Saturday, 30 November 2013

TV

Atlantis
1x09 Pandora's Box
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Castle
3x09 Close Encounters of the Murderous Kind
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Friends
5x17 The One with Rachel's Inadvertent Kiss [4th or so watch]

Collection Count

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

This week, Amazon UK's Black Friday brings a last-minute (almost literally: it only arrived two hours ago) addition: a complete series box set of Damages to replace the only season I already owned. (And I was surprised to learn it's 3½ years since I last watched it!) Up go discs and episodes, but not titles.

And up goes the running time too, of course -- and it's time for an update on that as well (which the Damages set accounts for more than half of).

Number of titles in collection: 1,640 [no change]
Of which DVDs: 1,197 [no change]
Of which Blu-rays: 443 [no change]

Number of discs in collection: 4,085 [up 12]
Number of films in collection: 1,746 [no change]
Number of TV episodes in collection: 6,076 [up 46]
Number of short films in collection: 406 [no change]

Total running time of collection (approx.):
293 days, 19 hours, and 30 minutes.
(Up 2 days, 11 hours and 19 minutes from last month.)

The next running time update will be the post-Christmas year-end one! Thrilling.

But before that, see you next week, faithful reader.

Friday, 29 November 2013

TV

Arrow
2x06 Keep Your Enemies Closer

Friends
5x15 The One with the Girl Who Hits Joey [4th or so watch]
5x16 The One with the Cop [4th or so watch]

Hebburn
2x01 Welcome Home
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Live at the Apollo
9x01 Episode 1

Was It Something I Said
1x07 Episode 7 (extended repeat)
[Watch only the shorter version on 4oD.]

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

TV

Castle
3x08 Murder Most Fowl
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Doctor Who Live: The Afterparty
From everything I'd heard, I was expecting this to be a complete wash-out. Actually, it had its moments -- essentially, anything pre-recorded or pre-edited, including some magnificent montages; and the throw to Australia was quite sweet. The already-infamous bit with One Direction was truly appalling, though. I don't think I've ever seen something go so badly wrong in a live broadcast before.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Friends
5x09 The One with Ross's Sandwich [5th or so watch]
5x10 The One with the Inappropriate Sister [4th or so watch]

Was It Something I Said
1x06 Episode 6 (extended repeat)
[Watch only the shorter version on 4oD.]

Monday, 25 November 2013

TV

Friends
5x08 The One with All the Thanksgivings [5th or so watch]

Have I Got News For You
46x05 (8/11/2013 edition; extended repeat)

The Mentalist
6x04 Red Listed
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Never Mind the Buzzcocks
27x08 Episode 8


This is my first Monday without Doctor Who for almost four months. I miss #bbbDW50, which of course has ended... but, the moment has been prepared for...

(Which, um, you'll find out about... in about a week...)

Articles

Steven Moffat is rewriting Doctor Who folklore to produce a Christmas cracker
by Mark Jefferies (from Radio Times)

Well this could've been made clearer in-show! Or I guess they're just going to explain it at Christmas for those only tuning in then. But there should be a liiiittle more hype to the idea that Matt Smith is The Last Ever Doctor. Shame.

Anyway, yes, you read that right: Matt Smith is the Doctor's 13, ergo final, regeneration. Peter Capaldi will be the impossible 14th. Even though I believe they're still calling him the Twelfth Doctor. Confused? So say we all.

Doctor Who is was 50...

The Doctor Who anniversary may be officially over, and the glut of programming not so much winding down as stopping dead (aside from repeats, all that's left is Radio 1's The Story of Trock later today), but there's a whole load of stuff I've not got round to yet:

BBC Three's Afterparty; the last Doctors Revisited; The Ultimate Guide to Doctor Who; the 12 Again special; Radio 2's Who is The Doctor? and Blagger's Guide to Doctor Who; eight audiobooks & full-cast plays from Radio 4 Extra; plus their Who Made Who marathon, and sundry other radio bits...

So for me, the celebrations are far from over -- hurrah!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

TV

Arrow
2x05 League of Assassins

Doctor Who
The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot
As the 50th anniversary special approaches, the surviving Doctors decide they should be involved, in this comedy special written and directed by Peter Davison. I was worried this would be terribly self-indulgent, especially when I learnt it was half-an-hour long, but... well, I suppose it is in a way, because it's very much "for fans" -- but my goodness is it hilarious! And the array of cameos is astonishing, and everyone's having a whale of a time... We've been spoilt for highlights this anniversary, but this is definitely amongst the highest.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited
1x10 The Tenth Doctor

Friends
5x07 The One Where Ross Moves In [5th or so watch]

Poirot
13x03 Dead Man's Folly
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

The Sarah Millican Slightly Longer Television Programme
3x06 Episode 6 [season finale]

Articles

Cover of the Century: The making of the "Vote Dalek!" Radio Times cover
(from Radio Times)

I meant to share this a few days ago when I read it, but forgot. I think it's somewhat fascinating, because I'd always assumed that cover was simply Photoshopped from existing elements -- but ohhh no!

this week on 100 Films

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


Armored Car Robbery (1950)
A solid rather than exceptional film noir, Armoured Car Robbery is worth a look for fans of the genre if they get a chance.
Read more here.


Immortals (2011)
Trailers reminiscent of 300 belie a (slightly) higher degree of artiness: in the making-of, Tarsem espouses that there are many “comic strip” movies, but he wanted to make a “painted strip” movie; Henry Cavill calls it “Fight Club meets Caravaggio”.
Read more here.


And new to the new blog...


