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)
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.

Randomness

Apr. 29th, 2008 10:41 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Batman)
The X-Files 2 is now titled "The X-Files: I Want to Believe". Because that's not crap at all.

Apparently the Torchwood Season 2 finale was most appreciated by Welsh females aged 16-34. You just can't make it up.

There are some lovely new posters for The Dark Knight here. The Harvey Dent one is sublime.

Those are as nothing compared to this one which is both bold and breathtakingly risky given the 9/11 overtones.

Guillermo 'Pan's Labyrinth' 'Hellboy' Del Toro is officially signed on to direct The Hobbit (yay!) and The Hobbit 2: I Want To Believe. Del Toro says that Andy Serkis is on board, as is Sir Ian McKellen "all bureaucracy pending".

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
1. Cut for Masterchef finale spoiler )

2. I really hate it when TV presenters talk just off to one side of the camera as if they're engaging in a deep conversation with someone just over your left shoulder. It's TV. We know there's a camera there. Just pretend to look me in the eye, dammit! See also: The Real Hustle.

3. Even if Snow Patrol never sold another album the BBC would keep them in royalties for years to come.

4. Have you noticed that no-one in adverts ever wears glasses except when the advert is for glasses? As soon as you spot someone looking implausibly trendy in a pair of specs you know what the advert will be for.

5. What is it with Torchwood and People Who Tragically Know They Must Die? I don't think they've actually had another plotline this season. Last night's BBC3 episode was pretty decent, though, in a Whedon-esque kinda way.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Dalek Fandom)
So who were that competent, well-adjusted bunch of people and what have they done with Torchwood?

Brief non-spoilers for BBC2's Torchwood - 'Reset' )

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Dalek Fandom)
Torchwood Season 2. This is one of the more surreal press releases I've ever read. For example: "We're delighted that Torchwood is joining BBC Two. We know from the success and popularity of Heroes that there's a growing appetite for smart, high-quality, sci-fi drama on the channel so Torchwood is a perfect fit.".

But the real gem is this actual, genuine, no-really-it's-not-a-joke quote: "I'm also pleased to announce that, due to popular demand from families and younger viewers, we will be showing a special pre-watershed repeat so everyone can enjoy the new series."

...

That'll be a ten minute version then. The question is, will there be a special *post*-watershed repeat that's been edited so that the rest of us can enjoy it?

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Serenity)
Following the pretty pics from the new Babylon 5, AICN have a description of the rough-cut opening credits which gets all the nostalgic juices flowing. Whether B5 has anything more to offer the world than nostalgic remembrance of past glories is something that remains to be proven at this stage. The CGI image above has certainly got me keen to see what B5 can look like with modern effects work. The FX company's showreel includes plenty of recent fare like Galactica and SG-1, and it's sobering to remember that it's nearly nine years since the end of the B5 series proper (five years since the distinctly low-rent Legend of the Rangers pilot). Where does the time go?

Still on our heap of TV to watch: six episodes of Studio 60, three episodes of Battlestar Galactica, three episodes of Waking the Dead, five episodes of Jericho, three episodes of Primeval, two episodes of CSI, one apiece of Time Team and Stargate SG-1 and a DVD of Doctor Who: The Aztecs. And those are just the ones I can remember. It's possible we have a problem.

Part of the reason for our scary TV backlog is that we're now fully caught up with Life on Mars, having watched every episode in one week from a standing start and liking it greatly. I thought the season 2 opener tripped over its feet a bit in its effort to re-establish the premise, but was otherwise as enjoyable as ever. I have to concur with the general opinion that Chris Chibnall's episodes, particularly his second season offering, have been in a different league entirely from his Torchwood work (and featured not a single pterodactyl), so maybe his upcoming Doctor Who episode won't be crap after all. Sadly our romp through Life on Mars has so far not been matched by our efforts with Primeval which I've yet to even start. Let's hope I can summon up equal levels of enthusiasm for that series, although the opinions I've seen so far make this fairly unlikely.

Bones has delighted me by continuing to feature Stephen Fry in a recurring guest role which he was born to play, and if they're laying on the Englishisms a bit thick, well, it *is* Stephen Fry. His scenes actually seem better written than the rest of the show. Which admittedly isn't difficult.

