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Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

Doctor_Horrible_BannerThe 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 imagesdfmusicals 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 dr-horribles-sing-along-blog-neil-patrick-harris-nathan-fillion_article_story_mainout 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

Fall

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Xmas at Christmas

pacmantreeSo it’s that time of year again, when beggers dawn festive hats to attempted to part you with spare change and geese get really fat and self-conscious because no one wants to eat them. Christmas is a strange time, for one it is just one day. We know this to be true, it’s the 25th of December and it never snows on this particular date (it’s a scam by the bookmakers of the UK but I have no real gripe with them). The weird thing is that Christmas last ages before and a fair bit after this date. Even me, a self-confessed Christmas miser, will celebrate old Crimbo from about the 1st of December to about the 2nd of January. Others will take it further by putting up decorations up at the beginning of November and try tell you there are only 50 more shopping days. 50 MORE SHOPPING DAYS!!! I do about five ‘shopping days’ a years so i could technically fit this into their life and death warning ten fold. I suppose the only up side to shopping this early is that you don’t have the Christmas panic goggles on. These make the most horrendously crap gift look almost acceptable and as December hurtles towards the big day the magnification on these bad boys gets stronger and stronger to the point where calender with dogs performing everyday human tasks will be a fine gift for about 75% on your list.

I suppose the main thing to do is not to panic. Its easier said than done. Every advert from the TV to the side of buses tells us that if we get the wrong gift for anyone they will instantly disown you, spitting in you face and out you as the scum of the earth when the reality is that they will just silently resent you forever. So what do we do as an intellect society? Do we make things easier for ourselves by telling each other than  it is fine and not to worry, any gift is wonderful as at least you tried? No, we started the most stressful form of festive torture that geeky-christmas-ornaments-collection-7the most depraved and evil minds amongst us could come up with. We take part in ‘secret’ Santa. ‘But Fall, this is anonymous, no one knows you buys what’. Bull shit. Sorry but everyone tells everyone as long as they liked it. Which adds the extra pressure of getting a great gift so that the other person is desperate to find out who their Santa was. If they don’t you have failed and everyone else knows you got that gift. At this point you fail and its time to find a new job as the rest of the office will pretty much disown you. So you need the perfect gift. A perfect gift so that work is bearable for the next year. A perfect gift so that you can look at yourself in the mirror. A perfect gift for that one person in the office you hardly know. A perfect gift for a stranger or be sneered at by the finance department. DO YOU SEE IT NOW? THE STRESS? AYE? Why, why, why do we think this is a good idea. Why not have everyone put in 10% of their wage, split the money evenly and everyone gets to buy themselves something they want? Just a thought!

father-ted-matadorBut from this you will get the impression that I hate Christmas. No, no you couldn’t be more wrong. There are some great things at Christmas. Sitcom Christmas specials being re run every year is probably the highlight. As every year I look forward to Father Ted guiding all a troop of priests out of the largest lingerie department in Ireland and watching what Pixar rip off film the BBC can afford this year for Christmas day. I’m also looking forward to hearing the five Christmas songs that I really like being occasionally played. But my favourite Yule Time tradition, as I’m sure it’s also yours, is watching Die Hard on Christmas Eve. By far the best Christmas film ever made. I suppose a bit of time away from work to spend with family is nice as well and at the end of the day these are the people who matter and will love you even if you do get them a calendar which has a Cocker Spaniel wearing a hard hat and pointing and some metal girders.

Have fantastic Christmas everyone.
Till next time

Fall

Update…. the uneventful life a time waster!

Well its been a while since I have written anything. Sorry about that. First I announce that “I’m Back!” ready to write about this and the next and what happens? I did nothing. I do have a defence though! Ok if you will hear me out…..

1. I went on holiday. Not only that I came home and recognised our flat. The computer was no longer in a room I spent alot of time in. It had been punted to the spare room and with that I kinda stopped writing.

2. I have been quite busy. I happen to be in a wee band called Tag Team Champion and we have played our first gig and done some recording which has eaten up a lot of well used time. (more will follow in coming weeks about TTC) . Also small events like the Edinburgh Cup Final have kept me busy but sadly away from the computer.

3. Its summer. For those of you who live in Edinburgh you know it has done nothing but rain but because of the increase in temperature and light levels I have spent more time doing things like playing baseball and spending time with the girlfriend (which I can only do in day light hour due to……nah you don’t want to know). Also the cinema has been really shit recently so have been opting of xbox instead!

So what has happened since my last post? Has anything pissed me off or made me chuckle? Well yes.

