Thursday, 30 July 2009


The Mentalist
1x17 Carnelian Inc.
I'm not sure if this was a really good episode or a surprisingly middling one. There were certainly too many similarities in its initial setup to an earlier episode, not to mention a good few inconsistencies when you really think about it. It can be quite nice that The Mentalist is even more lightweight than the likes of CSI, but sometimes you do wish for a bit more meat on its bones.
[Watch it (again) on Demand Five.]

Mock the Week
7x04 (30/7/09 edition)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

DVD / Blu-ray

DVE Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics
If you've got a Blu-ray player or are serious about high-quality home entertainment, you may well have heard of this. Essentially, it's a Blu-ray Disc (formerly available in a DVD version) that helps you calibrate your system to get the best possible quality out of it (it focuses on the image quality, but also includes audio tests and some information).

As well as tests, guides and demo materials, it also includes a 97-minute documentary on these areas. I haven't watched that, but jumped straight to the calibration bits to get my display going. I checked out some bits however -- it seems a bit dry, certainly extremely technical, and in both these respects is definitely not for everyone. Some will be interested though -- me, for example, though I'm not sure how much I could handle in one sessions!

The disc is widely available from online retailers, plus there's a dedicated and information-packed website here.


Torchwood: Children of Earth - Original Television Soundtrack by Ben Foster
Tracks 1 - 25


...but is it art? by Graham Kibble-White
(from Doctor Who Magazine #411, p.24-33)
In which Proper TV Critics give their view on where Doctor Who sits in the wider world of television. Perhaps not as comprehensive as it could have been, but then it's a subject you could probably write a whole book on, so for a magazine article (and a sizable one at that) it does a fine job.

Gibbons: 'Superman needs to be reimagined' by Simon Reynolds
(from Digital Spy)
""Perhaps it would be a good idea to reimagine it the way that the Batman franchise was reimagined," he said [but] stressed that he felt it would be unwise to make the next Superman dark like Christopher Nolan's reconceived Batman series. "I've always thought of Superman and Batman as yin and yang. One is dark and mysterious and the other is bright and adventurous... my personal view is that they should make it lighter, with that sense of wonder that Superman has always had. Not to make it childish or puerile but to make it something that has a bright sense of adventure and possibility.""
Couldn't agree more.

Review of The Bill Douglas Trilogy Blu-ray
Review of Comrades Blu-ray
by Noel Megahey (from DVD Times)
Insightful reviews on two related and widely-recommended new releases.

the Virgin Media HD rip-off... is no surprise.

After months -- perhaps even years, depending how you look at it -- of promises, Virgin Media have finally launched some HD channels today (besides BBC HD, that is).

To get HD via Virgin you have to pay a £69 installation fee and £5 a month. Actually, no -- that's only if you argue with them on the phone, because otherwise they'll charge you either £99 or £150 for that.

But still, once that's set up you get all four current HD channels, with two more announced on the way. Right?


You get BBC HD, and rumour has it C4HD will be free when it arrives, but for their other channels you need to take out their more-expensive XL package. Yes, despite paying £5 every month for the privilege of having an HD box, you then need to pay however-much-more to actually get most of the HD content. Incidentally, there's no mention of this on their HD info page -- it just names the available channels -- and in the 'complete' list of channel-by-package, it conveniently doesn't list any of the HD ones.

It's a rip-off, but it shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, this is the company who insist on you taking an £11 monthly line rental for most (all? I didn't check) of their services... but don't include this £11 in the quotes slapped all over their site -- so when you sign up your monthly bill will always by £11 more than that nice low number advertised in such a big font. Yes there's a footnote to the effect of "when you take £11 line rental", but if it's always the case then why isn't it just included in the quote? To make the price look smaller, obviously.

Getting a vaguely equivalent package on Sky still works out more expensive... but, actually, not that much more -- and what you get for your extra cash is a massive load of extra HD channels and a more upfront approach to them. I don't say this as a Sky advocate, but as someone who took Virgin because they'd be cheaper and is now stuck in a long contract for a less-than-impressive service.

As you can tell, I'm not best pleased.