Me too…

August 8th, 2014

Grootify anything:

Did you ever wish you could just transform any text anywhere on the Internet with "I am Groot"?

Of course you did. Or should.

For what it's worth, I keep seeing people say that Guardians of the Galaxy came out a bit like a Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Firefly/Serenity. Seems to me that it's a much closer match for Farscape:

  • A human hero a long way from home…
  • Who gradually forms a familial bond with a bunch of alien prisoners…
  • Chasing / being chased round a big old universe full of colourful characters…
  • Our Hero keeps on spouting pop culture references and figures of speech that are lost on his companions…
  • Swagger. Lots and lots of swagger.

I'll freely acknowledge that four seasons of TV gave Rockne S O'Bannon and friends way more scope to develop their characters than James Gunn and co. had, but even so I've got to say that Scorpius (and Harvey) was a much more fun villain than Ronan The Accuser or Thanos.1

[Via The Dissolve]

  1. To be fair, I have a good deal of confidence in Marvel that when they finally get round to making Thanos the Big Bad of a whole movie this oh so slow buildup he's been getting will pay off big time. I mean, these are the people who make a blockbuster movie out of Guardians of the Galaxy. If someone had suggested that notion back in 1998 when Blade kicked off the current wave of Marvel film adaptations you'd have laughed in their face at the very idea! At this point, I wouldn't put it past Marvel to deal with their lack-of-a-female-lead-character problem by bringing Squirrel Girl to the big screen. And having her story pull in US$100m on the opening weekend!

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IMCDb.org

June 30th, 2014

You might have thought that the Internet Movie Database had cornered the market in film-related data. You'd be wrong. Sometimes the Trivia section of the IMDB just isn't up to the job, and there's nothing for it but to consult the Internet Movie Cars Database. Seriously, this exists and seems to be ridiculously thorough.

For sentimental reasons I asked it for appearances in film and TV by the Vauxhall Chevette and it brought up two pages of results, with screencaps, confirming that between the mid-1970s and the 1980s you couldn't walk up a streets anywhere in the United Kingdom without seeing a Chevette parked. It even had a starring role in an episode of The Likely Lads and a bit part in Christopher Eccleston's season on Doctor Who.1

Seriously, I know most of us don't need to use a resource like the Internet Movie Cars Database on a daily basis, but it's good to know that it's out there, being maintained by people who care about making this sort of information freely available to the rest of us.

[Via Matt Patches, talking in the Fighting In The War Room podcast at the 15:36 mark while reviewing David Michod's The Rover. (Not talking about the Vauxhall Chevette specifically, mind, just about the existence of the IMCDb itself.)]

  1. It was in Father's Day. Holy crap! Was that the car that ran Pete Tyler over?

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Edge of Darkness

June 30th, 2014

A quick note for UK-based readers: BBC4 are starting a repeat run for Edge of Darkness later tonight at 10pm 11pm.1 Not the Mel Gibson remake: the original miniseries with Bob Peck (never better), lashings of paranoia, a bit of fringe environmentalism, and more than a dash of of sheer weirdness. Quite possibly the best miniseries produced by British television in the 1980s, rivalled only by Boys from the Blackstuff and The Beiderbecke Affair (if you don't disqualify the latter from the category of miniseries for having two followup series.)

I haven't seen Edge of Darkness since the original broadcast, and I'm curious as to how it'll look almost 30 years on. I have a horrible feeling that the answer will be "prescient."

[Via The Guardian]

  1. Sorry!

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Behold, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves; be therefore as cunning as serpents and as harmless as doves.

March 11th, 2014

Mallory Ortberg, reacting to a surfeit of Sherlock Holmes adaptations in recent years, reckons it's past time for a proper, working class hero. In other words, it's time for a Columbo reboot:

Columbo says things like "Watch my hand, it's full of grease. This is my dinner. Would you like a piece of chicken?" to suspects. He is deliberate. He moves at the pace of justice. Unflagging, unwearying, unrelenting; he is the Anton Chigurh of goodness. The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards Columbo. It is his fundamental goodness, as much as his native intelligence, that make him a good detective. He is not a remote genius; he is not a refined gentleman; he is a good man, and it is this that makes him not just a good detective but my detective. He is America's detective. A good and a quiet man who brings his own lunch and will not go away until order is restored.

