iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
Since I'm on the LonCon panel to discuss the Hugo Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form nominees I thought It might be helpful to get my thoughts in order. And in the case of Orphan Black, actually get around to watching the show. That always helps.

Orphan Black, Season One: 'Variations Under Domestication'
Read more... )
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
My wife and I have seized the opportunity to attend WorldCon while it's in London this August. It took some determined childcare planning (and our daughters have been duly bribed/compensated with a family holiday) but it's happening!

Not only that, but I'm delighted to say I've been invited onto a panel at LonCon:

2014 Hugo Awards: Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
Saturday 11:00 - 12:00

The actual nominees under discussion are here.

Having never done this before, at this stage I'm feeling slightly under-qualified, but since a few people may be wandering over to this fairly moribund blog, here's a quick roundup of my published reviews.

Film Reviews

V for Vendetta

X-Men: The Last Stand

Spider-man 3

Iron Man

Star Trek (2009)

TV Reviews

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Season One)

Torchwood (Season One)

Babylon 5: The Lost Tales

Primeval (Season One)

Doctor Who: School Reunion

Smaller contributions

SF Signal - Mind Meld: Battlestar Galactica Series Finale (waaay down at the bottom)

Strange Horizons: 2007 in Review

Strange Horizons : 2006 in Review

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Yes, my eldest daughter is currently obsessed by Frozen, why do you ask?

TV roundup

Jan. 20th, 2012 11:13 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
It's ages since I said anything about any television series that doesn't involve Time Lords, so here goes.

Eternal Law )

Castle )

The Big Knights )

Sherlock )

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
Last night we went to the soon-to-be-refurbished Newcastle Theatre Royal to see Yes, Prime Minister, a new stage play from the original TV writers. With an all new cast, naturally.

Read more... )

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
We've been watching the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series from the start. We've just made it to 'The Final Problem', featuring Holmes's apparent death and the final appearance of Watson #1, whom I think I marginally prefer to Watson #2 for his eagerness and fantastically deadpan bemusement. I'm not sure what more I can say about Brett's merits as Holmes except that rewatching these episodes has reminded me just how very good he was in the role, particularly early on. Athletic, eccentric, rude, bursting with nervous energy, and the very image of what you want Holmes to be.

There's also a realism that this Granada series derives from having been shot on location that puts it streets ahead of any amount of over-dressed ye olde england sets, plush smoking jackets and fake pea-souper fogs. When you've seen Matt Frewer as Holmes (and generally speaking I have nothing against Matt Frewer) you realise just how badly wrong Holmes can go when treated like a Disneyland attraction. Brett's Holmes and the world he inhabits are perfectly real -- despite being inhabited by a parade of Victorian grotesques.

Despite all this I remain inexplicably positive about the ludicrous Guy Ritchie romp starring Robert Downey Jr. I put this down to an ability to compartmentalise.

On a related note I'm not sure how I missed this news that Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are making a modern day version of Holmes starring the improbably named Benedict Cumberbatch. If it weren't for the writers I'd dismiss this out of hand. With these writers, well, I'll give it a chance.

Plus they've just found the Giant Rat of (Somewhere Near) Sumatra.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Dalek Fandom)
They've done what I would have done and dressed him older to contrast with Matt Smith's relative youth. Sort of like Indiana Jones in his day job, actually, but with modern footwear

.

Not blown away by it, and less impressed than I was with Tennant's first costume reveal, but it works. This is an official BBC release, but now we just need some proper promo pics.

EDIT: More pics here.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
Nothing new to report on the Bump front, so here's some nice eye candy that distracted me last night.

Here's a really impressive trailer for a film that was completely off my radar, Daybreakers. Stars Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe, and set in a world in which Vampires are the majority and humans the hunted underclass. Pushes all my buttons, really.

The surprisingly good, even mature looking (I know, I know), trailer for Torchwood's Children of Earth mini-series (running in five parts Mon to Fri in a single week.)

I'm intrigued by the Johnny Depp / Christian Bale / Michael Mann gangster flick Public Enemies, even if the trailer is just an abridged version of the entire film as far as I can tell. Although he can be quirky and mannered as an actor, Depp is such a chameleon sometimes.

And BIG 'SPLODY THINGS. Roland Emmerich destroying the world again in 2012. Unlike Transformers, the astonishing spectacle of this one may actually lure me to the cinema against my better judgement.

Finally, and on a slight tangent, I'm a complete nerd sometimes but this CGI image from a forthcoming Trek calendar is just stunningly beautiful. In a nerdy way. (From the blog of Doug Drexler, an FX guy from Trek / BSG.)

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
A gracious open letter from creator Josh Friedman on the sad cancellation of Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles. When it was bad it was slightly meandering, but when it was good it was excellent. I'm pleased it got two series; I'd have been far more gutted had it died after its first year, whereas this way it had a chance to tell a more rounded story.

A trailer for Guy Ritchie's new Sherlock Holmes film featuring a Holmes who is much more like Robert Downey Jr. than we'd previously imagined. The movie looks like a lot of fun on its own terms, but it bears so little resemblance to Sherlock Holmes that I'll just have to pretend it's something else. (Downloadable trailers in better quality here.)

Two clips of the surely superfluous new 'V' miniseries starring Morena Baccarin. It's not like the original 'V' was any great shakes. The very first miniseries was a lot better than the second (The Final Battle), with its infamous rubber alien baby, and the second miniseries was itself like Shakespeare compared to the short-lived weekly series that ended up as Dynasty with Lizards. I'm willing to give the remake a shot since any remake brings with it the potential to improve on the source material, but how exactly will they make a wolf-in-sheep's-clothing alien invasion feel fresh and relevant these days? Oddly the clips remind me more of Earth: Final Conflict than 'V'.

And finally, rejoice world for the superlatively quirky The Middleman is arriving on (region 1) DVD. It's not the greatest thing ever, but it's possibly the funnest thing ever.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Serenity)
Dollhouse has been renewed for a second season. Warner Bros are making a big budget movie of Primeval. And Star Trek is a smash box office hit. It's like the world's been turned on its head.

Still, this plus Niall's admittedly lukewarm defence of the show may finally prompt me to give Dollhouse a try.

EDIT: And as if that isn't enough craziness, they've greenlit a remake of alien-lizard invasion series V which stars Alan Tudyk (Wash) as a human and Morena Baccarin (Inara) as an alien. There's a spoilery review of the pilot, which I haven't read, here.

