)

Notice anything? Yes, that's right -- Dave's totally plagarised him. This is especially amusing in light of the copyright notice carried on Davie's own front page:

Never use anything off this site, be it writing, images or html code, unless I say otherwise. I am very attached to my work and don't usually respond well when others help themselves to it. Copyright is protected by law and is in effect the minute something is created, whether the author has a © notice or not - but if you want me to spell it out, I claim copyright on everything posted on this site, unless I acknowledge that it comes from another source.

Ooh, what a dirty little liar!

Saturday, 21 March 2009


2x05 I Agree, It Wasn't Funny
I think Damages has a few too many balls in play this season. Complex, multi-stranded, multi-layered TV is great, but with so many disparate plots going on Damages has to keep flitting between them, leaving some out entirely. It's not bad, but pulling things back a little -- to the level of complexity offered by season one, to be precise -- would improve things. If it's not careful, it'll go the way of 24...
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

The Graham Norton Show
5x02 (12/3/09 edition, uncut repeat)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Lark Rise to Candleford
2x11 Episode 11
Many series have "Next Time" trails these days. I like them -- it's a nice little tease for what's coming up. Except on Lark Rise, where last week's trailer gave away nearly all of this week's twists. Oh dear.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Nature's Great Events
Part 6 The Great Feast [final part]
Jumping ahead for iPlayer-related reasons (which is fine, because the episodes aren't connected).
Lots of stunning footage in this one, but none more so than the bait-ball -- like an action sequence from a movie thanks to some great camerawork, fine editing and well-chosen music. Engrossing.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


He looks a bit fed up for some reason, doesn't he? by Anton Vowl
(from The enemies of reason)
This is one of the stories that's most upset me this week -- not only for the tragic loss, of course, but for the callous and intrusive way the press have chosen to report it. This is why there should be laws against the paparazzi.

The Mail and Gemma Arterton. And pants. by Anton Vowl
(from The enemies of reason)
More anti-newspaper common sense (this is the kind of thing I love, by-the-by). A case study on the hypocrisy of the British tabloid press, in this instance focussed on one of said hypocrisy's main perpetrators, the Daily Mail. Go on, read it; and read to the end.

The Next Dimension by Josh Quittner
(from TIME)
"Jeffrey Katzenberg, the head of DreamWorks Animation SKG, is betting the future of his studio on digital 3-D. While he's not the first to embrace the technology, he has become its most vocal evangelist, asserting that digital 3-D is now good enough to make it -- after sound and color -- the third sea change to affect movies. "This really is a revolution," he says."
Is it, really? I think that remains to be seen. It's almost all riding on the back of James Cameron's Avatar -- while there are other big-name 3D films in production, if Avatar flops that could put off cinemas off bothering to upgrade for 3D and therefore not show the later films either. But, we'll see...

Friday, 20 March 2009


Moving Wallpaper
2x03 Episode 3
2x04 Episode 4
Still quite funny, but would benefit from a companion show still. Hopefully it'll get picked up for a third series and they can have Renaissance (or indeed something -- anything -- else) running alongside it again.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

Not Going Out
3x07 Marriage [season finale]
Another bit of a desperate episode, though still with a few hearty laughs. And you wouldn't guess it from the episode itself, but this appears to be the last of the series.
Or, all things considered, perhaps the last ever -- is Not Going Out on the way out? (Yeah, I just wanted to get that pun in.)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]
Edit: Turns out there's one more episode, but the BBC have cancelled the show and decided not to show it. It should be on later in the year however.

And in TV news, starting Monday 30th March, BBC Two are going to be showing The Wire from the very start. They'll be showing one episode a night too, so it should go by at a nice pace. Most importantly, I can finally see it! For more details, have a look here.


7 Coolest Movie Con Jobs by James White
(from Total Film)

Could Warner Bros. Be Putting The Kibosh On R-Rated Superhero Films? by Casey Seijas
(from MTV Splash Page)
Not all that surprising, considering, but still potentially a shame.

DMCA Take Down Notice: The NYTimes Goes to War & Wants to Shut us Down
(from Apartment Therapy)
Blogs have been around for about 16 years now (though how long they've been widely known about is a different matter), but it seems some old media still can't adapt to how useful they are. The New York Times are of course within their legal rights to both do this and do it this way, but it does come across as underhand and almost cowardly.
Personally, I won't be bothering to read their site any more -- when there are so many valid news sources on the web, why go to one you disapprove of? Losing me won't exactly have a huge impact on their hits, but still.