The article (and the accompanying comment thread) suggest some fine choices for the role. John C Reilly. An unshaven Stanley Tucci. Margo Martindale. Mark Ruffalo. Colm Meaney.

I'd suggest Tony Shalhoub1 or David Morrissey or Andre Braugher,2 but failing that I reckon Margo Martindale3 or Mark Ruffalo would be amazing in the role.

One way or another, someone needs to make this happen.

[Via LinkMachineGo!]

  1. Yes, I know Monk was arguably too close to the same ground for comfort. I still think Shalhoub could be so good as Lt Columbo.
  2. Lt Columbo and Frank Pembleton: how's that for contrasting styles of detective?
  3. If you haven't seen her in Justified season 2, do so. You will not regret it.

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Time Can Be Rewritten, but is it?

March 6th, 2014

Philip Sandifer's meditation on what The Day of the Doctor tells us about the differing ways Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat see the Doctor is quite fascinating:

As with many fan debates on Tumblr, the immediate fallout of The Day of the Doctor had no shortage of straw men, with people angrily reacting against points that never actually got made. (See also the "legions" of fans who aren't going to watch Peter Capaldi because he's old and unattractive.) Still, there's an interesting fault line that opens up in the question of just how much of a retcon The Day of the Doctor is – one that is revealing in terms of the sorts of details that each argument prioritizes.

Once I've caught up on the comments on his post, I'm going to have to rewatch TDOTD at least one more time and have a think about all this. Good stuff.

[Via The Great Escapism]

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Leia's a perfectly good name, though…

February 22nd, 2014

I'm indebted to Stu for reminding me of this perfect epilogue to Spaced, which I believe can be found on the DVD boxset:

Awwwww.

[Via feeling listless]

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Periodic Table of Storytelling

February 1st, 2014

James R Harris has constructed a Periodic Table of Storytelling and it is awesome.1

[Via LinkMachineGo!]

  1. Warning: contains links to TVTropes. Do not follow that link if you had plans to get anything important done in the next three hours.

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Itty Bitty Orphan Black

December 15th, 2013

Reading Issue 1 of Itty Bitty Orphan Black's Marvel Babies-style prequel to Orphan Black, I'm torn between thinking how nicely the cartoonist has captured Lil' Cosima, Sarah, Helena and Alison and remembering that according to season 1 of the show they didn't know one another existed when they met as adults so how the hell could they all have gone to school together! I'm trying hard to let the former reaction win out.

Little Orphan Black cast (cast)

If you missed Orphan Black then it's well worth catching up on, not just for Tatiana Maslany's amazing performances as about half of the main cast, but also for the way they kept on piling up the complications across the entire first season and teased so many potentially fun plots for season 2.1 Please let the writers not screw it up in season 2 by losing control of their plot.

[Via The A.V. Club]

  1. Me, I want to know more about what Mrs S was involved in back in the day: I'm damn sure there's more to it than Felix and Sarah know.

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Visualising Morphology

December 11th, 2013

I wish the creators of Visualizing Buffy and Rocky Morphology could combine forces to bring us a Buffy Morphology.

[Visualizing Buffy via Extenuating Circumstances, Rocky Morphology via Flowing Data]

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Throwable and edible, but not soluble

December 4th, 2013

Food Stylist Chris Oliver's work in film and TV doesn't just involve preparing food for people:

On Boardwalk Empire, I had to do an edible arm that they have to throw and the alligator eats it in the scene. They are heavy, 50 pounds easily. I had to make a cast of it and make it so it's throwable and wouldn't dissolve in the water.

(See also her story of a close encounter with a tiger that wasn't going to be satisfied by fake food.)

[Via The Dissolve]

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Definitely not the one you were expecting.

November 14th, 2013

Here's the thing. I'd call myself a Doctor Who fan, but I'm really just a lightweight. I watched the show growing up, starting with the tail end of the Patrick Troughton era and then watching right through the Pertwee and Tom Baker years and then bailing out when Tristan Farnon took on the role. I barely saw any of Six and Seven's episodes and didn't feel the loss. I watched the TV movie and disliked almost everything about it: the Doctor being half-human, the Master being nothing whatsoever like Roger Delgado, you name it.

