almostwitty: (monkey)

In our drive to reduce our possessions and be able to see things like walls and floors in our tiny 2-bed flat, it was gently pointed out to me that I might want to consider getting rid of my precious collection of Doctor Who Magazines. Which have been left to rest covered in dust in a distant corner of the living room.

However, unable to countenance such a vile piece of vandalism without at least the possibility of reading them again someday, I looked on the Internet to see if any kind souls had digitised them.

And lo and behold, a Russian site has PDF copies of what appears to be every single edition of Doctor Who Magazine to the end of 2016! Perfecto!

Except, foolishly, I wasn’t browsing in incognito mode. Thus by the end of the day, every banner advert was kindly telling me that I could find Hot! Russian! Ladies! through their website. I wonder what their stance on the UNIT dating controversy would be…

Next step: to tackle the six boxes of Empire magazine which have been preserved in a distant cupboard…

(It should be noted that I haven’t seen a new episode of Doctor Who for two years… The delights of Hell Bent taunt me still…)

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almostwitty: (monkey)

TARDIS power isolator

After all, any device that, when blown up, destroys the universe should be treated with care.

So it’s very good to see the BBC are taking their responsibilities very seriously.

(Taken courtesy of the BBC, who invited me to a preview of their actual TARDIS studio tour, which you can now take in Cardiff till the end of August.)

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almostwitty: (monkey)

A poster reminding BBC staff about the closure of BBC Television CentreAnyone who loves Britain’s televisual heritage will not have let the closure of BBC Television Centre go by without at least one sad thought of glorious days gone by, lamenting how the creative engine that kept the BBC going will now surely be lost, and how they will no longer find a home or see their friends and colleagues at the bar.

Forgive me for interrupting the nostalgia fest – and none of this is meant to dismiss the great work that went on there – but the two BBC chat’n'compilation programmes that look back at the great days of Television Centre have reminded me of one thing:

As a current BBC employee, there is no way I – or many people I know – would have even had a chance of a job there back in the 1970s. That’s not down to my skills or experience, but simply because my face would not have fit. The two programmes that looked back at Television Centre didn’t feature any non-white people on its various panels, and hardly any women compared to today’s television schedules. What, no room for Floella Benjamin or Lenny Henry on the comfy sofa?

To be fair, this in itself was symptomatic of 1960s/70s Britain, an era where any thought of diversity (by today’s definition) was a sci-fi dream as alien as anything from Doctor Who, but in the mass rose-tinted view of a simpler life where everyone was friends with everyone else, this seems to have been forgotten.

A similar delusion seems to have befallen some people as they realise our television heroes back then were as flawed as their British society counterparts. It’s apparently a shocking revelation in a new Doctor Who behind-the-scenes expose book (ironically written by the man who directed/produced one of the Television Centre tribute shows) that William Hartnell was racist, and senior members of the production team would sometimes use their oblique power of promise to extract sexual favours from fans.

Forgive me if I’m not shocked at the thought that a white British man in his 60s in the 1960s would not have been entirely comfortable with people from other races. Or that the casting couch phenomenon was alive and well in 1980s/90s Britain. As the Seventh Doctor once said in one of the spin-off novels: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

None of this is written to denigrate the creative genius that created moments of joy and laughter for millions of people (or indeed the distress of those on the wrong end of the power equation), but let’s not pretend it didn’t happen. And isn’t happening now.

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almostwitty: (monkey)

Asylum of the Daleks – fantastic great episode, and couldn’t sleep afterwards. But I can’t help thinking Moffat’s written a great mainstream-friendly episode that would have been better placed in the 2013 50th anniversary season instead.

 

Spoilers ahead! )

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almostwitty: (monkey)
At the dress rehearsal for the London 2012 opening ceremony

A crowd of 60,000 people at a dress rehearsal for the London 2012 opening ceremony (via @2012govuk on Twitter)

So as you may not have noticed, I’m one of the performing volunteers for the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, in front of a total of 200,000 people in the stadium over three nights, and one billion TV viewers worldwide. Which, oddly, isn’t that daunting – probably because I’ve got a relatively small role.

