Monday, 30 September 2013

TV

Doctor Who
13x04 Terror of the Zygons Part Four [2nd watch]

OK, so maybe I was wrong about the Skarasen the other day. Some dodgy effects at the end aside, though, this is a cracking conclusion to a great story. Top choice for the Fourth Doctor, if I do say so myself.

Also noteworthy, #bbbDW50 reaches the halfway point today: this is the 25th episode of the 50 we'll be watching to mark the anniversary. (However, because scheduling decisions will see the final 10 episodes squeezed into two weeks, the chronological halfway point was... yesterday. Huh, thought they'd be further apart than that. But I suppose turning the single-episode TV Movie into a three-parter for our schedule counterbalances the speed of the final episodes. Anyway...)

Incidentally, the 5.1 surround sound mix on the DVD sounds fantastic, especially the theme music.


Friends
2x17 The One Where Eddie Moves In [4th or so watch]


The Great British Bake Off
4x06 Sweet Dough
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]


Never Mind the Buzzcocks
27x01 Episode 1
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Fiction

Solo by William Boyd
Part Two, Chapters 7-8

Sunday, 29 September 2013

TV

Friends
2x16 The One Where Joey Moves Out [4th or so watch]

QI
11x03 K-Folk (XL edition)

Films

The Falcon in San Francisco (1945)
[#84 in 100 Films in a Year 2013]

Flight (2012)
[#83 in 100 Films in a Year 2013]

this week on 100 Films

Three brand-new reviews were published to 100 Films in a Year this week, and they were...


The Dinosaur Project (2012)
The story concerns a group of present-day explorers heading into the jungle to find dinosaurs. Lead explorer-man’s son tags along for various contrived reasons, and because he is Young and Hip he brings a bunch of cameras that he’s constantly recording from, hence the found footage thing. And the footage is “found” rather than “returned” because, of course, Things Go Wrong.
Read more here.


Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
At times I wondered if the film might just want to be a straight thriller, but that Kubrick couldn’t escape what he saw as the inherent ludicrousness of the situation. Even if you wanted to try reading the film from that angle, the silly bits are too silly to take the rest seriously.
Read more here.


Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
For a film with world-ending consequences, it all feels a little slight and lacking in scale. I’d say it feels “of its era” — a slightly indefinable feeling based on not only the quality of its CGI but also the cinematography, the choice of locations, the tone and pace... — but it’s less of its era, more a few (or more) years earlier.
Read more here.


And new to the new blog...


Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1982/2007)
You don’t need me to tell you about Blade Runner. It’s one of the most popular movies ever, if not with a mass audience then with a significantly-sized cult following and even wider-spread respect. Still, I’m going to go on about it for a bit anyway.
Read more here.


Cloverfield (2008)
it’s when the monster turns up that things kick off. From then the film does a great job of creating an unrelenting chase/escape, drawing the viewer in with its first-person/eyewitness style. You’re never going to be fooled into thinking it’s a real thing that really happened, obviously, but it comes as close as it’s likely to.
Read more here.


Jumper (2008)
Budget is plastered across the screen in incredible action sequences that show off the promise of the concept to good effect. Griffin jumping a double decker bus at Roland is a particular highlight. The jumping car chase, on the other hand, is visually neat and a good idea, but also entirely pointless
Read more here.


More next Sunday.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

TV

Atlantis
1x01 The Earth Bull
The BBC's attempt at a Merlin replacement is another rejigging of familiar myths and legends, from the same people who made Merlin. Seems like a safe bet, eh? On the evidence of the first episode, it's certainly of a level with Merlin -- though if they're not careful it'll be too of a level, recycling character arcs and 'twists' on familiar icons that we've seen before.
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Friends
2x14 The One with the Prom Video [4th or so watch]
2x15 The One Where Ross and Rachel... You Know [4th or so watch]

Films

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Deluxe Edition (2013)
[#82a in 100 Films in a Year 2013]

This animated movie was originally released in two parts, one at the end of 2012 and the next early in 2013. Now it's been combined into one long movie and is out on US DVD and Blu-ray in a couple of weeks (except at Best Buy, where it's already available). I've reviewed both parts separately (here and here), so this single-cut doesn't count as a new number.

(Although my rule for things-I've-seen-before-in-a-new-form is they must be significantly different, and this is double the length of either part individually, and watching in one sitting is very different to watching in two chunks separated by many months... they're still the same two films. It's not much different to double-billing the existing versions.)

You can read more of my thoughts in the review I posted on Letterboxd. The same thoughts (and maybe more) will, of course, eventually turn up on 100 Films too.

Fiction

Solo by William Boyd
Part One, Chapters 1-2
Part Two, Chapters 1-6


aka the new James Bond novel!

After the present-day diversion of Carte Blanche, it's back to 1969 for a continuation of Fleming's Bond. That means it's set after Sebastian Faulks' Devil May Care, the first of the current run of continuation novels from five years ago (which was set in '67), but whether it embraces that into continuity or outright contradicts it I don't know (and can't remember Devil May Care well enough to work out).