American Dreamz (2006)
This loosely satirical comedy sees Dennis Quaid’s Bush-growing-a-brain President agree to be a guest judge on Hugh Grant’s Simon-Cowell-with-looks TV talent show. It’s pretty much as loopy as that sounds, though not as clever as it thinks it is.
Read more here.


Point Break (1991)
Jock-tastic ’80s-style surfing-based crime thriller. If you’ve seen Hot Fuzz you’ll know of this — it’s the one where Keanu Reeves lies on his back and empties his gun into the air while screaming “nooo!”
Read more here.


Sabrina (1954)
My top note for Sabrina is “morally suspect”... a variety of character traits and actions that left me supporting no character and disliking what a number of them got up to.
Read more here.


More next Sunday.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

TV

Happy Birthday Doctor Who...


Blue Peter
Doctor Who Special
Doctor Who Party

A pair of live episodes to mark Doctor Who's 50th, featuring a look at some of The Day of the Doctor's special effects, interviews with Matt and Jenna, a new "design something that will be in the series" competition, and makes for exciting things like a cushion and a Dalek cake. Bless Blue Peter.

[Watch the Special and the Party (again) on iPlayer.]



The Culture Show
Me, You and Doctor Who

A lovely, insightful exploration of the series' history and its impact on culture.

[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]



Doctor Who
33x15 The Day of the Doctor [50th anniversary special]

What's the 50th episode of #bbbDW50? It's the 50th anniversary episode, of course! What else would've been more appropriate?

And it was brilliant. Wasn't it? I thought so. I don't mind saying I've not always been the biggest fan of what Moffat's done as showrunner, especially over the last two series, but he absolutely nailed this. It was chock full of exciting new stuff and nods to the past, with everything from tiny subtle references for the true hardcore fan right up to big obvious "here are all the Doctors!" celebrations of the show's 50 year legacy. It was fabulous.

I look forward to watching it again in 3D. I reckon some of it will look grand. I fear the Christmas special can only be a letdown from here though, so we'll see...

But on a positive note: it's a feature-length episode that was released in cinemas alongside TV -- definitely counts for 100 Films, right? Well, does for me. I'll post a lengthier review there at some point.

[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]



Friends
5x06 The One with the Yeti [4th or so watch]
Yes, this is the only non-Who thing today.



The Graham Norton Show
14x06 (22/11/13 edition)

Featuring Matt Smith and David Tennant, dropping in halfway through like the BBC had mandated their inclusion on the regularly-scheduled episode. Which they may well have.

Actually, it left a bit of a bitter taste for me -- lots of old-fashioned stuff about the show just being for geeks, who've never touched a girl; suggesting Matt is only in the special due to contractual obligation so why on Earth has David deigned to come back; David and Matt not quite knowing what to say when Jimmy Carr asked a daft question about how can they both be in the special; and so on and so forth. It felt rather like a nasty throwback, instead of being aware that, actually, Doctor Who is now one of the BBC's top brands, a massive earner, probably more significant to culture than anyone else on the episode this evening; while they treated it a little like it deserved a nice pat on the head, a ruffle of its hair, and a half-meant "well done".

Bah.

[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Collection Count

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

This week's purchases include Man of Steel, imported from the US for all the special features, and two copies of The Wolverine, which is a little more complicated.

See, there's a Sainsbury's exclusive bonus disc -- I like bonus discs. But there's also an Extended Cut, only available in the 3D edition. Sainsbury's don't do the 3D edition with the bonus disc, typically. I had decided just to settle for the 3D edition, but then my copy turned up with two 3D discs and no 2D disc. I could've just got a replacement direct from Fox, but I saw An Opportunity. So, I bought the Sainsbury's 2D exclusive and my spare 3D disc will go up on eBay. Huzzah!

Anyway, numbers:

Number of titles in collection: 1,640 [up 5]
Of which DVDs: 1,197 [up 1]
Of which Blu-rays: 443 [up 4]

Number of discs in collection: 4,073 [up 10]
Number of films in collection: 1,746 [up 5]
Number of TV episodes in collection: 6,030 [up 6]
Number of short films in collection: 406 [up 1]

See you next week, faithful reader.

Friday, 22 November 2013

TV

An Adventure in Space and Time

That was brilliant. And not just "for Doctor Who fans" brilliant, but a properly good drama. Magnificent performances all round, beautiful direction, stunning production design... And so packed with stuff, I honestly think it could've been twice as long (or even longer) and still not felt padded or too mired in minutiae. If it doesn't win all the awards there's no justice.

Followed by William Hartnell: The Original, a teeny tiny documentary that definitely would withstand being (significantly) longer.

[Watch them both (again) in HD on iPlayer.]


Doctor Who
33x14 The Name of the Doctor [season finale; 2nd watch]

Well well well now, here's a day I half expected we'd never see: the penultimate part of #bbbDW50. And in some respects that makes it The End, because the final part -- the 50th episode of the season's 50 episodes -- is tomorrow's anniversary special, and even if the rest of my celebratory viewing had faltered I'd still be watching that, wouldn't I? So yes, from that point of view, it ends here -- hurrah, I did it, etc.

But enough of that -- which episode is in this illustrious position? Well, it's one from earlier this year -- it is, in fact, the most recent full-length episode of nuWho, the previous season finale. Which probably doesn't have a huge bearing on the 50th special (as Moffat said himself somewhere, who'd be fool enough to make such an event "Part 2"?!), but is nonetheless a handy primer, I feel. Plus there's the double-bonus that (like the last episode), everyone else fawned over it relentlessly after it aired, whereas I was considerably more cautious.

