Feb 2012 28

A friend at work asked me a few weeks ago ‘Do you watch Storage Wars?’.  I didn’t realise this simple question would become the start of an obsession.  Storage Wars is a simple premise, storage units which which have been forgotten about are put up for auction. Hang on I will let them explain it:

So you get the idea, the characters are larger than life and one in particular Barry Weiss is worth his weight in gold.  They could have ruined the show by concentrating on what must be some very tragic stories of how these units ended up being available.  Luckily they took the lighter tone of concentrating on the three individuals and one couples battles to secure the mystery units. Watch the next clip to see they kind of things they find:

This might not be for you but I highly recommend giving it a try.  Storage Wars is on the History Channel most of the time somewhere in between or after Pawn Stars and American Pickers.

TW

Feb 2012 28

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Battle of the Planets was my favourite cartoon as a kid. So I nearly fell off my perch when I found the above image of a toy of their ship the Phoenix!

Some would say the old Millenium Falcon was the coolest ship. I say this!

NP

Feb 2012 29

 

1) Veronica Mars – Veronica Mars

2) Columbo – Columbo

3) Jimmy McNulty – The Wire

4) Sherlock Holmes – Benedict Cumberbatch

5) Jane Tennison – Prime Suspect

 

Now obviously you may disagree with me and more than likely about my number one choice. A character from a show that was cancelled after three season and very few of you probably have even heard of.  But I loved Veronica Mars, she rocked my world with some great dialogue, use of gadgets and an array of sassy outfits.  I urge you to at least give a few shows of season one a watch before you judge me.

 

Special mention also to my favorite drunk detective McNulty from The Wire an incredible bit of acting by Dominic West.

 

These are my views and I know for a fact do not represent the views of my fellow contributors.  So use the comment button and let the debate begin!

Wear the Geek
Mar 2012 04

 

 Uber awesome array of individually designed geek t-shirts and hoodies unavailable anywhere else. Choose your design (from a huge selection) and size:

http://www.redbubble.com/shop/geek+t-shirts

NP

 

Mar 2012 13

Why Videos go Viral,

Ted.com is always full of the most interesting keynote speeches, having an above normal interest in Broadcast, Video on demand, catchup TV and other internet video industries I found this to be an interesting insight as to why Youtube.com think videos go viral. (and its not all cats as you might think!)

When Columbo got ‘Lynched’
Mar 2012 15

As a genuine fan of Columbo, the original ‘daddy’ of the detective tv series, I have seen every episode. As is widely known, Columbo established a narrative based not on the whodunnit model, but the howdunnit model. Each episode starts with a murder being plotted, or at least the build up to an impulsive killing and the subsequent well thought out cover-up.

As soon as our crumpled, cigar smoking hero appears, squinting in the California sunlight, the game of cat and mouse begins. Which clues will he pick up on, where did the killer get it wrong? It’s a format of repetition, and hence why it was so successful.

However, one episode stands out from all the rest, a curio in the vault, that is such an oddity, it has to be highlighted. Episode 6 of series 5 (1976) titled ‘Last Salute to the Commodore’ is a bizarre addition to the Columbo collection. Directed by long time collaborator on the series, and star of iconic 60s series The Prisoner, Patrick McGoohan, it is almost unwatchable. And yet, for Columbo enthusiasts it’s a must, if for no better reason than seeing their favourite detective appear as he doesn’t in any other episode.

From his opening swivel in a porch doorway, to his rowing off on the ocean in a small boat, Falk plays Columbo as a kind of raving madman. He shouts and gesticulates his way through the episode as if possessed by some demonic drunkard, standing in bizarre poses and spewing crazy lines. The narrative flings open a new approach by cutting to a dead body with no sign of murder and flips things on their heads by asking us to revert to the whodunnit formula.

Every role in this episode is a caricature, mostly mumbling incoherent drunken lines to one another or giggling, or yelling. You’re never quite sure what’s happening as minutes are spent talking about inane facts that have nothing to do with the plot. The whole thing, if played straight in traditional Columbo style, would be done in 20 mins. This lasts another 70.

It’s not that the episode has no redeeming features, it does. I’m just not sure what they are. I can only describe it as Columbo as if David Lynch had got involved.

So here’s to ‘Last Salute to the Commodore’ a genuinely glorious, odd and almost unwatchable piece of 70s television.