As a novel unto itself, it's a funny but entertaining mix. It begins with two chapters about Bond's birthday and his strange almost-encounter with a mysterious woman (presumably something that will have renewed relevance later), but then it's off to Africa for Bond to single-handedly stop a civil war. It certainly feels more like a Fleming novel than Jeffrey Deaver's movie-influenced modern novel, and I think it's fair to say that's definitely a good thing.

Articles

Hitchhiker’s Guide director Dirk Maggs: "Douglas Adams told me there was more to come"
by Tristram Fane Saunders (from Radio TImes)

The producer and director on doing justice to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, working with Neil Gaiman, and the debt they both owe to Douglas Adams

Including some of Radio 4's reaction to the recent adaptation of Neverwhere he helmed for them.

Collection Count

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

A Blu-ray! No -- two Blu-rays!

Number of titles in collection: 1,615 [up 3]
Of which DVDs: 1,185 [up 1]
Of which Blu-rays: 430 [up 2]

Number of discs in collection: 4,023 [up 6]
Number of films in collection: 1,719 [up 2]
Number of TV episodes in collection: 5,963 [up 9]
Number of short films in collection: 392 [no change]

Next week it's the monthly running time update. See you then, faithful reader.

Friday, 27 September 2013

TV

Castle
3x01 A Deadly Affair
Back on C5! After just... 9 months. Well, still, hurrah!
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Celebrity Fifteen to One
That was surprisingly good fun. I imagine the sheer volume of celebrities required for any one edition will prevent this becoming some kind of back-door pilot, though.
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Doctor Who
13x03 Terror of the Zygons Part Three [2nd watch]
Y'know, I think the Skarasen is actually a pretty well-executed effect, all things considered -- I mean, this was 1975, on a UK kids' TV budget. Some (like in the BBC episode guide linked above) assert it ruins the story, but that's going far too far. And with this placing in the top 20 of the Mighty 200, it would seem others agree.

Friends
2x12 The One After the Superbowl Part 1 [4th or so watch]
2x13 The One After the Superbowl Part 2 [4th or so watch]
No Superbowl occurs or is mentioned in either of these episodes. I presume it was originally on immediately after said sporting occasion, a point which is thoroughly lost almost 18 years later.

A Touch of Cloth II
2x02 Undercover Cloth Part Two

A Touch of Cloth: Behind the Scenes
Behind the scenes of A Touch of Cloth II, with a look ahead to A Touch of Cloth III.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

TV

8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown
4x06 80s Night Special
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Friends
2x10 The One with Russ [4th or so watch]
2x11 The One with the Lesbian Wedding [4th or so watch]

Mock the Week
12x09 (19/9/13 edition)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Vera
3x04 Prodigal Son [season finale]
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

Comics

A Redtail's Dream by Minna Sundberg
Chapter 2

Only about four days of the print campaign left, and I'm beginning to feel pretty sold. It's not perfect storytelling -- see my complaints last time, only now with more typos -- but the story and characters are appealing, and the art can be quite beautiful.

Articles

William Boyd's Solo reviewed
by Cathy Rentzenbrink (from The Bookseller)

The new Bond novel. Sounds good. My copy arrived today (the cover looks great in the flesh), but I didn't get a chance to start it.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

TV

Archer
4x06 Once Bitten
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Doctor Who
13x02 Terror of the Zygons Part Two [2nd watch]
Damn fine story, this. Weirdly, I'm certain I've seen it before, but whole swathes are unfamiliar. Like the silly bit where Sarah Jane and some soldiers need to split up while chasing a potentially dangerous fellow... so Sarah Jane goes one way and the three armed men the other. But, y'know, other than that.

Friends
2x08 The One with the List [4th or so watch]
2x09 The One with Phoebe's Dad [4th or so watch]
I think I've quite consistently seen all of Friends' first season, but I've definitely seen some of season two (and, probably, later years) more than others. For instance, I'm very familiar with The One with Phoebe's Dad (which is also The One Where Gunther Has His First Line!), but in a few episodes' time it's The One with the Lesbian Wedding, which I feel like I've only seen a couple of times (I've seen the entire series through at least twice already, so, hey).
This doesn't signify anything, just something I've been mulling over.

The Newsroom
2x04 Unintended Consequences
Every episode, it strikes me how clunky (and therefore painfully predictable) Sorkin's writing can actually be (see also: last time). On the bright side, at least some of the plot lines rattle along to revelations, rather than dragging every mystery out only to pay them all off at once in the finale.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

TV

Archer
4x05 Vicious Coupling
Hurrah, C5 have deigned to give us more!
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Downton Abbey
4x01 Episode 1
Oh Downton and your funny ways. It's so painfully on the nose at times, and yet Americans seem to think this is Great Drama... even though they produce plenty of subtle, great drama of their own. But as a high-class soap, with plenty of unintentional hilarity, the Abbey can't be beat.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

Friends
2x07 The One Where Ross Finds Out [4th or so watch]

The Last Leg
3x08 (18/9/13 edition) [season finale]
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Monday, 23 September 2013

TV

Dexter
8x12 Remember the Monsters? [series finale]

Another packed episodes, with a near endless array of things that could be discussed -- and debated. Did the show's writers make all the right choices? I'm not sure. The end was always going to be controversial: some fans wanted Dexter caught, some wanted him dead, some wanted him to live happily ever after -- three different endings that are not compatible. But the particular way they went about it... well, of course some people hate it -- some people have hated the whole season; heck, some people have hated the series for years (and yet still they watch...)