I have to say, I'm still not wholly convinced. While there's a bit more of a plot than I remembered, I still feel like it's a collection of "bits" -- an explanation for Clara, a goodbye to River, kisses to the past, a cliffhanger tease, etc. Nonetheless, it's mostly entertaining, and almost emotional in places; but it's still... not even a season finale, really, and certainly not a story in itself... just a Big Episode.


Friends
5x05 The One with the Kips [4th or so watch]


The One Show
20/11/13 edition
A Doctor Who themed edition of the BBC magazine show... but still chock full of their usual features on Stuff, so if you want to watch, be prepared to do plenty of fast-forwarding to the scattered good bits.
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]


Was It Something I Said
1x05 Episode 5 (extended repeat)
[Watch only the shorter version on 4oD.]

Thursday, 21 November 2013

TV

Doctor Who
33x14b The Last Day
You know if you watch someone else play a computer game, it's usually pretty rubbish? Yeah...

Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited
1x09 The Ninth Doctor

Elementary
2x04 Poison Pen

Friends
5x04 The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS [4th or so watch]

Person of Interest
2x04 Triggerman
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Films

The Wolverine: Extended Cut (2013)
[#101 in 100 Films in a Year 2013]

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

TV

Castle
3x07 Almost Famous
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]


Doctor Who
32x04 The Doctor's Wife [2nd watch]

By chance rather than design, #bbbDW50 includes one episode from each of the Eleventh Doctor's series. This episode from 2011 (my God, is it really 2½ years old?!) was hailed as an instant classic by so many -- in part, let's be perfectly honest, because of the hype surrounding its writer. I'm not saying it wouldn't have garnered such love if it had been by anyone else, but... well, it wouldn't have garnered such love, would it?

I didn't fall for it quite so deeply. In fact, I thought it was interesting and fine, but held back by the level of expectation and the consequent, shall we say, "squee"ing over it. (I hate the 'word' "squee", making it perfect for this occasion.) Returning to it for the first time in 2½ years (my God, is it really 2½ years old?!) allows a chance for personal reappraisal.

...but not much has changed. It's a very good episode, and the conceit is a great one, but its not flawless. House is not as effective an enemy as it feels he/it was imagined to be, and Amy and Rory basically run around corridors just so they have something to do. Similarly, the Doctor and Idris seem to fly their makeshift TARDIS for ages, again in a move that feels time-killing.

Still, the bits that work do work really well, and ultimately it's that sky-high expectation and overreaction from some quarters that can leave the episode to feel underwhelming.


Friends
5x03 The One Hundredth [4th or so watch]


Never Mind the Buzzcocks
27x07 Episode 7
aka The One With Huey Morgan And The Mug.


The Newsroom
2x08 Election Night Part I
2x09 Election Night Part II [season finale]

Good in places, spectacularly mawkish in others. Apparently it is coming back, but this does have the feel of a series finale... while also leaving plenty of doors open.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

TV

Doctor Who
31x07 Amy's Choice [3rd watch]

It's the final stages of #bbbDW50 now, as we reach the Eleventh Doctor.

First up, an episode I feel gets somewhat overlooked by the bigger, more attention-grabbing ones that have come about during the Eleventh's reign, but that I also feel is one of the very best to be produced under Moffat's stewardship. It's a shame they didn't focus on making more alternative, unusual, but still very Who-y, and unquestionably effective, episodes such as this one, rather than getting sidetracked into all those big, aimless, ultimately disappointing arc plots.

Seriously, if you're not aware of its brilliance, give this one another go. It has an awful lot going for it on a first watch, but it's almost even better second time round, when you know who the Dream Lord really is.


Friends
5x02 The One with All the Kissing [4th or so watch]


The Mentalist
6x03 Wedding in Red
Wow, that was a spectacularly bad episode. Did the writers take a holiday and let the cleaner have a go?
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Monday, 18 November 2013

TV

Doctor Who
30x14 The Next Doctor [2nd watch]

The Tenth Doctor portion of #bbbDW50 concludes with the 2008 Christmas special, the last episode of Doctor Who to be made in standard definition (but, almost ironically, the first we're watching on Blu-ray).

Every episode in this viewing season was selected for a reason, be it to represent a certain monster, or as a gold-standard classic, or even for its notoriety. Why did The Next Doctor win out over the numerous RTD-era classics? Well, it's one of the least-regarded Christmas specials, and as I haven't seen it since it first went out (five years ago!) it seemed overdue a personal reappraisal. It also features the Cybermen, who are the most startling oversight in a run of stories that has included Daleks (twice), Ice Warriors, Autons, the Master (twice), Omega, Zygons, Sontarans, and the Kandy Man.

Finally, watching The Next Doctor right after an episode starring "the next Doctor" was too fun to miss. (There are plenty of other episodes from season four and the specials that I've yet to re-watch, so that's the real reason, isn't it?)

In the end, the best reason to watch was that reappraisal. The Next Doctor is really good, with a peerless performance by David Morrissey and a great turn from Dervla Kirwan too. The Cyberking is a bit much, but otherwise the Cybermen are great, particularly effective at a snow-bound funeral and when they betray -- or, as it turns out, attempt to betray -- Miss Hartigan. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's the best Christmas special, but it's actually a very good one. Hurrah!


Elementary
2x03 We Are Everyone


Friends
5x01 The One After Ross Says Rachel [4th or so watch]
Really, it's Part 3.


Only Connect
Children in Need Special: Scrabblers v The Balding Team

Articles

Steven Moffat on The Night Of The Doctor
(from Doctor Who Official Site)

Missed this interview on Thursday, so you might've too. Intriguing final answer -- could we get a full set via The Day of the Doctor, I wonder?

