Saturday, 30 April 2011

TV

Doctor Who
32x02 Day of the Moon
32x02a Prequel to The Curse of the Black Spot
Enjoyed that notably more than the first part. Might seem an obvious eventuality to like the concluding part more -- it's the one with all the answers and resolutions, after all -- but sometimes the setup is better than the pay-off (and that's happened a couple of times in nuWho, I think). Plus it was hardly overburdened with answers -- plenty left for the mid-season finale, and probably the eventual season finale too. And for the immediate time, that was a helluva cliffhanger! I'd guessed a few possibilities, but certainly not that one.
As for the prequel... much like the last one, it's little more than a scene-setting teaser trailer. But really, what did you expect? This is why the TARDISodes failed as well: if they added anything too significant, they'd have to be in the episodes themselves. Ah well, it's still atmospheric 'n' that.
[Watch Day of the Moon (again) in HD on iPlayer, and the Prequel to The Curse of the Black Spot on the official Doctor Who website.]

Doctor Who Confidential
6x02 Breaking the Silence
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Five Minutes With...
(30/4/11 edition)
Entirely random and unintentional bit of viewing, this: I happened to turn BBC One on during their shared broadcast with BBC News as this episode was starting, and Patrick Stewart drew me in. Other interviewees were musician Plan B, film and theatre director Richard Eyre, Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton, and music producer Pete Waterman.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Game of Thrones
1x02 The Kingsroad
Some critics have been bigging up the notion that Game of Thrones contains complex characters which leaves the audience's opinions and allegiances shifting about who is good and who is evil. While I wouldn't disagree entirely, I think by this point it's pretty clear cut who are the heroes and who are the villains. Some characters have already committed the unforgivable, and I look forward to their punishment hopefully.

Yes, Prime Minister
1x01 The Grand Design

Collection Count

Collection Count tracks my DVD/Blu-ray collection via a number of statistics every week.

This week I've delayed the update to Saturday, thanks to the glut of Bank Holidays and consequent postal delays. Despite that, there's just one new title this week, but there's also the monthly running time update. Thrilling stuff.

Number of titles in collection: 1,302 [up 1]
Of which DVDs: 1,107 [no change]
Of which Blu-rays: 195 [up 1]

Number of discs in collection: 3,233 [up 1]
Number of films in collection: 1,369 [up 1]
Number of TV episodes in collection: 4,810 [no change]

Plus this week it's time for a running time update, so...

Total running time of collection (approx.):
231 days, 20 hours, and 23 minutes.
(Up 1 day, 1 hour, and 28 minutes from last month.)

See you next week, faithful reader.

Friday, 29 April 2011

TV

The Graham Norton Show
9x02 (22/4/11 edition)
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Robot Chicken
1x08 The Deep End
1x01 Junk in the Trunk
1x16 Nightmare Generator
1x18 The Sack
Taking over from my box set of Family Guy seasons one to three is my box set of Robot Chicken seasons one to three. As per the early seasons of my previous US adult-orientated animated comedy of choice, I'm watching these in whatever order they're on the disc, which is different from listed broadcast order, but my obsessive nature numbers them with the latter. Not that it matters.

The Royal Wedding
On the BBC, of course -- who'd want to watch something like this anywhere else? Watched almost all of the eight hours of main coverage from 8am; saw a sliver of the highlights/evening reception programme too.
[Watch it (again) in three parts, plus the highlights, on iPlayer.]

Articles

The Times gets the wedding bouquet by Peter Sands
(from Sands Media Services)
Tomorrow's front pages. The Times is indeed the best, while The Independent's is just horrid.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

TV

10 O'Clock Live
1x14 (21/4/11 edition)
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Derren Brown: Miracles for Sale
To be honest, I was a little worried I'd find Derren's latest special to be a little dry and inconclusive, which has on occasion happened before (stand up Messiah and Seance). But while this does lack a certain element of showmanship or impressive trickery, it's an interesting, important and often surprisingly tense exploration of faith healers and their con, and how they just use techniques that can be duplicated by an (exceptionally dedicated) everyman.
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Just Good Friends
3x04 Juanita

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

TV

The Crimson Petal and the White
Part 2 (of 4)
Another excellent episode -- perhaps not as striking as the first, but with more than its fair share of twists and surprises. It also continues to look stunning, even more so in HD. It appears as if a DVD release is on the cards but no sign of a Blu-ray. Barring a US release (it seems an increasing number of new titles, even British-produced ones, are granted a BD release overseas but not here -- Glorious 39, Easy Virtue and Made in Dagenham are some recent examples I've noticed), I think... other means may be necessary to keep an HD copy.
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Game of Thrones
1x01 Winter is Coming
Much hype surrounds this, the first fantasy series from acclaimed US drama-producing cable network HBO, airing over here on Sky-customers-only Sky Atlantic the day after the US, adapted from a series of very popular fantasy novels, with a star-studded cast. Fortunately, it lives up to the expectations: it's dark, complex, scary, thrilling, beautifully shot, brilliantly written and performed. Looks like HBO have yet another classic in the making.