Personally, I thought it was mostly fitting, in its way. Don't know if it's what I wanted, per se, but (as discussed) it's a damn hard show to know how to end right. Not sure about the coda, though; it was the one moment where it seemed like the writers lacked the courage of their convictions. But what's done is done.


Doctor Who
13x01 Terror of the Zygons Part One [2nd watch]

My choice for the Fourth Doctor's entry in #bbbDW50 is both an acknowledged classic (it came 17th on DWM's Mighty 200, putting it in the top 9% of all Who tales), and the only on screen appearance for monster design icons the Zygons... before their return in November's 50th anniversary special, of course.

It was also going to finally come out on DVD the very week we were scheduled to watch it... until inserting the TV Movie pushed all my plans a week earlier (see also: Ice Warriors). Fortunately, the Fourth Doctor Time Capsule came to my scheduling rescue.

It's a cracking story, too. The monsters are teased gradually, building to a great -- and very sudden -- cliffhanger. There's plenty of mystery, plenty of excitement and humour. Once again, the stuff shot on location on film looks great -- why oh why couldn't the whole show have had the budget to go that route?!


Friends
2x06 The One with the Baby on the Bus [4th or so watch]

Smelly Cat makes its debut! Sung by someone else! Weird.

Articles

Dexter producers explain finale, defend final season
by James Hibberd (from Inside TV on Entertainment Weekly)

Obviously this is riddled with spoilers if you're waiting for next Sunday's UK airing of the finale. Otherwise, interesting.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

TV

Dexter
8x11 Monkey in a Box
And lo, my plan did work perfectly: this episode was on UK TV tonight, and the series finale will be on US TV a few hours after I post this. That's tomorrow's viewing, then.
I don't despise this final season as much as some of Dexter's fans (former fans?), but it's not been the best ever. Nonetheless, still excited to find out what happens in the end.

Films

The Falcon in Hollywood (1944)
[#82 in 100 Films in a Year 2013]

North by Northwest (1959)
[#81 in 100 Films in a Year 2013]

this week on 100 Films

Three new reviews were published to 100 Films in a Year this week!


Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter (2013)
Action-packed, funny, character developing, and with some hilarious cameos at the end… You couldn’t ask for much more from a 15 minute superhero-universe short.
Read more here.


Marvel One-Shot: Item 47 (2012)
This is exactly the kind of tale I presume the imminent TV series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be telling. Considering fans seem ultra-hyped for that, I’m not sure why they dislike Item 47 so much
Read more here.


The Muppets (2011)
a film that embraces the Muppets’ anarchic nature and old-fashioned entertainment style, while also integrating them into the modern world... breaks of the fourth wall abound, and constitute most of the film’s best bits.
Read more here.


Plus a whole load were new to the new blog...


The Green Mile (1999)
draws the viewer into believing that miracles may be possible. It’s a whole hour before Michael Clarke Duncan’s near-silent John Coffey (“like the drink, only not spelled the same”) does his healing thing, at which point what was apparently a straightforward period prison drama gains a new dimension.
Read more here.


Henry V (1944)
I didn’t much care for it. It failed to engage me, and I’d put this down to Olivier’s infamous staging (literally) of it.
Read more here.


Henry V (1989)
Olivier’s version is an over-stylised, propaganda-inspired, outdated version of Shakespeare, whereas Branagh’s is a comprehensible, realistic, textured and, perhaps most importantly, genuinely enjoyable interpretation.
Read more here.


The History Boys (2006)
The History Boys isn’t really about what it’s about — the boys applying for Oxbridge is shoved into a corner almost as soon as it’s introduced — but is instead about their learning, and their experience gained while (and from) learning, and a bit about growing up and discovering oneself too.
Read more here.


Thunderbirds (2004)
If you loved the series you’ll never like this; heck, unless you’re under 10 you’ll probably never like this (and that’s being generous). Maybe, someday, there’ll be a decent new version of Thunderbirds. Sadly, this has probably hindered any attempts at that.
Read more here.


Transformers (2007)
It may be clich├ęd in places, with too much of a tech fetish, shallow female characters, too many faceless soldiers, bouts of weak dialogue, a muddled climax… But it’s still fun.
Read more here.


Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
This is what happens when a studio allows someone like Bay an essentially limitless budget and less than two years to turn a blockbuster around.
Read more here.


More next Sunday.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

TV

Dexter
8x10 Goodbye Miami
Tension!
And, "only 2 episodes remain this season" ever.

Friends
2x05 The One with Five Steaks and an Eggplant [4th or so watch]

The Great British Bake Off
4x05 Biscuits and Traybakes
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Films

Wolf (1994)
[#80 in 100 Films in a Year 2013]

Articles

Dark Horse Can't Stop the Signal, Relaunches Serenity
by Graeme McMillan (from Heat Vision at The Hollywood Reporter)

Though the currently released info is a little light on specifics (it's happening; the artist is named), it's certainly made to sound like a "Buffy Season 8" style revival of the story -- i.e. a full-blown on-going continuation, rather than a mini-series or one-off (as the franchise has been treated in comics before). Exciting stuff.


