September 28, 2016
[tv] Netflix Original Series, Ranked (Again)
… Vulture rates all 36 of Netflix’s current original TV productions … ‘House of Cards – One of Netflix’s first tentpoles, House of Cards is better at a prestige-y veneer than it is at actual prestige-quality narrative. While Kevin Spacey plays his character with embarrassingly visible excess, Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood is a stunning, implacable pillar of hard surfaces and internal machinations. Everything else veers rapidly between way-too-complicated plotting and underdeveloped surprise twists. Though initially absorbing, it feels increasingly unnecessary given the drama of real-life politics.’
September 26, 2016
[tv] Eastenders to show Ian Beale discovering old episodes of Eastenders on UK Gold
… ‘Forthcoming episodes see Ian Beale taking time off work with a chest infection and watching daytime TV, during which he discovers old Eastenders episodes showing the exploits of his younger self, friends and family. A BBC spokesman said: “It’s going to trip him the fuck out.”’
September 19, 2016
[people] An Extremely Awkward Encounter with Larry David
… Larry David discusses the Seinfeld Curse amongst other things …
LD: Here’s what I’ll have: split-pea soup and white-bean hummus. Is that okay?
PUBLICIST: Whatever you want.
LD: And I don’t need the cheesy croutons. And if there’s cream in the soup, don’t get it.
PUBLICIST: I’ll check.
LD: Yeah. No cream or butter in the soup or the hummus.
SR: Is that a lactose thing or a general-health thing?
LD: General health.
SR: So you tolerate lactose.
LD: I tolerate lactose like I tolerate people.
September 13, 2016
[tv] Make it Stranger
… a Stranger Things logo generator …
August 25, 2016
[tv] Twin Peaks Captions
… Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace in Twin Peaks …
July 22, 2016
[tv] A BBC comedy secret – REVEALED!
… the Gibberish phone call – a classic BBC sound effect – slowed down … ‘Hello Sidney, yes, it’s me…’
June 24, 2016
[space] The sounds of starships
… Metafilter on using the ambient engine sounds of fictional spaceships as white noise … ‘The background engine noises of iconic science fiction spaceships can be remarkably soothing. That is why Spike Snell created 12-hour sound loops…’
April 20, 2016
[tv] Teletext time travel
… a fascinating look at how lost Teletext pages are being recovered from VHS tapes … ‘The pages are a snapshot of life in the 1980s – British Rail train times, Mrs Thatcher’s opinions, new pound coins and Gus Honeybun – and therefore fascinating for historians of modern life…’
April 12, 2016
… useful website to search all popular streaming sites in the US and UK to find the movies and TV you want.
March 18, 2016
[people] When Benny Hill met Anthony Burgess…
Craig Brown remembers the odd meeting between the writer and comedian … ‘The two men met for the first time shortly after the review appeared. I was lucky enough to be present at this bizarre meeting. Both of them were remarkably like they were on television. Hill arrived first, as perky as can be, apparently over the moon at having been driven by a female taxi driver (“Oooh, I said, you can take me anywhere, my love!”). Burgess – histrionic, loquacious, with deep voice and furrowed brow, putting the emphasis on unexpected words – behaved just like a slightly hammy actor playing the part of Anthony Burgess. The two of them were full of mutual admiration, but never quite found common ground. All in all, it followed a similar pattern to T S Eliot’s meeting with Groucho Marx: the author wanted to show off his knowledge of comedians, while the comedian wanted to show off his knowledge of authors. By the end of the dinner it seemed to me unlikely they would ever meet again, and, as far as I know, they did not.’