Also see some of my thoughts on this year's Hugo Award nominations here.

2009 Hugo Award nominations

Specifically looking at "Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form" here, as I came across these on a Doctor Who fansite...

2009 Hugo Award Nominations
(from The Hugo Awards)

Once again, Doctor Who gains multiple nominations for this year's Hugo Awards.

Who has received many nominations in the past few years, often receiving multiple nods where other shows can only manage one, undoubtedly due to the sheer variety of styles and content offered by the show. And incoming showrunner Steven Moffat has won every year.

This year, in my opinion, he doesn't deserve to win again -- his two-part Silence in the Library story was a bit sloppy, a weak plot hung on some truly excellent ideas. Russell T Davies' Turn Left, on the other hand, turned the series on its head to excellent effect -- it was both better sci-fi and better drama. Also, Davies' has been produced a relatively huge number of high-quality Who scripts over the past few years -- he deserves this one in recognition of his entire contribution as much as anything.

Both may fall to the competition posed by Battlestar Galactica in its final year (though it will surely be eligible for the 2010 awards too, so perhaps it will take it then) or the power of Joss Whedon's fanbase in the shape of internet sensation Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

Poem of the Week: The Ballad of Dr Manhattan's Change of Fortune

by Richard Nelson

Watchmen's been out for a good few weeks now, and here's the final part of a trilogy of poems about the film. Well, related to the film -- the first two were rather tenuous, whereas this one was composed by my good self in the wake of the film... and the Internet discussions about it, which seemed to focus around one particular member of the cast.

When it was normal-coloured he
had trouble getting laid,
but then there was the accident
which changed its fleshy shade:

No longer was it ugly, pink
and changeable in size,
but now a constant, hanging there;
pleasant blue to the eyes.

His fascinating phallus lets
him have it his own way:
he can have any girl he wants
('cept Silhouette -- she's gay).

This is the first instance in a long time where I've posted a poem of my own composition. Just because I'm writing more doesn't mean this will be occurring more often.

Who Watches the WALL-E?

Too remove all the magic, this is clips from WALL-E edited to the soundtrack from the first Watchmen trailer. It's better than that probably makes it sound.

Also available in HD.

Thursday, 19 March 2009


1x07 One Day a Lemming Will Fly Part 2 [season finale]
Cracker must be one of the only -- perhaps the only -- police procedural-type shows to have a story that concludes with the wrong man charged, the real killer still on the loose, and no one on the force caring about this. And I seriously doubt it's designed to set up a future story either -- it's just Cracker's very-real-world way.
Next, straight on to the second series.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

Horne & Corden
1x02 Episode 2
Still very mixed, though with potential. Will need to try harder if they want it to last. That said, the piss-take of Christian Youth organisations was fantastic.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Karma Kula: Mystic Warrior Sneak Peak
Trailer for the new live action webseries from the makers of Ninjai: The Little Ninja, exclusive to Ninjai mailing list subscribers (or their invited friends). The acting is atrocious, the writing pretentious, the direction lacklustre, and the unfilmised video stock makes it look dirt cheap... but the fighting is absolutely brilliant. Hopefully there'll be plenty of that in the series then.


Back To Sleep
(from reddwarf.co.uk)
It's the bunk room set from the new Red Dwarf! Hurrah! Looks brilliant. Can't wait for this at Easter.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (R1/US BD) in May by Dave Foster
(from DVD Times)
I don't know if I missed something, but it's come as quite a surprise that this is being released by Criterion! It's not unheard of for them to do new-release films, but I wouldn't've thought Paramount would want to farm out a high-profile Oscar-winner in that way. Also not sure of the last time Criterion released something so new and high-profile, which probably adds to the surprise.

Lionsgate Premieres Crank 2 Poster on Twitter by Peter Sciretta
(from /film)
Mainly reporting this for the cool tagline (not sure about the Watchmen-esque colour scheme however), though the thoughts about the dramatically increasing popularity of Twitter are interesting.

