31 March 2016

Ronnie Corbett 1930-2016

I'm having to write a lot of these posts at the moment because we're losing so many legends; this is the sixth one I've written so far in 2016 and we're only a quarter of the way through.

Ronnie Corbett had a long and truly excellent career in comedy; his gags have truly stood the test of time and remain funny today; there are very few of his overall quality (not to mention accessibility to a family audience) out there at the moment.

Many people will be lighting metaphorical candles in his memory tonight... four of them of course.

Rest in Peace.

Things what I have watched - March 2016

I would like to apologise for the short one last month - this was due to me being pretty busy at the time. I will aim for at least five each month.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow

With Arthur Darvill as a lead (he actually comes second in the credits to the excellent Victor Garber) working for an organisation called the Time Masters, the Doctor Who comparisons become inevitable, although Rip Hunter actually first appeared in Showcase #20 in 1959, pre-dating that show by four years. At any rate, it's not that show - with a lot more violence by the crew of Darvill's time ship.

Agent Carter

This is looking likely to be axed after two seasons; Hayley Atwell has been signed up for another pilot on ABC (where she will probably use her excellent American accent) and Marvel are likely to move forward with the Lance Hunter/Bobbi Morse spinoff that wasn't ordered last season. It would be a pity as this is an enjoyable show, with both Atwell (who is a popular suggestion for a female Doctor) and James D'Arcy delivering strong performances with excellent British humour in them. That said, it might be best not to let this run on for too long.

Line of Duty

The third series of this police drama opened in rather different style in which we clearly see that the subject of their investigation is clearly guilty of murder... but then pulls the metaphorical rug out from under us by having

Happy Valley

Definitely one of the best dramas in recent years and proof positive that a sojourn in Weatherfield (especially behind the bar of the Rovers Return) does not mean you are a bad actor; Sarah Lancashire was superb, as was Katherine Kelly. Wouldn't be surprised to see this get an American remake.

The Night Manager

I was already a fan of Tom Hiddleston due to his Marvel work previously, but he's just got himself a much bigger fan base, probably because he keeps mislaying his shirt in this. If he becomes the next Bond, I won't be surprised. The demonstration sequence in Episode 5 featured some truly impressive explosive work (costing a million quid just for that sequence) even if Tom Hollander causing Thor problems in a fight isn't entirely realistic.


This Welsh set comedy drama isn't exactly the most realistic drama around with coincidences and general silliness galore, but I sincerely hope that Ivan Schloss packed lunch. An eight hour ride in a two-car Sprinter to Middlesbrough...

24 March 2016

The man who showed us another way

In this time of increasing intolerance and fracturing of our social values, I continue to find comfort in someone who preached forgiveness and loving your neighbours.

Happy Easter to all my readers.

18 March 2016

We've got to take action ourselves

We (as in, but not limited to, socialists/social democrats, trade unionists, religious groups) are going to have to start dipping into our own pockets and setting up new public services ourselves because of the cuts. Communities and organisations. are going to have to do what the government doesn't want to. Indeed, that's actually how many schools got started originally in this country - church organised schools for poor children. We're going socially back to the Victorian era in this country sadly.

It will be four years at least before Labour can return to power and some of the changes are probably impossible to undo easily, if at all.

In the meantime, we can start building a better society from the grass-roots either by volunteering or by your money. It's a far more constructive use of our time than insulting each other.

12 March 2016

Ghostbusters - the female version

So, I've watched the trailers for the Paul Feig Ghostbusters remake due out later this year - and I have to say that it's not that bad. Self-referential humour is very much the norm these days - and for those complaining about the black character; 1) I know more than one person like that in RL and 3) she's the sensible, practical one, which is actually a bonus. Not perfect, but a sight better than many black characters over the years. If the reviews are good enough, I might even go to the cinema for this one.

I appreciate that people might not like it and feel it's another cash grab, but cash grabs are older than you might think; Abbot and Costello were doing cash grab films... and in fact the first remake was in 1904... of the 1903 film The Great Train Robbery i.e. the first American film with an actual narrative plot...

10 March 2016

Sir Ken Adam 1921-2016

The legenday set designer has died.

His work on the Bond movies is truly brilliant and set the standard for his successors to follow; even with the limited budget of Dr No, he did wonders... and when he got the 007 Stage to play with at Pinewood, he created a truly magnificent one:
The Supertanker set from The Spy Who Loved Me (MGM via IMDB)

In fact, I can truly say that nobody did it better in terms of set design. Rest in Peace.

04 March 2016

Because I Got High (Review: 'Star Trek' 1.24, "This Side of Paradise")

I have wondered on more than one occasion during this watch if drugs were involved in the writing. In this case, you can wonder if drugs were involved in the acting...


The Enterprise crew beams down to a human colony on an agricultural world where by rights the entire population should have been killed by radiation - yet they are all alive and seemingly very happy.

Yep, it's another supposedly idyllic world that turns out to have something a great deal darker about it...

This review contains spoilers.

The reason why everyone is so happy is due to alien spores that give him perfect health and place them in a state of contented bliss. It's a message saying that the 'drugs don't work' which is possibly what might have been needed in the LSD decade, although Kirk's final comment that humanity needs to struggle to achieve things in order to be human is rather downbeat - especially in the show that is itself set in a sort of utopia where poverty is a thing of the past in the Federation.

The spores end up infecting the entire crew of the UFP spaceship, making Spock fall in love with an airy woman called Leila (she's got him on his knees!) and hang from a branch like a primate, McCoy gets very Southern indeed and Uhura demonstrates a hitherto not demonstrated technical ability when she sabotages the communications console. These first two are all pretty funny, but timing prohibits us from seeing Sulu or Scotty fully on the space whaccy-baccy, which is a pity, because Leila is pretty annoying.

Even Kirk gets infected, but his love for his ship manages to stop him from beaming down and destroys the spores. He realises that strong emotions are the way to deal with it and so ends up racially insulting Spock... repeatedly until he attacks him in a fight sequence with some obvious stunt doubles.

The guest stars are pretty forgettable - I couldn't even remember the name of the other guy, played by Frank Overton in his final TV role before dying a month after transmission of a heart attack aged only 49. I do note that the colony is somewhat ethnically diverse, which Trek has been at the forefront of to some extent.

Much of this is filmed on location; in a wood this time, as well as some farm buildings (at the oft used Golden Oak Ranch owned by Disney) that these blissed out characters somehow managed to erect. There are barns, but no-one even fires at the broad sides sadly...


A chance to see the crew of NCC-1701 acting out of character; this is an enjoyable tale even if possibly a bit too negative in its overall message.