My Cultural Experience: August 2011

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

TV

The Great British Bake Off
2x03 Episode 3
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

My Favourite Joke
Episode 5 (of 6)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Penn & Teller: Fool Us
1x08 Episode 8 [season finale]
For some reason shown three weeks after the last episode, it's nice to have an extra burst of this super show. And apparently there's a Christmas special too. Grand.
And, in a case so rare it may break the whole internet, the review I've linked to above is dreadful but the comment section (OK, the only comment there) is rather good. That's not right at all.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

Pointless
4x59 (25/8/11 edition)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Articles

8 awesome sci-fi movie skins that mess with your MacBook Apple by Scott Edelman
(from blastr)
Does what it says on the tin. Most are film inspired, of course.

The IT Crowd creator: 'Twitter put TV back in the crowd' by Andrew Laughlin
(from Digital Spy)
The headline makes it sound like a quick quote spun out into a news article, but it's actually a slightly longer piece on the relevance and usefulness of twitter.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

TV

Dragons' Den
9x05 Episode 5
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Pointless
4x58 (24/8/11 edition)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Films

Browncoats: Redemption (2010)
[#77 in 100 Films in a Year 2011]
Charity-benefitting fan film set in the Firefly/Serenity 'verse. One for forgiving die hard fans only. Available to buy on DVD or Blu-ray for another 29 hours only from the official website.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Sunday, 28 August 2011

TV

Epic Win
1x01 Episode 1
Thoroughly daft... but what did you expect? Good fun for it.

Grand Designs Australia
1x07 Fish Creek Church House
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Ocean Giants
Part 2 Deep Thinkers (of 3)
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Proms 2011
Prom 40 Comedy Prom
Another excellent Prom, and this one a first too. Can't say I ever expected to see Tim Minchin in a Prince Charles mask playing the Doctor Who theme on a keytar in the Royal Albert Hall... but now I have, I'm ever so glad. (You can see it too.)
The programme for this Prom, such as it is, can be read here.
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Comics

2000 AD #1745

I really ought to make an even bigger effort to catch up: apparently the Dredd story in prog 1749 (out Wednesday in shops, with subscribers (including me) since yesterday) has a big surprise at the end... and big surprises mean not wanting it spoiled and wanting to keep up with The Conversation, as it were, so... yeah...

Also, apparently prog 1750 will be another all-number-1s jumping-on prog. That didn't turn out so well last time, with a collection of stories that still felt halfway through even if they were technically first parts... but it got me started, so clearly it wasn't a total failure. Still, perhaps they've made a greater effort for the round-number-ness of 1750?

Finally, the ECBT 2000AD reviews for this prog can be found here, here, here, here and here.

this week on 100 Films

No new reviews on 100 Films in a Year this week, but I did mark reaching #75 by creating a list of 25 films I own that I really should have seen.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

TV

Doctor Who
32x08 Let's Kill Hitler
Well, I thoroughly enjoyed that. I'm concerned that in retrospect it might look more like four people stood around in a series of rooms explaining things to each other, but at least they ran around a bit between the rooms and it was quite funny. And Rory was as brilliant as ever.
And the title was worth it for the twitter trend #letskillhitler, half fed by people exclaiming that he's already dead. Idiots. (I mean, obviously he is dead, but look at the bloody trend and see why it's bloody trending. Idiots.)
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Proms 2011
Prom 39 Spaghetti Western Orchestra
This was incredible, I thought -- so much fun, and brilliant music to boot. It's on iPlayer for the rest of the week, I urge you to check it out. Plus, the full programme can be read here.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Films

Nirvana (1997)
[#75 in 100 Films in a Year 2011]

The Radio Times described this as "one of the best science-fiction films ever made. Yet few people outside Italy have seen it." So when it was on BBC Two last night, it felt like a must-see -- it's not available on DVD over here, never even been classified by the BBFC.

It's an Italian film (you may have guessed), but the version shown by the Beeb was the US one: acquired by Miramax, they did their usual foreign film hatchet job, chopping out over quarter of an hour and dubbing it into English. I don't know what difference the cuts made (have to research that before writing my review, I suppose), but the dubbing doesn't help, oscillating between awkward accents with broken English (Christopher Lambert dubs himself) and regular stereotypically bad voice acting.

It's an interesting film, with some interesting ideas, but some plot threads seem unfocused -- possibly they're too thematically-minded and I missed a little of what they were aiming at. In this bastardised form, at least, I'd be loathe to call it one of the best sci-fi flicks ever.

I'm tempted to get the uncut, original language, and apparently very good quality, Italian DVD... but I'd also point out that, if you're interested, the English-language version is available on iPlayer for the next week.

Friday, 26 August 2011

TV

Natural World
Heligan: Secrets of the Lost Gardens
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

The Rob Brydon Show
2x05 Episode 5
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Fiction

Torchwood: Long Time Dead by Sarah Pinborough
Chapters 8-9
Two things: one, Pinborough seems to have an obsession with ageing geeky men who've never had relationships at all/of significance -- why? Two, how come everyone Suzie meets has met Torchwood in some way and now wants to kill themselves? Is this going somewhere -- everyone in Cardiff has been touched by Torchwood, that kind of thing -- or are we only seeing the ones who have and that's making it feel awkwardly coincidental that she keeps passing them? Fingers crossed these things have a reason or some sense to them, otherwise they'll just keep niggling...