EDIT: Sky One's Continuity Announcer, before tonight's episode of Battlestar Galactica: "Forget Sci-Fi, THIS is real drama."

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Serenity)
A few things that caught my eye recently:

Joss Whedon is no longer writing the Wonder Woman film, a movie he's been trying to script for months now. I can't say I'm devastated since Wonder Woman is not the most exciting character in the world, but I feel reasonably certain that Joss's take on her would have been more interesting than the alternatives.

The Buffy: The Vampire Slayer comic overseen by Joss Whedon as a hypothetical eighth season of the TV Series is due soon. He talks about it (with spoilers) on the extremely hyperactive MTV.com. The comic artwork at darkhorse.com looks rather nice, including this lovely painting of Willow.

Meanwhile Outpost Gallifrey have reported a couple of pieces of Torchwood 'news' recently. One is the potentially good news (on the relative scale of "good" in which Torchwood operates) that Sapphire and Steel creator PJ Hammond is writing another episode next year, following up on "Small Worlds" last year. Disappointingly he also mentions that talks with ITV about a new Sapphire and Steel series broke down, so I'm sure we can look forward to more of Jack and Gwen wandering around pretending to be David McCallum and Joanna Lumley. More bizarrely, there are proposals afoot to name Cardiff's new Shopping Centre after Torchwood, a move that wouldn't make the organisation noticeably less secret.

On the Doctor Who Audio Drama front the site also reports that: "The 100th Release of the Big Finish Doctor Who range is Earthstorm by award-winning author Stephen Baxter, which features the Sixth Doctor and is due to be released late September. Baxter is one of Britain's most respected hard science-fiction novelists, his books include The Time Ships, which was an authorised sequel to H.G. Wells' influential classic The Time Machine."

In what I'm sure is a very patronising attitude to Doctor Who I find this slightly incongruous, not least because I'm currently reading Baxter's Coalescent. No, not that [livejournal.com profile] coalescent.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
Scrubs has done a musical episode. Which looks fun, though I haven't seen it yet. I haven't watched a lot of Scrubs but Janet's been catching some repeats recently and it's always amiable and often very funny. The creator's interviewed about the musical episode here and does namecheck Buffy's musical.

In a strange Mutant Enemy juxtaposition, Amy Acker is to be Nathan Fillion's missing wife in Drive. They've currently ordered 12 episodes on top of the now re-cast pilot, making 13 episodes in total. For a Tim Minear series. I think we can all see where this is heading.

Heroes has been renewed for a second season. By the end of the first season we'll know whether the show can possibly continue spitting out plot at a rate that would make most other shows tremble. I really hope it can: it'd be a shame to see a Lost-style consolidation into jealously hoarding a meagre store of ideas; one of Heroes' more compelling elements is its page-turning cliffhangers. It starts on the UK Sci-Fi Channel next month and BBC2 has it at some point after that.

Battlestar Galactica in 'may upset its fans' shock. No surprise there, you may imagine, but it does seem to involve a significant turn of events (general spoileryness in the link). Hopefully this will be one that's integrated into the storyline a little better than most of the series' recent games of character pinball.

Torchwood was apparently a ratings success after all. Hard to believe, I know. Okay, its BBC3 ratings fell by two-thirds but remained high for the channel, and the BBC2 ones fared a little better. In total it ranged from about 6.6 to 4 million. Still, it's hard to see what it was about the show that actually warranted the attention of 4 million people. (My review of the finale *cough*shamelessplug*cough*.)

EDIT: Veronica Mars' shorter-than-hoped third season will end on five standalone episodes instead of a final arc. Not only that, but the final five episodes will air after an eight week break. No decision has been made about a fourth season yet, but reading between the lines I do wonder if that isn't the distant whiff of cancellation in the air. I really, really hope not. VM is a strong contender for my favourite show at the moment.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
My review of the Torchwood season finale is up1 at Strange Horizons today, should you feel yourself overcome with curiosity...

1 "The reviews section. Separate from the articles, outside the poetry, beyond the art gallery."

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
Well, blow me if that wasn't a decent episode of Torchwood. Maybe miracles do happen.

Spoilers )

Television

Nov. 6th, 2006 12:09 am
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
My wife's verdict on tonight's Torchwood: "What a load of tosh!" My wife's verdict on this weeks Veronica Mars: "When's the next episode?". She is, as always, most wise.