EDIT to the EDIT: Comment from Joss Whedon confirming the Dollhouse renewal.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Serenity)
CBR has good interviews with creator Josh Friedman and Brian Austin Green (Derek Reese) about the very nifty Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. SPOILERS aaaalll the way to the second season finale. I hadn't realised that it was almost cancelled 13 episodes into Season 2.

Vague spoilers for the end of Season 2 )

Easter

Apr. 14th, 2009 08:34 am
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
Had a great Easter weekend involving no (count it) no work, and lots of relaxing. We had friends over for most of the weekend which was fun.

We did a pseudo-BBQ on Saturday (cooked indoors, eaten outdoors to ensure that Janet didn't get any undercooked meat) which was lovely. We did some potato and tomato 'curry' as a side dish which in no sense is a curry involving only some chopped potatoes, tomatoes and onions fried with mustard seeds, turmeric and coriander. Very nice, very mild.

Then on Sunday the sky was blue and the sun was hot so we pottered around the garden fixing and weeding things while Janet's brother carved a new paddle for his canoe. The cats helped, of course. Here's Charcoal helping:



More helping here. Pixie helped too, but in a more sedentary way.

On Saturday night we watched Doctor Who (what I thought), which included a nice shout out to Tom Baker's first story 'Robot', but was otherwise slightly dull.

On Sunday we also watched Skellig on Sky, in which John Simm continued to be as great as he is in everything not called Doctor Who. I was expecting something slightly twee and cosy, which it was in places, but mostly it was surprisingly honest, real and edgy for a kids drama. A bit low key and moody, but otherwise quite interesting. It's possible that the moral is to talk to scabby-looking strangers, but I'll let that pass...

It's a good job we had the nice weekend because the weather has been relentlessly foggy ever since. Yesterday with sea fret (but we had a nice pub lunch anyway). Today with full-on fog and low cloud extending well inland. Chilly, dank, and gloomy. But at least we had a lovely Easter.

Round up

Jan. 25th, 2009 09:58 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
Not had time to post much recently what with working late, going to hospital appointments, shopping, attempting to decorate, going to leaving dos and trying to at least pretend to have a social life.

So far this week I've been impressed by President Obama, specifically his inauguration speech and immediate action to overturn any number of idiotic, bigoted or downright fascist Bush policies. Kudos to that man. I do remain suitably sceptical that this huge rush of political euphoria can last; no doubt there's a New Labour style post-election crash due soon (although I'm by no means as cynical as Tom McRae on the subject). There are a few nay-sayers in our office who think he's all cliches and speeches and, to quote Luke Skywalker, it's all such a long way from here. Nonetheless, I can't help but feel that this is an important moment in world politics. Obama is the right man at the right time telling the right story - and it is a story even if not in a pejorative sense - about regrouping, rebuilding and reaffirming fundamental values.

TV-wise, CSI: original flavour is back on C5 and as good as ever. I've been mildly spoiled for future cast changes, but otherwise it's nice to watch a consistently high quality series do its stuff and not have a clue what's coming next. We're still catching up on various US imports including House (still great), Sarah Connor (mostly great) and Galactica (I just need closure). We also have the Dexter S1 box set to watch, and we found the entire Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes going cheap in HMV so we've started that too. Incredibly I don't think I'd ever seen the first episode before (A Scandal in Bohemia).

We're also trying to get back in the swing of going to the cinema. Today we saw Frost/Nixon which is both a predictable underdog story and an extremely solid, occasionally outstanding character study of two men. Both lead performances are exemplary, and the film settles out as a surprisingly melancholy portrait of Nixon in a way that reminded me very much of George Reeves in Hollywoodland.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Angry Demon)
Watching ITV's Demons, starring Philip Glenister with a dodgy accent, it quickly becomes clear that it is the most original story ever told. No other story has ever had the vision to deal with a lone teenager who learns they are destined to fight the forces of darkness, no other story has ever had a mysterious mentor figure, a secret library, a vampire-killing gun, a blind woman who is a seer, a devoted best friend who is secretly in love with the main character, sinister villains in long coats and wide brimmed hats... So there's this teenager, he's the last heir of Van Helsing, who was real, and he's being assisted by a Mina Harker, who was real too, and an unconvincing American named Rupert who looks just like Gene Hunt. There are demons. There's destiny. There's teenage angst. There's wisecracking. It's not just a riff on Buffy, though Buffy is clearly its main TV inspiration, but a synthesis of every teen-with-secret-powers story ever told. It's also really, really dull.

Crooked House, filling the BBC's traditional 'M.R.James ghost story before Christmas' slot on three consecutive nights, is hardly any more original but still hugely superior. It consists of three new half hour ghost stories set in cursed Geap Manor in various time periods, with a framing sequence in which writer Mark Gatiss plays storyteller with exactly the right amount of morbid relish. The first is an 18th century morality tale about a guilty merchant that's just a little too clever in its parallels to modern banking. The second is a 1920s tale of high society and ghostly brides that's just a little too pastiched. They both evoke a very specific kind of mild nostalgic horror. The third story, however, is one of the creepiest things I've seen in years, finding a present day teacher stumbling into a very sinister past. Every Halloween I look for something that hits me just right to send a shiver of dread down my spine, but I rarely find it. This may have been at Christmas, but it did the trick.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
There's a very thoughtful opinion piece on the BBC website entitled "Is Barack Obama black?". It's a response to comments about Obama that frankly I hadn't even been aware of. I think the article makes some very wise points about artificially absolute definitions of race, and also the societal nature of the labels we apply to people. And indeed even if Obama is regarded as mixed-race that makes his accomplishment no less great, albeit less symbolic.

Rumours continue to circle around Paterson Joseph as a contender for the next Doctor Who, and he certainly seems interested. I know I was cheerleading for him earlier on the basis of his role in Neverwhere, but I've been reminded that he can be a little broad in his performances so I'd be interested to see a recent performance to make up my mind. He's in the BBC's new remake of Survivors, along with the increasingly ubiquitous Freema Agyeman and Julie "Bonekickers" Graham. It looks potentially okay, potentially terrible. I may summon up the energy to find out. Or not.