I was intrigued at the prospect of the show returning, and deeply relieved that Christopher Eccleston was terrific and the show was confidently moving forward, even if some of the modern trappings irk me a bit.1 I've been happy to follow the show since: when it's good, it's very good indeed, and as the poor stories are mostly just a single episode long I'm willing to let the odd duff one go because I know a better one will be along shortly and in the meantime there'll be a nice character bit from Matt Smith or Rory will step up and do something remarkable or Donna will turn out to be the most important person in the entire universe.

Outside of the TV episodes, I've never been inclined to follow the tie-ins, beyond having read a few of the early novelisations back during that first spell watching the show, and I've never been tempted to look back into the seasons and Doctors I missed out on. As I say, a bit of a lightweight fan.

I say all this to explain why I shouldn't really be all that excited at The Night of the Doctor: A Mini Episode.

And yet, I am. Not as excited as Stu, for whom Eight is "his" Doctor, but still weirdly thrilled. Realising what I was watching immediately planted a huge grin on my face that still hasn't quite faded.

Seeing the producers pull something like this out of the bag makes me think that Moffat and co. might just blow all our socks off with the 50th anniversary story.2

  1. The whole idea that the default Companion is a young, attractive female who might well end up snogging the Doctor. The notion that the Doctor is famous. The sonic screwdriver being so much more capable, and being wielded like it's a magic wand. John Simm playing The Master when they should have kept Derek Jacobi around to be a properly scary contrast to David Tennant's Doctor. The need to tie every season into an arc story. Not show-stoppers, by any means.
  2. I know this almost certainly won't come to pass given the actor's misgivings about returning to the role, but wouldn't it be great if the appearance of the War Doctor in the special ended with his regenerating and Nine getting up just in time to go off to London and meet up with Rose.

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Sad now

November 4th, 2013

[Via Extenuating Circumstances]

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His other time machine…

October 24th, 2013

His other time machine...

If only his TARDIS had a working chameleon circuit, his other time machine could be a DeLorean too…

[Via fuck yeah, science fiction!]

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Danger Zone

October 22nd, 2013

Danger Zone: Funniest Archer Moments:

I just don't know why Channel 5 would bury a show that reliably funny (and filthy) at 2:30 in the morning.

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20 after 20

September 19th, 2013

On the 20th anniversary of the premiere of Frasier, 20 Reasons "Frasier" Is The Best Sitcom Of All Time.

I'm not sure I'd crown it the very greatest of them all, but it was certainly a contender. See this 2004 post for my comments on the best ever UK sitcoms, including a few notes on US contenders for the global title. Other than not forgetting The Simpsons this time round, I don't know that I'd change a thing.1

  1. Which is either a sign of how few really good sitcoms have appeared in the last decade, or of my no longer being in the demographic the schedulers are aiming for. Or possibly a bit of both.

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Norman?

September 18th, 2013

I'm indebted to Andrew Collins in his weekly Telly Addict video for the Guardian for pointing out how familiar one of the regulars in Bates Motel looks:

Nestor or Tony?

If I didn't know that Tony Perkins was long gone, I'd be thinking that he'd been invited to guest on the show as a bit of stunt casting. Spooky.

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'Make no mistake: She's a dancer.'

September 2nd, 2013

John Lahr profiles Claire Danes in The New Yorker.

Lahr's profile touches on many of the highs and lows of her career, with particular attention paid to Homeland for obvious reasons, but for me the highlight is – and probably always will be, no matter what she's cast in for the rest of her career – the role that made her famous, that of Angela Chase. Picture the scene, with My So-Called Life's producers Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz and the show's writer Winnie Holzman auditioning two actresses for the role:

[Alicia] Silverstone auditioned first. Zwick, impressed, told Herskovitz, "It's done. Just cast her." But Herskovitz thought she was too pretty for Holzman's messy high-school universe, which included subplots about drug addiction, bullying, binge drinking, promiscuity, and homosexuality. "Alicia is so beautiful that that would have affected her experience of the world. People would have been telling her she was beautiful since she was six years old. You can't put that face in what's been written for this girl," he argued. Linda Lowy, the casting director, suggested that they see Danes before deciding. "From the minute she walked in the room, Claire was chilling, astounding, and silent," Lowy said. "There was so much power coming out of her without her doing much." One of the scenes that Danes read – which involved a nervy bathroom breakup with Angela's best friend, Sharon – required her to cry. "Tell me what I did, Angela. I mean, I would really like to know," Sharon says. "We get to that line and Claire's face turns entirely red," Herskovitz said. "Her body starts to vibrate and tears come into her eyes. You realize that she's having a physical experience that is beyond acting." Even then, Danes's defining quality as an actress – a combination of thoughtfulness and impulsiveness – was on display. "She seemed to have been born fully grown, you know, out of a seashell," Herskovitz said. Zwick claimed that Danes was his first sighting of a "wise child," a rare species that show business occasionally tosses up. As he put it later, "What she knows cannot be taught." Danes also satisfied another quality that Holzman's script called for: her face could transform in an instant from beautiful to ordinary.