Click to enlarge

The Religion of Dolphins... by Neil Gaiman
(from Neil Gaiman's Journal)
"Picked up my copy of New Scientist over breakfast this morning... and found myself puzzling over an article that began,
"That a complex mind is required for religion may explain why faith is unique to humans."
Which left me amazed and potentially delighted that journalists at New Scientist had succeeded in interspecies communication to the point of being certain that dolphins and whales have no belief in things deeper than themselves, that ants do not imagine a supreme colony at the centre of everything... and that there are no Buddhist Pigs, Monkeys or whatever-the-hell Sandy was."

Who writer begs lotto for TV cash
(from BBC News)
Slightly misleading headline, in my opinion, for a very valid point: "Russell T Davies has called for national lottery money to be given to children's programmes. In a speech to Bafta members, Davies said: "They put money into rubbish films, why can't they put money into children's television?"" Too right!

Best. Advert. Ever.

Seriously, just watch it:

Batman Icon's Mutation

This is rather intriguing and a fun watch. You might be surprised by just how much variety there's been...

Wednesday, 18 March 2009


Mad Men
2x04 Three Sundays

Nature's Great Events
Part 3 The Great Migration
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

France doesn't want Africans to die of AIDS

After yesterday's news...

France chastises Pope on condoms
(from BBC News)

France, echoing the reaction of some aid agencies, said it "voices extremely sharp concern over the consequences of [the Pope's comments]... we consider that such comments are a threat to public health policies and the duty to protect human life," foreign ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier said.

Well done France.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009


1x06 One Day a Lemming Will Fly Part 1
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

Lark Rise to Candleford
2x10 Episode 10
Oh my, Lark Rise appears to have turned into a broad sitcom! (I'm sure some would argue it always was.) It also seems to run out of story about three-quarters of the way through, which is a shame.
More of a shame, however, as the "Next Time" trailer, apparently giving away all of the twists in next week's episode. That's just stupidity.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry
Chapter Three: VI (p.221-228, 242-246)
Chapter Three: VIII (p.261-262)
More re-reading. I was meant to be looking at the section on the Ballad again, but got distracted by these bits on the Villanelle, Ballade and Cento. It's all brilliantly written, of course, and very engaging.
I should really be a good boy and return to reading it in order too.

Watchmen: Portraits by Clay Enos
See here for me thoughts on this book.


The Making of a Poem by Mark Strand & Eavan Boland
The Ballad (p.73-98)
Having settled on the Ballad as the form for me, I'm now trying to read some and get an idea of how to do it well. Or an idea of what to write about. And so I've re-read this section of Making of a Poem, which features several good examples. However, most of them are rather old and consequently perhaps not the best guideline for modern work.


Made in Hong Kong (And in Various Other Places) by Nightwish
See here for my thoughts on this album.

Listening to Made in Hong Kong set me off listening to a few other Nightwish things, some of which I'd bought but not yet listened to. Normally I wouldn't mention most of these, but I had the following to say...

Dark Passion Play by Nightwish
The album from which all of Made in Hong Kong's live tracks are taken. This is the first time I've listened to it for a while. It's not quite as good as Once, the band's absolute high point in my opinion, but it's a good effort nonetheless. Most importantly, as the first album after the departure of original lead vocalist Tarja Turunen it shows definitively that Nightwish can go on successfully without her.

The Islander (single) by Nightwish
The Islander is one of my favourite tracks on Dark Passion Play, with a nice folkish vibe to it. Here it's accompanied by an instrumental version of Escapist, a track included as a B-side on the Bye Bye Beautiful single and as a bonus track on Made in Hong Kong. This instrumental is great, I think.
Also included is an orchestral version of album-closer Meadows of Heaven. A grand, 7-minute, orchestra-led epic, Meadows of Heaven works brilliantly like this -- not perfectly, as the guitars and so forth are missing, but better than the orchestral version of Ghost Love Score, another brilliant orchestra-led track (from the previous album) which featured guitars so integrally it fails without them.


24 movie heading to Europe? by Simon Reynolds
(from Digital Spy)
Not really news -- as long as there's been discussion of a 24 movie it's been mooted that London wold be the setting -- but the concept of Jack being able to traverse Europe within the timespan is quite a neat one. On the other hand, it's still not a concept that really works as a movie. You either do it as two hours of real time, which isn't "24", or do the producers' oft-discussed method, where one hour of the film covers 23 hours and the final hour is real time -- which is just an ordinary thriller with a clock pointing the timings out to you. But hey, we'll see -- they might not even make it yet.