On a related note I'd seen others refer to the recently released BBC Archive material relating to the genesis of Doctor Who. What I hadn't realised is that the first two documents released, and particularly the first, are essentially internal BBC briefing papers trying to work out 'what is this thing called Science Fiction?' with a view to determining whether it could be adapted for TV. They propose to use Arthur C Clarke and John Wyndham as consultants, and even met with Brian Aldiss. As such these documents represent brief but fascinating "as others see us" thoughts about written SF in the early 1960s; at once insightful, pragmatic and patronising.

The remaining documents are more about Doctor Who itself: 'concept notes for new SF drama' and 'background notes for Doctor Who' are fascinating glimpses into the origins of the TV show, with the latter representing a recognisable yet strangely different vision of the series. It goes some way to explaining just how unlikeable Hartnell's Doctor would occasionally be in the early episodes.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
I spent most of yesterday closely resembling a vegetable1. Much of the day was squandered resting my por ded back which inexplicably went twang on Saturday night, and has just as inexplicably healed itself today.

The rest of the day was more profitably squandered on some intensive lounging. I also listened to The Bugle, a comedy-news podcast thing which reminds me strongly of Radio 4's The Now Show but features John Oliver (the British guy from The Daily Show) and Andy Zaltzman. The lovely Dan and Aileen led me to listen to this, and it's amusing and rightheaded. But then, so are they.

This in turn led me to catch up on some of The Daily Show which is thankfully available to us denizens of the UK via the Channel 4's 4 on Demand.

And finally we indulged my wife's penchant for Sharpe by watching part 2 of Sharpe's Peril, a newly-minted drama featuring a less-than-newly-minted Sean Bean, and copious amounts of mild peril, mild heroism and mild villainy. I'm not exactly an expert on Sharpe, but I have to say this was much more successful than last year's lukewarm Sharpe's Challenge, if only because it engaged with the characters rather than just reiterating them. Not that Sharpe is ever much more than an enjoyable potboiler at the best of times: when your untrustworthy character is called Silas Wormwood you're not dwelling in the realms of subtlety.

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1 No change there, you may say2

2 And not even an amusingly-shaped vegetable

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Halloween)
It's that time of year again. Honestly, we have so much fun on Halloween we should be burned as witches1.

Janet's not feeling too grand today and can't leap up and down from the sofa very easily, so I'm taking the lion's share of the callers. The ratio of cute-kids-who-are-really-into-it to sullen-teenagers-in-scream-masks is so far not ideal, but we'll see how things go. The freezing drizzle we've had on and off all day has at least let up, which increases the chances of getting a good range of trick or treaters.

We've nothing to rival Janet's 133t carving skills on last year's pumpkin but the porch is still decked out in an array of pumpkins and scary Halloween tat. This year we've put one of our strange glowy rock things inside the pumpkin, giving it an exciting range of both red *and* green glows. For added scariness. And not having to replace the candle.



There's just about nothing on TV tonight that qualifies as Halloween fare until after midnight, at least not on any channel I could find without an understanding of astronomically large numbers, or a willingness to watch Most Haunted. The mainstream TV channels just don't seem to have caught on to the blatant commercialisation of this festival in recent years. Which is strangely unlike them. I've therefore downloaded obtained via ouija board from the spirit world Nigel Kneale's The Stone Tape, a TV play I've always had a hankering to see and which is out of print so costs slightly more to buy than a large high street bank.

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1 Except, not really.2
2 I'd be a Warlock for a start.3
3 Yes, just like Julian Sands. Seriously, you remember that movie?4
4 Okay, I kinda liked it too but that's not the point. What was the point?5
5 Oh yes, in summary, not to burn us as witches and/or warlocks.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
We've been intermittently pummelled by hailstones this afternoon. What the weather forecasters euphemistically refer to as "wintry showers", but in practice are more like the immediate aftermath of making a prank phone call to Odin. I've been known to enjoy some proper snow and ice in my time, but driving sheets of hailstones that quickly melt into icy puddles can't be on anyone's list of favourite weather. I was thinking this even before our cat Charcoal entered through the cat flap at Mach 3, drenched from head to toe, freezing cold and squeaking indignantly. She's much happier (and warmer) now.

Meanwhile the Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross1 story climbs to new depths with "emergency crisis talks" at the BBC, and journalists charging after BBC executives in the street shouting "Do we know who's to blame yet?" (Those were the exact words). News 24 have belatedly starting asking whether this mob-mentality is all a bit much, but as far as I can tell this has only recently occurred to them and they're mainly using it as a bonus talking point in interviews. In any case I'm going to have to join the mob now, because otherwise I'll find myself calling Noel Gallagher rightheaded, and then the world will end.

I also caught a bit of Obama speechifying on the campaign trail on News 24. That man may or may not be from Krypton, but he certainly knows how to make speeches. Sometimes I do wonder whether (assuming he wins the election) the weight of expectations on his shoulders is so impossibly huge that we're in for a New Labour-style backlash when he doesn't fix EVERYthing. I also hope there's some real substance behind the fervour. Mainly I hope we get to find out.

Lastly, and on behalf of my wife, I would just like to say ZOMGSharpe!!!111.

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1 In the "you can't make it up" category, Jonathan Ross currently has a book out entitled Why Do I Say These Things?.

EDIT: Now the controller of Radio 2 has resigned.

Noooo!

Oct. 29th, 2008 09:28 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Dalek Fandom)
Say it ain't so: "David Tennant quits as Doctor Who". More comments from him here.

Maybe Paterson Joseph is a possibility after all... no I don't believe it either, but a guy can hope.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
I don't normally embed videos, but I was emailed this today by Avaaz.org, and I'm sure this will be doing the rounds.


It's a quite nice, positive video underlining America's place in the world (rather than apart from it). The email claims "The ad doesn't tell people who to vote for" (I assume they had difficulty saying this with a straight face since it's explicitly anti-Bush) "but its overriding message of tolerance, diplomacy, human rights and equality is unmistakable". And that part is tough to disagree with. It's pro- things that, to me at least, sound like common sense. So I guess that makes it a pro-Obama advert. :-)

Of course I don't live in the US and can't vote in the US election for quite sensible reasons relating to electoral fraud, but as the BBC like to remind us the election will affect the rest of the world. That's clearly the point of this campaign.

The official blurb:

In just over a week, America will head to the polls. So much depends on this election -- the fight against climate change, the war in Iraq, global efforts on human rights and many other issues.