Articles

Lots of exciting news today...

Charlie Brooker detective spoof Touch of Cloth arrives on Sky1 by Alex Fletcher
(from Digital Spy)
Shame about the channel but, otherwise, this sounds like it's worth looking forward to. The headline pretty much encapsulates why.

Daredevil #1 Audio Edition
(from Marvel)
This is rather appropriate (considering the titular character is blind): the first issue of the acclaimed relaunch of Daredevil is now available as an audio edition for the visually impaired. It's all been done in-house at Marvel -- the writer describes the panels, various editors do the voices -- making it seem more like a pet project they've let out than a fully-commissioned idea, but hey, it's still good for those who can't see well/at all.

The Hour renewed for second series by Catriona Wightman
(from Digital Spy)
Didn't expect that, but it's welcome -- despite an iffy start, I thought it had got rather good by the end. And BBC Two's first recommissioned original British drama in over a decade?! Crikey!

Rock Version of Silent Film Classic Metropolis to Hit Theatres This Fall by Borys Kit
(from The Hollywood Reporter)
Never mind theatres, it's also coming out on DVD and Blu-ray in November! This is great news. Some consider the shortened, colourised, rock-scored version of Metropolis to be a horrible bastardisation, and they have a point, but considering we now have the most-complete-available version of the original film released in fantastic DVD and Blu-ray editions, it's nice to have a chance to see this '80s oddity as well -- and in full HD too, not to mention with a couple of worthwhile special features (a restoration documentary, Moroder introduction, original trailer and photo gallery).
No idea if there's going to be a UK release, quite possibly not, so I'll definitely be pre-ordering the US BD when I can.

Collection Count

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

This week, the complete Due South gives a nice boost to the totals of discs and TV episodes -- and means I can finally watch the 14 episodes the BBC didn't bother to show during their repeat run! Hurrah!

And a package full of Blu-rays from America that I wasn't expecting until next week at least (bonus!) is largely responsible for the boost to films and, again, discs. Hurrah!

Plus, the Sin City saga finally comes to an end as bee.com manage to provide me with a copy that has the full compliment of correct discs! Hurrah! (This shouldn't need to be such a celebration, eh.)

There's a couple of other things in there, too -- a big week all round, then, but I think it'll be a little quieter for a little while now. Probably for the best.

Number of titles in collection: 1,370 [up 11]
Of which DVDs: 1,132 [up 3]
Of which Blu-rays: 238 [up 8]

Number of discs in collection: 3,392 [up 31]
Number of films in collection: 1,444 [up 12]
Number of TV episodes in collection: 5,100 [up 73]

See you next week, faithful reader.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

TV

Torchwood: Miracle Day
4x07 Immortal Sins
A change of pace is always good, as is learning more about what Jack got up to in the past. But did my ears deceive me, or did Jack mention "the tracer brigade" in a context that seemed like it should have been a reference to the Trickster's Brigade from Sarah Jane? Maybe I misheard...
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Wilfred
1x01 Happiness
1x02 Trust
BBC Three's latest acquisition: a US remake of an Australian sitcom in which a man sees his neighbour's dog as an Aussie bloke in a dog suit. It's at least as barmy as it sounds, and very adult-orientated. Which means vulgarity. But despite that, it's also often very funny.

Articles

Nick Helm's password joke is Edinburgh Fringe funniest
(from BBC News)
The top ten funniest jokes from this year's Fringe, as voted for by the public. All ten are at the link, naturally (as is the joke voted worst of the festival), but the winner goes thusly:
I needed a password eight characters long so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

TV

The Great British Bake Off
2x02 Episode 2
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Pointless
4x56 (22/8/11 edition)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Single-Handed
2x06 A Cold Heaven Part 2 [season finale]
Excellent finale. Seems like a real turning point for Driscoll too, moving from slavishly following the law and what's Right to just doing the right thing. That makes it either a good ending to the series, or the next run could have a slightly different flavour. Hopefully there'll be more, though, because it's quietly brilliant.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

Articles

Conan The Barbarian Scripter Answers: “What’s It Like To Flop At The Box Office?” by Nikki Finke & Sean Hood
(from Deadline)
Conan was just one of several movies to flop at the US box office this past weekend. Here, one of its screenwriters explains what it feels like to be on the bad side of a big movie not being big.

Doctor Who's Global Takeover by Jace Lacob
(from The Daily Beast)
A pretty interesting interview -- not entirely filled with the usual completely-repetitive hype-led interviews you see pre-series (which tend to offer the same information in different configurations with one or two new tidbits at best) -- with Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat.
(Incidentally, the author/interviewer sounds like he's got the first letters of his names the wrong way round...)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

TV

The Hour
1x05 Episode 5
1x06 Episode 6 [season finale]
A rather good final pair of episodes, I thought -- normally I'd've waited a week-ish before catching the finale, but the penultimate episode and its Next Time trailer led me to watch the last one live. A particularly tense closing episode, I thought, even if the thriller element was ultimately a little too complex for its own good, perhaps, or maybe inadequately explained.
Still, I enjoyed it overall, and another run would be welcome. Mixed critical reception and falling ratings may have seen to that, though.
[Watch episodes five and six (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Pointless
4x55 (19/8/11 edition)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Comics

2000 AD #1744
Catch-up is not progressing as one might have hoped. Must try harder still.
Incidentally, for added value, check out the strip-by-strip reviews of every prog posted at Everything Comes Back to 2000AD. The five for this issue can be found here, here, here, here and here... though sadly they've replaced one of their three regulars with someone who seems perpetually grumpy at every strip being halfway through, despite the fact he chose not to catch up on the previous parts.