Have I Got News For You
41x03 (22/4/11 edition; extended repeat)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

TV

Britain's Next Big Thing
Episode 2 (of 7)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Yes Minister
Party Games [Christmas special; 2nd watch]
The final, double-length episode of Yes Minister, which sets up the sequel/continuation series Yes, Prime Minister. It's also one of the best episodes in my opinion, as ever exposing the ludicrous (but ever so plausible) political machinations of Whitehall while being just flat-out funny.

Articles

Misfits, Sherlock lead BAFTA nominations by Kate Goodacre
(from Digital Spy)
I love how headlines spin things. Misfits does lead, with four, but Sherlock has three -- the same as two other programmes.
Other interesting bits: Matt Smith is nominated for Doctor Who, apparently the first time ever one of the show's leads has been up for a BAFTA. Benedict Cumberbatch is similarly nominated for Sherlock, while Martin Freeman is up for Best Supporting Actor. The full list is here if you want a closer look.
To sum up, though: "The BBC achieves a total of 49 nominations across its four channels, with Channel 4, More 4 and E4 receiving a combined total of 25 nominations. ITV1 is recognised 8 times" -- says it all.

Monday, 25 April 2011

TV

Dave's One Night Stand
2x02 Mark Watson
The first episode -- Chris Addison's show -- is now available on Dave's website. I guess this and other episodes will follow in time.

The Event
1x16 You Bury Other Things Too
I wasn't sure about The Event in its early days, but it's never been bad and since it's Christmas-started several-month hiatus I think it's really picked up. Not looking good for avoiding the axe though, as I understand it, which will probably be a shame.
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Just Good Friends
3x03 Meeting By Chance

$#*! My Dad Says
1x07 Dog Ed Pursuit
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Films

Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story (2005)
[#47 in 100 Films in a Year 2011]
Direct-to-DVD Family Guy movie, made as part of the fourth season just after the show was un-cancelled. It later aired in an edited/censored three-part form as episodes 28 (Stewie B. Goode), 29 (Bango Was His Name, Oh!) and 30 (Stu and Stewie's Excellent Adventure) of season four... though I also believe those episodes 'aren't officially counted' and aren't on the separate season DVD releases (because they were a) censored and b) already released as this). So that's interesting then.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

TV

Extraordinary Dogs
1x12 The Uncommon Nose
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Family Guy
3x18 From Method to Madness
3x19 Stuck Together, Torn Apart
3x20 Road to Europe
3x21 Family Guy Viewer Mail #1
And that completes my Family Guy DVD set, which (as I may have mentioned) I've had waiting to be watched since sometime during the series' cancellation (and it came back in 2005, so... yeah...)

House
7x18 The Dig
Well look who's back! About time too. And, as usual these days, it means the arc/character plots are far more interesting than the forgettable Case of the Week.

Films

A Bunch of Amateurs (2008)
[#46 in 100 Films in a Year 2011]

Articles

The nominees for the 2011 Hugo Awards are up! by Cyriaque Lamar
(from io9)
Three Doctor Who stories are up for "Best Dramatic Presentation - Short", as per usual, though they're not necessarily the three I'd've chosen. A Christmas Carol, yes, but I'd've put The Eleventh Hour over the season finale and -- if we're talking a science-fiction/fantasy award here -- Amy's Choice above Vincent and the Doctor. But that last one I don't mind so much -- it's the lack of a nod for The Eleventh Hour, which I believe is easily the best story of last season, which bugs me most.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

TV

Doctor Who
31x12 The Pandorica Opens [2nd watch]
31x13 The Big Bang [season finale; 2nd watch]
32x00 A Christmas Carol [2nd watch]
32x01 The Impossible Astronaut
Read my latest thoughts on The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang here. A Christmas Carol, meanwhile, is probably the most Christmassy-feeling of all the Who Christmas specials, so watching it on a super-sunny day in the middle of April feels wrong. It's properly brilliant though.
As for The Impossible Astronaut... well, I'm not quite sure yet. It was definitely quite good and had some very good bits -- the aliens are scary (the bathroom scene in particular), a lot of quotable and amusing lines -- but it felt less than the sum of its parts somehow. I think that, unlike some nuWho two-parters, it really needs its second half to assess its quality. So we'll see next week.
[Watch The Pandorica Opens, The Big Bang and The Impossible Astronaut (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Doctor Who Confidential
6x01 Coming to America
Despite revamped graphics and a slightly revamped format, Confidential seemed to struggle to fill its length. Perhaps a return to a tight, fast 30 minutes would be better now?
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

My Sarah Jane: A Tribute to Elisabeth Sladen
A short but poignant tribute to the greatly-missed Elisabeth Sladen. Well done CBBC/Confidential.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

The National Lottery: Who Dares Wins
4x01 (23/4/11 edition)
Assumed this had been dropped, but no, it's back for a fourth run! Considering most Lottery shows are cancelled after just one series, that's impressive. It may be irritating in places -- step forward Nick Knowles -- but the simplicity of its format is addictive.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Radio

Graham Norton
(23/4/11 edition)
Managed to tune in for some of today's Steven Moffat interview, and caught the rest just now. If that's what you're after, it begins just under halfway through.
[Listen (again) on iPlayer.]