But right now, US conservatives are employing the most divisive and deceptive tactics in the US election, portraying those who call for change as "anti-American" and even terrorist sympathizers. Check out this new response ad from the global online organisation Avaaz.org, calling for hope, unity, and change as Americans head to the polls.

If enough people watch the ad and sign its message to the American people and presidential candidates, it will be picked up by the US talk shows -- who are looking for what is hot online. You can watch the ad and sign on here.
Hey, you never know...

EDIT: While I'm at it, here's Joss Whedon praising a number of things including The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Hard Day's Night, but Obama makes it into the list.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Halloween)


Disturbingly, LiveJournal has apparently morphed into UndeadJournal. My Halloween-loving wife approves of this "tremendously". She's already bought some sweets in preparation for the trick-or-treaters this Friday. She's also bought a Witch's hat because the team on her enquiries desk at work are dressing up for the occasion. And, yes, she's now pretending to be a zombie and saying "Grr, Argh", which segue-ways me nicely into...

Joss Whedon has posted about Dollhouse in his inimitable (i.e. insane and free-associative) way. He talks about the show and its behind-the-scenes trials and tribulations. It seems like a fairly honest post given how much detail he goes into about the difficulties with the network, but he also sounds enthused. Right now I really have no idea what to expect from this show or its premise, or if I'll even like it, but I'm definitely intrigued to find out.

Today I succeeded in viewing the BBC iPlayer on our Wii, using the internet channel (for which I had to pay a trivial but somehow annoying £3.50). The Wii is an incredibly clunky way to browse the internet, with all sorts of zooming in, zooming out, scrolling around pages and trying to hit tiny buttons with the blunt instrument that is the Wii remote. It's a bit like doing watch repair while wearing oven gloves. However I did succeed in streaming part of Simon Schama's series about the U.S. using this method. Of all the ways to get TV on demand this is probably not going to win anyone over, but it does actually work. After a fashion.

I also now have a new mobile phone. I went with the Samsung G600 in the end, because although I don't think it's the best phone out there, it's the best one whose shininess I fell in love with. My verdict: shiny! Seems good so far. Okay, I had to do a stupid menu hack to get it to synch with the PC, and if I want mp3 text-message tones I have to upgrade the firmware with a special cable I don't own, but these niggles aside it's a nice phone to use. I now have the Firefly End Theme as my ringtone. Did I mention the shiny?

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
We just watched part one of the BBC's new Stephen Fry in America. It's an amiable Michael Palin-esque travelogue in which quirky British person Stephen Fry drives a black London cab around every one of the US States. Now obviously Fry is a living man-god who can do no wrong, and his past forays into TV have been some of the best things produced in the last few years, whether delving into hs own mental health, his family history or the invention of the printing press. Which may partly explain my feelings of mild disappointment with this series. The pace of the tour is so rapid, with barely time for a vignette in each state, that it feels like edited highlights of a much better series. The early scenes are also crying out for more linking narration from Fry himself, coming across as a strangely disjointed series of moments with no common thread. Nonetheless he's a very likeable tourist, uncompromisingly English and out of place, but also delighted, interested and non-judgemental. It improved and felt more organic towards the end of the episode, so I hope the later episodes continue to relax into their subject matter. Maybe the book will fill in some of the gaps and add some much needed commentary.

We're not watching a lot else at the moment. The new US TV Season is in full swing, but is so far failing to impress. Bones is shaky at best, but then it was never what you'd call slick or plausible. The device of rotating grad students is at least mildly amusing. Heroes is proving considerably more engaging than Season 2, but is so irredeemably bonkers and that it's difficult to imagine how it can ever recover any plausibility. House is as good as ever, but lacks that single brilliant concept that made Season 4 stand out. Stargate Atlantis is like turning up for a rock concert and getting the hotel band instead.

(I do highly rate The Middleman for those that haven't caught up with it yet.)

Probably the thing that's most grabbed me is The Restaurant, a strange semi-clone of The Apprentice with a big dollop of Masterchef, in which a series of hopelessly inept couples struggle to run a busy Restaurant and repeatedly fail to show any trace of ability to learn or take advice. Like The Apprentice, I can't sit still for squirming in empathetic embarrassment or muttering in barely-suppressed outrage at their ineptness. Unlike The Apprentice, Raymond Blanc is clearly a Genuinely Nice Guy who offers insightful, constructive criticism, and always tries to soften the sting of his remarks. The man has the patience of a saint.

Lastly, I just saw these pics of Robert Downey Jr as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law as Watson in Guy Ritchie's new movie. I'm unconvinced. In concept I was intrigued by the casting, but Downey Jr looks strangely like Charlie Chaplin. I can see that they're trying to go in an unorthodox direction with the material, and it's not that Holmes can't survive different takes -- I think he's the most played character in history, or close to it -- but at some point the changes will become so great that you may as well call him something else and have done with it. We'll see. A couple of pictures are hardly definitive, but they bode. They bode.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
When I discussed Prof Richard Dawkins's three-part series The Genius of Darwin I was puzzled as to why it merited the word "polemic" in my TV guide, noting that "creationism attempts to refute geological wisdom as surely as it does biological wisdom, but we don't go around calling [TV geologist] Dr Iain Stewart a polemicist."

Inevitably, Dr Iain Stewart immediately launched a three-part series (apocalyptically titled Earth: The Climate Wars) that's as likely to be labelled a polemic as anything Dawkins has produced. Global Warming is, after all, as likely as Evolution to be described in the media as "controversial". Interestingly, the polemic word doesn't seem to have been attached to this one. It's an "investigation".

To be clear, I don't regard either series as a polemic. Both are written and presented by individuals who hold a clear view as to the truth of the matter, and both include passionate advocacy of the importance of the issues being debated, but crucially both discuss the relevant 'controversy' in some detail and arrive at their determination through dispassionate and thorough (as thorough as the format allows, anyway) examination of the evidence.

Earth: The Climate Wars tackles its subject in three parts: the first details the gradual development of climate theories in the 1960s and 70s, including the now disproven prediction of a "big freeze" and the gradual rise of global warming as a theory. The second deals with the controversy that arose around global warming in the 1990s, examining the changing and contradictory evidence and the opposing arguments before ultimately disproving the objections fairly categorically. The third programme examines attempts to model the Earth's future climate, and to incorporate increasing evidence that climate change is, if anything, occurring faster than expected.