March 14, 2016
… tumblr for The Just One More Thing
podcast about Columbo
. ‘In “An Exercise in Fatality,” gymnasium chain magnate Milo Janus’ (Robert Conrad) business double-dealings are about to be exposed by a disgruntled franchisee! What’s his wisest course of action? Why, cancel the fellow’s contract with a metal pipe to the throat and make it look like a tragic gym accident! As Columbo tries to put it all together, you’ll be plunged into a world of vitamins, sweaty dudes, X-rated Italian horror films, soulless bureaucracy, and Jim Rockford’s ladyfriend in a bikini…’
February 18, 2016
[enhance] Let’s Enhance
…‘Let’s run this through video enhancement…’
January 7, 2016
[truecrime] Serial thrillers: why true crime is popular culture’s most wanted
… a look at the rise of True Crime … ‘Even now, true crime magazines tend to be displayed by newsagents closer to porn titles than the Economist. In publishing, a market leader is John Blake Books – a firm whose lists are unlikely to come under scrutiny by judges of the Man Booker prize. Currently touted Blake titles include Doctors Who Kill and The Yorkshire Ripper: The Secret Murders. But an almost universal fascination with the extremities of human behaviour means the loftier parts of the arts also push through the police tape at crime scenes. In the 1930s, the New Yorker, the most literarily pristine of American magazines, began to profile killers of the sort that obsessed pulpier rivals. Next month marks the 50th anniversary of Truman Capote’s book In Cold Blood, which investigated, in a manner that has clearly influenced Serial, a mass killing in Kansas.’
November 25, 2015
[tv] Too Weird for Prime Time
… Salon looks at what killed Twin Peaks … ‘The dominant media narrative—even in the above SNL skit, in which Kyle MacLachlan, in character as Cooper, bullheadedly ignores plain-as-day evidence about the killer—was that Twin Peaks was toying with viewers. For the network and a sizable portion of the TV audience, at a time when most shows tied up loose ends and reverted to the status quo in time for the late news, the idea that the creators of Twin Peaks might be making it up as they went along was cause for alarm. “It had better be able to satisfy the whodunit desires of viewers weaned on Columbo and Perry Mason,” the Chicago Tribune cautioned before the Twin Peaks pilot had even aired.’
November 16, 2015
[tv] Everyone needs a Super Hans: the life lessons Peep Show has taught us
… ‘Drugs are a tricky business: “Super Hans, are you trying to skin up with your feet again? Because it doesn’t work does it? It just makes a mess.” Peep Show provided many invaluable lessons in recreational drug use such as this. Crack’s really moreish, “foghorn” ecstasy has a “nice, floaty launch with a soft crunchy landing”, and that over-indulgence can end in someone doing “the bad thing.” And nobody wants that.’
November 11, 2015
[tv] Friends for Dinner
… Hannibal mashed up with the Friends theme tune … ‘It’s nice to have an old friend for dinner.’
October 23, 2015
[tv] David Cronenberg to direct nightmarish final Downton Abbey
… ‘Cronenberg is on board and it’s going to be like The Fly meets Videodrome and Naked Lunch but with tweed and better grammar. The Crawleys get a new labrador which turns out to be infected by an alien parasite that mutates all the staff into tentacled maniacs. Mrs Patmore buys a wireless that tells her to kill everyone, and grows a vagina-like orifice on her forehead before serving up a broth made of human body parts.’
August 26, 2015
[movies] How High Def Is Changing Your Brain—and Driving the Prop Master Crazy
… a fascinating look at how High Definition video is changing the way TV and Movies are created … ‘In Cook’s phrase, the property master’s job is “to obtain acceptance for forgeries,” to give a sensation of reality within an illusion. That’s a bit different from mere fidelity to empirical reality. It’s a facsimile of reality plus a dimension of persuasion, reshaped over time by the progress of technology.’
[via As Above
July 9, 2015
[tv] Deirdre Barlow: Coronation Street says goodbye to a legend
… ‘As the Barlows excitedly squabble over plans for a surprise 60th birthday party to mark the return of the iconically put-upon Deirdre, they are greeted by Susie Blake’s Bev, a tragic, tear-stained character at the best of times. Deirdre’s sudden death by aneurysm, sat in a deckchair, comes cruelly and inevitably, after the premature passing of Anne Kirkbride in January. She was last seen hurling a trifle at the wall of No 1, melting down under the pressure of stepson Peter’s murder trial, shouting “jelly shouldn’t run, it should wobble”. An abrupt end to 42 years on the cobbles. If circumstances dictated that Deirdre would be denied an epic exit storyline, there’s something unintentionally perfect about that final sequence.’