Monday, 22 August 2011

TV

Dragons' Den
9x04 Episode 4
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Pointless
4x54 (18/8/11 edition)
Not entirely sure what went wrong with my listing of Pointless viewing, but I definitely watched this episode today (not Saturday, as previously listed). Maybe I included it on autopilot. (Not that it matters, or that anyone would've noticed. It would've bugged me if I hadn't corrected it, though.)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Articles

The DCnU LOGOS - 'ALL NEW' 52 of 'Em
(from Newsarama)
I like logos. No, I do -- I've actually been looking forward to this inevitable big reveal. Just me? Maybe. But I like it. So ner.

Eileen Atkins pulls out of Upstairs Downstairs by Paul Jones
(from Radio Times)
According to the article she "was unconvinced by the direction of the latest scripts". Ouch. That's some bitingly honest criticism -- you'd expect no comment, or something blandly generic. Hope this doesn't bode badly as I liked the first run at New Year.

Grant Morrison on the Death of Comics by Brian Hiatt
(from Rolling Stone)
Morrison clearly has lots of Opinions, and he's not at all afraid to share them, which makes for a grandly interesting interview.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

TV

Grand Designs Australia
1x06 Hamptons House
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Ocean Giants
Part 1 Giant Lives (of 3)
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Films

Glorious 39 (2009)
[#74 in 100 Films in a Year 2011]
I've owned this on DVD since it came out, but chose to watch it on iPlayer because it was available in HD. And it was worth it, I felt. There's no UK Blu-ray release for goodness knows what reason, but there is an American one.

Fiction

Torchwood: Long Time Dead by Sarah Pinborough
Chapters 5-7
Ooh, ok, some wonderfully nasty/creepy twists here, and there may be more to Cutler's (apparent) Retconning than met the eye. I take it back, for now, and reserve my judgement.

Articles

Weekend Report: The Help Reigns Over Gutless Conan, Fright Night by Brandon Gray
(from Box Office Mojo)

It was a box-office bloodbath for Conan the Barbarian and Fright Night among others over the weekend.

...The top-grossing new release, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, mustered just $12 million... It's the worst-performing Spy Kids movie by far, grossing a little over a third of the last one, Spy Kids 3D: Game Over... It even fell short of Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore from last summer.

...Conan the Barbarian went the way of past August fantasy/ancient action movies and flopped hard... Fright Night was even less attractive [with a gross] which was low even by the modest standards of unromantic vampire movies.

Ouch.

this week on 100 Films

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

My Neighbour Totoro (1988)
a charming story, where very little of significance seems to happen, yet is never dull or overly stately. It works to build a lot of character and affection, so that by the climax, when something definitely does happen, all the work that’s gone into the characters really pays off. It doesn’t whack you round the head with its impressiveness, but instead sneaks up on you with the realisation that it’s a beautiful work.

Source Code (2011)
Duncan Jones is clearly a good director, constructing a credible mid-scale thriller here (the same could be said about the work of screenwriter Ben Ripley, or the performances of any and all members of the cast) with a few flashier elements that stand out (in a good way), but I presume his previous effort showed more promise, because Source Code is hardly groundbreaking. It's certainly a solid, dual-pronged, science-fiction mystery, but not an especially deep or complex work.

More next Sunday.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

TV

Dexter
5x04 Beauty and the Beast
And the plot proper finally gets underway. This seems to have provoked complaints in some circles, but personally I like the slightly different tack they've taken to storytelling. When your whole season is always one long story, it makes sense to change it up -- it makes it a "novel for television" and all that, and we expect such basic variation of format in novels in a series, so what's wrong with it on TV? Nothing. It's grand. So there.
(Incidentally, I'm a little surprised it's taken them until the fifth season to use that episode title.)

Law & Order: UK
5x06 Deal [season finale]
Ooh, cliffhanger! Considering Jamie Bamber has since been in a (failed, sadly) US pilot and has a US guest spot or two lined up, I wouldn't be surprised if the resolution to said cliffhanger is the obvious. Then again, maybe the plan was to shoot L&O in US filming gaps. I guess we'll find out whenever series six begins... which, according to this, is very soon in the US (where it'll just continue on as one long series). How annoying.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

My Favourite Joke
Episode 4 (of 6)
Lots of old stuff in this one. I don't mind -- I'm more likely to discover stuff I've not seen -- but it does make their inability to play the clips in full all the more frustrating.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Fiction

Torchwood: Long Time Dead by Sarah Pinborough
Prologue
Chapters 1-4


This had to be the oddest choice of subject for the three Miracle Day prequel novels: it's conceivable that we might want to know how Gwen and Rhys got from the end of Children of Earth to their seclusion at the start of Miracle Day; it's conceivable we might like to learn more about Rex before we met him getting stabbed through the chest in a road accident; but do we really need a second revival of Suzie Costello and a peripheral connection to PC Andy? Well, we'll see -- great novels have been written for lesser reasons.

