02 June 2023

London Loop Section 15

Did this section on Saturday just gone - I would have done it this week, but train strikes meant I would have had problems getting back from Elstree.

Frequently I've had to brush mud off my walking boots when I get home from these things, but this was not the case this time - it was a pleasant and dry day, while not being too hot.

The first bit from Hatch End was one I had done before on the previous walk and was heavily overgrown in places, but once I got past the garden centre at Carpenders Park, things got a lot more pleasant, although I did end up going badly off path more than once. There's only so much Inner London Ramblers can do as they rely on cooperation with local landowners and the various councils.

I found out that the pub I'd hoped to have lunch was in fact permanently closed - and had been for a year. So, I had to go to another one nearby that was a pricey brasserie, but no eatery is really cheap at the moment in this country.

The route takes you across Stanmore Common, with views all the way to Central London on a good day.

I'm not a flower expert, but there was also a lovely field filled with what I think are buttercups, albeit near the M1.

All of this is accessible by Oyster card and contactless travel, too! Just make sure you have a printed map and some good boots. Don't wear shorts as some of the foliage is high now and occasionally prickly.

28 May 2023

US Upfronts 2023

The writers' strike in the States has severely hampered the television scene there and a lot of series will not start their new runs until next year as a result. We are 27 days into this strike, the actors' union is balloting its members for industrial action and we could see a near complete shutdown of Hollywood as a result.

After the boom, this is very much the bust. The 'main' networks are commissioning a fraction of what they were doing even a few years ago.

Some series of note:

  • NCIS: LA was cancelled after 14 seasons - I had lost interest in it a while back.
  • CSI: Vegas has gotten a third season and will likely get a fourth. While still rather good, it isn't frankly up to the original series.
  • The Arrowverse is dead as the CW refocuses its efforts on an older audience. This includes a spinoff for The Librarians, which was a TNT show and will likely be set in Europe, as North America isn't known for its castles.
  • The Blacklist will wrap its final season in July; as I predicted some years back, the grand finale will be called "Raymond Reddington". I have still to watch all of Season 9 and there is no firm UK date for Season 10.
  • Star Trek: Discovery will be cancelled after its fifth season. It's frankly run its course now but did the job of re-establishing TV Trek. The announced Academy series will likely act as something of a continuation, reusing its physical and digital assets.
  • Star Trek: Picard finished its three-season run in fine form, providing an excellent concluding chapter for the TNG-era crew.
  • CBS were boasting about having five 11-million viewer shows. I remember they used to get 20 million viewers for NCIS.
  • The new series announced for the networks look uninteresting - do we really need a cop show spinoff from The Good Wife?

26 May 2023

So, we've got these prop swords... (Review: 'Star Trek' 3.7, "Day of the Dove")

Not that long to Strange New Worlds returns - and it's got a crossover with Lower Decks that should be a lot of fun, but I'm trying to get a couple more of these in before those two shows start.

  • We've not had the Klingons turn up for a while - this is one of the three appearances of the D7 battlecruiser in the original series as transmitted, with four more added in the remastered version.
  • In this case, the Klingon makeup is really obvious. I am watching it on HD on a tablet, not on a 1960s analogue television.
  • Again, nearly all taking place on the ship, apart from one planet scene.
  • This is an interesting scenario; Star Trek often does these, but the execution is sometimes lacking.
  • We still haven't got the "honourable" Klingons we come to know and love; these ones still retain the strong Imperial Japanese and Soviet Union influence they were originally written with.
  • Warping out of the galaxy? Haven't we just had that?
  • Pretty strong anti-war message in this one, I would say.
  • I really did not like the scene where Chekov, even under the influence of an alien entity, attempts to rape the Klingon scene officer. I suspect that it would not be made in modern Trek.
  • This is the only time a female Klingon seen in TOS.
  • Lots of sword fighting in this one, including a couple of big fights in the corridor. The choreography must have been a challenge as even a blunt sword can hurt it if it hits you in the face.
  • And of course, Scotty likes claymores.
  • Shatner has some good stuff, but sometimes he's acting a bit too hard, and it shows.
  • Everybody laughs at the end - but this time it serves a purpose.


Generally, a very good episode - a great concept and on the whole, well realised. Some bits haven't dated well, mind, but that's true of TOS in general.


24 May 2023

Tina Turner 1939-2023

 We've lost another music icon, simply put. Tina Turner's career produced many an iconic banger, with "GoldenEye" in particular a contender for best Bond theme.

Few people get a musical about them while they're still alive - she was that much of a legend, overcoming a troubled childhood and abusive relationship to become one of the biggest female artists of all time.

Rest in Peace.