David Chase cuts Ribbon at HBO by Michael Schneider
(from Variety)
This series sounds great. And if they can pull it off, it will be.

Five Favorite Films with Alex Proyas by Jen Yamato
(from Rotten Tomatoes)
Not quite as good as Danny Boyle's from a few weeks back, but Proyas is a good filmmaker (Dark City is underrated and I, Robot isn't anything like as bad as some would have us believe) and his choices and interview are interesting.

Radio 4 ditches last remaining children's series by Ben Dowell
(from guardian.co.uk)
"Go4it [the cancelled series] sometimes registered zero listeners from its target four-to-14 age range, with an average of about 20,000 listeners in that age bracket tuning in. The average age of its 450,000 listeners was between 52 and 55." It's a shame really, but also, it must be said, quite funny.

Way Cooler Than Anything In Either Alien Vs. Predator Film... by Merrick
(from Ain't It Cool News)
Amusing indeed.

Watchmen: Portraits

by Clay Enos

I only had a relatively fast look through this beautifully huge volume, but it was enough to garner the following thoughts:

The format, blurb and price give away the truth: this isn't really a Watchmen tie-in book, it's a book of photography -- portraiture, to be precise -- that happens to be about Watchmen. It's the visual-arts equivalent of poetry, where each unexplained image is designed to be perused slowly for its own beauty and its placement in relation to the other images, not rushed over in pursuit of an overall narrative. It is, if you will, an Art of the Film book taken to its furthest extreme.

However many times you've seen the film -- and, for some people, that's already a bizarrely large number -- there will still be far more faces here you don't recognise than those you do. For example, in amongst the previously faceless punks, prostitutes, protestors, prisoners, politicians and pedestrians there is only one shot of Nite Owl II and not even that many of Dan Dreiberg or a CGI Dr Manhattan.

This isn't about the film, it's about the people, and the art.

Made in Hong Kong (And in Various Other Places) by Nightwish

Nightwish's latest is a live CD (plus documentary DVD), including a variety of tracks from their most recent album as performed on their most recent tour. The selections are, shall we say, interesting -- as well as the singles (Bye Bye Beautiful, Amaranth) and centrepiece track (The Poet and the Pendulum) they offer up a couple of songs I can't even remember. In fact, a glance at my iTunes playcounts reveals I've only listened to them twice, as opposed to the decent double-figures of some tracks not included here. It's a shame, to say the least.

Arguably the most notable omission is Eva, which was the first single released featuring the group's new frontwoman, Anette Olzon. Talking of Olzon, while she was fine on the album she seems a bit weak live, leaving a few songs sounding decent but not as good as their studio counterparts. Those with male lead vocalists, or instrumental track Last of the Wilds, seem to transfer best.

The album is pushed up to 66-minute running time by the inclusion of some B-sides (and one new demo version). A nice inclusion for some, I'm sure, but in the days when individual tracks are easily acquired by digital download, any band/company which does this begins to seem a tad greedy, as fans will surely have got hold of these tracks already (I know I had). To be fair, it does no harm them being there if the alternative was blank space, but equally it could've been used for some more live cuts.

The Pope wants Africans to die of AIDS

Pope says condoms are not the solution to Aids - they make it worse by Richard Owen
(from Times Online)

The Pope courted further controversy on his first trip to Africa today by declaring that condoms were not a solution to the Aids epidemic – but were instead part of the problem.

Yeah, helpful.

Monday, 16 March 2009


Horne & Corden
1x01 Episode 1
Varying degrees of funniness, just like most sketch shows. Not a failure then, but not yet a success. We shall see...
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Law & Order: UK
1x04 Unsafe
Nothing like as bad as the Radio Times try to make out. In fact, after expressing his support for this week's villain, I'm slightly concerned for the mental state of RT's review...
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]


100 Things More Popular Than Twitter by Nicholas Carlson
(from Silicon Alley Insider at The Business Insider)
Twitter's received a huge spike in popularity of late. Here's a dose of reality, reminding us that it doesn't rule the world. Yet.

The Big Writing FAQ by James Moran
(from the pen is mightier than the spork)
James Moran -- writer of the movie Severance and episodes of Doctor Who, Torchwood, and other things -- gives advice on how to break into the industry and a bit about what being a writer is like. There are no magic solutions here, but there is truth.