There's a slight potential problem/irritation for readers, though, in my opinion: by making the lead hero character a new one, DI Tom Cutler, we're ahead of him. A few chapters in and he has a weird fascination with the remains of the Hub and a figure he half remembers dressed in a Second World War greatcoat. If you're enough of a Torchwood fan to buy this novel, it's eminently obvious he's been Retconned and that figure is Jack even before the coat is mentioned. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe there's some twist here, but if there isn't and this goes too long… well, you need a good idea to make it still work when the reader is five steps ahead of your characters.

Articles

A closer look at DC’s ‘New 52′ commercial by Kevin Melrose
(from Robot 6 at Comic Book Resources)
DC's promised big push for their relaunched New 52 begins with this, the TV commercial. Unfortunately, for all the reasons Melrose points out, it really isn't very good.

Friday, 19 August 2011

TV

Pointless
4x53 (17/8/11 edition)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

The Rob Brydon Show
2x04 Episode 4
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Films

Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993)
[2nd watch]
At least, I'm pretty sure I've seen it before -- unlike the first one, I didn't remember any of it.

Fiction

Torchwood: First Born by James Goss
Pages 211-251 [the end]

I didn't start reading this until the second one arrived, but I've finished it as the third one lands on my doormat -- read it at about the right speed, then. Now I just need to completely self-motivate myself to read the next two. Oh dear...

Anyway, as for the end of this one... It turned out quite good, I think. The friendly-alien-explorers, humans-are-actually-the-nasty-ones stuff is hardly revelatory (I'm sure Torchwood has done it before, never mind science fiction in general), but it works well enough. A decent enough tie-in novel, then.

I think the next two could be more interesting in their role as Miracle Day prequels, though. Here we have the only surviving Torchwood member and her Torchwood-member-in-all-but-name hubby solving a Torchwood-y case -- very tie-in-novel-normal, and barely at all connected to Miracle Day. Book two, however, features some minor supporting character dealing with some Torchwood-y clean-up -- will that have anything to do with Miracle Day either? How much do we need to learn about the remains of the Hub, the remains of Suzie Costello (who I thought had been completely dealt with ages ago), and the activities of PC Andy (assuming he's in it all that much -- he's not mentioned in the plot outline)? Could be an odd'un.

And then the third book stars Rex... who'd never heard of Torchwood before Miracle Day episode one and was just a regular CIA agent (it seemed), not versed in extraterrestrial-type cases. And Jack apparently didn't know him in Miracle Day either, so it's not likely to turn out to be some Retcon-fuelled business. Most intriguing how they'll work round that, I think -- could be an odd'un also. Whether that's a good or bad thing for either book, I don't know...

Articles

Zombie Invades Couple’s Wedding Photos by Whitney Jefferson
(from Jezebel)
Now this is funny. The full set of photos, in case you somehow miss the link, is here.

Collection Count

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

Just a couple of new additions this update -- but it's also the monthly running time update, and that's always exciting!

There should've been slightly more new titles to add, but for the second time my attempt at buying Sin City on Blu-ray has fallen through. Those with exceptional memories may remember when I tried in March: I was sent a copy with two Disc 1s and no Disc 2. This time, over a week after the due dispatch date, ASDA Entertainment -- one of The Hut Group's many, many subsidiaries -- decided they didn't actually have any stock after all so wouldn't be fulfilling my order. No Hut-run website is especially reliable so I'm not all that surprised.

Third time lucky? Maybe. We'll see... probably in another five months or something.

Number of titles in collection: 1,359 [up 2]
Of which DVDs: 1,129 [up 1]
Of which Blu-rays: 230 [up 1]

Number of discs in collection: 3,361 [up 3]
Number of films in collection: 1,432 [up 2]
Number of TV episodes in collection: 5,027 [no change]

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

Total running time of collection (approx.):
242 days, 12 hours, and 26 minutes.
(Up 23 hours and 7 minutes from last month.)

That's the smallest monthly increase since March 2010! Well I never.

See you next week, faithful reader.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

TV

Pointless
4x52 (16/8/11 edition)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Single-Handed
2x05 A Cold Heaven Part 1
Things aren't looking good for our Jack... but there's still a whole episode to go. Considering the relatively low ratings this has apparently been getting (scheduled against both Torchwood and The American Killing, I'm not massively surprised), I hope there's some comeuppances to be had in the final episode.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

Torchwood: Miracle Day
4x06 The Middle Men
On the one hand I feel this season is still improving; on the other it's still kind of... clumsy. It's lacking the right kind of subtlety that made Children of Earth so good, or makes other US imports (which is what this really is now) so popular. It's also lacking the regular utter barminess that made Torchwood so Torchwoody, actually -- I can see why so many still see it as a failure.
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Articles

Ridley Scott to direct new Blade Runner film by Justin Harp
(from Digital Spy)
Well, I didn't expect that! I knew someone had bought the rights to Blade Runner and so a prequel/sequel was inevitable (as they're not allowed to do a remake), but I didn't think Sir Ridley would sign up. This could be interesting... or disappointingly awful.

