Category Archives: TV
The magic of Netflix is that every now and then you are flicking through all the crap that is presented side by side and you come across something pretty interesting. One such example is when I came across Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. So first off you see the cover, Neil Patrick Harris (Barney from HIMYM) in a white over coat and massive goggles. Good start. Also it is 40 mins long so not too much time to invest. Right, its got my interest, little bit more persuasion needed through. I scroll down the info and see “Directed by – Joss Wheaten”. HOLD THE PHONE. This was made in 2008 and I missed it how? (The reason being it was distributed on-line only) So this is a one-off special by the great Geek Messiah and I was not aware of its existence. OK I’m on board now, but wait there is more, “staring – Nathan Fillion”. Capitan Reynolds is a main character. Sweet baby Jesus! Nothing, and I mean NOTHING can put me off watching this. “This musical adventure”……wait, it’s a musical, really? Eh….ok well lets give it a try.
So the basic premise is that we have Dr Horrible (Patrick Harris) who is an aspiring evil genius looking to break his way into the bad guy elite club known as the “Evil League of Evil” who is headed by the mysterious “Bad Horse”. So Dr Horrible video blogs (as any self-respecting wannabe tyrant would) and lets slip about “her”. This being his long-term “I stalk you in the laundromat when I’m not being evil” crush Penny (Felicia Day). So the dream is to change society, rule the world and get the girl. A straight forward and entertaining storyline mainly expressed through the media of song. The only thing standing in Dr Horrible’s way is the dashing superhero Caption Hammer (Fillion) who is Dr Horrible’s arch-enemy . So Dr H develops a gun to freeze time so that he can put Penny in suspended animation giving him the opportunity tell her how he feels without falling over his awkward words (who said romance was dead). But just as things are coming together a spanner is thrown into the works as “Bad Horse” summons his singing cowboy messengers (oh yes) to inform Dr H that he has a chance to impress the League and gain entry. So what will he do? How will it all pan out? I’m not going to tell you! You will need to watch it.
In all honesty this is one of the best 40 of TV I have seen in a long time. I will be perfectly honest and say that musicals are definitely not my thing. When a musical number crops up in something like HIMYM then I tend to cringe and feel there is no point to them other than to make me uncomfortable. Put it this way, even short adds for Glee make me want to end it all, as that 20 seconds of guff makes me lose hope for humanity. BUT…. the songs in this are excellent, more a vehicle to get the inner thoughts of the characters across than big showy musical tunes for entertainments sake, personally how I think musical numbers should be used. I am reminded of another Wheaton creation, “Buffy” and their OTT musical vampire slaying special “Once More, With Feeling” which must have been a good 10 years ago? (after research 2001, so 12 years ago!)
The story itself has a bit of the anti-superhero vibe that The Boys series has, portraying superhero’s as obnoxious bullies and fairly air headed where as the villains of the piece are introduced as people who will go all out to try to change the way things are, to battle against their bullying adversaries. There is a fairly massive unmistakable undertone of the high school “Jock vs Nerd” conflict but making the Nerd (i.e. the apparently weaker of the two) the stereotypical bad guys make the average Wheaton fan, who is your quintessential nerd/geek, warm to Dr H. It makes him an anti-hero you really get behind and route for. This is summed up in a montage song by Capitan Hammer where he toys with Dr H as he gives him a wedgy and poses for tourists while battering the daylights out of his Nemesis. Also making Fillion the air headed jock is a stroke of genius. Anyone who has seen Firefly will have a massive soft spot from him and during this story you start to route against his character but I found that I still really like the character simply because it was Fillion. I think this made the story more enjoyable.
To be honest this show was made to be entertaining. Its got a great story with loads going on. Almost like the second season of Dollhouse where a smorgasbord of ideas were crammed in where perhaps a quarter of them would have sufficed. Despite this Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is never confusing, it never really has a lull either. The story is simple but has many layers and undertones which make it so much more than just a collection of songs about love and revenge on the world. This is well worth a watch and any fan of Joss Wheaten will not be disappointed, even if you hate Glee as much as I do.