Google Earth used by thief to pinpoint buildings with valuable lead roofs
(from Telegraph.co.uk)
Yes, it's crime; but it's funny crime.

Click to enlarge

K9 and Co by Dave Golder
(from SFX)
Oh no, poor K9 -- what have they done to you?

Sunday, 15 March 2009


The Graham Norton Show
5x01 (5/3/09 edition, uncut repeat)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Yep, that's it for today.

1984 gets closer every day...

The New Book Banning

Children’s books burn, courtesy of the federal government...

It’s hard to believe, but true: under a law Congress passed last year aimed at regulating hazards in children’s products, the federal government has now advised that children’s books published before 1985 should not be considered safe and may in many cases be unlawful to sell or distribute.

It really is as shocking as that sounds. For the full story, look here.

Saturday, 14 March 2009


Comic Relief: Funny For Money
There was some good stuff post-midnight. Not that I can really remember what happened when now...
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Let's Dance for Comic Relief
Episode 4 (of 4)
Webb won! It's only right.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Mad Men
2x03 The Benefactor

6x11 Film (extended edition)
I got several right! This may be a first. Also, brilliance from Emma Thompson.
[Watch the standard edition on iPlayer.]

Friday, 13 March 2009


Comic Relief: Funny For Money
This being most of Red Nose Day 2009 (as it goes on after midnight, it'll be here again tomorrow).
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


The Lunch Date (1990)
[#9a in 100 Films in a Year 2009]
Oscar-winning short film. It's brilliant.

Watchmen (2009)
[2nd watch]
Still love it.

Poem of the Week: Ozymandias

aka On A Stupendous Leg of Granite, Discovered Standing by Itself in the Deserts of Egypt, with the Inscription Inserted Below
by Horace Smith

As detailed last Friday, I've had this poetic pair lined up since November to tie in with the cinema release of Watchmen. It was great, wasn't it? What do you mean you've not seen it yet?

Anyway, here's the second of the pair:

In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
     Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
     The only shadow that the Desert knows --
"I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
     "The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
"The wonders of my hand."-- The City's gone,--
     Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.

We wonder,-- and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness
     Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
     What powerful but unrecorded race
     Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

Again as explained before, this was written in 1817 (published sometime in early 1818) as part of a writing competition with Smith's friend, Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley's poem is well-remembered and quoted; Smith's is now mainly known as a footnote. Poor guy.

Next week, no more tenuously-linked-to-new-releases poetry. Promise. (It's explicitly linked instead.)

Thursday, 12 March 2009


Comic Relief Does the Apprentice
Well, I wanted a Swap Belt. And how horrid was Patsy Palmer? She came across incredibly badly, walking out on a charity event because she felt personally insulted and all but saying to someone, "who are you to talk to me like that? I'm famous and you're nobody" (the first half she did say). Bitchy, selfish and egotistical.
Tune in to tomorrow's concluding few minutes (shown during the main Comic Relief event) to see who gets fired. Not that it matters one jot.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Kilimanjaro: The Big Red Nose Climb
An impressive feat, and they've done very well for charity. Only half watched because, if I'm honest, I don't care that much about any of the people who took part. Though there was a funny bit with Gary Barlow and Chris Moyles almost-discussing Take That songs (Moyles actually being funny?! I was shocked too).
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


Jon Hamm (from Mad Men) stars as Lex Luthor in this recession-based spoof. Apparently it's web-exclusive, which surely makes getting a TV star quite impressive.

It's not actually that funny (well, maybe it is to Superman fans...), but is notable for the above reason.

Hunt for the Special Red Dwarf SFX Covers

Click to enlarge
To celebrate the long-awaited return of Red Dwarf to satellite channel Dave, SFX has hidden 50 highly collectable Red Dwarf editions amongst copies on the newsstand.

Alongside the regular Doctor Who cover for SFX’s April issue, fans of Red Dwarf and SFX readers are in with a chance of finding one of 50 copies with a Red Dwarf cover.

For the full story -- including how this is related to the specials themselves -- look here.

Chances of actually finding one? Very, very slim. Though if you live in London I'd bet they're massively higher.

Tuesday's updates

As well as Wednesday's updates going up on time, Tuesday's are now online too. They include...