Doctor Who: The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang

Normally I'd just attach this little slice of my thoughts to tonight's TV post, but with a new Who to talk about then it might get a little crowded. I wish I hadn't left my season five catch-up to the very last minute, basically. But anyway, here they are.

Firstly, though, a couple of links: my thoughts after the broadcast on The Pandorica Opens are here and on The Big Bang are here. This is my second watch of each.

Fan polls always rate nuWho season finales disproportionately strongly, I think -- I could expound on why, but my ultimate viewpoint is they have a tendency to top polls while rarely being the season's strongest story. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang is a case in point. It has a lot going for it, with a lot of fun along the way, but ultimately I don't think it's as enjoyable in its own right as several other stories from season five. As a climax to the whole run it's great, but there are others that work better in isolation; as stories in their own right. I think some viewers are just too easily led by the Big Ending, Sub-plot Concluding, Mystery Revealing status of finales.

This one in particular works better on first viewing. With all its mysteries solved, the first half goes nowhere fast. There are still good bits -- the whole pre-titles; Underhenge; the Doctor's grand speech to his assembled enemies -- but without the mystery of what the Pandorica is or what's inside it you just want it to get a wriggle on.

The second half is less dependent on you not knowing what's coming, however, so the timey-wimey fiddling is still entertaining. The fact the loop never begins is a distraction though; it bamboozles you by rushing along, hoping you won't notice this impossibility. Of course, if it owned up to it, we'd still just be offered "wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey" or "the miracles of the universe" as an explanation, so perhaps the point is moot. But it would be even more satisfying if it wholly worked rather than mostly working.

I do love how brilliant Rory was made to be in The Big Bang though, and Amy's "something borrowed..." recital at the wedding is less uncomfortable and more awesome when you know it's going somewhere and she's not just some barking girl. I'd've shot and edited it slightly differently, but hey, that's a niggle. And the two effects shots of the Doctor flying the Pandorica into the exploding TARDIS are stunning.

All-in, I think I'd rank The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang somewhere around fifth for this season (out of the ten stories). As I've said previously, this is a particularly strong set of stories, so that pushes it (perhaps disproportionately) low -- indeed, everything I've ranked above would be a personal contender in a Greatest Doctor Who Story Ever list, so to be beaten by them is nothing to be sniffed at.

[You can currently watch The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang in HD on iPlayer.]


P.S. If you were curious about how I'd rank the stories in the wake of my re-watch... well, this list is very rough, and a couple are interchangeable depending on my mood, but here we go:

1) The Eleventh Hour
2) Amy's Choice
3) The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone
4) Vincent and the Doctor
5) The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang
6) The Beast Below
7) The Lodger
8) The Vampires of Venice
9) Victory of the Daleks
10) The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood

At any of those links, click the episode title for my original thoughts on broadcast (some of which are longer/more significant than my re-watch thoughts. If you care.)

Friday, 22 April 2011

TV

Doctor Who
31x08 The Hungry Earth [2nd watch]
31x09 Cold Blood [2nd watch]
31x10 Vincent and the Doctor [2nd watch]
31x11 The Lodger [2nd watch]
I didn't like The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood much first time round. This time I didn't mind as much, but it's still my least favourite story of series five. It's almost relentlessly traditional-style, and perhaps I'd be more forgiving if it actually was a classic-series story, but it doesn't sit quite right in the relaunched series. Plus, like Victory of the Daleks, it has an array of little niggles that hold it back. It also has some high points, particularly in Cold Blood, but they're not as high as Victory's instantly-iconic "Spitfires in space", etc. So it is decent, but also my least favourite story this series.
My thoughts on the exceptional Vincent and the Doctor remain the same as on broadcast, while The Lodger is a superbly funny, gloriously sweet and surprisingly chilling little adventure that's in its own way brilliant. I do think this is an exceptional season -- there are some blips, yes, but the general standard is shockingly high.

The Graham Norton Show
9x01 (15/4/11 edition)
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Just Good Friends
3x02 Back in London

The Mentalist
3x17 Bloodstream
[Watch it (again) on Demand Five.]

Films

Cameraman: The Life & Work of Jack Cardiff (2010)
[#45 in 100 Films in a Year 2011]

Collection Count

Collection Count tracks my DVD/Blu-ray collection via a number of statistics every week.

A nice few updates this week -- most of them on DVD! That's not happened for a good while, I don't think.

Number of titles in collection: 1,301 [up 5]
Of which DVDs: 1,107 [up 4]
Of which Blu-rays: 194 [up 1]

Number of discs in collection: 3,232 [up 8]
Number of films in collection: 1,368 [up 2]
Number of TV episodes in collection: 4,810 [up 16]

See you next week, faithful reader.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

TV

10 O'Clock Live
1x13 (14/4/11 edition)
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Doctor Who
31x06 The Vampires of Venice [2nd watch]
31x07 Amy's Choice [2nd watch]
The Vampires of Venice is great fun -- a really well-done traditional-style Doctor Who story -- but Amy's Choice is a properly great episode. It's very unusual, intriguing, clever in all sorts of ways, funny too... Not every story can be Different or Innovative or what have you, but those that are and do it well (see also Blink, for instance) can be among the series' best, and I think this is one of those.