Doctor Who: the man who shot the show's first Radio Times photoshoot 50 years ago reveals all
by Patrick Mulkern (from Radio Times)

With little time and no sets, photographer Don Smith managed to pull together some photos that are amongst the most recognisable of the First Doctor's era. It's like the story of the entire series itself: taking not very much and turning it into something incredible and enduring.

Collection Count

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

After the uniqueness of last week's update being 100% DVDs, it's happened again! Don't worry though, I guarantee at least one brand-new Blu-ray next week.

Number of titles in collection: 1,612 [up 3]
Of which DVDs: 1,184 [up 3]
Of which Blu-rays: 428 [no change]

Number of discs in collection: 4,017 [up 3]
Number of films in collection: 1,717 [up 1]
Number of TV episodes in collection: 5,954 [up 8]
Number of short films in collection: 392 [no change]

See you next week, faithful reader.

Friday, 20 September 2013

TV

Dexter
8x09 Make Your Own Kind of Music
Man, this season is packed with Plot!

Doctor Who
10x04 The Three Doctors Episode Four [2nd watch]
The Third Doctor phase of #bbbDW50 comes to an end today, with this final episode of the 10th anniversary special. Overall I enjoyed the story more this time round, with the antics between the Doctors being particularly fun, but it still has more than its fair share of silliness -- the waddling "om-nom-nom"ing Gel Guards, for instance, or the bizarre fight at the end of episode three. As anniversary celebrations go, The Five Doctors nailed it better. Hopefully The Day of the Doctor can do the same.

Friends
2x03 The One Where Heckles Dies [4th or so watch]
2x04 The One with Phoebe's Husband [4th or so watch]

QI
11x02 Kit and Kaboodle (XL edition)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

DVD Extras

Commentary on The Green Death Episode Six and Death of the Doctor by Russell T Davies & Katy Manning

Two big, well-matched personalities have a glorious natter over 79 minutes of Doctor Who-related material. Wonderful.

Films

Macbeth (1948)
[#79 in 100 Films in a Year 2013]

Thursday, 19 September 2013

TV

Dexter
8x08 Are We There Yet?
Loved the 'dysfunctional family' bits of this episode. But the way things are going, feels like next time is more the finale than only the start of the final third! What strange and exciting new twists are left in store for us?

Friends
2x01 The One with Ross's New Girlfriend [4th or so watch]
2x02 The One with the Breast Milk [4th or so watch]
I know I've seen season one a good deal more than some of the middle years, but this is all still very familiar -- and very funny. So we'll go with "4th watch", because it's a bit less unwieldy.

Comics

A Redtail's Dream by Minna Sundberg
Chapter 1

Some of the dialogue is a little clunky (it's obvious English isn't the author's first language), and the word balloon layout could also use some work at times... but other than speech-related issues, the art is lovely, the characters are mostly likeable, and the story is intriguing. Not yet convinced about spending such a large amount on the hardback, but I'm almost there.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

TV

Doctor Who
10x03 The Three Doctors Episode Three [2nd watch]
In which the Third Doctor slow-mo wrestles with a pig-nosed bat-eared avatar of Omega in a black-void dreamspace. Not at all weird.
In other news, I'm beginning to remember why I didn't really like this first time round... though I don't dislike it quite so much.

Friends
1x24 The One Where Rachel Finds Out [season finale; goodness-knows-what-th watch]

The Last Leg
3x07 (11/9/13 edition)
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Suburgatory
2x09 Junior Secretary's Day
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Films

Real Steel (2011)
[#78 in 100 Films in a Year 2013]

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

TV

Dexter
8x07 Dress Code
Rastamouse!

Friends
1x23 The One with the Birth [goodness-knows-what-th watch]

The Newsroom
2x03 Willie Pete
Sometimes the writing is ever so fast and clever and all that, and other times it sinks to utterly implausible soap opera theatrics. It always seemed to work in The West Wing, but even this far in I'm not sure how well it does here.

Monday, 16 September 2013

TV

Dexter
8x06 A Little Reflection
An apprentice; a returning face; Dexter struggling with romantic relationships... Feels like the series is on a 'greatest hits' tour for its final season!

Doctor Who
10x02 The Three Doctors Episode Two [2nd watch]
A quarry! It really is a proper anniversary special.