  • TV - Lark Rise and orangutans.
  • Non-Fiction - more about poetry.
  • Articles - including fantastic Watchmen LEGO!
  • Wednesday, 11 March 2009


    2x04 Hey! Mr Pibb
    Purcell is switching sides more often than a tennis ball! Some potentially huge logic holes in this week's episode, but with nine still to go there's plenty of time for those to be filled.
    [Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

    Mad Men
    2x02 Flight 1
    Some answers already. The key word being "some".

    Articles: Watchmen

    Once again, there's only one topic in today's articles -- Watchmen, of course. Today's lot are primarily aimed at fans of the book...

    Easter Eggs (And Missing Parts) In Watchmen's Titles by Meredith Woerner
    (from io9)
    Any chance to admire the amazing title sequence is a good one. There's also mention of some tableaus that had to be cut -- fingers crossed the turn up in the Director's Cut!

    Watchmen Director Explains His Favorite Additions & Subtractions From The Comic Book by Rick Marshall
    (from MTV Splash Page)
    To be honest, some of these changes and omissions I hadn't even noticed!

    What If Stan Lee Wrote The Watchmen Comic Books? by Brian Warmoth
    (from MTV Splash Page)
    A funny idea, but rather reliant on a familiarity with Stan Lee's writing style -- something I don't have, unfortunately.

    And don't forget screenwriter David Hayter's open letter to fans, which you can read here.

    An Open Letter From Watchmen Screenwriter David Hayter

    You may well have seen this around the web already (most sites seem to have reported on it; the original is here), but it's a well-written piece with an interesting -- and, potentially, important -- message to convey. Go on, give it a read:


    So it has been five months since I saw my first rough cut of Watchmen, and eight days since the premiere of the film I've been working on since late in the year 2000.

    The reviews are out -- Some outstanding, others rankly dismissive, which can be frustrating for the people involved, (though I can only speak for myself,) because I firmly believe that Watchmen, the novel, must be read through more than once to even have the faintest grip on it. And I believe the film is the same.

    I've seen it twice now, and despite having run the movie in my head thousands of times, my two viewings still don’t' allow me to view the film with the proper distance or objectivity. Is it Apocalypse Now? Is it Blade Runner? Is it Kubrick, or Starship Troopers? I don’t know yet.

    All I know is that I had a pretty amazing experience the two times I've seen it. And both viewings produced remarkably different experiences. The point is, I have listened for years, to complaints from true comic book fans, that "not enough movies take the source material seriously." "Too many movies puss out," or "They change great stories, just to be commercial." Well, I f***ing dare you to say any one of those things about this movie.

    This is a movie made by fans, for fans. Hundreds of people put in years of their lives to make this movie happen, and every one of them was insanely committed to retaining the integrity of this amazing, epic tale. This is a rare success story, bordering on the impossible, and every studio in town is watching to see if it will work. Hell, most of them own a piece of the movie.

    So look, this is a note to the fanboys and fangirls. The true believers. Dedicated for life.

    If the film made you think. Or argue with your friends. If it inspired a debate about the nature of man, or vigilante justice, or the horror of Nixon abolishing term limits. If you laughed at Bowie hanging with Adrian at Studio 54, or the Silhouette kissing that nurse.

    Please go see the movie again next weekend.

    You have to understand, everyone is watching to see how the film will do in its second week. If you care about movies that have a brain, or balls, (and this film's got both, literally), or true adaptations -- And if you're thinking of seeing it again anyway, please go back this weekend, Friday or Saturday night. Demonstrate the power of the fans, because it'll help let the people who pay for these movies know what we'd like to see. Because if it drops off the radar after the first weekend, they will never allow a film like this to be made again.

    In the interests of full disclosure, let me also point out that I do not profit one cent from an increase in box office, although an increase in box office can add to the value of the writers' eventual residual profits from dvd and tv sales.

    But I'm not saying it for money. I'm saying it for people like me. I'm saying it for people who love smart, dark entertainment, on a grand, operatic scale. I'm talking to the Snake fans, the Rorschach fans, the people of the Dark Knight.

    And hey, if you hated the film, if you think we committed atrocities, or literary mistakes of a massive, cephalopodic nature. If the movie made you a little sick to your stomach, or made you feel bad about your life. If you hated it for whatever reason, that's cool too. I'm not suggesting you risk gastro-intestinal distress just for the sake of risky filmmaking.

    But if you haven't seen it yet? Well, I'll just say this...