Articles

Doctor Who is half Hammer Horror, half The Generation Game.” by Dave Golder
(from SFX)
An excellent all-knew interview with Steven Moffat on the eve of the eve of Doctor Who's return. Packed, as ever, with shrewd observations and memorable quotes.

Doctor Who's Matt Smith defends the show from criticism by Trevor Eve by Benjamin Cook
(from The Telegraph)
And this is quite right too!
Smith has a rule never to respond directly to criticism, but he makes an exception this once: “If we all listen to Trevor Eve, then we’re in trouble. Thank you very much, Trevor, we appreciate your opinion, but that’s ridiculous. Doctor Who is brilliant. That’s why it attracts some of the best writers in the country, and some of the best actors. Trevor, try telling that to Sir Michael Gambon.
More, as ever, at the link.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

TV

Doctor Who
14x05 The Hand of Fear Part One
14x06 The Hand of Fear Part Two
14x07 The Hand of Fear Part Three
14x08 The Hand of Fear Part Four
I became a Doctor Who fan during what have become known as "the wilderness years", the period between December 1989 and March 2005 when the show was off TV (aside from that '96 blip, but I'm talking about before that even). My interest was sparked by the Target novelisations, several of which were in my primary school library. The Hand of Fear was, I think, the first I read -- I must have had some awareness of the series, because I remember picturing Jon Pertwee as the Doctor before, some way in, realising it was actually that curly-haired bloke off the cover in this story.
So the Target range definitively sparked my love of Who, and ever since I've been wary of watching any story I'd read and loved in novelisation form. Indeed, I never watched any of them -- but it seemed only fitting to break such a 'rule' in tribute to Elisabeth Sladen, this being her final regular story. She has gone far too soon, an untimely loss of the Doctor's greatest friend.
"Don't forget me," Sarah Jane says as she leaves the TARDIS. Who could?

Extraordinary Dogs
1x11 The Unassuming Hero
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Monroe
1x06 Episode 6 [season finale]
Despite the inappropriate-but-catchy music, I liked Monroe. Hope they do some more.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

Articles

Lis Sladen, 1948 - 2011 by Tom Baker
(from Tom Baker: The Official Website)
Many tributes to Elisabeth Sladen last night and today, but naturally among the most poignant is this one from the fourth Doctor himself. Most recent TARDIS incumbents David Tennant and Matt Smith have also paid tribute, and the BBC have announced a special tribute to air on CBBC this Saturday.

My Two Cents (4/19/11) by Bill Hunt
(from The Digital Bits)
Why Blu-ray has caught on, despite recent 'expert' reports to the contrary. Well argued and quite possibly wholly correct.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

TV

Britain's Next Big Thing
Episode 1 (of 7)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Doctor Who
31x04 The Time of Angels [2nd watch]
31x05 Flesh and Stone [2nd watch]
31x05a Meanwhile in the TARDIS
This two-parter is excellent -- a big proper blockbuster slapbang in the middle of a season of TV! Marvellous! My thoughts from the broadcast all still count, so read them at the above links.
As for this second (and, for now, final) instalment of Meanwhile in the TARDIS... it's non-essential, obviously, but the bit with Amy finding out about previous companions is quite fun. As a fan I'd naturally have liked more time on that aspect of the scene, but hey-ho. Defining the Doctor as "Space Gandalf" is a nice line though.

Twenty Twelve
1x06 Episode 6 [season finale]
After that ending, I'm very glad it'll be back.
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Articles

Doctor Who actress Elisabeth Sladen dies
(from BBC News)
"Goodbye, my Sarah Jane."
Some collected tributes.

Monday, 18 April 2011

TV

The Event
1x15 Face Off
Still running a fortnight behind on this, but as C4 have had to take a break tonight (thanks to the US schedule -- the ep that would've been on in the UK tonight is actually only on in the US for the first time tonight) I'm back to my usual one-episode-behind. Hurrah!
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Have I Got News For You
41x02 (15/4/11 edition; extended repeat)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Law & Order: UK
4x06 Skeletons [season finale]
And that's that for James Steel. I wonder if his replacement will be quite so... self-righteous...
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

$#*! My Dad Says
1x06 Easy, Writer
"Dad, it was one article -- it's not like I'm going to make a whole career out of writing down what you say."
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Films

La Règle du jeu (1939)
[#44 in 100 Films in a Year 2011]
aka The Rules of the Game.

Articles

Once More, With Feeling: Joss Whedon Revisits Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog by Dave Itzkoff
(from Arts Beat at the New York Times)
Including talk of the sequel and a little bit about his other upcoming projects.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

TV

Dave's One Night Stand
2x01 Chris Addison
'ello 'ello, didn't really expect to see this back! I suppose it must be quite cheap to make really, and then endlessly recyclable if you're a repeats-based network.