Things such as a dog out witting half the population of the UK to win a million pounds and an old man sang a song in a country younger than he is and was told by a content that he sucked.

Jimmy Carr did a bad thing and got slagged rotten on 8 out 10 cats (if you havent seen the episode catch up on 4oD). The thing I loved about this was that Jimmy Carr took it on the chin and by the end his jokes were dark backhanded slaps about his own chops which gave the episode a edge that has’nt been seen since the Angus Deayton scandal’s coverage on HIGNFY. Only difference being I can see Jimmy Carr coming out of this relatively unscathed unlike poor old Angus.

There has also been a lot of football going down recently. There was a collective sigh of relief that could be heard from space originating from the Gorgie area of Edinburgh at about 4pm on the 19th of May. Unfortunately the resulting inhale infected half east central Scotland with Legionnaires’ Disease. Also we have the Euros running at the moment. Brilliant stuff! Well……. kinda. Some great games but a lot of really defensive teams. Personal favourite moment of the finals so far was Pirlo’s Pen against England. I know, your going to say because it put England out and yes that is part of it. But its mainly because England played such unattractive football, so defensive, and the pundits on the TV were doing my head about unity in this poor team (that’s chances were getting blown out of proportion again) and they were finally defeated by a beautiful moment of class and cool headedness which will be looked back on and marvelled at. Thats what the Euros and World cup are for, a festival of what’s right with football and not backs against the wall to win crap.

Ok so for about 75% of the people I know welcome back after skipping over the bit about football. Last wee bit I my promise that I will write at last once a week and keep updating if you promise to come back and see me! 😀

Enjoy the Euro final when it comes,

Till next time

Fall

 

AMERICA! Land of the lists….

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.

2. Seinfeld 

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

Fall

Social, Reference and Community

A Review of Community Season 1.

So what happens when its your midweek day off and you are recovering from being ill? Your not going to goto the gym or even think about venturing outside. You get up, read for a hour

and then do all the wee niggley things that need to be done. Right, time to start watching something. I think I fancy a hour comedy. Only problem is I am up to date with all the usual suspects (Big Bang Theory, Always Sunny) so what to watch. Well last week my mate told me about this show Community. Right off not to sure what its going to be about. Being Scotland based we don’t have these Community collages, well we kinda do but they are not call that.

So the basic premiss of the show is about a group of “Misfits” that all go to a really crap Community collage called Greendale. Now a community collage lies somewhere between collage and high school here. Basically anyone can go who can pay the tuition fees. So the show based around the life of Jeff Winger. As his surname suggests he is looking for an easy ride to get a law degree after it was discovered that his previous degree was fake. He then starts a study group to try and get Britta (the female lead) to sleep with him. He is then shocked to find four other classmates from his
Spanish class turning up to his study group. From there the group get into situations and help each other out as you would expect in a sitcom. I will not go into to detail as it will spoil watching.

So what am I going to tell you about. Well, I feel that this show has one of the best tools for inserting cultural reference I have witness recently. Now I love a bit of cultural reference. I grew up watching and loving shows like Spaced which use your knowledge of other shows and films to further the story. I has also been done to death in shows like Family Guy where they even did the who of the original Star Wars trilogy. But the way it has been done recently is getting lazy or maybe just repetitive. but in Community they channel almost all cultural reference through the character of Abed. He is a film studies student that is on the Autistic spectrum and uses references from TV and film to make sense of the social developments in the group. The creators of the show are really cleaver to almost mock the use of this and will even have episodes which mimic genres of films.  Favourites being the Superhero day of the dead episode, the Godfather inspired storyline in the fried Chicken episode and the action story line in the paint ball episode which again the characters themselves comment on how much the story is developing like a film. Each of the storyline are presented as if being seen through the eyes of Abed and not really what’s happening but this is never confirmed in this season.

Also I would like to mention the character of Senior Chang who is one of the best anti heros I have seen in a sitcom for years. He is the groups Spanish teacher but his teaching style is frantic to say the least. As it is said they can not fire him as he is the whole Spanish department. He of all the characters is the one which I kept flip flopping between whether I liked him or not. What I did not realise was that I was that this is one of the main arcs of the whole season which is not expected.

So basically this is my first review in a while and im a bit rusty. They will get better. As for the show it on paper looks like another american sitcom but it has something more. It elevates it up with the likes of Always Sunny in Philadelphia in my estimations (although is a different kind of show!).I hammered through 25 episodes in 12 days.  So if you have never heard of it or you waiting for time to watching it, there is no time like the present.

Enjoy

Fall

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