I found it fascinating. Iain Stewart is an engaging enough presenter and the programmes move at just about the right pace, focussing mainly on the science but to a lesser extent on the personalities and historical account of the discoveries. I knew a lot of the background, but there's plenty here that I hadn't heard before, or hadn't heard in detail. In some respects it's surprising how long ago the theory of global warming caused by human activity was first proposed, and how readily it was initially accepted. Fascinating, for example, to see Margaret Thatcher talking about the need for urgent action.

I was also aware of the notorious C4 programme The Great Global Warming Swindle (a "polemic" if ever there was one) for which the channel was censured by Ofcom for misrepresenting the views of its contributers (although since it had caused no "harm" to its viewers Ofcom refused to rule on its scientific accuracy). Dr Stewart briefly touches on that programme and the shockingly inaccurate graphs used to make its case. I've read other rebuttals, e.g. badscience.com but it's still nice to see a belated televised rebuttal. Indeed, this series of programmes, careful, thorough and engaging as they are, make a pleasingly level-headed counterpoint to the very propagandist and even ad hominem nature of the C4 programme. Dr Stewart also used extensive clips from a much earlier 1990 programme from C4 called The Greenhouse Conspiracy which makes you wonder what exactly C4 has against the theory of global warming.

The final programme includes some rather scary evidence of very sudden -- in the everyday rather than geological meaning of the word -- shifts in global climate in the past. These are sudden "tipping point" temperature shifts of several degrees centigrade occurring within a period of 2 to 5 years, calculated by examining both the thickness and chemical composition of Greenland ice cores1. Coupled with recent evidence about the unprecedented summer retreat of arctic sea ice during the summer, it does make you wonder -- although thankfully 2008 didn't break the record retreat in 20072.

In an age in which (as repeats of Horizon on BBC4 will attest) TV science has been lobotomised to a few health programmes and the occasional theory that Yellowstone park may explode and DOOM US ALL, it's always welcome to have some real, solid science. Hot on the heels of Dawkins and the recent coverage of the Large Hadron Collider it almost feels like a mini-Renaissance in science programming, even if in each case it was probably the underlying sense of "controversy" driving things forward. I strongly doubt if Earth: The Climate Consensus would have made it to air.

All three episodes are available on BBC iPlayer. The third was probably the weakest, but all are worth a look.
--

1 The process of dating ice cores back 50,000 years by simply 'counting the rings' that represent each winter and summer snowfall is surely as common sense a refutation of creationist dating of the Earth to 6,000 years old as you're likely to find. That's assuming geological dating using the precisely known decay rate of multiple radioactive isotopes is wrong -- which, wearyingly, is exactly what creationists argue. In fact, that very creationist web page states: "Ultimately, the age of the earth cannot be proven", a relativist bombshell which makes you wonder why they're bothering to contest the science at all.

2 I sometimes find myself feeling an unworthy (and criminally stupid) desire to see the Earth meet a spectacular demise. Not just to prove the doubters wrong -- although, y'know, that would be some slight consolation for me as the human race faced extinction -- but because disasters are cool. That's why Iain Stewart's earlier series Earth: The Power of the Planet was interesting: because vast climactic and geological changes have a certain spectacular appeal. Catastrophes and disasters are strangely compelling, like that sensation climbers sometimes report of feeling an urge to hurl themselves into the void. I don't for a second suggest that I actually want the Earth to be destroyed, but the childish part of me does seem to revel in the concept. People are strange creatures. Or maybe that's just me.

Merlin

Sep. 20th, 2008 08:22 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
Against all expectations I quite enjoyed that.

It's very far from the horrible teen travesty I was expecting, and nowhere near as glib and "modern" as the BBC's Robin Hood. Indeed it's about as literal and sincere a take on an Epic Fantasy novel (by way of Harry Potter) as you're likely to see on TV. The cast is good, and Merlin himself is a nice mixture of wit and self-deprecation. The atmosphere is well-served by some effective digital matte paintings and a rich John Williams-esque orchestral score. Even the dragon is well done, albeit exactly the same as the last few talking dragons I've seen1. I particularly like the fairy tale quality of Gwen-from-Torchwood's plot.

Probably the worst-judged aspect is the Jocks-and-Nerds relationship between Arthur and Merlin, but it's a long way from grating.

Whether the world actually needs "Arthur and Merlin: Before They Were Famous" is another matter, but the pre-Arthurian premise is almost incidental to the fact that this is a surprisingly decent bit of Epic Fantasy2.

--
1 In films I mean. Rumours that I've been seeing talking dragons are scurrilous and should not be listened to.

2 i.e. Entirely hackneyed and predictable, but in a good way.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
My wife's doing heaps of overtime this weekend, and I've been sat here staring at a spreadsheet for several hours trying to motivate myself. It's due next week, time is short, and I'll regret it if I don't do it. Trouble is, I've already worked most evenings this week and it's all beginning to catch up with me.

Quite clearly the thing to do is procrastinate!

Tom McRae now has a blog, McRaetheism. As usual he's walking that fine line between deadpan comedy and soul-destroying nihilism. He also has a couple of new song demos up on his myspace page.

We've belatedly been catching up with The Middleman, which is exactly the kind of cheesy, heightened-reality pop-culture-drenched romp that the world needs more of; it's sort of what you'd get if The Avengers and Buffy Season 1 had a messy car accident. How can you not love a show in which the finale features an evil parallel universe, goatee beards and an impression of Snake Plissken from Escape from New York? Plus it apparently meets the bechdel rule. It's *so* going to get cancelled.

Tonight sees the debut of the BBC's Merlin in the Doctor Who / Robin Hood family slot. I'm not optimistic, but it does have Tony Head in it. And a dragon.

Thought for the Day: no matter how large or crowded the supermarket car park, someone is always trying to get into or out of the car right next to yours.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
We just watched the two-parter season opener of Bones. Set in the UK. Oh yes, you know what that means.

Not any UK, of course, but that very specific one populated by red telephone boxes, London monuments, double-decker buses, Dukes, "Gentlemen", Butlers and 'Scotland Yard' detectives. Janet successfully predicted that it would be all tied up with royalty before it even started.