See it.

last salute final scene

NP

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Mar 2012 20

My father Mel Williams was a Creative in advertising from the 70’s through to the late 90’s when tragically he passed away at the age of 48.  It has taken me over a decade to pluck up the courage to go back and look through his archive of VHS tapes and photographs (I wish I had done it sooner mainly because finding a VHS player that works is a nightmare).  I will be posting over the coming weeks samples of his work which I hope you will enjoy and find interesting.  First up the advert which was his most well received and the most successful UK car campaign of all time.

Something that isn’t common knowledge is the original concept that Mel and his copy writer Tago Byers came up with would only feature Nicole and Papa as one of a set of characters in a fictional French village.  More like a series of French farces giving you a flavour of the romanticised French lifestyle.  This was all during the same period of time as the book a ‘Year in Provence’ by Peter Mayle was released which really sparked a English love affair with rural France.

I hope it brings back some memories and that they are good ones.

115 Reasons Why We Love Joss Whedon’s “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”
Mar 2012 27

 

Follow the link to see 115 reason why you loved Buffy, if you didn’t watch it follow the link to see 115 reason why you should!

115 Reasons Why We Love Joss Whedon’s “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”.

The ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 2 Thronedown – If You’re Not Watching, You Should Be
Apr 2012 03

Last night, the first episode of the second season aired in the UK on Sky Atlantic (a day later than our American cousins) and has subsequently been met with strong praise. The second series retains the trademark dark, cynical and complex take on the fantasy genre and rode into town on its monstrous televisual warhorse, slaying all unbelievers with the power of HD visuals projected onto liquid crystals.

That said, I have to admit that Game of Thrones is a difficult sell to someone who is a fantasy-sceptic (read my piece about genre snobs here), but nonetheless appears to be gathering viewers. Hoping to emulate the Lord of the Rings film series’ mainstream crossover success, it has had strong numbers already, evidenced by this article at The Guardian that throws out there that GOT had almost 5 times as many viewers as Mad Men in the first episode of their respective new seasons.

When a fantasy series rates so strongly against a critically-lauded, viewer-beloved series such as Mad Men, you know that this is more than the sum of its parts. What am I saying though? You should know this already, after all, it is an HBO show, it has talented actors (who previously plied their trade in film, stage and screen), and an eye-wateringly high budget, which is the envy of many feature films…I should say that I’m not directly comparing Mad Men and Game of Thrones though, they both have their own considerable merits.

Tyrion Lannister: love this guy

So, after all that fawning foreplay, you probably want to know what the first episode was like? I hate to be so predictable, but I can only say positive things about this hour of televisual delight. A hell of a lot of plot, scene-setting and characters were introduced with minimal ham-fisted exposition, and they even found time for some violence and nudity (hey, it is HBO after all), best of all though, was the welcome return of Peter Dinklage, who brought his wry take on Tyrion Lannister back to our TV screens. If you haven’t watched the first series (as a certain Guardian critic confessed before uncharitably criticising this episode), go back, watch that first. Like The Wire, The Sopranos and Mad Men, the dense plot and character relationships only make an iota of sense with the proper set-up. I’m looking forward to the next ten weeks of screen-based delight.

I haven’t read the books, but if the series continues in this vein, we could be talking about the Television Event of the Year. In April.

TA

Opinionated Rant: Read the Book Before You See the Movie… Uh, Why?
Apr 2012 09

“Y’know you should read the book before you see the film, it’s far superior”

“The book is so much better than the movie”

“They left so much out of the film that it was nowhere near as good as the book”

… I’m sure you’ve probably heard one of these statements before, you’ve probably even said it at one point. And that’s ok, sometimes it’s true, the book can be better than the movie.

“Problem solved then I guess?”

“That was a short article”

“I suppose we can close the book on this one then!”

Well, not quite. I was sitting down to watch the recent film version of ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ a few nights ago, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t read the book. Despite it being a fixture in middle-class book clubs, with middle-class, middle-aged parents recommending it to their emotionally precocious teenage daughters and it topping the bestseller lists on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond, it had somehow passed me by. Suddenly I couldn’t do it, I had to stop the film and order the book on my Kindle before I could allow this situation to endure. But why?

Continue reading here…

TA

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