You won’t get any particular spoilers from me (unless you want to know precisely where I’ll be, in which case just ask!) – but you may want to carve out 90 minutes of your life on Friday to watch the ceremony. I’ve seen most of it four times, and there are bits that still manage to either draw out a small tear. Or have me playing air synth with gusto.

So get in front of your TV just before 9pm UK time (or 4pm New York, 1pm California time). You’ll love it, I promise.

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almostwitty: (monkey)

While the UK modern-day adaptation of Sherlock was deemed to be racist against the Chinese by some people (I haven’t seen it so am saving it for when I feel like seeing things that friends say are racist), the US modern-day adaptation of Sherlock (which moves Sherlock Holmes to modern-day New York) is set to star Lucy Liu as Watson (at least according to the Hollywood Reporter and Den Of Geek).

While it’s a great step forward in terms of Chinese representation in Western media, it’s just a shame that Watson tends to be one of the dullest (albiet dependable) roles one can play. Even Martin Freeman can’t do that much with it.

I’m also heavily amused that both publications are trumpeting it as Watson changes gender!, as opposed to Watson changes gender and race! Which either means Lucy Liu and/or US media has transcended race, or that the Chinese don’t really count in terms of race representation…

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almostwitty: (monkey)

TV Intelliplug

A TV Intelliplug

Being environmentally minded (and trying to save money), I recently bought a TV Intelliplug to cut down on energy costs. The idea of the gadget is that when you switch the TV off into stand-by, the unit will then cut off all electricity supplies to your TV and associated gadgets, saving energy and a little bit of cash.

Unfortunately, when I applied it to my TV, it didn’t quite work. And ever since then (even with the unit removed), the TV has been slow to react from standby. It’ll try to flicker to life, but then give up – like a baby trying to sit himself up. It’ll try and try again, and finally manage to flicker to life properly a few minutes later. We’ve had to call a TV Repair man in.

Is it possible that such a unit could have done some damage to my LCD TV?

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almostwitty: (monkey)

So the BBC are finally airing the US edition(s) of Top Gear, and watching it is quite instructive about the perceived difference between our two nations.

On the plus side, it’s definitely got higher production values, and the image looks better – and it’s not as if the UK version was done on a shoestring. This could be down to better camerawork and a higher budget – or simply because the sun shines for longer in the US.

On the minus side, Major Exposition is at home here. The presenters seem to have an incessant need to explain EVERYTHING. Right down to The Stig – when the whole point of The Stig is that he isn’t explained, he’s just there. A mystery wrapped in a drivers’ uniform. Explaining that he’s an enigma somewhat undermines the whole point of him being an enigma. They have to explain what the Big Star, Small Car segment is all about. And when the big stars are racing around the track, they include a helpful diagram of where the star is on the track for … what good reason?

To be fair, I’m comparing a mature TV show against another show on its debut episode. And on the plus side, there seem to be far more Chinese/Asian people in the audience in the US version than the UK one… Oh, and the Stig is animated in the US version. Which is kinda cool.

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almostwitty: (monkey)

Every other post on the Internet suddenly seems to be about The Avengers. Except it seems to be a bunch of comic superheroes in silly costumes, walking in slow motion. (Ob. disclaimer: I haven’t watched the trailer yet)

DEAR INTERNET: IF IT’S NOT ABOUT STEED AND MRS PEEL, IT AIN’T THE AVENGERS.

Now that’s what I call class. Besides, the British version started in 1961 – two years before the comicbook appeared. Bah.