Two of the young characters are named Cyril and Vera. Cyril's favourite food is Eels. Every scene takes place in a stately home of some sort, except the ones with Michael Brandon as an American ex-pat which take place in a gleaming skyscraper. Every single actor, even the British ones, and regardless of their character's background, have that particular "I shall do my utmost to accommodate you, detective" cut-glass accent that only exists in US dramas. Except the rough salt-of-the earth types who all sound like Dick Van Doike. Beer is served in pint glasses with handles, all the cars are boxy and twenty years old, and everyone is terribly concerned about class. At one point someone said "discombobulated" like it was an authentic bit of English slang. It was like watching Three Men and a Little Lady.

If you're actually British it all adds up to a fantastic drinking game.

I shouldn't mind really. For an alleged drama, Bones has a sit-com approach to characterisation. Even its forensics team talk in ridiculously formal, technical ways for no good reason. People suddenly become really dense or really perceptive as the plot or comedy punchline dictate. It's a dumb, amiable show. Being set in the UK just makes it grate that little bit more than normal. :-)

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
My horrible phlegm-filled lurgy is now finally subsiding, even though my throat is still raw and I keep coughing randomly. At least I no longer sound like a cross between Davros and Barry White, and was able to laugh at last night's Mock the Week without actually killing myself. (Frankie Boyle's Inuit Robot Butler was absolute genius).

Janet is off work today, and is happily ensconced on her PC playing Spore, which (despite annoyingly refusing to let her interact with any of the online content) is generally pleasing her in being a combination of every game style she's ever liked, with the added bonus that she gets to design weird alien life and evolve it.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which turned out to be unexpectedly not-a-big-pile-of-crap, is back for a second season on 8th September. I might never have started watching this if I hadn't been asked to review it, and seen a couple of other people praising it, but I'm really glad I did. It's smarter than it has any right to be, and it neatly picks up on everything I liked about T2 while ditching everything I disliked about T3. Lena Headey is suitably obsessive and bad-ass as Sarah Connor, plus it has Summer Glau as a deeply unnerving 'good' Terminator, as showcased by this here poster (click for a bigger version).

Ben Folds Five are re-uniting for one night only to play "The Unauthorised Biography of Reinhold Messner" in its entirety. When we saw Ben Folds 'solo' back in June he was playing with two other musicians who were for all practical purposes indistinguishable from the remaining two members of Ben Folds Five (to a philistine like myself -- I'm sure their friends and families see an important difference) so I'm sure this will be a breeze for Ben. This seems to be part of a MySpace "Front to Back" live album initiative.

Folds's new album Way to Normal is out on 30th Sept. He played quite a few songs from it when we saw him live, and generally it sounds quite up-tempo; less acoustic and melancholy than Songs for Silverman. More of an early-BFF sound, in fact.

Bleargh

Sep. 2nd, 2008 10:45 am
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
The moment I started my holidays last Saturday I started coming down with the lurgy. Funny how often that happens. So even though I'm on holiday this week I'm also bunged up and feeling like the back of my throat has been sandpapered (or, occasionally, chiselled). Since I'm not up to much therefore, here are a few things that, in my delirium, I mentally logged as worth telling someone. You be the judge.

The saga of Tom McRae's website continues. It's now in Australia. No really.

This story about the MMR vaccine scare on Bad Science is actually an excerpt from Ben Goldacre's new book. It's also a fantastically rational account of how irrational the media can be in their quest to sensationalise a story.

Frost/Nixon is a movie that wasn't on my radar. What were the chances that anyone, let alone Ron Howard, would make a Hollywood movie out of David Frost interviewing Richard Nixon? It's hard to know what to make of it. The trailer paints the film as a mixture of political drama and David vs Goliath feel-good story, in the general neighbourhood of Charlie Wilson's War. Michael Sheen looks great as Frost, and Frank Langella seems okayish as Nixon. Other eclectic cast members include Oliver Platt (White House Counsel Oliver Babish on The West Wing) and Matthew "Tom from Spooks" McFadyen. (Plus it has Kevin Bacon in it, so given how ubiquitous Michael Sheen is this should blow the Kevin Bacon game wide open.)

No Heroics is a new sitcom centred around off-duty UK Superheroes. The trailer looks surprisingly okay, albeit sex-obsessed, particularly given that this is airing on that great sitcom purgatory, ITV.

Lastly, what is up with those camera zooms that punctuate Evan Davis's every sentence at the start of Dragon's Den? It's like the camera operator just ate an entire keg of Smarties and can't calm down.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
The consistently mediocre (hey, at least it's consistent) Stargate Atlantis has been cancelled after five seasons, but will return as straight-to-DVD movies just as its predecessor Stargate SG-1 has done.

I find it somehow hard to care any more. Stargate has always been the McDonalds of SF television: that place you turn for a reliable, known quantity that never excels but rarely disappoints, unless you forget to remove the gherkin.

Right from the start it's been content to place its own stamp on concepts that you've seen at least three times previously on one of the Star Trek spin-offs, but I do think there was a period in the early and middle years of SG-1 where it was turning out a good balance of rompy action material, comedy, drama, and some semblance of high-minded issue-led SF (whose last hurrah was probably the Hugo-nominated two parter 'Heroes'). It made good use of retroactive continuity, generally managing to tie new stories into previously established events (or technobabble) in a way that felt internally consistent. Its military, modern-day setting lent a certain grounded quality to its outlandishness and unlike Trek it was capable of sustaining a sub-genre of X-Files-esque alien invasion tales set on contemporary Earth.

In SG-1's latter years, after being picked up by the Sci-Fi channel, the series took a decided turn towards lightweight action-led fare, with most of the drama leeched from the series in favour of laconic banter and last-minute escapes. The technology at the team's disposal now extended to FTL spaceships, laser beams and transporters, with no attempt made to give these tropes an original spin. Hyperspace looks, feels and operates like hyperspace always does, teleporting is referred to as "beaming" etc. It was genial enough, but little more.

Atlantis, began as a blurry photocopy of the original show, and has since spent most of its time searching for an interesting direction (experimenting with "dark and gritty"), interesting adversaries, or an interesting cast. Rodney McKay is always worth a watch, and the series has slowly developed something of its own mythology, but frankly the franchise has reached the point where it's produced so many episodes that there's nothing left to do but to recycle past ideas in endless minor variations. (So much so that the characters are often found commenting that they've dealt with a similar situation before.)