Holzman's pilot for "My So-Called Life" (then titled "Someone Like Me") was meant to trap "a naked quality, not a person but a feeling of freedom and bondage, shyness and fearlessness," she said. Holzman found herself staring at this protean paradox in the flesh. Danes "was sexy and not sexy, free and bound up, open and closed, funny and frighteningly serious," Holzman recalled. Her performance freed Holzman's imagination. "We gave birth to each other," she said. "I was looking at someone who literally could do anything, and so I could, too." The novelist and television writer Richard Kramer, who worked on "My So-Called Life," places Holzman's writing for the show on a continuum of original television voices that leads from her to Mike White, Larry David, and Lena Dunham. "Winnie wouldn't be Winnie without Claire," he said. "And Claire wouldn't be Claire without Winnie. There was something mythological about their meeting."

After Danes left the audition room, Lowy recalled, "no one could really speak." In the excitement of the moment, the production team found themselves faced with a conundrum. Silverstone was sixteen and "emancipated," meaning, in Hollywood's piquant terminology, that she could work very long days. Danes was thirteen and, by law, had to go to school. If they cast Silverstone, they could move ahead with the show they'd written; if they opted for Danes, they'd have to adapt later scripts to accommodate her schedule. "We turned to Winnie," Herskovitz recalled. "Winnie said, 'Let's change the nature of the show.' " He added, "In that moment, we decided to include the lives of the parents more."

A fortunate day for everyone except Alicia Silverstone.1

[Via Longform]

  1. But then, had she been contracted to a TV show in 1994/5 and waiting to see if it would be renewed Silverstone might not have been free to play Cher Horowitz. Which would also have been a shame.

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'If you have 1 bullet to take down 3 guys in close quarters you are betting your life on some lucky breaks, so try not to let it happen.'

August 7th, 2013

One of the most enjoyable aspects of Burn Notice is lead character Michael Westen's laconic voiceovers, letting us non-spies in on the tricks of the trade as he's setting up a scam / undertaking surveillance / planning to insert himself in a situation where he's not welcome. Spy Training 101 consists of transcripts of these voiceovers from the first three seasons. From the pilot episode:

If you're surrounded by hostile aspiring warlords when you get abandoned by the CIA do anything to remove yourself from being surrounded to even the odds a bit. If you get in a fight be careful not to hurt your hand: elbows are effective and bathrooms with lots of hard surfaces also help. A dirt bike is a good choice for an escape vehicle. Wearing a bathing suit eliminates some suspicions because hiding a gun in a bathing suit doesn't work so well. […]

Good to know…

[Via Zed Lopez]

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How We Got To Now

August 6th, 2013

Steven Johnson is working on a TV series, a six-part PBS series to be distributed outside the USA by BBC Worldwide1 called How We Got To Now:

Alongside the bizarre coincidences, intense rivalries, terrible failures and moments of heroic achievement that made theories into realities, HOW WE GOT TO NOW uses historical precedents and modern-day analogies to explain why it's not always the smartest person in the room who has the best idea. From frozen foods entrepreneur Clarence Birdseye to Internet visionary Tim Berners-Lee, Hollywood "Golden Age" actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr to mother of radioactivity Marie Curie, and from Thomas Alva Edison to Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, the series shows how the best ideas can come from surprising places (and take years to shape), as well as how amateurs can revolutionize specialist fields, and why patents are sometimes a big idea's worst enemy.

[Via stevenberlinjohnson.com]

  1. So with any luck it'll turn up on the BBC eventually…

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Daria Movie Trailer

July 26th, 2013

Daria: The Movie trailer.

If only…

[Via MetaFilter]

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