Tuesday, 5 May 2009


Mad Men
2x12 The Mountain King
See here for my thoughts on this episode.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

The Omid Djalili Show
2x03 Episode 3
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

The Wire
2x01 Ebb Tide
See here for my thoughts on this episode.


The Nation's Favourite Comic Poems, edited by Griff Rhys Jones
Pages 13 - 126

As ever in an anthology with such a title there's a mix of the well-known and the obscure, the hilariously funny and the rather damp.
Despite being originally published to tie-in with the BBC's hunt for the country's favourite poem (over a decade ago now!), it's currently available in a 2008 reprint from BBC Books. Although the RRP is £6.99, the ever-wonderful Book People have a collection of six Nation's Favourite Poem books for that price. Certainly worth a look.


Memos to Hollywood by Manohla Dargis & A.O. Scott
(from The New York Times)
Funny and insightful series of fake memos to filmmakers & co telling them how to make movies better. All very true.

What's The Most Memorable Post-Credits Goodie? by Chris Hewitt
(from the Empire Blog)
With news that Wolverine has anywhere from two to six different post-credits scenes in an attempt to lure fans to cinemas after the film's final cut leaked online, Empire ponders which other films have especially memorable hidden scenes. Their assertion it's a new phenomenon is interesting -- it's been going on for decades, especially in comedies; it's just that it's become very popular recently. Personally, I find them very irritating, and often just wait to fast-forward a DVD to find them.

Mad Men 2x12: The Mountain King

Bloody brilliant! This is why Mad Men wins BAFTAs, Emmys and Golden Globes, and deserves every last one.

I was surprised The Wire didn't take the BAFTA this year, but Mad Men is a long, long way from being an unjustifiable choice. In fact, it pulls many of the same high-quality tricks as The Wire (this episode, for example, explains a mystery from way back in episode one that hasn't even been alluded to since, and does so in a way that may even go unnoticed by most viewers), but I suspect that the lack of semi-comprehensible 'different culture' ghetto dialogue and storylines holds it back from the intellectual praise places like The Guardian heap on that other series because those writers can't sit around being proud they "get it" even though it's not their culture.

(Cynical? Me? Never!)

I'm currently a week behind, so this season's final episode was shown on BBC Four this evening. I'll be getting round to it ASAP, though based on the first season I expect we'll have a cliffhanger to endure until the third season begins (in August in the US -- I hope we don't have to wait as long as we did for season two).

The Wire 2x01: Ebb Tide

The Wire's back, negating my previous concerns. Hurrah!

So it's a new season and a new story -- not that the events of the previous one have been forgotten. Far from it, in fact, as what remains of the Barksdale gang struggle on with new problems despite the investigation being over. What those problems are exactly remains unclear though, as The Wire sticks to its opaque style of storytelling, arguably more than ever.

This first episode is mostly catch-up and set-up: alongside seeing where (most of) the first season's team have been shoved away to, there's a raft of new characters at the docks. I can see how this complete change must've been unsettling for viewers expecting more of the same, but the variety and new mystery seem pleasantly fresh. This production team know what they're doing, and I wager it'll pay to trust them and go with it.

That said, my main fear is that it could go the way of Damages. There, an excellent first season has been followed by a bit of a scrappy second, which tried to juggle hanging plots from the first season with a brand new one. The result is a bit of a mess, a result I'm hoping The Wire won't emulate.

(I say "emulate" -- The Wire did its second season years before Damages even began.)