Sunday, 17 November 2013

TV

Doctor Who
30x02 The Fires of Pompeii [2nd watch]

#bbbDW50 sticks with the Tenth Doctor for a little longer -- we haven't exactly used proportional representation for the Doctors so far, and we're not really starting here (not with any great degree of accuracy, anyway), but when it came to increasing the number of episodes from the original 45 to a more appropriate 50, it seemed fairest to bung in a couple more for the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors rather than a whole extra multi-parter for any earlier one.

Fans will no doubt easily guess why Fires of Pompeii earns a coveted spot here: one of its main guest stars is none other than Peter Capaldi, the Twelfth Doctor himself! Except not the Twelfth Doctor. Probably. Who knows what kind of retconning Moffat will attempt. (Probably none. Hopefully none.) Surprisingly, he's barely in the thing.

The episode also features a pre-Pond Karen Gillan, caked in make-up as a glorified extra... and yet, after two-and-a-half seasons as the main companion, really obviously her. But that's not why I've chosen it; that's just a coincidence.


Have I Got News For You
46x05 (1/11/2013 edition; extended repeat)


Never Mind the Buzzcocks
23x12 The Doctor Who Special [2nd watch]
From Christmas 2009 and repeated last week as part of the anniversary celebrations. It's a great fun episode, actually... though four years on accompanied by, "wow, doesn't David Tennant look a surprising amount younger!" and "wow, doesn't Phill Jupitus look clean-shaven and therefore kind of chubbier!"
Bernard Cribbins is still just blinkin' marvellous though.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


Poirot
13x02 The Big Four
Poirot finished forever earlier in the week, but with shocking tardiness I'm only embarking on the final series now. Though there are tonnes of earlier episodes I've never seen, so one day, with a DVD (or Blu-ray) box set, there's still plenty of new-to-me Poirot to come.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

this week on 100 Films

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


Make/Remake: The Daleks’ Invasions of Earth
There’s little doubting that The Dalek Invasion of Earth is a minor epic. Where The Daleks struggled a bit to fill its seven-episode order, in six instalments writer Terry Nation takes us from an occupied, bomb-blasted London, to an attack on the Dalek spaceship, to a mine in Bedfordshire that’s digging to the centre of the Earth. Although made on Doctor Who’s typically tiny budget, the TV serial shines.
Read more here.


Sean Connery as James Bond, Part 1
The name's Connery, Sean Connery, the star of the first five world-conquering James Bond movies...

Featuring reviews of Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, and You Only Live Twice.


And new to the new blog...


The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
one of the forefathers of the modern spectacle-driven blockbuster, packed with innovative effects designed to dazzle the viewer. One can only imagine how incredible the special effects looked to a 1940 audience. Today the flaws are obvious, but, surprisingly, not by much.
Read more here.


More next Sunday.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

TV

Arrow
2x04 Crucible

Atlantis
1x08 The Furies
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Children in Need 2013
Midnight to 2am, featuring dregs and repeats... and a record-breaking total.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited
1x08 The Eighth Doctor
Half an hour on one story -- no mention of the books, audios, comic strips... And because it was made months ago, no mention of The Night of the Doctor either, which is a shame.

Friends
4x23 The One with Ross's Wedding Part 1 [5th or so watch]
4x24 The One with Ross's Wedding Part 2 [season finale; 5th or so watch]

The Science of Doctor Who
Prof. Brian Cox's lecture on the real-life science related to concepts from Doctor Who. Essentially, this means time travel, with a diversion into the possible existence of aliens. Interesting, but a shame there was nothing on uniquely Who concepts like something being bigger on the inside.
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Comics

Dredd Underbelly: Part Three by Arthur Wyatt & Henry Flint
(from Judge Dredd Megazine #342)

Oh -- is that it?!

Well, bluntly, yes. After just three instalments, the story's over, rushing to a conclusion. In the US it'll be collected as a one-shot early next year. Not sure it was worth it.

Collection Count

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

This week's purchases include two 3D Blu-rays. I don't have a 3D Blu-ray player (or TV), but that's how the Extended Edition of The Hobbit comes, and that's how the plastic-tat edition of Pacific Rim comes. The latter, incidentally, was a complete waste of money. I know, I should have known better.

Number of titles in collection: 1,635 [up 3]
Of which DVDs: 1,196 [up 1]
Of which Blu-rays: 439 [up 2]

Number of discs in collection: 4,063 [up 10]
Number of films in collection: 1,741 [up 2]
Number of TV episodes in collection: 6,024 [up 2]
Number of short films in collection: 405 [no change]

See you next week, faithful reader.

Friday, 15 November 2013

TV

Children in Need 2013
As ever, this is officially everything up to midnight -- including a clip of the Doctor Who 50th! Link below is all the CiN stuff on iPlayer.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Doctor Who
29x09 The Family of Blood [3rd watch]
This is truly excellent. In DWM's Mighty 200 it was voted the sixth greatest story ever, and I reckon it's at least that good, if not better, even with another 50-ish stories having come since that poll.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

TV

Doctor Who
33x14a The Night of the Doctor
This seven-minute prequel to The Day of the Doctor was expected on Saturday (when it'll be available on the BBC Red Button), but for some reason got released today. And... I'm not going to say too much, just in case anyone reads this not having seen it, but... wow! That's something I've been wanting from nuWho ever since it materialised. Thank you Steven Moffat, all is forgiven! However good the anniversary special turns out to be (let's hope "very"), I'm not sure it can live up to my pleasure at the existence of this. Best bit of the 50th so far.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Friends
4x22 The One with the Worst Best Man Ever [4th or so watch]

Person of Interest
2x03 Masquerade
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Films

Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D (1966)
[3rd watch; #100a in 100 Films in a Year 2013]

As previously mentioned, I'm comparing the two Dalek movies to their TV originals. This sequel is an adaptation of The Dalek Invasion of Earth (which I watched here and here), and while it isn't as good as its TV counterpart, it's the better of the two films.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

TV

Castle
3x06 3XK
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]


Doctor Who
29x08 Human Nature [3rd watch]

After only reaching the Ninth Doctor on Monday (and concluding him yesterday), it's time for #bbbDW50 to race straight on to the Tenth Doctor. The anniversary's nearly here, lots of episodes to cram in!

