26 June 2022

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

Watched the first episode of this on Paramount Plus. Has a lot of promise and I intend to get to the others at some point soon. Quite a lot competing for the limited attention of my eyeballs at the moment. 

24 June 2022

Roe v. Wade overturning

The US Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade is a regressive decision that will harm many thousands of women. It needs to be overturned itself - at the ballot box.

I may find the concept of abortion personally distasteful, but the best way to reduce its occurrence is through better contraception and better education, not this.

18 June 2022

Stranger Things 4 Volume 1

So, just a warning, this post contains spoilers. Although I'll give you a paragraph or two before I actually launch into them.

I didn't actually join Netflix for Stranger Things back in 2016; I came in 2017 for Star Trek: Discovery, which is no longer carried by that platform in the UK and also Mystery Science Theater 3000, which was cancelled there, now operating on its own streaming service.

I don't actually remember when I watched the previous seasons and since I generally don't note TV shows I've watched in my diary (although films I do), I can't really check.

But it's simply put a brilliant show and the latest season has knocked it out of the park...

Spoilers start here

With a spiked baseball bat, which isn't a weapon actually used by Steve "The Hair" Harrington in this series.

The show has a superb atmosphere, storylines with some real depth to them, great production design and - most importantly - a host of characters you will grow to love, played brilliantly by a talented cast. My personal favourite is Robin, but Nancy is handy to have in a fight.

The scene that everyone is talking about is the conclusion of episode 4 - "Dear Billy":

"Girl saved from demon by Kate Bush song" is a concept that when you type it on the screen, but it absolutely works here thanks for a masterful combination of all departments. I came into the second half of this episode (having watched the first part bit on my commute) seriously concerned for Max and fully prepared to write a Facebook post bemoaning her death. The tension is kept going right throughout, with the four-second cut to black a genius stroke in the edit suite, as that's usually when the credits start. It's frankly up there with Doctor Who regeneration scenes in being that good.

Looking forward to Volume 2 and hoping none of the main characters die. They're all loveable.

03 June 2022

Queen's Platinum Jubilee Celebrations

The longest reigning monarch in British history has frankly done an excellent job. There have been hiccups and problems along the way for the Royal Family, but she has managed to keep going and serving through all of them. She keeps going even when many others would have retired.

Thank you very much, Your Majesty. Enjoy the celebrations.

02 June 2022

London Loop Sections 4 & 5

I did Section 4 of the London Loop on the May Day Holiday; that resulted in me doing over 30,000 steps for the day and breaking my all-time personal record in that department. It's over nine miles with the walk from Hayes station, although proper stretching resulted in a good deal less pain afterwards than previously.

It's been over a month in any event and so memories are a bit hazy. You're in the foothills of the Downs at this point and can see the towers of Central London or the Docklands from a few vantage points, depending on conditions.

These walks vary between large parks where there are plenty of people (and their dogs) about and more remote wooded areas where you might be the only person for half a mile or so. There are patches of civilisation though, sometimes outright suburbia.

Had a very good lunch at the Surprise Inn, where the waiter/manager noticed and remarked on my book. "I've walked from X" never fails to impress.

The route was a challenge in places, especially once you're into the fifth hour of walking, and I was glad when I reached the road that marks the end.

Section 4 ends at Hamsey Green, a village you haven't heard of and without a railway station, so you need a bus to get to one. That will be East Croydon if you're going a longer distance due to more frequent and faster trains. There is a Wendy's there and yes, I did post something about that on Reddit.

30 May 2022

Elizabeth Line Central Core visit

Took a ride on this today, getting off at most of the stations and having a look around. It's a great line and will be an even better one once fully connected up; fast trains, great information displays and huge platforms.

I also had some other good fortune as an enthusiast today:
  • witnessing a "scrap move" of two of Southern's withdrawn Class 455s
  • seeing a Class 59 and a 2EPB on my journey out to Hayes & Harlington
  • Arriving at Romford in time to see two of the older Class 315s arriving. Video to go on YouTube.
Some of my photos are below.

21 May 2022

US TV Upfronts 2022

 Some reflections on the recent spate of renewals, cancellations and orders etc.

  • The CW, a network that usually gives its shows a final season order to allow them to wrap up their stories, is now up for sale - and decided to go on a show-killing spree, cancelling no less than nine shows, with only Riverdale getting a final season order. Among these was Legends of Tomorrow, the only Arrowverse show I watched regularly and managed to reinvent itself multiple times, which has gone on a cliffhanger ending, which seems very unwise. There is a fan campaign for a renewal, but I don't place too much hope in these things.
  • I've yet to see CSI: Vegas, which I expect will get an airing on Paramount Plus when it starts here in June, but that got renewed.
  • Blue Bloods is still going, although with a black female NYPD commissioner in real life, is looking rather unrealistic now...
  • The Blacklist is still going too; I've yet to see Season 9, so I can't comment.
  • Yet to see Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (no UK release until June) but Star Trek: Picard after a very good start, really failed to stick the landing. The third season looks very much a TNG reunion and a send-off for Picard. I will be watching that along with Season 5 of Discovery. The best show in the franchise is frankly Lower Decks.
  • The bloom has come very much off the rose with Netflix. They had an expensive flop with Cowboy Bebop (and with that, a lot of pressure will on One Piece to be good), Stranger Things is ending and the tent pole shows are not enough now. With the economic downturn and inflation, many people are cutting back. Netflix will likely have to go for advertising to survive.
  • Advertising, though, will be a problem due to the likely global recession we're heading towards.
  • Apple TV have become a big name in the streaming world with a lot of highly talked about shows. I intend to watch For All Mankind at some point once I've finished French series Missions on BBC4.
  • None of the US network orders have really inspired me; I've not even watched any trailers. They will need to up their game to survive.