Until next time
So new year has passed and all hail 2013 as we hurdle into its third week. Im pretty glad 2012 is over. Not that it was a terrible year, really it was a bit meh. Movies this year have been pretty good but I honestly only remember coming out of 2 or 3 thinking “I would really like to see that again”. Fern Cotton also deemed this a glorious year for music on Christmas day Top of the Pops. Total pish. Music this year has been pretty poor. The Killers and Muse had new albums which failed to reach the bands past heights and as far as new music goes there was not much to write home about. Thankfully, due largely to Netflix this year has been ace for TV shows. I have been able to catch up on shows I had never seen for one thing. Like about 80% of the people I know with Netflixs I started watching Breaking Bad for the first time and Dexter. This year also saw new sitcoms “New Girl” and “Don’t trust the Bitch in Apartment 23” which were excellent and the not to excellent but “It has its moments” How to be a Gentleman (staring Johnny Drama/Kevin Dillon).
Ok, so now I will give my _____ of 2012. These might not have been made in 2012 but hey, this is my blog and these made my year!
Film of 2012
This was a really easy one in the end but I will quickly go through notes of intrest. Way back in January
The Gray came out. A film where basically Liam Neeson kicks the crap out of wolves (See here). Really enjoyed this film and thought it one of the better this year. There were alot of disappointing films at the start of the year to compensate. “Haywire” was a utterly underwhelming offering, “This Means War” was just terrible and the “Dictator” did nothing for Sacha Baron Cohen’s reputation.On the upside there was “The Muppets” and “21 Jump Street” to keep things ticking along until SUPERHERO SUMMER where my number one sits. So it was a time for heroes and we got them in abundance, The Avengers Movie was nothing short of amazing. Great story, Great action, an all round amazing film but not my #1. “So its Batman?” you say. Nope. Another brilliant film but I had my issues with it (especially the ending) so is not top of the pile. “John Carter? The Expendables? Surely Ted doesn’t count?” Your right it does not, My number one film of 2012 is……. Dredd.
I loved everything about Dredd. It looked cool, its plot was really simple, the pacing of the dialogue to action was perfect. Essentially Judge Dredd and partner are lock in at the bottom of a massive tower block and need to get to the top to get out. Only problem is that everyone in the building wants them dead. There is more to it than that but not much more. Another plus point is that it is one of the only 3D films I have seen that was made better by the technology. My #1 hands down.
TV show of 2012
There have been alot of great shows this year. As said above I have watched a host of excellent dramas but this year has been brilliant for sitcoms. I was losing faith in sitcoms, with the wealth of British offerings drying up due to the “give over rated comedian his own show” sponge. But this year i have see some great comedy. It has helped as old favourites such as “30 Rock” and “Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia” have been bang on form and the new arrivals mentioned in the intro have added something fresh. Even hidden gems like “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret” and the unmissable “The League” have brought a smile to my face. This year also marked the end of Limmys Show. It is a poor decision by the BBC to keep giving Russell Howard so much money than he knows what to do with it and pulls Limmys brand of off the wall comedy. Anyway to my #1 for TV is another series which has ended this year. Armando Iannucci stunning “The Thick off It”. I can only assume you have all watched this and if you haven’t, come on, sort it out. The satire is brilliantly clever and is perfectly mirrored by the eloquent strings of profanity from Malcolm Tucker. I personally love Armando’s work and if you haven’t see “The Armando Iannucci Shows” or “Time Trumpet” then give them a try.
Music of 2012
Ah. Well. This could be tricky. Music this year has been disappointing to say the least. If its not Dub step or songs about Equestrian Eventing (I assume from the actions?) then theres not been alot of noise made about anything. Music has been quiet this year. That said The Hives were on Jools Holland at new year so at least it ended well! I suppose my album of the year was actually relased late 2011 but I never got hold of till last year. It is Los Campesinos! – Hello Sadness. Great album, will add a track below and for more on them head here.