Spoilers for Torchwood )

Brief Spoilers for Veronica Mars )

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
Studio 60 near cancellation. Sorkin's frustratingly misfiring series is seeing a massive ratings drop-off from Heroes, and looks to be not long for this world. As the article says: "There's nothing wrong with the acting, directing, or dialogue writing. But the premise is faulty. No one cares whether a bunch of over caffeinated, well off yuppies, some with expensive drug habits, put on a weekly comedy sketch show from Los Angeles." Disappointing, but true.

Spoilers for Heroes Episodes 1 to 5 )

Speaking of Wonderfalls, showrunner Tim Minear's new series Drive has the greenlight for 13 episodes (12 plus the already filmed pilot). Given Minear's track record with Firefly, Wonderfalls and The Inside I doubt that anyone would be taking bets on this show outlasting 13 episodes. I can't say that the premise of Drive - an illegal cross-country road race focusing on an ensemble cast of characters - fills me with excitement; it comes off sounding like a cross between Cannonball Run and Lost. However Minear has a great eye for characterisation and a sharp genre sensibility, and I can see the potential for the show to subvert its premise in interesting ways. Mention of the excellent David Fincher movie The Game bodes well in that respect.

Spoilers for Torchwood Episode 3 )

BBC2

Oct. 12th, 2006 08:38 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Saturn and rings)
Tonight I got inadvertently sucked into watching a 30 minute tribute on BBC2 to Raymond Baxter, who passed away recently. It proved to be unexpectedly interesting. I wasn't really watching Tomorrow's World when he was presenting, but I have an indelible image of what he was like from various clips, and the show was clearly in its heydey under his leadership. Moreover he really does appear to have been a charming, debonair but also extremely daring presenter. I hadn't realised that he was a Spitfire pilot in World War 2, that he championed live outside broadcasts, supported Concorde from its earliest days to its final flight, and even co-created Tomorrow's World itself. Fascinating stuff.

Afterwards was a new, much longer trailer for Torchwood. It's a show I'm feeling quite meh about, but with every successive trailer I get slightly more interested. I still remain to be convinced that what the world needs is a dark, sexy post-watershed Doctor Who spinoff (or that this is all of those things), but the production values look good and the format appears to be a blend of every likeable cliche you'd expect. Apparently it'll premiere on October 22nd on BBC3 with repeats the following Wednesday on BBC2, both 9 p.m. slots. (Don't tell the BBC but knowing me I'll be watching the whole season regardless of how good or otherwise it turns out to be).

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
There's a new Police poster around Sunderland (and possibly elsewhere) warning of the potential penalties for keying a car. Apparently you could be "DNA'd". Yes, "To DNA" is now a verb. As is "To key" now I come to think of it. Not sure about that apostrophe either, although "DNAd" would look even stranger.

Other random things I have failed to mention recently:

The new Snow Patrol album is quite alarmingly anthemic, but has quite a few strong tracks amidst its blatant commercialism. I'm still making up my mind about it.

Pearl Jam's new album cements in my mind that I really don't like a good 50% of their material, and am unclear why I continue buying their stuff.

Bones is getting increasingly enteraining as the snark levels increase between the regulars. The opening credits are really annoying though, since they randomly fling actors names at you accompanied by images of entirely different actors. You'd be forgiven for thinking David Boreanaz was actually called Jonathan Adams.

The West Wing is really hard to watch with a 3 second lip-synch delay, but this week's US episode was still very entertaining. I think it's the series finale next week.

Speaking of which, I've obtained (via the pixies, don't you know) the Veronica Mars S2 finale but we haven't got round to watching it yet. I've been enjoying this show a lot recently, despite the stop-start vagueness of the season arc.

Woo! Kingdom of Heaven Director's Cut. 50 minutes of extra footage and apparently a good deal more coherent from a character standpoint, this is Ridley Scott's original cut of the film, not some cobbled together kitchen-sink-for-the-sake-of-it version. I liked the theatrical cut so we're definitely after this. It's due September 11th in the UK, a memorable date if nothing else, but it's out on 23rd May in the US, and the UK art is not a patch on the US art.

In Scotland? Visit the scenic Torchwood House and its famous observatory. More information at www.visittorchwood.co.uk. Nicely done.

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