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almostwitty: (evil)

I’ve now been in the USA for two weeks. People may go on about the greatness of American television, but based on my limited sampling experiences so far, it’s not exactly a fabulous thing to watch. For instance:

- they think nothing of putting heavy-taxing dramas like House or CSI: SVU on at 9am. And really, my brain does not want to be processing the implications of a 16-year-old pregnant girl trapped with a ranting religious nutcase at 9am on a Tuesday morning.
- they showed Casino Royale (the testicle-crushing version) at 10am
- Fox News’s morning show is called Fox And Friends. And features two staidly white men in suits and a blonde woman sitting in the middle, wearing a short skirt and a top that looks like she stumbled out of a New York nightclub three hours ago. And it makes no pretensions about its’ core viewership – it endlessly goes on about the potential Republican frontrunners for a Presidential election that’s 18 months away
- the Disney Channel has an endlessly perky computer-animated Mickey Mouse Clubhouse that has all the subtlety of a brick hitting a television
- Reality TV has truly gone mad here, with a speciality in watching privileged women act like they’re still in school, and accuse each other of ‘dissing’ each other, before burying the hatchet and being best buddies again. Usually in 45 minutes.
- MTV and VH1 seem to have just become entertainment channels – VH1 has reality shows instead of music
- Comedy Central dearly needs to break out of stand-up comedy specials from 5 years ago, and repeats of The Daily Show and the Colbert Report
- the one time I was in a house that had BBC America, it was showing …. Blade Runner. Very British.

And the commercials. Oy vey, the commercials. It’s an endless cycle of relentless plugging of fast food and buffets, which will probably deteriorate your body to the point when it needs a wonder drug. Luckily, the next ad is for said wonder drug that may cause side effects “including heart attacks which may lead to death”. Then up next is an ad for a hospital that promises the very best in health care. (And a part of me wonders how can a hospital that has to spend money in advertising be really promising the very best in health care?)

Of course, I could just be missing Dave and their endless re-runs of comedy panel shows and Top Gear… but darn it, it suited me down to the ground!

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almostwitty: (evil)

SPOILERS!

Although I don’t know how I’m going to be able to concentrate on future Doctor Who scripts from Stephen Moffat AND keep a baby amused and looked after…

 

SPOILERS! )

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almostwitty: (evil)

One of the things I love is finding out the minutiae, the inside notes behind a great production. I have actually listened to DVD commentaries, and one of my favourite books is Russell T Davies’ The Writer’s Tale – it’s like reading his blog while he was writing and producing Doctor Who.

Oddly, no similar book has been written about that other great sci-fi franchise, Star Trek. At least, until Michael Piller wrote a book about the writing of the last Next Generation Star Trek film, Insurrection – but the book never saw the light of day. Now, thanks to the Internet, it’s available if you’re willing to go against the wishes of Piller’s family.

As you can imagine, there’s been a bit of analysis over the book, which most people will find deathly dull, but I found endlessly fascinating.

Thanks to foomandoonian for the tip-off!

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almostwitty: (evil)

Over here in the UK, the most famous British-Chinese people on TV seem to be centered around fashion, with the likes of Alexa Chung and Gok Wan. My work colleagues kindly gave me a copy of his autobiography, and unsurprisingly there are a fair few things in common – although I plainly have no idea about fashion.

In Canada, there’s been three seasons of a reality TV show set in a Chinese restaurant, called Family Restaurant, which recently started airing in the UK too.

In America? They’re making an Asian-American version of that infamous reality TV show Jersey Shore, but set in Los Angeles’s KoreaTown instead. Given that one of the chief protagonists states on her Facebook profile that she “loves SEX and partying”, and that her email address is fookmi2000@hotmail.com, I think we can see where this is going.

There’s nothing wrong with sexy Asian/Oriental folk on our TV screens – it’d make a nice change – but it’d be nice to think there are other ways to get a show on TV…

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almostwitty: (evil)

For generations, we Western-Chinese people have lamented at our lack of visibility in Western media, despite being a fifth of the planet. Oh how we have longed to be treated like everyone else, to rise beyond our stereotyped kung-fu cousins going to Rondon or inscrutable fiendish Oriental mastermind who will rise above all others, possibly using our devious sexual prowess. Until now, our roles have been confined to being the token chef, token comedy chef with a cleaver, or token dude who helps the hero before being killed.

But not any more! Finally, we can tear off our shackles, unafraid to look at the TV in case Lisa Huo comes back, with Gok Wan giggling manically in the wings.*

For finally, a Chinese restaurant gets its own reality-TV docu-soap series. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring to you: The Quons.