Oh and I suppose my Song of the Year is this below from Bloc Party.
Internet Thing of 2012
Butterfield. Last year you stole my heart. www.peterserafinowicz.com/brian-butterfield/
Well that will do. Like 2012 this is not the best, maybe slightly rushed but hey! Lets get on with 2013.
Till next time
So it’s that time of the year again where Christmas has passed and the TV big wigs are looking for cheap ways to fill up the schedules while everyone is still of work. They used to rely on rerunning all the old Christmas specials or stand out programs of the year but they have become so lazy that they now show all of that on Christmas day. tbh I’m pretty sure that bits of the queens speech were reused from last year spliced with footage of the Kings speech, not that i was paying much attention. So how to fill the void, how to entertain the masses without spending a lot of money on writing or appearance fees etc. Then one stormy evening it happened, lightning hit the roof of channel 4 tower and they made the ‘review of the year show’. Its brilliant really. There is no need to write any complex and riveting story because it has all ready happened, plus everyone has seen it happen and because of this it makes for easy viewing as the viewer knows what is coming next.
Now there are several kinds of ‘End of the Year’ shows. There is you review quiz, your talking heads look back, your clip show etc. All very simple telly, But what made these reviews popular? They were about years ago but never a flagship show. When did this start? Rise Sir Charlie Brooker, King of the clip show and creator of the new breed of year review. Brooker has taken a very cheap clip based format and made it his own with his unrivaled way to getting his point across and his ‘one of the geeks’ persona which gives hopeless middle of the roaders, like me, giving us hope that one day we too can own a production company and marry a Blue Peter presenter. The BBC gave Brooker his own show with Screenwipe and then the festive special of the same format and since then hasn’t really looked back. Brookers Review of the year is the tv highlight of the festive period for me. And as the years go on and Brooker himself gets more of a life and less time to publicly moan (selfish git!) we get to see less and less of him on our screens, which with the current crop of up and comers, is a real shame.
But its not only the BBC that used this format for cheep tv, no, channel 4 were hot on their heels with their flagship new year battle cruiser ‘The Big Fat Quiz of the Year’. I am personally a fan of 8 Out of 10 Cats which is roughly the same format with Jimmy Carr presenting. Unfortunately Jimmy Carr is about as much as I can take from the “Fat Quiz”. The show itself is not that bad, the questions are fine but they seem to only be able to attract the biggest dicks in telly land. This years tosserfest includes the moronic Jonathan Ross, the ‘as funny as a spanner to the teeth’ Russel Howard and the double headed dickheads Whitehall and Cordon. Its funny that these are the four most insufferable numpties I have ever seen. Believe it or not I will not be watching it this year!
A slightly better channel 4 offering this year is ‘2012 Mashed’. This offering shows original short films outlining the events of the last year made by the best talent of the internet. Or so they say. The show unfortunately only shows clips of these short films so really doesn’t make much sense to me, why not make the show twice as long and show the whole thing? Apparently the whole of the films are on the internet but i can not find them anywhere (well bits and bobs on Youtube). Ah well. Well worth a look if you are a fan of internet films. One of the best being a feed from the Queens Facebook, a little song about Steve Jobs and a tribute to lonesome George (below).
So in review these reviews may need review in future. At least we have “Brookers 2012 Wipe” on New Years Day, BBC2 at 10. Enjoy!
Till next time,
Have a great Hogmany and 2013,
A look at TV “Talent Shows” and why one stands out
Unless you live under a rock or have been in a cave for the last century you will be well aware that every Saturday the UK’s biggest two channels go head to head trying to out do each other with either some kind of singing competition or a celebrity dancing face off. Throughout this time ITV/STV (depending where you are) have always had the upper hand as far as viewers go. Starting with “Popstars” with the unforgettable “Hear’Say” and then the still slightly-about-the-music-but-only-just “Idol” franchise. This then developed into the hideous “lets all laugh and the shattered dreams” X factor and ironically named Anyone-can-be-famous-for-anything-but-really-its-just-a-singing-and-dancing-comp “Britain’s got Talent”. Although I am not a fan of these shows they do give the viewer what they want. A bit of staged easy to follow drama, people with back stories that would make Hannibal Lecter weep and a nice wee pub singer doing a number before someone runs from the show crying. They are clever, clever television and prove undoubtedly that Simon Cowell is a genius and more than likely the devil.
