Friday, 21 August 2009


From the Earth to the Moon
Part Four 1968
Please look here for my thoughts on this episode.

The Tudors
3x01 Civil Unrest
3x02 The Northern Uprising
Mm, HD! Thought it seems the BBC are intending to show this season in double bills, burning through it in just four weeks (though the series' BBC website says it has six episodes, so maybe they're abandoning it from episodes five). It works quite well in such big chunks, actually -- I certainly didn't spot the join, and a whole lot actually happened.
A bit like Desperate Romantics, The Tudors is historically dubious but an awful lot of fun. It's nice to have it back.
[Watch both episodes (again) on iPlayer.]

You Have Been Watching
1x07 (18/8/09 edition)
"They gone done fell in the water!"
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]


(Do You Wanna Date My) Avatar by The Guild & Felicia Day



Cult web series tops iTunes chart by Mark Savage
(from BBC News)
"A music video by the creators of cult web sitcom The Guild has gone straight to number one in the UK iTunes chart, beating Black Eyed Peas and Beyonce.
(Do You Wanna Date My) Avatar was written to promote the third series of the show, about a group of people who play an online role-playing game... More than 1.5 million people have watched the video on YouTube since it was uploaded on Monday, while the song itself is currently number two in the Amazon US download chart."
Hurrah for Internet geekdom! Well done one and all.

From the Earth to the Moon - Part 4

Part Four of HBO's From the Earth to the Moon is simply titled 1968 -- and for good reason.

For the first 20 minutes, writer Al Reinert (director of the 1989 documentary For All Mankind, as well as writer of Apollo 13) broadens the scope of the series to put the Moon missions in the context of news events at the time. It seems the titular year was a particularly poor one for America: mass casualties in Vietnam, violent protests against the war taking place worldwide -- not least in America itself -- and the crushing of dreams and hopes with the assassinations of, first, Martin Luther King, Jr., and then Bobby Kennedy.

And amongst all this, the Russians became the first to send an unmanned flight around the Moon and back to Earth.

In response, NASA wanted to best them -- of course -- and so in the days leading up to Christmas 1968, Apollo 8 headed for the Moon, and on Christmas Eve entered orbit -- ten times! -- before eventually returning safely to Earth. Naturally it's this that the majority of the episode focuses on, although the opening section feels longer, so densely packed is it with news footage (both real and faked) covering the events of that year. It perhaps shows Reinert's documentary roots that it so precisely evokes and retells history.

While it's good to cover the details of the missions themselves, the context is also very important -- not just because it's interesting to see these events in the light of what else was going on at the time, but also because they directly impacted on it. Were it not for Kennedy's promise that America would put a man on the moon before the end of the decade, for example, they might not have strived so hard to do it so quickly. Numerous other examples abound throughout the series.

And, as one telegram to the astronauts on Apollo 8 put it, they "saved 1968".