Apparently, it’s been running for three years on Canada’s Food Network as Family Restaurant, but for its UK debut on the Good Food channel, they’re calling it The Quons instead – which seems a bit of an odd title change…

It starts Monday night at 9.30pm on the Good Food channel. Watch it.

* (Ob. disclaimer: To be fair, Gok Wan is bloody good at what he does. Too good.)

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almostwitty: (evil)

Sesame Street Sign

As befits a child who will be born to two geeky parents, we have come up with our first environmental experiment…

If you sing “Can you tell me how to get?” to a bunch of 30-year-olds, American or British, we’ll sing the rest of the song: “To Sesame Street!”. Big Bird, The Count (“Ha! Ha! Ha!”), Bert and Ernie, Oscar the Grouch, and of course the character who has given the Internet the phrase Nom Nom Nom – The Cookie Monster.

But Sesame Street was never particularly loved by the British TV establishment. According to the BBC News Magazine, the BBC rejected it in the 1970s because of its’ “authoritarian aims” (because learning to count and get along with people of all creeds and types is such a terrible idea) so it hasn’t been seen on British TV screens since 2001, and it’s unlikely to come back.

So here’s the experiment. When my wife forces our kid (aka WeaponX) to watch the occasional episode of Sesame Street, and then he/she goes to kindergarten – will WeaponX start talking about Sesame Street? And if so, will the other kids shun him/her for doing so?

It’s a toughie.

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almostwitty: (Default)

So, it has come to pass that four minutes of the failed US version of that seminal British classic sitcom Spaced has made it onto YouTube:

It’s amazing how the mere addition of American accents and standing studio sets make it seem more polished, more ‘other’ and more glamorous. Which takes away the original charm of Spaced in that it was rooted in an earthly reality we could all recognise.

Worst of all – the American version of tortured artist Brian has somehow become Jim Belushi with an easel. It’s pretty much the same dialogue, but he seems less of a sweet, likeable tortured artist and more of an escapee from a fraternity who’s convinced himself that being arty with an easel will get him ladies. Though all he’s gotten so far is Marcia (at least that plotline stayed).

The interludes also seem bizarre to the point of pointlessness. Why have a disappearing tram?

On the plus side, Daisy somehow seems more real with an American accent, because in my head a flighty not-sure-what-to-do young woman seems more real with an American accent. Having said that, it’s very hard to see her miming a gunfight with such fabulous gusto as what happens later in Spaced…

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almostwitty: (Default)

About six months ago, when Torchwood: Children of Earth killed off a key character, it created a bit of a mini-dramastorm.

Fast-forward to tonight, and I ended up watching the live episode of EastEnders. Bear in mind I haven’t watched an episode of EastEnders since 2006, during my Year of Hell (the Evil Ex loved watching any soap opera) Within ten minutes, I was hooked again, against my will.

Spoilers lie deep within…

Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s amazing what you can cut together with rushes of interviews…

(The BBC documentary that was actually made partly from these rushes is The Virtual Revolution, presented by the divine Dr. Aleks Krotoski, Saturdays at 8.30pm on BBC Two)

Incidentally, it’s nice to know that I have finally achieved my ambition to have my name listed on a BBC network programme’s credits. Even if it’s only my netname, and it’s only listed on the website…

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It’s amazing what you can cut together with rushes of interviews…

(The BBC documentary that was actually made partly from these rushes is The Virtual Revolution, presented by the divine Dr. Aleks Krotoski, Saturdays at 8.30pm on BBC Two)

Incidentally, it’s nice to know that I have finally achieved my ambition to have my name listed on a BBC network programme’s credits. Even if it’s only my netname, and it’s only listed on the website…

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almostwitty: (Default)

The fab EPIC trailer for the new series of Doctor Who, Spring 2010.

The trailer’s not pathetic. I am. because:

  • There were tears in my eye at the LOGO. The fricking LOGO.
  • Thanks to new BBC technologies, I can now finally embed a bit of Doctor Who content on my website. There’s absolutely no need to – after all, every Doctor Who fan knows where to go to get the new trailer. Or I could just send you a link. Instead, I am making a post simply to embed a piece of content that’s avaialble everywhere else. Go me.

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