22 May 2023

London Loop Section 14 + a walk to Watford

Section 14 of the London Loop is a pretty short one - at just shy of five miles from end to end, including the station links, I was able to do it in just over two hours.

As stages go, it was distinctly average. There was some bad mud in the opening sections, and I decided as a result to take the suggested diversion route on the latter stages to avoid what might be an even worse bit.

I was justified - the alternative diversion is nicer with wider paths and less mud, although you do have to go through a couple of golf courses.

I'd come prepared for rain, but it stayed dry for the whole day bar some light spots in the morning. In fact, I ended up with a decent sweat and quite a few dead bugs on my neck as the insect repellent only partly worked.

As a near two-hour public transport journey each way for a comparatively short walk wasn't justified, I'd decided ahead of time to do a bit more. The 9.3-mile section onto Elstree was too long to do in an afternoon even if the light is now favourable for that, especially as I'd done five miles already.

So after, doing a chunk of Section 15 to get me to a garden centre for lunch, I used the Go Jauntly app to navigate my way to Watford Junction station through some more of the woods east of the West Coast Main Line, around four miles. This involved some overgrown and unkempt paths through the woods along with a few wrong turnings as this wasn't a guided path, but also some nicer bits like below:

My right leg was starting to complain (a fairly heavy landing from a stile that was my fault not helping), especially once I got to a forty-minute walk through Bushey and Watford itself - I considered giving up and hoping on a bus. But I persevered and made it to Watford Junction, which isn't exactly the best-looking station on the planet, before getting the LNWR train back to Euston.

Curious Dog Count was five. I think. I encountered several in one go at one point.

Planning to do Section 15 at the beginning of next month; I've got seven bits left to do and as some are combinable, I will need five days to finish the loop off.

16 May 2023

The Actually Pretty Good Corral (Review: 'Star Trek' 3.6, "Spectre of the Gun")

This is another Gene L. Coon episode, albeit written under a pseudonym and is so far frankly the best episode of Season 3 that I've seen so far.

So, my thoughts:

  • When an alien telepath tells you to turn around, it's probably a good idea. Especially as you people have encountered plenty of such situations before.
  • The half-built town, which is obviously something done for budgetary reasons (it's also all in studio), is cleverly explained.
  • The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which didn't actually take place there, also formed the basis of an entire story of Doctor Who in the Hartnell era, "The Gunfighters". It would be one of the last 'pure historical' stories i.e. a story set in the past with no science fiction episodes and isn't considered a classic.
  • Chekov really does not cover himself in glory during this - spending far too much time flirting with a vapid young woman who also does nothing for female writing in this tale.
  • There's certainly a particularly good concept here and it's well handled, with a keen sense of inevitability as the characters try to avoid the gunfight. This would have made a good plot for Legends of Tomorrow, sadly cancelled on a cliffhanger.
  • Spock is well done, proving his worth as the science officer and figuring out the situation in time to save everyone's lives. The others also do well, except for Chekov as mentioned above.
  • Clearly the budget wasn't there for the Melkotians, of which we get one entirely static creature and a voiceover.
  • Sadly, humans have not overcome their predilection for violence, as current events continue to demonstrate.


I don't think we get many great episodes in this run, but this is one of them, despite some flaws.


09 May 2023

Well, I suppose a hexagonal box doesn't need lunch (Review: 'Star Trek' 3.5, "Is There In Truth No Beauty"?)

As I continue my way through Star Trek's third season, the budget cuts remain clearly obvious - this entire episode takes place on the ship bar model/CGI shots and it's clear that the set space available is now limited.

It's also clear that interesting concepts are not working in their execution. So, my thoughts:

  • The music in this is a bit much - the dramatic stings should not be that noticeable in general.
  • Everyone's behaviour towards Dr. Jones is frankly rather chauvinistic at best. Kirk confronting her in the med bay is just unpleasant to watch.
  • Not sure how something being ugly can make someone homicidally mad. Especially as we never see the actual form of Ambassador Kollos.
  • I see this is the original of the "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations" mantra.
  • The idea of a blind person having a sensor net is an interesting one, but you'd think the technology would be smaller than a cloak.
  • Diana Muldaur, later twice nominated for an Emmy, makes her second TOS appearance here.
  • The show was still working out its mechanics of how warp drives work.
  • Nimoy gets to do something a bit different from his usual Spock acting, but then it all goes to pot when he goes crazy.
  • Indeed, the other bit of going crazy acting isn't that good either.
  • The fight scenes we get in this look particularly badly done, even for a show not known for its realistic hand-to-hand combat.
  • Perhaps this was a lower-budget episode to save money for elsewhere?


Not a good episode, sadly, but it isn't awful. I hope something better comes along as we continue, but I'm not optimistic.