The Walking Dead: Why Frank Darabont Was Fired & The Chaotic Aftermath by Anthony Ocasio
(from Screen Rant)
Here's something I forgot to mention a few days ago. You may have heard that filmmaker Frank Darabont had left as showrunner of The Walking Dead; you may even have heard that he'd actually been fired; but this is a fuller version of what went on. Not good, really.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

TV

Dragons' Den
9x03 Episode 3
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

The Great British Bake Off
2x01 Episode 1
Mmm, cake...
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Pointless
4x51 (15/8/11 edition)
So, we have one team wondering if Winston Churchill was ever Prime Minister, which makes me despair for the state of education in this country (and they weren't even young), and a question about Pirates of the Caribbean that doesn't even acknowledge the existence of the fourth movie, which was released three months ago -- how long ago was this filmed?!
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Comics

2000 AD #1743
Despite my best intentions I'm getting increasingly, ludicrously behind with 2000 AD (prog 1747 is in shops today). Should've known this would happen. Maybe a more concerted effort to catch up...

Articles

The 30 Harshest Filmmaker-on-Filmmaker Insults In History by Jason Bailey
(from Flavorwire)
Does what it says on the tin. Some of those are very funny... and some you may well disagree with.

5 Reasons You Should Be Sure to Watch The Hour by Caroline Stanley
(from Flavorwire)
Based on this mini summary of reviews, it seems like The Hour is going down quite well Stateside -- which is more than can be said for it over here. Despite reservations, I do like it.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

TV

The Hour
1x04 Episode 4
You get the feeling The Hour is still finding its feet, trying to work out the right balance between its various themes and story threads. Unfortunately we're now two-thirds of the way through, with only two episodes to go -- it should've been in its stride long ago. It's not as bad as some say, though -- there's still good stuff here.
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Pointless
4x50 (12/8/11 edition)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Articles

Let's Kill Hitler confirmed in UK for 27th August by Chuck Foster
(from Doctor Who News Page)
The BBC finally bother to confirm what everyone's known for weeks. Also of interest here, however, is the press pack for the series (including little previews of every episode tucked inside Moffat's introduction), Radio Times' review of the episode (from last night's press screening), and Ian Wylie's transcript of the Q&A from the same.

Monday, 15 August 2011

TV

Castle
1x10 A Death in the Family [season finale]
Channel 5 aren't going straight on into season two, sadly. Original UK broadcaster Alibi are being rather cunning though: they're repeating the second season in the same slot 5 had been showing the first (Fridays at 9), starting this Friday. Very sneaky-clever of them. I don't get Alibi though, so it'll be a wait (or download) for me.
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Doctor Who
32x07a Prequel to Let's Kill Hitler
With the sixth/thirty-second series returning to our screens in a fortnight (probably), the BBC have released this under-two-minutes prequel to the mid-season opener. Like the three others it's something and nothing, but hey-ho.
There was also a screening of the episode at the BFI today, so expect the web/papers to be flooded with spoilers over the next two weeks.
[Watch it on the BBC Doctor Who website.]

Fiction

Torchwood: First Born by James Goss
Pages 167-210
Everything has taken A Turn For The Worse. Inevitable, really, but welcome -- bit of action 'n' all that. Past three-quarters now too (p.189), so this is the home straight.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

TV

Dexter
5x03 Practically Perfect

Grand Designs Australia
1x05 Lake Bennett House
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Pointless
4x49 (11/8/11 edition)
When they decided to do a round based on Sunday newspapers, I doubt they imagined it would have changed so obviously by the time it was broadcast.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Proms 2011
Prom 38 Film Music Night
I think this is the first Prom I've got round to watching/listening to this year (but I always do badly, so that's no surprise). I do have one of the first few downloaded to get round to though, and the same for the Horrible Histories one. Anyway, I love film music, so this was a good'un... though considering there's a Spaghetti Western-dedicated Prom (held the same night, due on TV later this month) I can't help but feel the main theme to Raiders of the Lost Ark would've made a better encore. Hey-ho.
The full, information-packed programme for this Prom can be read here.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Fiction

Torchwood: First Born by James Goss
Pages 128-166
Between halfway and two-thirds (p.169, but this is close enough) we appear to be getting all the answers. And they seem to have come to our heroes quite easily -- "ooh, there's a suspicious base, I wonder what's going on there. Oi, employee, what's going on? Ok, thanks for telling me everything." -- so presumably there's a revelation or two (I believe there's a hint at something in the end of the chapter I've stopped at) and some form of exciting climax still to come.

this week on 100 Films

At last, a new review has been posted to 100 Films in a Year this week! Hurrah!

And so, the most fabulous thing was...

The King's Speech (2010)
The core of the film, the screenplay, is excellent — dramatic, funny, truthful. It won Best Original Screenplay… but surely it was an adapted screenplay? It’s so grounded in real events, based (at least in part, or so I thought) on the real man’s diaries and the book that was in turn based on them. When the Adapted Screenplay nominations include films loosely inspired by short films and semi-spin-offs from TV series that don’t even feature many of the same characters, never mind actually adapting their source for the big screen, surely something like this is definitely adapted?

More next Sunday. Hopefully a lot more. But we'll see.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

TV

Castle
1x09 Little Girl Lost
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Pointless
4x47 (9/8/11 edition)
4x48 (10/8/11 edition)
Episode 47 had one of the more embarrassing finals I've witnessed... but I didn't care for one of the finalists, so I can't say I minded.
[Watch the 9/8/11 and 10/8/11 editions (again) on iPlayer.]