What better one for November than this, which is set almost exactly 100 years ago and concerns itself with remembrance? OK, it would've been even better two days ago, but I didn't actually choose it for the neatness of the scheduling -- I chose it because it's a damn fine story, which I haven't seen for a number of years and wanted to watch again. And it really is brilliant, even if the cliffhanger is a little forced -- this is from the "a two-parter is one long story" school of thought, rather than the later "a two-parter is two connected single episodes" style.

I recently read someone assert that Human Nature exists purely to establish the fob watch so it can be used for the Master in the season three finale. I felt a bit sorry for them -- all that they're not seeing in this tale if they think it's just about that. Knowing how RTD writes, I always assumed the fob watch was part of this tale that he then realised could be co-opted for the Master's return, rather than the other way round. Not to mention that the novel this adapts pre-dates the TV version by over a decade.


Friends
4x21 The One with the Invitations [4th or so watch]
More accurately, The One with All the Clips From Previous Episodes. Especially grating when you're watching the whole show at a speedy rate.


The Graham Norton Show
14x05 (8/11/13 edition)
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

TV

Doctor Who
27x13 The Parting of the Ways [season finale; 4th watch]
Here is where all the good bits are: the Dalek Emperor ("they survived through me!"), the Dalek army flying through space (thousands of them!), Lynda's death (poor Lynda!), David Tennant's first few moments (crikey he looks young!), and so on and so on.
Plus, the emotional wringer Rose goes through, brilliantly played by Billie Piper, now brings with it a realisation of how emotionless the Moffat-era companions have been, and how little the actors have been stretched by those roles. Shame.

Friends
4x20 The One with All the Wedding Dresses [4th or so watch]

The Mentalist
6x02 Black-Winged Redbird
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Films

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
[#100 in 100 Films in a Year 2013]

Second 'half' (see yesterday).

Monday, 11 November 2013

TV

Doctor Who
27x12 Bad Wolf [4th watch]

With less than a fortnight until the anniversary, #bbbDW50 reaches the revived series. NuWho makes up exactly 20% of my viewing for this. That feels like it's disproportionately large, right? Wrong. From a grand total of 33 seasons of Doctor Who, the seven modern-era ones make up just over 21%. Pretty much bang on, then. The viewing rate will also step up to squeeze all the episodes in: rather than three per week, it'll be 10 episodes over the next 12 days.

First up, then, is the Ninth Doctor (of course). Although he only stuck around for one season -- a total of 10 stories -- there are several classics to choose from. His season finale seems a natural choice to sum up his era -- Daleks, Captain Jack, the regeneration... and Bad Wolf, which looks like it will factor in to the 50th special.

The most remarkable thing, watching this now, is how old it looks. It's only been eight years, but somehow it looks... not dated, necessarily, but not the same as TV drama now. I mean, what the hell cameras were they using to make every single light source glow to three times its size?! And all the Big Brother / Weakest Link stuff has dated terribly. Even at the time we knew it would, but (again) it's only been eight years -- how bad is it going to look in another five, ten, twenty? Future viewers will not just benefit from some contextual notes, they'll need them.

Still, not a bad story. A lot of the biggest bestest stuff is in Part Two though.


Friends
4x19 The One with All the Haste [4th or so watch]


Never Mind the Buzzcocks
27x06 Episode 6

Films

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
[#100 in 100 Films in a Year 2013]

For the first time in almost 23 months, 100 Films has a #100!

I was going to label this "first half", but that's not true: Lawrence has an intermission, but it cuts the film up as a 139-minute first 'half' and an 83-minute second 'half' -- almost an hour different.

But anyway, I watched everything up to the intermission, and will watch the remainder tomorrow. I was very tempted to watch it all in one go*, but I was watching late at night and another hour-and-a-half was pushing it.


* as I did with Once Upon a Time in America in the end, which is only 7 minutes shorter (and that's only because I have OUaTiA on PAL DVD and Lawrence on Blu-ray)

Sunday, 10 November 2013

TV

Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited
1x07 The Seventh Doctor

Friends
4x17 The One with the Free Porn [4th or so watch]
4x18 The One with Rachel's New Dress [4th or so watch]

The Sarah Millican Slightly Longer Television Programme
3x05 Episode 5

Films

The Falcon's Alibi (1946)
[#99 in 100 Films in a Year 2013]

this week on 100 Films

100 Films in a Year begins its mini-celebration of Doctor Who's 50th anniversary this week...


Make/Remake: Doctor Who and the Daleks
Something about those pepperpot-shaped apparently-robotic villains clicked with the British public, and Dalekmania was born. Toys and merchandise flowed forth. The series soon began to include serials featuring the Daleks on a regular basis. And, naturally, someone snapped up the movie rights.

Rather than an original storyline, the ensuing film was an adaptation of the TV series’ first Dalek serial...
Read more here.


Plus, archive reviews new to the new blog...


Avatar [3D] (2009)
All this is realised through unrelenting CGI. It’s very good, but here Avatar falls victim to its own hype once again, because it’s still not 100% perfect. Perhaps it’s the closest yet seen — it certainly remains consistent throughout — but nothing had me wondering if they’d perhaps used prosthetics in addition to the CGI, as Davy Jones did at several points during Dead Man’s Chest, and I remain convinced that wonderful modelwork, as seen in the likes of Lord of the Rings, is still an unbeatable tool for creating convincing environments.
Read more here.