And now Sci-Fi has announced yet another spin-off to replace Atlantis, Stargate Universe. This seems to mean that they've hired a bunch of younger (cheaper) actors and tried to create a lost-in-space show reminiscent of Star Trek: Voyager or Battlestar Galactica. It's tough to see what's going to set this new series apart from its predecessors. If anything, it seems to be jettisoning the last vestiges of the military, low-tech Earth-based setting that allowed Stargate to put even a slightly unique spin on its cliches. It's the ultimate reduction of Stargate into a one-size-fits-all SF platform.

You just know I'm going to watch the damn thing, though.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
Oh god, Bones is doing a two-part season opener set in the UK, aka the famous bits of London. This is not something US TV is noted for doing well, and Bones is not blessed with what we like to call "subtlety". I'm expecting this to be full of Scotland Yard officers wearing tweed and bowler hats. (I wasn't sure what to make of the previous season finale either, which featured a major twist in which one regular cast member acted completely out of character for the sake of the plot.)

Torchwood Season 3 will be a five part miniseries, and it'll air on BBC One, stripped across one week at 9 p.m. in the same vein as the disappointing BBC1 drama Criminal Justice. BBC1, eh? The continued success of Torchwood is as meteoric as it is inexplicable.

Ronald D. Moore has another pilot TV Movie on the go, Virtuality, which sounds a) exactly like a holodeck-goes-wrong episode of The Next Generation and b) completely uninteresting. Virtual reality almost never makes for good TV because it has no consequences, meaning that consequences have to be unconvincingly slapped on: "If you die in the game you die out here too" / "If you unplug her she'll die".

I do seem to remember having a sneaking fondness for the short-lived VR.5, but that's probably because it had Anthony Head and David McCallum in it. (Alternatively it may be because it's "without doubt the best, most entertaining and thought provoking and compelling sci fi TV series I have ever seen, or can ever envisage being made" as someone on IMDB hilariously claims.)

I'm enjoying HBO's seven-part Generation Kill miniseries at the moment. It took a little while to get to grips with the characters, and I'm still not entirely sure I know who everyone is, but over the first few episodes the series has deepened and become more absorbing. It's esentially a cross between Band of Brothers and Jarhead, but based on a real journalistic account of the early days of the Iraq war. The production values are impressive, and the series looks for all the world like it was shot in Iraq during the invasion. It has the same sense of verité that David Simon and Ed Burns brought to The Wire, and a lot of clear parallels in showing flawed people at the mercy of petty and incompetent leaders. What's remarkable is the sense of complete aimlessless and confusion in what should be a co-ordinated military campaign.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Me and Pixie)
My birthday yielded The Absolute Sandman, Volume 3 (the kind of gorgeous object of desire that's so heavy, nicely bound and on good quality paper that you'd want to own it even if you weren't interested in the contents). Also Alice in Sunderland, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, unchillfiltered Laphroaig whisky (which I'm sampling as we speak), two Raymond Chandler novels, wine, Fererro Rocher and the finest of foodstuffs, Tunnock's Tea Cakes. I'm led to believe a few other presents may be en route, and my wonderful wife even baked me a chocolate cake. With candles. Best Wife Ever.

In order to spread my feelings of goodwill far and wide, have a few links on me.

[livejournal.com profile] ittybittykitt really does feature some of the most brain-meltingly cute kittens ever captured by CCD. Every time I see one of their photos I think that kittens couldn't get any cuter, but somehow they do. I want to adopt them all.

One for [livejournal.com profile] veggiesu: I notice that ITV3 are doing a six-week season of crime thrillers leading up the allegedly "glittering" ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards. What's interesting is that each week they're showing a specially commissioned documentary profiling "the six best crime writers working today" aka Colin Dexter, Ian Rankin, PD James, Lynda La Plante, Val McDermid and Ruth Rendell. (I leave it up to the reader to decide whether these are in fact the six best crime writers working today whose TV adaptations ITV3 happen to own the rights to.) Could be interesting.

One for [livejournal.com profile] swisstone: Head of Roman empress unearthed near the previously unearthed statue of Hadrian in Turkey. Our local news is also banging on about visitors to Hadrian's Wall being up on last year, which they're -- not implausibly -- linking to the British Museum's Hadrian exhibit and associated publicity. I shudder to think that it could have anything to do with Bonekickers instead.

I've put this on Facebook already but look: Chewbacca mouse! Awwww.

Darwin

Aug. 11th, 2008 10:02 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
I'm greatly enjoying Prof Richard Dawkins's current C4 series The Genius of Darwin, commemorating the 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species. All pretty basic and obvious stuff about evolution perhaps, but I've been hoping for some time now (in this world of lowest common denominator science programming) that someone would come along and just Explain This Stuff to a wide audience. Too often TV gravitates towards only the most controversial or biographical aspects of science, or assumes that everyone knows the basics when it's sadly apparent that everyone doesn't. It's nice to see some basic facts set out clearly.

A lot of people seem to find Dawkins abrasive, but he's generally at his most self-effacing in the series to date, perhaps because this time around its premise rarely seeks to pitch him into direct confrontation with those who oppose his views (unlike previous series The Enemies of Reason and The Root of All Evil?). I don't find Dawkins particularly arrogant myself, but that's probably because I agree with him. He makes few concessions, but although I personally might not call a book on religion "The God Delusion" a) my book wouldn't sell many copies and b) I find it hard to argue with this title as a basic position.

So far the first episode has provided a whistle-stop tour of Darwin's On the Origin of Species, while the second has covered human evolution, and specifically the evolutionary roots of altruism, drawing on Dawkin's own work in The Selfish Gene. I've always been fascinated by the idea that humans are 'designed' for small family groupings and that much of our behaviour can, for good or ill, be explained by the rules for living in groups writ large. What's pleasing is how optimistic a view of human nature Dawkins manages to convey even while explaining biological origins of human behaviour that many might find unpalatable. He's obviously a liberal idealist who finds himself disgusted by the various political and capitalistic practices to which the word "Darwinism" has been metaphorically attached.

Next week it's back to the shameless creationist-baiting with a (to my mind much-needed) attempt to examine and rebut the attempts of intelligent design to cast doubt on evolution.

My only source of puzzlement about the series is that the C4 website1 describes it as "polemical", whereas it's about as polemical as Earth: The Power of the Planet. It's not an opinion piece, it's the kind of straightforward explanation of accepted scientific knowledge that used to be commonplace under the banner of Equinox or Horizon . After all creationism attempts to refute geological wisdom as surely as it does biological wisdom, but we don't go around calling Dr Iain Stewart a polemicist.