Ronnie Corbett's Comedy Britain
Episode 1 Comic Partnerships (of 2)
Episode 2 Solo Performance (of 2)
Ronnie Corbett takes a personal little toddle through some of the highs of British comedy from the past 50-ish years, accompanied by several modern comedy greats. Despite the presenter seeming out of place on the channel, it is quite an ITV-y show -- cheap & tacky title credits; ad break-friendly editing -- but note how the vast majority of the interviewees are what one might call 'BBC People'. For whatever reason, ITV's comedy track record really is appalling.
[Watch episodes one and two (again) on ITV Player.]

Films

Source Code (2011)
[#73 in 100 Films in a Year 2011]

Articles

BBC One's Miranda repeat tops new My Family by Paul Millar
(from Digital Spy)
BBC One's repeat of Miranda was more popular than a new episode of My Family last night. The Miranda Hart sitcom... grabbed 4.11m (19.3%) at 9.30pm... prior to that My Family amused 3.79m (13.8%).
Finally, some justice in TV viewing figures.

Big Brother isn't watching you by Russell Brand
(from guardian.co.uk)
Quite long, but Brand is surprisingly worth reading for his thoughts on the recent UK riots.

Friday, 12 August 2011

TV

How I Met Your Mother
6x24 Challenge Accepted [season finale]
Pretty mediocre episode, especially for a finale, but neat twist at the end.
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Law & Order: UK
5x05 Intent
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

The Rob Brydon Show
2x03 Episode 3
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Collection Count

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

Remember that Amazon US package that was definitely delayed and I was having to wait a frustratingly long time before they'd agree to send me a replacement?

Well, it arrived.

So they were right.

But I have it now, and that's the main thing.

Number of titles in collection: 1,357 [up 5]
Of which DVDs: 1,128 [up 2]
Of which Blu-rays: 229 [up 3]

Number of discs in collection: 3,358 [up 10]
Number of films in collection: 1,430 [up 3]
Number of TV episodes in collection: 5,027 [up 22]

See you next week, faithful reader.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

TV

Pointless
4x46 (8/8/11 edition)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Torchwood: Miracle Day
4x05 The Categories of Life
Torchwood's probably at its best when it gets dark, as here. I rather guessed where it was headed with that ending mind. We're only halfway through now so it's a good time for it to be really kicking off... but can it sustain it for the second half of the series?
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Articles

BBC's Spooks axed after a decade by Tara Conlan
(from guardian.co.uk)
While I still quite like Spooks, this is overdue. To say they're ending it "in its prime" isn't true (in my opinion, obviously) -- it's prime was years ago; the first three or four series, I think. Since then it's becoming increasingly implausible, irrelevant and repetitive. It's also interesting how they talk about it being fast-paced and densely plotted... for its time. I think that's true: when it started it was those things; now it sometimes feels slow and simplistic, or if not the latter than over-complicated in the hope of doing something different to what they've already done.
But, like I say, it's still quite good, so better to end it now than let it really decline later.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

TV

Pointless
4x45 (5/8/11 edition)
Stephen Sondheim might have written Mamma Mia!? Funniest thing I've heard in a long time.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Single-Handed
2x04 Between Two Fires Part 2
Well, maybe we'll get what I hoped for in the finale. We can add nasty cousin to the list too. And maybe some decent explanation about why Eithne seems to hate Gemma so much -- she's done nothing to her, and, in fact, has always been on Eithne's side.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

Articles

Third Window after the riots
(from Third Window Films Facebook page)
One of the many independent companies affected by the Sony DADC fire speaks out about what this means for them. I imagine the story is exactly the same at all the other small companies. Fingers crossed that they're all able to ride it out in the long term. Bleeding Cool's list of how to help such companies is being continually updated.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

TV

The Hour
1x03 Episode 3
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Pointless
4x44 (4/8/11 edition)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Fiction

Torchwood: First Born by James Goss
Pages 41-127

As the quarter-way point (p.66) approaches, the novel begins to clarify What's Going On In Rawbone… as if we hadn't guessed most of it from the blurb. But why? How? And what's it got to do with Torchwood? Thankfully, as the tale reaches its one-third point (p.86) there's some proper mystery and intrigue creeping in, and by halfway (p.127) it's getting nicely sinister, building to a cliffhanger-y almost-revelation. This all seems to have given the story the kickstart I felt it needed; it's rattling along quite decently now, much better than the early plod.

One thing, though: don't write bits of your novel in French assuming the reader will be able to understand. That was fine 150 years ago, but nowadays, not so much. Thanks.

Articles

British film distributors left reeling by financial impact of Sony/PIAS warehouse fire by Henry Barnes & Andrew Pulver
(from guardian.co.uk)
Attacked and burnt down last night during the London riots, the Sony distribution centre in Enfield held a lot of stock for most/all of the UK's independent film and music labels. Whilst it's largely insured, the time to restock and find new distribution models could have a hugely detrimental effect on these already-struggling companies. Not good. Bleeding Cool have a suggestion for how to help.