The Departed (2006)
An all-star cast lead Scorsese’s Oscar-winning remake of Hong Kong action thriller Infernal Affairs. It’s an unusual yet striking mix of elements: cops vs. robbers thriller, gangster drama, relationships of those who protect/threaten us drama, and several more.
Read more here.


No Country for Old Men (2007)
real life: random and lacking closure and satisfaction. But this isn’t real life, it’s a movie; and a movie with a near-fantasy (or, more accurately, horror) aspect too, in its unstoppable villain; so I think I want my proper tied-together plot, thank you very much
Read more here.


Notes on a Scandal (2006)
Judi Dench is brilliant as ever in a rare villainous role (the Oscar would’ve been hers were it not for Helen Mirren’s equally brilliant but more obvious turn in The Queen)
Read more here.


Wanted (2008)
If you don’t mind your action being computer-aided and as realistic as… well, a comic book… then there’s much to enjoy. Except, you already enjoyed most of it in the trailer.
Read more here.


More next Sunday.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

TV

This is the 5,000th post on My Cultural Experience!

Atlantis
1x07 The Rules of Engagement
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited
1x06 The Sixth Doctor

Friends
4x16 The One with the Fake Party [4th or so watch]

Collection Count

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

Number of titles in collection: 1,632 [up 2]
Of which DVDs: 1,195 [up 1]
Of which Blu-rays: 437 [up 1]

Number of discs in collection: 4,053 [up 3]
Number of films in collection: 1,739 [up 3]
Number of TV episodes in collection: 6,022 [no change]
Number of short films in collection: 405 [no change]

See you next week, faithful reader.

Friday, 8 November 2013

TV

Doctor Who
The TV Movie [3rd third; 5th watch]

Everything from DVD chapter 14 (with the Doctor and Grace in the Master's ambulance, i.e. before the bike chase) to the end. For those of you who remember the TVM, you'll realise that's an awful lot of its action: the bike chase, all the stuff with the clock, the Eye of Harmony climax, 'temporal orbit', etc etc. Yes, it's a longer part than the other two (remember 25/25/35), but it feels a little less like watching an "extended Part 3 of 3" and more like watching "Parts 3 & 4 of 4".

On the whole, I think the TVM is quite distinctly underrated. It was a shock to the system in 1996, but compared to the new series... well, it's actually very like the new series: the bike chase, kissing/hand-holding, "drezz for the occasion", the humour, everything at the clock, the characterisation of Grace and Chang Lee, everything McGann does -- all could fit comfortably in episodes masterminded by RTD or Moffat.

It's not perfect -- the opening few minutes are a mess of references and infodumpery; bits of the climax don't make a lick of sense -- but, on the whole, I love it.


Friends
4x14 The One with Joey's Dirty Day [4th or so watch]
4x15 The One with All the Rugby [4th or so watch]
Or, The Ones Where Emily Turns Up And Is Intensely Irritating.


The Graham Norton Show
14x04 (1/11/13 edition)
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]


Have I Got News For You
46x04 (25/10/2013 edition)
Although an extended version of this episode is listed, it wasn't shown. Which is one of the reasons I'm so behind on it now.

Audio Drama

Doctor Who [Big Finish]
The Light at the End Part Two (of 2)

Hm. Well. OK.

Obviously the Doctor being completely wiped out of history is a suitably epic story for a Big Anniversary Doctor Team-Up Special, but it feels so... low-key. Like how it would be handled in a short story, rather than a novel or a season finale... or a big anniversary special. I also didn't quite get all of the plan. The weapon the Master uses makes sense, but why put it in that particular human, on that particular date? As the listener the choice of 23rd November 1963 is obvious, but why in the story?

Still, at least the Doctors knocking around together is fun at times. I'm pretty sure Big Finish have teamed up the Sixth and Seventh before -- I've not heard those stories (obviously), but somehow it didn't feel fresh. Maybe the Fifth and Seventh would've been more unusual? The best bits are the Fourth and Eighth together, which are mainly in Part One but make a comeback towards the end of Part Two... though leaving the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh together for the last quarter(-ish) makes it feel like the early days of Big Finish, when they were the only Doctors they had. Or maybe that was the point.

As for the appearances by the First, Second and Third... I get why their audio is obscured, to help hide the impressions that are being done; but they're still obviously impressions, and by making them so quiet in the mix we have to strain to hear them -- which makes the fact they're impressions more obvious because we're listening so hard.

The Light at the End is pleasant enough on the whole, but with some script polishing (I've not even mentioned some of the clunky dialogue) and a splash more of the epic, this could've rivalled the new series for grandiosity. Whether Moffat's come up with something bigger for The Day of the Doctor or not, the TV series has already out-agrandised this audio in the past. Shame.

Non-Fiction

Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale - The Final Chapter by Russell T Davies & Benjamin Cook
Book Two, Chapter 24-25 [the end]

A marvellous conclusion, full of defences for things that don't often get defended but deserve defending -- like RTD's writing style (p.678-9), the quality of Rose (p.681-5); plus spot-on criticism of forum-dwelling 'fans' (p.691-2).

Thursday, 7 November 2013

TV

Elementary
2x02 Solve for X
Gotta hand it to Elementary -- they do at least come up with more unusual storylines than detective shows' usual stomping ground. Fundamentally it all works in the same way, of course, but it at least makes it feel fresher.

Friends
4x13 The One with Rachel's Crush [4th or so watch]
Or, The One Where Joey Says "How You Doin'?" For the First Time.