But the poor old Beeb just don’t have the same punch that the “Cowell Factor” gives the channel 3 offerings. So far the BBC has churned out things such as the limp “Fame Academy” which had all the evil taken out but also left out the talent so it was a timid affair. Also who could forget Graham Norton’s quest to find a tribute act to play for a couple of months in a Vegas bar. What you can’t? It was “The One and Only!”……still nothing. oh well. After all these attempts they decided to aim for a different market. They employed a wax work that looked a bit like Andrew Lloyd Webber to cast his eye over his prey and whichever contestant survived his grasp would be given a part in a show. These camp-fest musical shows tried to counter the dark side by being overly nice and quirky but ended up alienating much of their past viewers who permanently jumped ship to the HMS Cowell. But to be fair to the BBC it has had a bit of success with their dancing shows such as “Strictly” and….eh…. so Strictly.
So the BBC have had one last throw of the dice. One last go at toppling the Cowell empire. It’s a Monopoly board. All the BBC has left is Old Kent Road but it’s not over yet. The BBC have given us “The Voice”.
My first exposure to this show what the advert. First thoughts: ” Not another shitty talent show, how can it be different or even more horrible than STV’s shows”. Then I saw Will.I.am turning his back on a singer and it was clear. They were going to humiliate people to such a degree that the contestants were going to vomit their insides out live on TV. Well, it’s a gimmick I suppose. But no, the premiss is that the four judges will not look at the contestants and judge them on solely their voice. The judges will then turn round if they like what they hear and if they are the only judge to do so they will take the singer onto their “Team”. If more than one judge turns then the singer picks their side. Each judge gets to pick a team of 10 and then I suppose it’s a ballet to the death live on the box.
So who are theses Judges. Well….. The human auto-tuner Will.I.am, walking-insanity-time-bomb Jessie J, denim on denim duchbag Danny O’Donoghue (of the Script) and God. Sorry better give him his mortal name, Tom Jones. Despite the judges appearing to be pick at random out a 12 year olds iTunes selection they have decent patter between the bickering and it is always fun when they try to work out if the singer is a boy or a girl.
The dynamic that they can not see the singer works better than you would think as well. Basically each judge can only pick 10 singers so they need to be selective. Sometimes they don’t turn round as they are expecting a person past their peak who is just not good enough and it turns out to be a fresh-faced 17-year-old with a unothadox singing style than could have been moulded into something amazing. The judge’s response of shock and genuine regret make them infinitely more likeable than Piers “Shit grin” Morgan and his rag-tag bunch.
I applaud the BBC. The show is by no means perfect and I’m definitely not won over to the “reality TV’s Ok” side. There are still the tedious back stories but they don’t go on for to long. The show also has the “Talent power house” than is Reggie Yates, a man who should be on TV as little as is possible to stop his ego from engulfing western Europe. But what the BBC has done is to take all the crap out and replaced it with actual Talent. Everyone can sing and all the judges genuinely want to win and have a right go at it. The feedback given (Will.I.am excluded) tends to be sound and will actually help the singers progress.
It’s a good (stolen) concept and has been executed well, which for the BBC on a Saturday night reality show has been a long time coming.
Till next time,
A List of My Top 5 US Comedies
So I have found myself watching a lot of American comedies lately. A couple of years ago I mainly watched UK based shows like Peep Show, IT Crowd and the likes of Big Train but there has far from a wealth of UK shows of any quality in the past few years. So more and more I am looking over the pond for a bit of a ROFL (*Inserts rolling eyes*). So here I am, running down my 5 favourite US shows that make me laugh. Remember this is my 5 favourites, by no means am I saying these are the 5 BEST EVER SHOWS EVER! It’s a little bit of personal opinion brought to you in the friendly format of a list! There are a few that I have found it hard to leave out but they will be in the “honourable mentions” at the end.