Will DC Comics Drop Their UK Print Prices To Match Digital? by Rich Johnston
(from Bleeding Cool)
The UK release of US comics has always felt like it must be a bit of an afterthought to me -- understandably, really, as these are US publishing companies and the UK must be a much smaller market -- but it feels like our significance is increasing (or, I suppose, that I underestimated it) of late. For instance, the only reason we're not getting midnight sales of the New 52 launch (which they're holding in the US) is that there's a Bank Holiday in the way. And now, they're talking about putting a fixed UK price on the covers of the books (something that doesn't currently happen, obviously) and bringing the price down too (so that it's in line with digital). Great for consumers, but not necessarily so great for comic shops, would could be losing a significant percentage of profit on each book, potentially. Interesting times.

Monday, 8 August 2011

TV

Pointless
4x42 (2/8/11 edition)
4x43 (3/8/11 edition)
Highest-ever jackpot! Oo-ooh! But poor Glen and Carron -- stymied twice.
[Watch the 2/8/11 and 3/8/11 editions (again) on iPlayer.]

Sunday, 7 August 2011

TV

Dragons' Den
9x02 Episode 2
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Gracie!
BBC Four drama about singer and comedienne Gracie Fields and her relationship with Italian film director Monty Banks, starring Jane Horrocks and Tom Hollander, first shown a little under two years ago. The film also details Gracie's fall from the public's affections thanks to lies printed in the papers. Some things never change...

Grand Designs Australia
1x04 Clovelly House
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Films

Sucker Punch: Extended Cut (2011)
[#72 in 100 Films in a Year 2011]

DVD Extras

Sucker Punch: Behind the Soundtrack

and

Sucker Punch: Animated Shorts
Feudal Warriors
The Trenches
Dragon
Distant Planet

Aside from a Maximum Movie Mode*, these are the only extras on the Sucker Punch Blu-ray, and they run under three minutes each. The first is a brief (obviously) look at the film's intriguing soundtrack. It's clearly designed to be promotional, but incidentally reveals a few interesting tidbits. (An even shorter version of it is linked to above.)

The animated shorts are 'prequels' that detail the background to the fantasy worlds visited in the film. It's the kind of thing you know can't be that essential because otherwise it'd be in the film itself -- The Trenches doesn't have much to do, for instance, because that world is explained in the movie -- but a couple of them are quite good anyway. Distant Planet in particular, as that felt one of the more under-explained environments to me. (All can be watched in full at the above links.)

* which, in fairness, could be very good -- it's potentially a feature-length making-of/commentary, after all.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

TV

Castle
1x08 Ghosts
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Dexter
5x02 Hello, Bandit
Thought they'd do that with the kids. Storytellingly wise.

Horrible Histories with Stephen Fry
1x06 Episode 6 [season finale]
Very much enjoyed this; can see why it's garnered so much praise & so many awards. And now I've got all of the third series recorded to watch at some point -- super!
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

My Favourite Joke
Episode 3 (of 6)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Fiction

Torchwood: First Born by James Goss
Pages 1-40

The first of three novels acting as prequels to the current series of Torchwood. (Well, it's the first published, but all the lists inside the book suggest it's the second. But I think they're all unrelated, so it doesn't matter either way. Anyway, I thought it best to get a wriggle on with this first/second novel because the second/first novel was out imminently, then the second/first arrived in today's post, so I was right. Super.)

Normally I catalogue how much I've read with chapter numbers, and while First Born does have chapters, rather than being all radical and calling them, I dunno, "Chapter 1" (etc.) it instead shifts about viewpoints and just titles each chapter (or "section", I suppose) after which character we're following... so page numbers to chart my progress it is. I'm sure you don't mind/care, dear reader(s).

This shifting perspective also, in this case, means first-person narration. I don't like first-person narration very much generally, and I don't think it works here. You have to get inside the head of the characters in a way that doesn't often fit for a tie-in novel, especially when some of those characters are supporting roles that are written/played quite broadly on TV -- fine on screen as support, but as the lead narration for a chunk of novel? Awkward.

(Or maybe it's just that Goss hasn't quite captured them right -- but my first suggestion was kinder, eh.)

And with the narrator switching around all the time -- occasionally mid-scene -- it's sometimes harder than it should be to remember who the "I" in question is.

But hey-ho, we'll see how the rest of it goes.

Articles

Harry Potter stars say final scene was a challenge for the ages by Geoff Boucher
(from Hero Complex at Los Angeles Times)
I assumed this would be a fluff piece basically saying "ooh, playing 20 years older was hard, man!", but it's actually a decent article about the difficulties of shooting Deathly Hallows Part 2's epilogue. Be warned, though, if you haven't seen the film there are photos that spoil the old-age make-up (if you care, of course).

Friday, 5 August 2011

TV

How I Met Your Mother
6x23 Landmarks
[Watch it (again) on 4oD.]

Penn & Teller: Fool Us
1x07 Episode 7
This seems to have had mixed reviews and fluctuating ratings, so I guess a second series doesn't look promising. But there's a Christmas special at least! And, apparently, another episode at the end of August, which is a bit random.
[Watch it (again) on ITV Player.]

Pointless
4x41 (1/8/11 edition)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

The Rob Brydon Show
2x02 Episode 2
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Collection Count

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

Number of titles in collection: 1,352 [up 2]
Of which DVDs: 1,126 [no change]
Of which Blu-rays: 226 [up 2]

Number of discs in collection: 3,348 [up 5]
Number of films in collection: 1,427 [up 3]
Number of TV episodes in collection: 5,005 [no change]

See you next week, faithful reader.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

TV

No Ordinary Family
1x15 No Ordinary Powell
The Jim vs 'Jim' fight was good, and perhaps a couple of other bits were too, but otherwise this was an episode stuffed with stupidity. If you know there's a shapeshifter about, would you really trust anyone so readily? And would you except they're the real person off a few current-life details? And would you happily discuss your one and only weakness out in the open? Daftness. Which I suppose I should expect by now.