--
1 The C4 website has whacky floating banners that completely screw up the page in Firefox, but seem fine in Internet Explorer. Or rather, the IE tab plugin for Firefox which is about as close to Internet Explorer as I care to get these days.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
The Wire star hits out at Emmys. Sergeant Ellis Carver thinks the Emmys are ignoring his show, and rightly so. I still can't believe that The Wire has never won an Emmy. It does at least have a single nomination this year: Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series for its final episode. Maybe that means it'll get the 'lifetime achievement' sympathy vote.

Fresh from last month's Ben Folds gig, we now have tickets to see Counting Crows supported by Ben Folds in December. This is good. Counting Crows' latest has some strong return-to-form stuff on it but has left me a bit cold overall. Nonetheless the combination of Crows and Folds is pretty much a slam-dunk. Folds has a new album Way to Normal out on 30th September which sounds a good deal more up tempo than anything he's done since the first couple of Ben Folds Five albums.

Hot on the heels of The Dark Knight (spoilery review here) there are preview screenings of Hellboy 2: The Golden Army on 5th August, so we have tickets to see that too. This is double plus good. My Cineworld Unlimited membership is a process by which I willingly allow Cineworld cinemas to scam £12 from me every month in return for me not going to the cinema. To add insult to injury, even though I only found out about the screenings through their Unlimited newsletter, my membership doesn't let me book advance tickets. So I've paid for the tickets. I really should cancel that membership...

The trailers for Hellboy 2 look a bit mediocre but I sense there's a good film hiding behind the crappy marketing. Plus I like the comics and really enjoyed the first flick and Janet is a sucker for dark mythological faerie types, so really the film is pandering to us shamelessly.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Tomb)
There's a decent little interview with Steven Moffat here about the fifth season of Doctor Who and how his writing style will change.

Meanwhile I recently came across something from my childhood that I just had to share.

You see, when I was young in the 1970s everyone liked Doctor Who and Davros was a scary villain. I know, obviously that's impossible to imagine today.

This is one of the Doctor Who game cards you used to get in packets of Weetabix. The back of each cereal box had a game board, and when you had all four game boards you could also add them together to make one really huge game board with the Tardis console in the middle. The cards were slotted in around the board, and then it was just a case of rolling dice and moving around the board, randomly landing on hazards. Sadly I no longer have the boards, but there are pictures here: 1, 2, 3, 4. Total nostalgia rush.

I have loads more of the things. As I recall they were traded in the playground at School and rare ones had the approximate market value of gold bullion. Ah, them were the days.

Serieses

Jul. 23rd, 2008 10:19 am
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Serenity)
Joss Whedon is filming a new pilot for Dollhouse, with the original pilot now the second episode. He explains, in amusing fashion, why this is allegedly not the usual well-trodden road to cancellation here.

There's a promo for the Battlestar Galactica spin-off/prequel/barely related cash-in here. It doesn't look terrible. It confuses me becase it looks more like A.I. than Battlestar Galactica and seems, on the face of it, hard to reconcile with what little we know of Galactica's backstory.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Serenity)
Interesting post from jms about the future of Babylon 5 - or lack of it. Interesting because I think he's now at a point that other people reached some time ago, the point where:

"B5 as a five year story stands beautifully on its own. If anything else is to be continued from that story, it should be something that adds to the legacy of B5, rather than subtracts from it.

As well intentioned as Rangers and TLT were, as enticing as it was to return to those familiar waters, in the end I think they did more to subtract from the legacy than add to it. I don't regret having made them, because I needed to go through that to get to the point where I am now psychologically, but from where I sit now, I wouldn't make them again."
This is unusually honest and self-critical stuff from a tireless self-promoter like jms, and he's clearly in a strong period in his film career right now so he's only going to go back to the show if it's genuinely warranted. My own review of The Lost Tales was somewhat mixed to say the least, and I tend to agree that this kind of half-hearted continuation detracts from the show's reputation. Every attempt to continue the show past its final episode, from River of Souls onwards, has done just that. Even A Call to Arms and those parts of Crusade which are okay feel ultimately unnecessary.

I certainly won't be upset if this is the last we ever see from the series, and from the sound of it neither will its creator. He goes on to say:

"The only thing I would be interested in doing regarding Babylon 5 from this point on is a full-featured, big-budget feature film.

It's that or nothing.

And if it's nothing, I'm totally cool with that because the original story stands on its own just fine."

Culture

Jul. 15th, 2008 11:35 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
David Simon was interviewed about The Wire on tonight's Culture Show. It was very much a primer for the show for UK types so there were no specific spoilers. Nothing he hasn't said many times before, but it was still nice to see the show getting some exposure on UK television. This edition of The Culture Show is repeated at about 11.20 p.m. on Thursday on BBC2 if you're interested.

They also premiered this highly amusing animated cat cartoon, from Simon Toefield, the man who brought you the equally amusing animated short of the cat trying to wake up its owner.

EDIT: [livejournal.com profile] ajr beat me to it.

EDIT EDIT: In fact, don't wait, watch extra bits from the David Simon interview on the BBC website right now. So much extra stuff it must clock in about the same length as the actual interview.

EDIT EDIT EDIT: And here's the aired interview to watch online too.

Bonekickers

Jul. 8th, 2008 11:57 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
Well that was completely, embarrassingly terrible from start to finish. And not even in a good way.

It has pilot-episode-by-numbers so deeply encoded into its DNA that it's as if it was automatically generated by screenwriting software. On top of that it boasts an absolutely stupid premise, hilarious sub-CSI "sexy" archaeology, stultifying attempts at emotional depth and the least atmospheric riff on The Da Vinci Code meets The Last Crusade that it's possible to imagine. The one-dimensional villain and his nil-dimensional henchmen are rivalled only by a cast of heroes written so thinly and played so unconvincingly that it's nearly impossible to believe you're not already watching the Dead Ringers spoof. I'm hard pressed to find a single redeeming feature. Shame on you Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Dalek Fandom)
So it's time for the inevitable Doctor Who Season Report Card. Previous, equally arguable, season reviews are here for S2 and here for S3 and S1.

Best to Worst... )

Coolness

Jun. 22nd, 2008 10:09 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Tomb)
The second trailer (UK only) for next Saturday's Doctor Who is rather cool.

It's slightly spoilery, particularly if you've no idea who the main villain is (assuming you can read this from your isolation tank).

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