Wallander [film series]
The Pyramid (aka Pyramiden)
Fulfilling my Scandinavian crime fix now that The Killing is over and I've got through the Millennium trilogy, this was the ninth and final Wallander adaptation to star Rolf Lassgård (the first episode of the other Swedish Wallander was also an adaptation). This one hasn't been tackled by the British series (yet), most likely because its narrative is a combination of several tales from a book of short stories. It was the best of the Lassgård Wallanders, in my opinion, perhaps because it was less familiar and I've finally accepted him in the role.
I believe BBC Four are intending to show some more of the Lassgård episodes later this year (they showed the sixth, eighth, seventh and this one (in that order) around the end of 2010).

this week on 100 Films

4 new reviews were posted to 100 Films in a Year this week, and they were...

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
this is a real showcase for Pacino. As Sonny the whole film rests on his shoulders, and he’s more than capable of bearing the weight. Some roles allow an actor to subtly be good throughout the film; others allow a few grandstanding set-pieces where they can Act; but Dog Day Afternoon gives Pacino both... Pacino is brilliant, understated but revealing, cementing the conflicting forces that have pulled on Sonny throughout the film.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (2009)
To succinctly compare this to its predecessors, it’s better than The Girl Who Played with Fire but not really as good as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This is in part because there’s not as much detail of the investigation. Lots of the plot seems to be forwarded by people explaining it to each other, rather than genuinely digging and uncovering information, while the villains futilely attempt to stop the heroes publishing everything they already seem to know.

Lumet: Film Maker (1975)
This ten-minute documentary short is made up of behind-the-scenes footage of some of the filming of Dog Day Afternoon, with the occasional on-set interview with some (to be honest, minor) crew members, snippets of audio interview with Lumet himself, and a voiceover narration.

Nanny McPhee & the Big Bang (2010)
Thompson treats the audience with respect in relation to the first film, playing on expectations and speeding through parts of the story we know. You don’t need to have seen it, but you’ll get a bit more if you have. Also as with the first film, there’s a perhaps surprising undercurrent of genuine emotion and serious issues. This is one of the things that marks these two films out from the overcrowded kids’ film genre

More next Sunday.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

TV

Doctor Who
31x03 Victory of the Daleks [2nd watch]
I remember this as being of the fifth series' weakest episodes and, to be honest, it probably is. But that's rather a mark of how excellent the series on the whole is, because Victory of the Daleks has plenty of absolutely great bits -- Ian McNeice's Churchill, for instance (so good I want him back, please), or the Spitfires in space. It's still riddled with niggles and the odd more fundamental flaw -- it's at least five minutes too short, for one, that time being needed to build up some of the subplots; and it does feel rather like just a prelude to whatever the next Dalek story is, existing simply to explain the redesign -- but it's not bad, just not as good as it could be.
On a personal note, when I first thought of re-watching series five in the run up to series six I had plenty of time to do it; when I actually started, I still had enough time; now, I've got 10 episodes left and the new series starts in a week -- oh dear. That said, thanks to the three two-parters, it still averages out at one story per night, more or less -- so maybe, then, eh?

DVD Extras

Helter-Skelter
Featurette on the DVD of Time and the Rani about the creation of the Seventh Doctor's title sequence, the first for Doctor Who to be created using CGI. It was emerging technology at the time, and this featurette certainly gives one a new appreciation for how cutting-edge and extraordinary the sequence was for the time.

Articles

85 Authors Protest At The BBC’s Treatment Of Genre Fiction by Dave Golder
(from SFX)
Some of the comments go a bit far, but the original authors do have something of a point.

Stephen Fry prison 'pledge' over 'Twitter joke' trial
(from BBC News)
That's the headline-grabbing bit; more genuinely interesting is the rest of the article, about a benefit gig in support of the defence.

Friday, 15 April 2011

TV

The Mentalist
3x16 Red Queen
Normally I hate stories that start at the end and then jump "36 Hours Earlier" or whatever -- it's a massively overdone technique now and there's rarely any need for it -- but I'll let this one pass because it was such an effective surprise opening.
[Watch it (again) on Demand Five.]

Articles

BBC Four recommissions hit comedy series Twenty Twelve
(from BBC Press Office)
Didn't really expect that. But I'm glad, because I like it. (Look out particularly from the quote from, not Hugh Bonneville, but Hugh Bonneville's character.)

Collection Count

Collection Count tracks my DVD/Blu-ray collection via a number of statistics every week.

Everything's still on the up. Which is to be expected, really, because I never go selling stuff off. I ought to, probably. Indeed, I have a huge pile of stuff I've upgraded still waiting to be eBayed...

Number of titles in collection: 1,296 [up 5]
Of which DVDs: 1,103 [up 1]
Of which Blu-rays: 193 [up 4]

Number of discs in collection: 3,224 [up 8]
Number of films in collection: 1,366 [up 6]
Number of TV episodes in collection: 4,794 [no change]

See you next week, faithful reader.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

TV

10 O'Clock Live
1x12 (7/4/11 edition)
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Friday Night Dinner
1x06 The Date [season finale]
It's already been recommissioned. Which is nice, 'cause it's quite good.
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

DVD Extras

Audio commentary by Sidney Lumet on Dog Day Afternoon
Remember I watched this last week? I started listening to the audio commentary then too, just for a bit, and found it rather engrossing, so now I've gone back and listened to the rest.