Pointless
4x40 (29/7/11 edition)
Or, Episode #150.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Torchwood: Miracle Day
4x04 Escape to L.A.
This season is improving with every episode, I think. Which is good, because I didn't think it started as well as people would've liked. It would be really nice if they sorted out the technical issues though -- every other US series looks fine on British TV, so what's with all the smearing/ghosting/etc? It bugs me.
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Articles

The Strange and Twisted Tale of...The Movie That Grossed $30.00 by Rob Brunner
(from EW.com)
You may have heard of this before: Zyzzyx Road, which was shown on one screen once a day in Texas for a week in 2006 for legal reasons, and only six people saw it. Around Christmas 2006 it was picked up on and laughed at; this article, from February 2007, discusses the true story behind the 'flop' -- note the "legal reasons" I mentioned, and that it was "shown" not released.
Anyway, you can read the article for all that; the reason I mention it is: this article is four-and-a-half years old and in it they're talking about a possible theatrical and/or DVD release for the film in the US -- as far as I'm aware, this still hasn't happened. (It's not available over here either.)

Masters of Cinema / Masters of Cinema - completely different, obviously!

MoC vs. Phaidon
(from Masters of Cinema)

DVD publisher Eureka Entertainment are currently battling it out with much-bigger-company Phaidon, a book publisher who have recently decided to name a series of books "The Masters of Cinema Series", which Eureka has been using as a brand name for DVDs and Blu-rays for about seven years.

The books in question were originally published in French under a completely different title, so it's not as if Phaidon have just done a simple translation job -- they've (possibly deliberately) just nicked someone else's established brand.

When alerted to this fact, Phaidon decided it didn't matter -- books and DVDs are different, they say. I'm sure they'd be delighted if someone started releasing a series of DVDs as "The Phaidon Collection" without asking; never mind the fact that Eureka regularly get requests for information about "their books" from both professional trade and regular consumers -- clearly there is crossover and confusion.

Unfortunately for Phaidon, the very audience for these arty/intellectual film books is rallying behind the original Masters of Cinema on twitter, where MoC are hoping to enact some kind of fan-led change of mind from the publisher (see #badPhaidon for more) without having to resort to expensive legal proceedings -- other legal avenues have already been explored and shot down by Phaidon. Eureka want to protect their brand, but it's clearly going to cost them and that's always bad for the consumer -- less cash to put into releases and all that.

That's more or less the state of it anyway, though this official statement on the MoC website explains it more clearly (and in more detail).

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

TV

Dexter
5x01 My Bad
The new (well, new to the UK -- it was on about a year ago in the States -- and, actually, is already about halfway through on FX over here) season of Dexter kicks off with a lot of having to deal with last season's shock twist/cliffhanger. Makes sense that it has to do so, but it makes for a slightly plodding and frustrating first episode. And with the FBI hanging around, it's clearly not done yet. Still, fingers crossed things pick up from here.

Pointless
4x39 (28/7/11 edition)
Ouch, that Bourne round result was killer! (He he he.)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Top Gear
17x06 (31/7/11 edition) [season finale]
As soon as it arrived, it's gone again. That's how it feels, anyway, even though it has been six weeks.
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Articles

Internet Explorer story was bogus
(from BBC News)
A story which suggested that users of Internet Explorer have a lower IQ than people who chose other browsers appears to have been an elaborate hoax.
It's probably true though, if they actually researched it.
Either way:
A number of media organisations, including the BBC, reported on the research
Oops! Now who's got a low IQ.
And just to compound the effect, they've for some reason posted this story twice. Oops!

Lost Alfred Hitchcock film found in New Zealand by Paul Chapman
(from The Telegraph)
"This is one of the most significant developments in memory for scholars, critics, and admirers of Hitchcock's extraordinary body of work."
It's not actually a film directed by Hitchcock though, but it was one for which he "wrote the scenario, designed the sets, edited the footage and served as assistant director". Interesting stuff.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

TV

The Hour
1x02 Episode 2
This is apparently getting quite slagged off in the press, but I'm liking it. It's not perfect, but it has enough going for it to hold my attention.
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

My Favourite Joke
Episode 2 (of 6)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Pointless
4x38 (27/7/11 edition)
Best. Round. Ever. (And make sure you keep watching 'til the end, it's worth it.)
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

The Tudors
4x10 Death of a Monarchy [series finale]
And that's that, then. A decent finale, especially the last five or ten minutes; the vision with the horse and the skull-headed rider was particularly beautiful, I thought. The last few screens of text to let viewers know what happened was welcome, even if I imagine most British viewers were very aware of the fates of Henry's children; I'd be more interested to know what became of supporting characters like Wifey #6 or Edward Seymour. But I guess that's what Wikipedia is for.
The Tudors on the whole has been of variable quality -- just for one example, take how the first half of this season was a tad slow while the second seemed to rush through events -- but I will miss it a little bit. At least there's a raft of pretenders to the throne to perhaps fill the gap... even if one of them is already cancelled.