Friends
1x22 The One with the Ick Factor [goodness-knows-what-th watch]

Mock the Week
12x08 (12/9/13 edition)
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Comics

Batman '66 #3 by Jeff Parker & Jonathan Case

End of the first story. My previous comments still stand, in a good way -- I shall continue reading. Probably at my usual daftly-slow rate, but I shall.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

TV

Friends
1x21 The One with the Fake Monica [goodness-knows-what-th watch]

Vera
3x03 Young Gods
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

Films

The Falcon in Mexico (1944)
[#77 in 100 Films in a Year 2013]

Comics

A Redtail's Dream by Minna Sundberg
Prologue

This was brought to my attention by an Indiegogo email, because it's currently running an (incredibly successful) campaign to publish a print edition. But because it's a webcomic, you can still read the full thing online for free here, which is certainly handy when it comes to decision-making about backing the project -- especially at the prices involved: although you can get a PDF version for as little as $15 (~£9.50), the fact the book will be over 600 pages long in a lavish hardback with a small print run (because hey, it's free online, so if you're gonna pay for a print edition you wanna go all-out) means prices start at $90 (~£57)!

The comic itself, then, is "about a young Finnish lad named Hannu Viitanen and his shapeshifting, talking dog Ville, who are on a journey to bring back the souls of their fellow villagers from the realm of dreams. Much of the story is inspired by Finnish mythology, and it is quite child friendly and lighthearted." The artwork is lovely, a painterly fairy-tale storybook style that would seem to suit a mythology-based family-friendly tale like a glove.

The story itself, in this prologue, is harder to gauge. There's a long preamble with some foxes chatting about their love of buns. It's Quirky and therefore kinda sickly. It's also thick with dialogue and an occasionally unclear arrangement of speech bubbles. Sundberg is working in a second (or third? She's Finnish-Swedish) language here, so some of that is understandable -- indeed, the vast majority of the time you'd never know, as these overly-wordy pages are the kind of thing you could see in any young person's (she started it in her second year of uni) first dabble in the medium.

At the minute I'm a little torn: I really like the art and it sounds like the hardback will be glorious, and show the artwork off beautifully; but I'm not sold on the writing/storytelling style in the prologue. The plot summary intrigues me though, and perhaps things settle down as Sundberg gets more experienced? The campaign doesn't end for another 2½ weeks, so maybe I'll just get stuck into reading it in the meantime.

this week on 100 Films

Three new reviews were published to 100 Films in a Year this week, and they were...


Anonymous (2011)
this film by any other name would smell just as shit.
Read more here.


Iron Man 3 (2013)
Some have described Iron Man Three as “the best Iron Man yet”, even better than the exalted first movie. Others have described it as “at least better than Iron Man 2”, the derided first sequel. I thought the first one was a tad overrated and the second notably underrated, so where does this trilogy-forming instalment fall on my personal scale? Well, that depends what you want from an Iron Man film…
Read more here.


The Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult (1994)
Normally I’m a stickler for watching film series in order, even when it doesn’t matter, so skipping 31 sequels really isn’t my style… but this was on telly one night in July and I was in just the right mood, so the second will have to wait for its turn another day.
Read more here.


And new to the new blog...


United 93 (2006)
it is hard to imagine a more competent and respectful film being made about 9/11... Perhaps most importantly of all, the families want you to see it.
Read more here.


More next Sunday.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

TV

8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown
4x05 (13/9/13 edition) [season finale]
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Friends
1x20 The One with the Evil Orthodontist [goodness-knows-what-th watch]

The Great British Bake Off
4x04 Pies and Tarts
Paul Hollywood seemed on particularly mean form this week, though Ali-who-wouldn't-taste-his-fruit probably deserved to go.
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Films

The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991)
[#76 in 100 Films in a Year 2013]

DVD Extras

Carry On Screaming
and
Interweb of Fear


The two main new documentaries on the Scream of the Shalka DVD (out Monday).

The first concerns the making of the serial itself, with some insights into the original plans (a 12-episode series of three four-parters!), the difficulties getting it made, and also the wonder how well it came together on so little time, money and expertise. It also includes the revelation that, were it not for Shalka, the revived TV series might never have happened: it was the research done into the rights situation so they could produce Shalka that meant that when BBC One controller Lorraine Heggessey was saying they couldn't put Who on TV because of rights, the BBC website team were able to put her right. Architects of their own destruction, maybe, but it worked out well for all of us!

The second is about the aforementioned site, and the BBC's web presence more generally, including some of the groundbreaking and experimental things it was able to get away with... before the higher-ups shut things down, in spite of their popularity. It also doesn't shy away from some of the bad ideas, either.

One thing I got from both documentaries is what an ungrateful, hateful bunch Doctor Who fans can be. You can get that impression just by going on most dedicated forums for a few minutes, but you may assume it's isolated. However, stories of Who fans' nasty behaviour and negative attitude crops up in both these pieces. It's sad, really.

Comics

Dredd Underbelly: Part One by Arthur Wyatt & Henry Flint
(from Judge Dredd Megazine #340)

While the campaign continues to get a Dredd sequel made, here's the official comic book sequel to last year's movie.

It's a bit hard to get a handle on it in this first instalment -- these feel very much like the first 10 pages of a graphic novel-length tale, rather than a self-contained chunk of action. That said, it manages to give Anderson a nice re-introduction, an action sequence for Dredd, and then establish the storyline. It also expands the world of the film, introducing Cursed Earth mutants. Thankfully, Flint's design for the muties is less comic-book and more how they might look in the film's universe.

There's definite promise here, but I suspect it will read better in collected form than in short monthly parts.