Lumet: Film Maker
[#43a in 100 Films in a Year 2011]
Vintage documentary short about the making of Dog Day Afternoon, included on the DVD.

The Making of Dog Day Afternoon
A series of four featurettes about... well, obviously. Because they're listed on IMDb separately, they are: The Story, Casting the Controversy, Recreating the Facts and After the Filming.

Articles

Blu-ray just gives me the blues by Phelim O'Neill
(from Film Blog at guardian.co.uk)
An interesting (not always entirely factually accurate, I don't think, but interesting) article on the state and potential of the Blu-ray market. Less academic than that makes it sound.

Game Of Thrones by The Numbers by Lesley Goldberg
(from The Hollywood Reporter)
A bunch of stats about HBO's big new fantasy adaptation. How much it costs, how many extras there are, how many beheadings are in the first episode -- that kind of thing.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

TV

The Crimson Petal and the White
Part 1 (of 4)
Absolutely, strikingly magnificent. It's truly gorgeously shot (especially when seen in HD), beautifully designed, marvellously acted (including at least one very surprising performance), beguilingly written... I actually had goosebumps by the final scenes. If you haven't watched it, I urge you to -- it's phenomenal. If it can keep this level up for the remaining three episodes, it'll be a certified classic in my book.
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Doctor Who
31x02 The Beast Below [2nd watch]
For the past year (i.e. since it was on) I've been happy to assert that this is the most underrated episode of the 11th Doctor's/Steven Moffat's first series. Having watched it again, I absolutely agree with myself: this is an excellent episode that seems to have been unjustly under-appreciated.
I posit two reasons: one, it followed The Eleventh Hour, which is probably one of the very best Who stories ever; and two, what's so great about it is how (for want of a better word) dark it is. The final 15 minutes (ish) are amongst Who's most hair-raisingly dramatically serious, with the Doctor placed in an impossible moral decision. All credit to Moffat for being willing to take what it is ostensibly a kids' show into such deep territory. It pays dividends, to my mind; and bear in mind that my mind is one that considers Doctor Who's "kids' show" status to be vital to its success in the past and now. The reason such dilemmas and topics work here is because, while they're serious and grown-up, they're serious and grown-up in a way it's appropriate for children to be considering (in my opinion, obviously).
So yes, I love The Beast Below, and anyone who thinks it isn't a good episode is plain Wrong.

Twenty Twelve
1x05 Episode 5
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Yes Minister
3x07 The Middle-Class Rip-Off [season finale]

Articles

The Crimson Petal and the White: Watching my novel reborn on TV by Michel Faber
(from guardian.co.uk)
As you may guess from the title, the author of the novel responds to the currently-running TV adaptation. It's rather pretentious in places, but still worth a read.

"I've never worked quite as hard as this... but look at the two shows I do. It's absolutely worth it." by Benjamin Cook
(from Doctor Who Magazine #433, p.22-31)
A great interview with Doctor Who's head blokey, Steven Moffat, revealing all sorts of things, from his thinking behind this season's unusual structure to what it's like being in charge of two of TV's biggest dramas at the same time. Insightful and surprisingly candid -- great work, Mr Cook and DWM.
Plus there's all sorts of other great stuff in the issue, as per always... so, y'know, buy it.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

TV

The Event
1x14 A Message Back
Getting increasingly far behind on this. I'll have to make an effort to catch up.

Extraordinary Dogs
1x10 Instinct: The Sixth Sense 2
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Family Guy
3x15 Ready, Willing, and Disabled
3x16 A Very Special Family Guy Freakin' Christmas
3x17 Brian Wallows and Peter's Swallows

Monroe
1x05 Episode 5
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

$#*! My Dad Says
1x05 Not Without My Jacket
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Articles

Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair Has Small Changes That Produce Big Results by Germain Lussier
(from /Film)
Seems they've been screening the single-film cut of Kill Bill in LA to celebrate Tarantino's birthday. Any chance of the long-promised DVD/Blu-ray release too, mm?

Peter Jackson Explains Why He’s Shooting The Hobbit at 48 Frames Per Second by Peter Sciretta
(from /Film)
If you're a filmy person like me, this is very interesting. For the layperson, probably not so much.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Films

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
[#43 in 100 Films in a Year 2011]
Directed by Sidney Lumet, who sadly died yesterday.

this week on 100 Films

4 new reviews were posted to 100 Films in a Year this week, and they were...

Cloak and Dagger (1946)
A World War II espionage thriller about the OSS — spies, basically, and the forerunner to the CIA. Despite all the thrills this should elicit, especially when directed by Fritz Lang, I wasn’t particularly impressed... a bit pedestrian and lacklustre; certainly not up to the other Langs I’ve seen from his time in Hollywood.