The Newsroom
2x07 Red Team III
Underwhelming title for such a pivotal episode. But have the makers forgotten that sometime between "the past" (which has nearly caught up with the present) and "the present", Maggie has to do that thing to her hair? Shouldn't she have done it more or less immediately after the incident that provoked it? What's going to provoke it?
I was also a little surprised there were two whole episodes left after the events of this one, but it's a two-parter, so that makes more sense.

Was It Something I Said
1x04 Episode 4 (extended repeat)
[Watch only the shorter version on 4oD.]

Audio Drama

Doctor Who [Big Finish]
The Light at the End Part One (of 2)

While Doctor Who's 50th anniversary special seems to mainly focus on the last seven-or-so years of nuWho, and Moffat goes on and on (and on) about how it looks to the future more than the past, here's the other 50th anniversary special: the Big Finish-produced multi-Doctor team-up, featuring all the classic Doctors (because they're not allowed the new ones). Hey, at least between the two stories we get everyone but the Ninth (ah, Christopher Eccleston.)

I think it was designed to be listened to as a whole, because even the cliffhanger is not that cliffhanger-y, and the parts are eight minutes different in length -- if you moved the end of Part 1 forward by about four minutes, you might be in a more cliffhanger-y situation. But I guess I shouldn't judge until I listen to the second almost-half. So far, intriguing, but also surprisingly low-key for a story featuring multiple Doctors, the Master, and the possible destruction of the TARDIS and/or all of time.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

TV

Arrow
2x03 Broken Dolls
Ooh, blatant Batman reference is blatant!


Doctor Who
2x07 The End of Tomorrow
2x08 The Waking Ally
2x09 Flashpoint

Parts four to six of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the second-ever Dalek serial. It's a marvellous story, actually, packed with incident and scale — things lacking from the "trek across the planet for half the story" first Dalek serial. It's also fantastically realised on what must have been the usual tiny budget — epic location filming, numerous (relatively) elaborate studio sets… The final scene, with Susan's departure (the first original regular to leave), is a particular highlight — not because we're glad to be rid of her, but because it's beautifully written and performed, especially by Hartnell.

And also...

Doctor Who
The TV Movie [2nd third; 5th watch]

I forgot to mention last time (in amongst all my other waffle) that the TVM is the 40th episode of #bbbDW50 -- at the end of this week it'll be two-thirds complete! More on giving over 20% of the viewing to the new series when I get there, next week.

So, 'Part 2' of the TVM takes us from "the morning after" (beginning of DVD chapter 8) to the Master and Chang Lee posing as paramedics to collect the Doctor and Grace from her house (end of DVD chapter 13) -- a bit of a cliffhanger, as our heroes happily trot off with a guy we know to be evil. Dun-dun-duuuun! Maybe not quite as effective as 'Part 1', but better than the next option (after the bike chase); and hey, the classic series has its fair share of under-dramatic episode endings.


Friends
4x12 The One with the Embryos [4th or so watch]
I suppose The One Where the Girls Lose Their Apartment to the Boys would've given away the ending rather. But it's that one.


Person of Interest
2x02 Bad Code
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

TV

Doctor Who
2x04 World's End
2x05 The Daleks
2x06 Day of Reckoning

What's this, #bbbDW50 returning to the First Doctor? No, don't be daft — that'd be silly! This is extracurricular viewing, designed to facilitate a companion piece to my Dr Who and the Daleks retrospective/comparison on 100 Films later this month.

That's because, for those who don't know, these are parts one to three of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, which was the basis for the second Peter Cushing Dalek movie. I've never seen the TV version before, but it's a mightily impressive production — some grand sets, and the stuff filmed in a deserted London is astounding. Though, weirdly, the famous shot of the Daleks crossing the bridge isn't here; instead, we just see their tops drifting past from below — I guess while some photographer was grabbing a more iconic image!


Friends
4x11 The One with Phoebe's Uterus [4th or so watch]


The Mentalist
6x01 The Desert Rose
As if Arrow, Castle, Elementary and Person of Interest weren't enough... and I'm still going on The Newsroom... and I've not even started Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., or Ripper Street series 2, or the already-finished Peaky Blinders... and I have loads of other complete series recorded/downloaded from earlier in the year that I've not got to... and I'm years behind on Misfits, which just restarted also... Why is there so much TV right now?!
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]


The Wrong Mans
1x06 Running Mans [season finale]
Sounds likely there'll be another series of this -- very much yay.
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Non-Fiction

Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale - The Final Chapter by Russell T Davies & Benjamin Cook
Book Two, Chapter 23

Monday, 4 November 2013

TV

Archer
4x11 The Papal Chase
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]


Doctor Who
The TV Movie [1st third; 5th watch]

Choices are limited when it comes to representing the Eighth Doctor as part of #bbbDW50 -- it's either this again, or a half-arsed 'animation' of Shada (that they didn't include properly on the DVD anyway, so I don't know how we'd have gone about watching it).

So it's back to the TV movie, for something like the fifth time for me and second for my viewing companion. That's not so bad: I do like it, and the last time was five years ago now. Just to mix things up, we're going to watch it as a three parter, stripped across the week as per usual. It's not the easiest thing to divide into traditionally-sized 25 minute chunks -- it might seem roughly the right length, but it depends how well-balanced you want your episodes. See, there's actually great cliffhanger points (and DVD chapter stops!) at exactly 25 and 50 minutes... but that leaves a "Part 3" that's 35 minutes long. Alternatively, using the chapter points, you can get a "1st third" that's 30 minutes (ch.1-8), with a second of 27 minutes (ch.9-14) and third of 29 minutes (ch.15-24) -- pretty equal.