Nonetheless, Megazine #340 is in shops from next Wednesday.

Collection Count

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

I believe I've had Blu-rays as part of my collection since before I started this weekly round-up, so this may be a first ever: a week with lots of new additions that is entirely DVD-only. It's not long 'til my next expected BD (a week Monday, to be precise), but still: this week, it's all good ol' Digital Video Disc.

That includes four bargain-priced Doctor Who DVDs (my collection edges ever nearer to completion), one new Doctor Who DVD that arrived a few days early, a box set I've waited so long to get I had to buy it used, and an upgrade of a US series from its barebones US edition to special-feature-packed UK release (weird, eh).

Number of titles in collection: 1,609 [up 6]
Of which DVDs: 1,181 [up 6]
Of which Blu-rays: 428 [no change]

Number of discs in collection: 4,014 [up 14]
Number of films in collection: 1,716 [up 6]
Number of TV episodes in collection: 5,946 [up 25]
Number of short films in collection: 392 [no change]

See you next week, faithful reader.

Friday, 13 September 2013

TV

Dexter
8x05 This Little Piggy

I haven't always been convinced in previous episodes, but between this one and the trailer for next time, I think this might turn out to be a cracking final season.


Doctor Who
10x01 The Three Doctors Episode One [2nd watch]

A break from the Doctor-by-Doctor approach now for, appropriately enough, the series' 10th anniversary serial. It also features the first appearance of evil Time Lord Omega, who some rumours suggest will turn up for the 50th. Even if he doesn't, it's another iconic (ish) villain to add to the list.

I can't remember when I first watched The Three Doctors -- after its DVD release, but before this blog's existence, so clearly a number of years ago. I didn't care for it then, for whatever reason, but I rather enjoyed this first episode. Hopefully the rest of the serial will keep it up.


Friends
1x19 The One Where the Monkey Gets Away [goodness-knows-what-th watch]

Films

Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter (2013)
[#75b in 100 Films in a Year 2013]

Marvel One-Shot: Item 47 (2012)
[#75a in 100 Films in a Year 2013]

The two most recent Marvel short films, the latter included on the Blu-ray of Avengers Assemble this time last year, the former on the released-this-week Blu-ray of Iron Man 3.

Both are entertaining, though Agent Carter is definitely the winner -- a 'sequel' to 2011's Captain America, in just 15 minutes it manages to entirely better it.

Articles

DVD Preview: Scream of the Shalka
by Christopher Allen (from Doctor Who 50th Anniversary: Official BBC Worldwide Site)

After a near-decade of waiting, Shalka finally makes it to DVD next Monday. Here, the BBC's official 50th anniversary site previews the release, mounting a mini-defence of the serial and nothing that the disc features "a fascinating interview with Ben Lavender, creator of the BBC iPlayer and the 82 presentations he had to make to get iPlayer in front of the Director-General!"

Relatedly:

Doctor Who: The Simon Clark Story That Never Was
by Ian Berriman (from SFX)

The Shalka sequel that was half-written and fully outlined sounds great. Someone somewhere make it happen somehow, please!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

TV

Dexter
8x03 What's Eating Dexter Morgan?


Doctor Who
8x04 Terror of the Autons Episode Four

Despite the title, I think it's fair to say this is definitely a Master story with the Autons re-employed as his drones. Which is fair enough, what with this being his introductory adventure 'n' all. Whether it was a wise idea to include him in every single story of season 8 or not is another matter... one I won't be finding out about, because of course we're toddling on to something else.

Three best things in this story:
1) The UNIT family, feeling properly established. Yes, season 7 had a version of it, but I don't think it clicked as well as this.
2) The Master. Delgado really hits the ground running.
3) The Autons are better served overall by Spearhead from Space, but some moments here -- the suffocating chair, the freaky troll-doll, the policemen who take the Doctor and Jo at the end of episode two, etc -- are some of their most effective of all.

Marred only by some dodgy direction, over-reliance on blue screen, and those Auton voices -- and, actually, some rush-resolved subplots, like that poor susceptible manager of the plastics factory -- Terror is a good story overall.


Friends
1x16 The One with Two Parts Part 1 [goodness-knows-what-th watch]
1x17 The One with Two Parts Part 2 [goodness-knows-what-th watch]


Suburgatory
2x08 Black Thai
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

TV

Dexter
8x02 Every Silver Lining...

Friends
1x15 The One with the Stoned Guy [goodness-knows-what-th watch]
It strikes me how often Friends episodes don't name themselves after the most memorable element. This one, for example, is The One Where Ross Talks Dirty, or The One with the WENUS.

The Last Leg
3x06 (4/9/13 edition)
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Monday, 9 September 2013

TV

Dexter
8x01 A Beautiful Day
So Dexter's final season begins, two months to the date since I finished series 7 -- and, more importantly, carefully timed so that I can watch it at my usual rate (an episode every day or two) right up to the finale (more or less), which is a fortnight today.

Doctor Who
8x03 Terror of the Autons Episode Three
And my carefully-timed Who season is officially back on track today, too. Nifty. More thoughts on the story itself with its final episode on Wednesday.