    It may upset you. And it probably will upset you.

    And all along, we really meant it to.

    Because face it. All this time...You there, with the Smiley-face pin. Admit it.

    All this time, you’ve been waiting for a director who was going to hit you in the face with this story. To just crack you in the jaw, and then bend you over the pool table with this story. With its utterly raw view of the darkest sides of human nature, expressed through its masks of action and beauty and twisted good intentions. Like a fry-basket full of hot grease in the face. Like the Comedian on the Grassy Knoll. I know, I know...

    You say you don't like it. You say you've got issues. I get it.

    And yet... You'll be thinking about this film, down the road. It'll nag at you. How it was rough and beautiful. How it went where it wanted to go, and you just hung on. How it was thoughtful and hateful and bleak and hilarious. And for Jackie Earle Haley.

    Trust me. You'll come back, eventually. Just like Sally.

    Might as well make it count for something.

    Personally, I was always going to see Watchmen again on the big screen at some point, though I probably would've gone the middle of next week before I read this. Now, Friday afternoon is looking good again...

    [In the unlikely event you don't get any/all of Hayter's references, I'll be fully linking this up later.]


    The usual variety of updates will appear for Tuesday, but unfortunately I'm too busy to sort them this evening.

    Expect them tomorrow, then, though they will still be dated for Tuesday night.

    Tuesday, 10 March 2009


    Lark Rise to Candleford
    2x09 Episode 9
    By turns hilarious for good reasons (Minnie!) and hilarious for bad reasons (the sickening sentiment, such as when the two villages make up).
    [Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

    Orangutan Diary
    2x02 Episode 2 [2nd half]
    [Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


    101 Sonnets edited by Don Paterson

    The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry
    Chapter Three: II-X (selections from)
    Having to jump ahead, I'm afraid, in order to find bits relevant to the essay I was writing. Will resume normal service shortly.


    7 Films That Must Be Saved From Development Hell by James White
    (from Total Film)
    I'm not convinced they all deserving saving, but some sound crackin'.

    6 Unforgettable Opening Credits Sequences by James White
    (from Total Film)
    Several good choices, several key omissions.

    Alex Proyas Describes How He Would Treat Dark City Sequel by Brian Warmoth
    (from MTV Movies Blog)
    Dark City is amazing and massively underrated. Consequently, a sequel would be amazing.

    Eurovision bans Georgia's anti-Putin song by Leigh Holmwood
    (from guardian.co.uk)

    Click to enlarge

    LEGO Watchmen minifigs by Sir Nadroj by Andrew
    (from The Brothers Brick)
    I wish these were real. I want them.

    Times fails to overturn 'internet publication rule' in court case by Afua Hirsch
    (from guardian.co.uk)
    Bloody Europe, meddling to ill effect again.

    Monday, 9 March 2009


    Law & Order: UK
    1x03 Vice
    A rather good episode, though it's somewhat worrying how 'rape victims' in dramas are almost always faking it. I'm sure it seems like a good twist to the writers, but it does little to support real life rape cases (in which it is already near impossible to earn a conviction).
    [Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

    Orangutan Diary
    2x02 Episode 2 [1st half]
    [Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


    The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories by Tim Burton

    This falls into Poetry as much as Fiction: its a selection of narrative poems by film director Tim Burton, of varying length and able to be slotted into the nonsense tradition. All are written poetically, though one would describe his observance of form as lax at best -- even when he seems to be fitting a loose style, he frequently breaks it. While that's theoretically fine, most of the pieces read very rhythmically; some of his breaks actually support the rhythm, others shatter it.

    My personal favourite was Anchor Baby -- it has a couple of serious flaws, but is otherwise brilliant. Stain Boy was also good. The titular tale is possibly the darkest of the lot, belying (as many do) the child-like nursery-rhyme style of the Burton's verse. But then, most of the best children's tales are, in their original form, surprisingly dark.

    Perhaps the biggest flaw is Burton's tendency to repeat himself; not just with plots (they almost exclusively concern children who are born with some bizarre deformity and so remain outsiders -- working through his own childhood, perhaps?) but concepts. For example, there are two pieces about people afflicted by being pin cushions. Others are brief to the point of pointlessness, the prime offender being Jimmy, the Hideous Penguin Boy.

    The whole text can be read online for free here. I have no idea if this is a legal copy or not.