(Splitting it neatly in half for two new-series-length episodes, however, is next to impossible -- there's a huge sequence right in the middle that leaves you with clearly lopsided 'halves', whether you're using chapter points or not. And that's one of the reasons we're watching it in three, not two.)

Anyway, I went for 25/25/35 -- that's the more entertaining way to split it, because it means 'Part 1' ends with the Doctor's whole "Who. Am. Iiiiaiaiaaargh?!" bit, which is quite a natural end-point, rather than a semi-decent one at the next chapter break. The TVM's biggest sin is being too old-fan friendly: if it began in San Francisco, 1999, with all the gang shootings, and a box appearing out of thin air, and a mysterious man, and a surgeon... that could all work. Instead, it begins on Skaro with a huge exposition dump, which is fine if you're a fan -- plenty of nods -- but must've been awful for total newcomers.

That aside, there's a nice vein of sly humour that would sit well in the revived series, and incredibly classy direction from Geoffrey Sax (apparently they've tried to get him on the new series several times, but he's always been in another job). With the (very good) regeneration out of the way, so a new Doctor and Master in place, the best bits are yet to come.


Friends
4x10 The One with the Girl from Poughkeepsie [4th or so watch]

DVD Extras

The Doctor's Strange love, Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the TV Movie

Featurette on the Doctor Who TV Movie Special Edition DVD, in which Who author Simon Guerrier, Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures writer Joseph Lidster, and comedian Josie Long discuss why the TV Movie is actually pretty good.

Perhaps most surprising is how many similarities they draw up with the new series. This was filmed while David Tennant was still the Doctor, and I think those things are, if anything, even more pertinent after Matt Smith's incarnation.

Non-Fiction

Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale - The Final Chapter by Russell T Davies & Benjamin Cook
Book Two, Chapter 22

Sunday, 3 November 2013

TV

Doctor Who
33x06b The Battle of Demons Run: Two Days Later
This prequel-esque mini-scene was first released yonks ago, but I've finally bothered to watch it thanks to the Series 7 box set. It has more point and amusement than your average DW prequel/short/thing, at least.

Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited
1x05 The Fifth Doctor

Friends
4x09 The One Where They're Going to Party! [4th or so watch]

this week on 100 Films

Lots to report this week -- it's been a very busy one on 100 Films in a Year.

Firstly, it's now November, so here's the monthly update for October. It's mainly filled with my next topic...

In honour of Halloween last Thursday, the past seven days have been the Week of the Living Dead for 100 Films. All six reviews are summarised in chronological order at that link.

...but even then that wasn't all this week, oh no. In total there were seven brand-new reviews published in the past seven days. In alphabetical order, they were:


Dawn of the Dead (1978)
The film is rich with analogy and symbolism for them that wants it; what’s kind of depressing is that so many viewers today don’t. I’m a fan of a well-constructed largely-mindless action movie as much as the next Bloke, on the right occasion, but that’s now what Romero was purporting to construct. It’s not “pretentious” to see these themes, because that’s why he made the film.
Read more here.


Day of the Dead (1985)
the darkest and most nihilistic of all Romero’s films, lacking the humour that played such a significant role in Dawn. It’s not as if Night was rolling in laughs, but... there are no villains — characters conflict, but their motives are all understandable. Day has a clear-cut villain: the base’s new commander, Captain Rhodes, a power-mad borderline-caricature of small man syndrome. This is where that B-movie thing comes in: he’s eminently quotable, but he’s also thoroughly unlikeable.
Read more here.


Diary of the Dead (2007)
a greater focus on action and gore than ever before. The first three films limit the majority of their violence to a final-act brawl... but here we’re given a smattering throughout, with no all-or-nothing finale. That’s not a bad thing, but it makes it feel more pervasive — even more so than Land, which was an action-adventure movie through and through.
Read more here.


Land of the Dead (2005)
clearly bursting with Romero’s usual socio-political analogies and commentary. There’s the rich/poor divide and the abundance of entertainment; there’s certainly some post-9/11 thoughts, and perhaps post-Katrina too; perhaps the zombies represent foreign nationals, either breaking in or kicking off a revolution; and there are freedom fighters within too, who are incarcerated and apparently tortured without trial...
Read more here.


Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The Walking Dead, Warm Bodies, World War Z… zombies seem to be everywhere at the minute (generally in things beginning with ‘W’, for some reason), and generating big business. But this particular subgenre began 45 years ago, in a simple black & white independent movie, made for less than 1% of Brad Pitt’s salary for World War Z.
Read more here.


Survival of the Dead (2009)
There are, unquestionably, better zombie movies written and directed by George A. Romero, but I think here he’s produced one of his most watchable; one that can be as entertaining as the others, is still at times as innovative, and does even support a deeper reading, if you’re prepared to look for it. The film not only shows us that the dead can survive, but that so should Romero’s reputation.
Read more here.


Toy Story of Terror! (2013)
a mash-up of horror-trope-spoofery and usual kids’ tale Toy Story antics, pretty much divided half-and-half around the midpoint. Which is no bad thing when it’s all so much fun. The horror movie stuff early on is a suitable tribute to the genre, packed with atmosphere. Of course it’s kid-friendly and so not really scary, but there are plenty of nice references and a solid mystery
Read more here.


And on top of all that, one review was new to the new blog...


2012 (2009)
The end of the world occurs courtesy of messy CGI. I’ve seen better graphics in current-generation computer games than some of the sequences here. And there’s too much of it. Letting Emmerich’s imagination — and budget — run rampant means there’s an assault of imagery that’s just too much for one film.
Read more here.


More next Sunday.