The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009)
One solution to the sequel problem is to “make it personal”, and that’s exactly what we get. A journalist and his girlfriend working for Mikael are murdered and Lisbeth is suspected of the crime. It’s somewhere around here that the coincidences begin to pile up. It makes perfect sense as a plot in itself, but in bringing Mikael and Lisbeth back together it doesn’t work

Monkey Business (1952)
we see a happily married couple wind up happily married having been through no real strain... the story consists of “Cary Grant behaves like a college boy” followed by “Ginger Rogers behaves like a stroppy newlywed” followed by “Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers behave like 6-year-olds”.

Monsters (2010)
Expecting an epic SF-action movie where soldiers kitted out with futuristic weaponry battle an alien menace? You might be disappointed... this is a science-fiction film that transcends the sci-fi genre. It’s got more in common with Lost in Translation or Before Sunrise than it does with Independence Day or Battle: Los Angeles.

Plus, later tonight look for my review of the final part of the Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest.

More next Sunday.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

TV

Britain's Got the Pop Factor ...and Possibly a New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly on Ice
[2nd watch]
They repeated this last month to coincide with the new Comic Relief single. It's still remarkably accurate and hilarious funny... but, sadly, it wasn't actually "the talent show to end all talent shows".

Films

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (2009)
[#42 in 100 Films in a Year 2011]
And that concludes my viewing of the Millennium trilogy. You can read my reviews of the first two here and here; my review of this one should be up Sunday night/Monday morning (depending how you look at it).

Friday, 8 April 2011

TV

Doctor Who
31x01 The Eleventh Hour [3rd watch]
31x01a Meanwhile in the TARDIS
I've decided to try to re-watch the last series before the new one starts. Once upon a time I was working my way through the relaunched series one a year, but never got round to doing series four or the specials; really ought to go back to that. Anyway, I've got a couple of weeks 'til the sixth run starts; should be enough time for this lot.
Oh, and this time round I'll be watching the two Meanwhile in the TARDIS bits included on the DVD/Blu-rays -- a pair of short scenes that bridge the gap between two stories. This first one plugs the slight gap between The Eleventh Hour and The Beast Below.

Have I Got News For You
41x01 (8/4/11 edition)
Hurrah for HIGNFY being back! Boo for them not showing the extended version thanks to golf. Why is sport always allowed to rule the schedules?
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

House
7x17 Fall From Grace
Helluvan ending on this one...

The Mentalist
3x15 Red Gold
[Watch it (again) on Demand Five.]

Articles

Behind the scenes of Secret Cinema by Dave Calhoun
(from Time Out London)
Someone in this article describes Secret Cinema as "impressive, if you can put up with a load of Hooray Henrys running around", which is more-or-less how it's always struck me. Despite having no desire to go anywhere near attending one thanks to the latter element, the first is enough to keep it intriguing. Something this article does too -- it refuses to reveal the next film, but has left me dying to know what it is.

Collection Count

Collection Count tracks my DVD/Blu-ray collection via a number of statistics every week.

After the ton of stuff last week, not so much this time. A couple of new BDs, including one upgrade that loses a disc but adds a film (with a different cut of the same feature).

Number of titles in collection: 1,291 [up 2]
Of which DVDs: 1,102 [down 1]
Of which Blu-rays: 189 [up 3]

Number of discs in collection: 3,216 [up 2]
Number of films in collection: 1,360 [up 3]
Number of TV episodes in collection: 4,794 [no change]

See you next week, faithful reader.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

TV

10 O'Clock Live
1x11 (31/3/11 edition)
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Friday Night Dinner
1x05 The Mercedes
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Twenty Twelve
1x04 Episode 4
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Films

My Neighbour Totoro (1988)
[#41 in 100 Films in a Year 2011]

Articles

Spoiler Alert! by Chris
(from Catmachine)
Or, why some people who obsess about spoilers are stupid. The Joss Whedon/Buffy example is mind-boggling but priceless.
Be warned though, this article contains spoilers for The Sixth Sense and The Usual Suspects (I'm nice really, see).

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

TV

Family Guy
3x11 Emission Impossible
3x12 To Love and Die in Dixie [2nd watch]
3x13 Screwed the Pooch
3x14 Peter Griffin: Husband, Father...Brother?

Just Good Friends
3x01 Paris

The Mentalist
3x14 Blood For Blood
Good ending, but implausible setup -- surely a witness of that level would have more than one officer guarding him?!
[Watch it (again) on Demand Five.]

Monroe
1x04 Episode 4
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

Articles

BBC Doctor Who Press Screening roundup by Chuck Foster
(from Doctor Who News Page)
Does what it says on the tin. And it's a nicely thorough one, with lots of interesting quotes -- not all of them sycophantically positive either.