Friends
1x14 The One with the Candy Hearts [goodness-knows-what-th watch]

QI
11x01 Knees & Knockers (XL edition)
Here we go again: another year of desperately trying to find all the XL repeats once the BBC start titting about with them, and to see all the episodes once the BBC start bunging the last few around as 'specials'.
But, uh, the show itself is good as well.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Sunday, 8 September 2013

TV

Doctor Who
8x02 Terror of the Autons Episode Two
Some well-known scenes of Auton violence in this episode (the man-eating plastic chair, the living doll). What most amused me was that both were greeted with expressions of "why would anyone buy that?!" from the regular folk they were about to kill, whereas nowadays inflatable plastic chairs and ugly dolls are readily available and (apparently) desired left, right and centre. Some of the special effects in these sequences are actually pretty good, especially for the era, though whoever felt it was necessary to use bluescreen to create such fantastical locations as a phone box and a domestic kitchen was off their rocker (or just over-obsessed with the technology).

The Great British Bake Off
4x03 Desserts
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Would I Lie To You?
7x09 The Unseen Bits [season finale]
Why they always broadcast these clip shows in a random slot months after the regular series, I'll never know.
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Films

Iron Man Three (2013)
[#74 in 100 Films in a Year 2013]
aka Iron Man 3.

this fortnight on 100 Films

With very little to report last week, I thought I'd hold off and summarise a whole fortnight on 100 Films in a Year.

First up, we're now well into September, so here's a look back at August. This month's list of five is "adaptations that changed the book's title". I say "five" -- I got 11 examples in there. Hey-ho.


In regular business, two new reviews were posted this week (yes, "week" singular, because there were none the week before). They were...


The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
cabin-in-the-woods horror movie The Cabin in the Woods is as much a deconstruction, or even spoof, of the genre as an entry in it... This means it’s one for the genre literate
Read more here.


The Tempest (2010)
a radical-seeming interpretation of Shakespeare’s final play. The main character’s changed gender! There’s CGI being tossed about everywhere! It’s got Russell Brand in it! If that sounds superficial, it is. It's still set in the Elizabethan period, in Elizabethan dress, with a cast of mostly classical actors, enacted on an island that is admittedly a stunning setting but is nonetheless where the original play is set.
Read more here.


And new to the new blog this fortnight...


Mamma Mia! (2008)
As camp as a row of tents, disliked by critics, loved by audiences: Mamma Mia! is everything you’d expect from Abba.
Read more here.


More next Sunday.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

TV

Friends
1x13 The One with the Boobies [goodness-knows-what-th watch]

Mock the Week
12x07 (5/9/13 edition)
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Vera
3x02 Poster Child
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

DVD Extras

When Worlds Collide
Not the 1951 sci-fi movie, but a 46-minute documentary on the DVD of The Happiness Patrol about Doctor Who's relationship to and depiction of political ideologies down the years. Didn't intend to watch it but got engrossed, because it's a particularly fascinating piece.

Articles

Grading Mojo's Summer Forecast
by Ray Subers (from Box Office Mojo)

Before the summer movie season began, BOM made predictions on how all the movies expected to gross over $100 million would fare. As well as being a summary of how good (or not) their predictions were, this also serves as a handy retrospective on how this summer panned out at the box office.

Collection Count

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

At one point this week, nearly all of the statistics sat at nice rounded numbers: 1,600 titles; 1,175 DVDs; 425 BDs; 3,995 discs; even 1,705 films and 5,910 episodes of TV. Then more stuff arrived. As I promised, this week is busy.

In the end, every single number goes up; and while they're not all neatly rounded, one really is:

4,000 discs.

Wow. That's a bit... insane. While I mull over the extent of my addiction, here's the stats:

Number of titles in collection: 1,603 [up 7]
Of which DVDs: 1,175 [up 1]
Of which Blu-rays: 428 [up 6]

Number of discs in collection: 4,000 [up 14]
Number of films in collection: 1,710 [up 7]
Number of TV episodes in collection: 5,921 [up 42]
Number of short films in collection: 392 [up 1]

And I haven't even mentioned that this week it's time for the monthly running time update, which has also had a helluva boost...

Total running time of collection (approx.):
287 days, 18 hours, and 53 minutes.
(Up 3 days, 17 hours, and 48 minutes from last month.)

That's the biggest increase since December 2011's post-Christmas count. Yes, 2011 -- even the December 2012 post-Christmas one wasn't so large! I probably ought to slow down...

But there's definitely more to come next week. See you then, faithful reader.

Friday, 6 September 2013

TV

Doctor Who
8x01 Terror of the Autons Episode One

#bbbDW50 moves on to the Third Doctor today, with the second of three stories I've never seen. It also has the distinction of being the best-regarded story I've never seen… of those three. It came 51st on DWM's Mighty 200, leaving it overall the 6th highest-rated story we'll be watching during this project.

So far we've had the Daleks and the Ice Warriors, and here we get the Autons and (in his first appearance) the Master. Not every story in this season features a well-known or returning villain, but I've done a fair job of including most of the main ones -- this is a celebration of the series' history on its golden anniversary, after all. Which others will turn up before we're done? Well, that's a surprise.