5. The (US) Office
This is an odd one as it has its alternative in the UK on which it is based around. The thing with the two shows is that I love the US version and really dislike the UK one. “But wait a minute. Surely they can not be that different?”. I suppose they are not as a concept but there is one character that is portrayer very differently. This is Steve Carell’s character Michael Scott. In the American series he is a bit of an annoying loser of a boss but you always feel sorry for him and you can see the good he is trying to do. Sometime you even get to see a man beyond the wisdom of everyone else in the show. Rick Gervais plays the character differently. You just dislike him, he doesn’t have then same likeability. I think this is why the US office has managed the longevity of 8 seasons. I am currently on season 4 and I am looking forward to see what they will do now that the main arcs of the first few seasons have settled.
4. 30 Rock
30 Rock is a show that I have been watching for years. Unlike the US Office which I am new too, 30 Rock is a show that I started watching when it is in its infancy. Now it is working its way through its 6 season. 30 Rock is problem the best sitcom about a group of misfits all pushed together. This is done on the set of the fictional show TGS (The Girly Show). Tina Fay plays the head writer of the show and is constantly trying to keep here writers and talent in order while looking for advice from here boss Alec Baldwin. The show has great story lines and borders on the bizarre sometimes without really heading over the line to ridiculous.
3. Bored To Death
This is one that many of you may not agree with or even have heard of. This is the story of a writer who’s girlfriend leaves him. In his despair it seems like a good idea to become a private detective. After putting an advert on Craig’s List he starts to get the odd job. This part is played by Jason Schwartzman who plays the part excellently and is brilliantly back by Zach Galifianakis who plays his struggling cartoonist best friend and Ted Danson, his ageing boss at the magazine. The cast makes this show the marvel that it is. The three are all looking for more from life and this is the story of the scrapes this gets them into. It is really funny, clever and something a bit different to the other 4 shows on this list.
If you have not seen Seinfeld then go outside, take your shoes off, smash a bottle and run across the glinting shards. Sorry but you deserve that. It a classic. 180 episodes and maybe only 2 or 3 that are not gold. Why E4 repeated Friends over and over when they could have had Seinfeld is crazy. In fact the absence of Seinfeld on British TV was a travesty in its day being pushed back to after midnight on BBC 2. (Much like Arrested Development, which is not N0.1…controversial!). But the main reason for Seinfeld being so high is the series where Jerry and Gorge pitch the idea of Seinfeld to TV executives telling the story of what Seinfeld and Larry David went through when trying to get the show picked up. Its intelligent and idiotic at the same time. Maybe the best Sitcom series arc ever.
1. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
Well, this is my number one. Why? There is nothing quite like Always Sunny. It has the most mind boggling story lines that would be unbelievable if you hadn’t watched the last few series and knew what the characters were capable of. With every series everything is upped a little more. For those of you who have never seen it, all 7 seasons are on Netfixs and its free for a month so there is no excuse. Writer Charlie Day is an evil genius. The ideas that pop out his head are verging on horror film sometimes yet still have you rolling around the floor as you follow the lives of 5 of the most despicable human beings in the world. Danny DeVito came out of retirement to co-star in this show because he clearly seen it as something treading new ground. Lets be honest for a comedy, especially an US comedy, being a trail blazer and succeeding at it is something special. This my friends is why this is my number one.
So the shows I never added but also love. Well, Arrested Development – Brilliant but I would have had it at 6 of these, hard not to put it in. Fraiser – another of my favourites but it came down to Seinfeld or Fraiser and picking one or the other is one of the hardest things I have had to do! Also newer shows like The Big Bang Theory and Community could have been in the list.
I am sure there are others so post if I have not mentioned them and I will try to catch them if I can!
If you have not seen any of these I would recommend all of them. It’s probably over 500 episodes of laughs so you can’t go wrong really!
Anyway, till next time