Where did all the projectionists go? by David Jenkins
(from Time Out London)
A quiet revolution is going on behind your back at the cinema. Old-style projectors are making way for spanking new hard drives. But is this a good or a bad thing?
There's a lot of nostalgia attached to projection and the 'art' of the projectionist; reaction to this article on twitter, for example, seemed largely to bemoan the death of 35mm projection in favour of digital.
But that's rubbish. Digital projection offers a more consistently high-quality experience -- you don't get damaged prints, you get badly-configured projectors less often, and so on. And as a projectionist in the article notes, "I don’t think 35mm projection was ever an art. It’s more a routine job with an opportunity to produce an okay presentation standard. There’s no personal signature".
The article's still worth a read, I just don't think (even as a fan of film and grain and so on) it's as much of a loss as some do.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

TV

Extraordinary Dogs
1x09 A Study of Strength
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

$#*! My Dad Says
1x04 Code Ed
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Silk
1x06 Episode 6 [season finale]
That's how you end a series when you're unsure of a second run -- Outcasts producers, take note. Also a damn good ending to a damn good series, so thank goodness there will be a second run.
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Monday, 4 April 2011

TV

The Event
1x13 Turnabout
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Law & Order: UK
4x04 Duty of Care
Another particularly good one -- they're on a roll this series.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

Films

Monsters (2010)
[#40 in 100 Films in a Year 2011]
It was almost a lovely coincidence: last year's #39 was another Brit-written/directed/produced flick set in America starring Americans, Kick-Ass. If only I'd watched Monsters slightly sooner...

Sunday, 3 April 2011

TV

Family Guy
3x09 Mr. Saturday Knight
3x10 A Fish Out of Water

House
7x16 Out of the Chute

The Killing [aka Forbrydelsen]
1x20 Day 20 [season finale]
And, thankfully, The Killing II will be on later this year.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

this week on 100 Films

2 new reviews were posted to 100 Films in a Year this week, and they were...

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
The original title translates as Men Who Hate Women, which is certainly very apt. The subject matter is grim and dark; horribly plausible, in fact. It’s unwaveringly depicted with some brutal, hard-to-watch scenes. They’re not exploitative though, as a lesser film merrily would be, and that makes them appropriate to the tale being told.

Synecdoche, New York (2008)
starts out like a relatively normal comedy/drama… but then weird touches begin to crop in. A house that’s on fire when a character buys it and continues to be on fire for the next several decades, for instance. No one in the film bats an eyelid. Then the really weird bit arrives... as Philip Seymour Hoffman’s theatre director begins to construct a life-size New York within a warehouse.

This week also sees a couple of other updates: firstly, the monthly summary for March -- in short: it's going well -- and secondly, I was nominated for a Stylish Blogger Award. Read about it (in the comments) on the about page. Plus, my review of The Girl Who Played With Fire will be available from midnight tonight.

More next Sunday.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

TV

Just Good Friends
3x00 Christmas Special
It might seem like it was only recently, with Rock & Chips, that John Sullivan unveiled his long-held desire to write Proper Drama as well as comedy. This feature-length edition of Just Good Friends -- which tells the backstory of the characters, so central to the series proper -- tells a different story: it's surprisingly serious and, at times, quite dark... and it was made 25 years before Rock & Chips.

The Killing [aka Forbrydelsen]
1x19 Day 19
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Films

The Girl Who Played With Fire (2009)
[#39 in 100 Films in a Year 2011]

Friday, 1 April 2011

TV

Friday Night Dinner
1x04 The Dress
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

This is Britain with Andrew Marr
Rather interesting survey of what the census tells us about Britain and how it's changed -- or hasn't --, often in surprising ways.

Articles

His Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy: George R. R. Martin Talks Game of Thrones by Dave Itzkoff
(from Arts Beat at The New York Times)
That'd be the author of the fantasy book series talking about the forthcoming much-anticipated TV adaptation, amongst other things. Good interview.

Source Code is the best reviewed studio movie of the year so far and why that's great news by Mike Sampson
(from JoBlo.com)
Title sums up the topic. Read it to see why.

Collection Count

Collection Count tracks my DVD/Blu-ray collection via a number of statistics every week.

Quite a few shiny updates this week, most of them arriving last minute (i.e. yesterday or this morning), including the two TV series I mentioned last week, a DVD-to-BD upgrade, and a set of DVD-to-DVD upgrades. Typically, the last two were the ones that arrived this morning, so working all that out last-minute is why this update is a couple of hours late (not that anyone's noticed, I'm sure).

If you're interested, despite only going up 4, there's a total of 7 new acquisitions with 24 discs factored in this week.

There would've been one more too, but somehow my copy of Sin City had two Disc 2s and no Disc 1. Madness. It was ordered from bee.com, who don't do replacements (they do refunds, of course; they legally have to). The idea being you re-order if you have to return... except most of the stuff they sell seems to be limited stock sold dirt cheap, so by the time you've realised you need a replacement it's too late. Grr.

One other title is from them this week. It was new & sealed, but is marked "Rental Only. Not For Resale." I think I might give bee.com a miss from now on...

Number of titles in collection: 1,289 [up 4]
Of which DVDs: 1,103 [up 1]
Of which Blu-rays: 186 [up 3]

Number of discs in collection: 3,214 [up 15]
Number of films in collection: 1,357 [up 4]
Number of TV episodes in collection: 4,794 [up 35]

Plus this week it's time for a running time update -- which just made adding those upgrades take even longer -- but anyway...

Total running time of collection (approx.):
230 days, 18 hours, and 55 minutes.
(Up 2 days, 8 hours, and 23 minutes from last month.)

See you next week, faithful reader.