This is also the first story for Jo Grant, who of course popped up in The Sarah Jane Adventures a few years ago. Again, my choices partly keep in mind my co-viewer, often showing them the origins or earlier versions of things they'll be familiar with from the new series (and, obviously, its spin-offs).

It's a great introduction for all these new characters too, with both Jo and the Master making their mark from the off. It's a funny one to jump into from the black and white era -- when Who went colour it didn't do it by halves: this is full-on vibrant and psychedelic, from the Doctor's outfits right on down.

It's a pretty cracking tale too, as you'd expect from writer Robert Holmes, although the direction (by producer Barry Letts) is spoof-level awful. One shot in particular sees Jo's face obscured by a prop, at which point the camera slowly and 'subtly' tries to correct the angle so we can see her... except she really is badly hidden, so it keeps trying again... and again... That's on top of numerous instances of poorly-chosen close-ups (showing an actor who isn't talking, then cutting away as soon as the one you're watching begins to speak) and an over-reliance on blue screen (aka CSO), which I guess was New and Exciting at the time (there are more 'virtual sets' here than we have nowadays!)

Ah well, it's all good fun.


Friends
1x12 The One with the Dozen Lasagnas [goodness-knows-what-th watch]


The Newsroom
2x02 The Genoa Tip
I guess I'm not alone in not so much watching the story as playing "guess how it'll all go wrong!" That's what happens when you open your series with a flashforward showing that it's all going to go wrong...

Thursday, 5 September 2013

TV

Friends
1x10 The One with the Monkey [goodness-knows-what-th watch]
1x11 The One with Mrs Bing [goodness-knows-what-th watch]

Pointless Celebrities
4x05 (31/8/13 edition)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Films

The Tempest (2010)
[#73 in 100 Films in a Year 2013]

Read my review here from Friday morning. The UK TV premiere is on BBC Two at 11:05pm on Friday night.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

TV

Doctor Who
6x28 The Seeds of Death Episode Six
The Second Doctor phase of #bbbDW50 comes to an end with the action-packed finale to the Ice Warrior's second story. The Seeds of Death suffers the same way as so many Who six-parters, from a sometimes slow and sometimes repetitive middle section, but there are great bits liberally scattered throughout and plenty of superb direction. Not one of the show's best perhaps, but a solid yarn.

Friends
1x09 The One Where Underdog Gets Away [goodness-knows-what-th watch]
A Thanksgiving Friends...

The Last Leg
3x05 (28/8/13 edition)
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Suburgatory
2x07 Krampus
...and a Christmas Suburgatory. It's all a bit prematurely festive.
That said, this is one of Suburgatory's best episodes, so that's nice.
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Films

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
[#72 in 100 Films in a Year 2013]

Articles

There's No Excuse For Misogyny In Space
by Helen O'Hara (from Empire States... at Empire)

I've read a few reviews of Riddick and every single one mentions its misogyny, so it must be a pretty clear trait. Here, O'Hara expounds on it at well-argued length. Sounds like a fascinatingly dreadful film to me.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

TV

Friends
1x08 The One Where Nana Dies Twice [goodness-knows-what-th watch]

Starlings
2x08 Episode Eight [season finale]
Weird this being over -- we took so long to watch the first series, both blurred into one that's gone on for over a year. Kinda hope there's a third run, too.

A Touch of Cloth II
2x01 Undercover Cloth Part One
I swear the first one wasn't quite so lewd. Still very funny though.

Articles

Game of Thrones beats Doctor Who at 2013 Hugo Awards
by Morgan Jeffery (from Digital Spy)

Who has won its Hugo category in six out of the past eight years, so it's always notable when it's beaten (last time was Dr. Horrible triumphing over Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead and Turn Left).

This year it's well deserved: Blackwater is an incredible piece of television -- or anything fullstop -- while this year's selection of Who eps (Asylum of the Daleks, The Angels Take Manhattan, The Snowmen) aren't even the best the show has to offer, never mind all of TV. Nonetheless, they still finished 3rd, 2nd and 4th, respectively.

Monday, 2 September 2013

TV

Doctor Who
6x27 The Seeds of Death Episode Five
Almost every time I see some of Doctor Who shot on film I lament that it couldn't all have been filmed that way. The stuff outside the weather station in this episode looks fantastic, which is in part because it's a great set, but also that higher-quality-ness of film. Ah well.

The Great British Bake Off
4x02 Bread
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

The Newsroom
2x01 First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All the Lawyers
Funny old show, this. Despite the criticisms and reports of extensive reshoots, it's much the same as ever.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

TV

Friends
1x07 The One with the Blackout [goodness-knows-what-th watch]
Probably the most easily-recalled episode since the pilot, but personally I don't think it's the funniest episode thus far (despite it's rating compared to the others on TV.com, linked above), more a memorable setup. Still, at this point in its run, "lesser Friends" is a purely relative term.

Vera
3x01 Castles in the Air
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

Films

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)
[2nd watch]

This was previously #44 in 100 Films 2012. My thoughts on it this time round can be read here.