July 2, 2015
[tv] The Formula For An Episode Of Murder, She Wrote
… the very specific formula to creating an episode of the long-running crime series …
JESSICA: Oh, it was quite simple, really. The moss. When I saw you at the funeral earlier, the camera focused weirdly on a piece of moss on your shoe. I happened to remember that this moss only grows in one place in the world, the crime scene, and it only sticks to murderers.
But I had to wait for someone to mention the word ‘moss’ in a different context before I made this trivial extra step as if it was a moment of serendipitous inspiration, which for some reason is how we want crimes to be solved.
SOMEONE’S WIFE, YOU FORGET WHOSE: I regret stepping in the murder moss.
July 1, 2015
[wisdom] Alain de Bottom
… Alain, Rik and Ade – Together at Last!…
June 21, 2015
[tv] Watching the detectives: why the police procedural is more popular than ever
… a look at the current line-up of Police dramas on TV … ‘The Wire was the anti-procedural; as Simon put it in his pitch for the show, it was “not so much [about] the dogged police pursuit of the bad guys but rather a Greek tragedy”. The Wire, however, did not kill the procedural. The procedural simply borrowed The Wire’s aesthetic. The detectives may trudge sombrely from one improbable homicide scene to another, week in, week out, as the blue lights circle bleakly, but we, the viewers, sink gleefully into our sofas ready to drink it in like cocoa. It’s a parlour game, a ritual. Our cosy lives are thankfully not this unremittingly tragic and grim, but it’s strangely cathartic to pretend that they are. Granted, this or that series will pill the sugar with a dose of realism here and there but with noble exceptions, the detective procedural is the very definition of fiction.’
June 20, 2015
[tv] Nic Pizzolatto, the Man Behind True Detective
… amusingly over-cooked profile of the True Detective creator … ‘Dennis Potter was the true progenitor, Nic told me. “He did The Singing Detective and Pennies from Heaven and Lipstick on Your Collar and Karaoke and Cold Lazarus and Blackeyes, all this great stuff. That was your TV auteur right there, and there’s still never been any TV like it. The Singing Detective is not for everybody, but it’s still the best thing ever done on television. Before we had a notion of a show-runner, that’s the guy who wrote a different mini-series every couple years. That was somebody making art as ambitious as any art being done but using this popular fallen medium of TV.”’
June 3, 2015
[comics] How Vincent D’Onofrio Became the Best New Villain on TV
… D’Onofrio discusses playing Kingpin in Netflix’s Daredevil … ‘Vincent D’Onofrio had a ritual he went through every time he needed to get into the mindset of Wilson Fisk, the all-powerful, ultra-evil mobster he plays on Netflix’s hit series Daredevil. The 55-year-old actor would go someplace quiet, pull out his smartphone and stare at paintings of the character from Marvel’s latter-day Daredevil comics. “The way they drew him . . . it wasn’t just that he was this imposing, kind of massive guy,” says D’Onofrio. “He looked broken. That was the key.”‘
April 23, 2015
[election] UKIP Royston Vasey Local Election Leaflet
… via their Twitter account
… ‘We only accept local people in the local party.’
April 14, 2015
[tv] Matthew Weiner on Mad Men’s Origins, Peggy’s Baby, and Why There Will Never Be a Spinoff
… interview with the Mad Men’s creator … ‘TV and film, in general… some of it is designed for escape, designed to satisfy the lack of justice that we feel in everyday life. We find heroes and we get to have the wish fulfillment of, for example, a woman who has it all, who talks tough and tells people where to go and, yeah, they fail sometimes. There’s not a lot of that on the show. I give the example of how we try to make it less abstract by making it more like real life: If a young man runs into a beautiful woman at a party on Mad Men and she gives him her phone number and he writes it on a piece of paper and then he loses his coat, he will, on a normal TV show, end up figuring out how to find her. On Mad Men, he will never see her again.’
April 7, 2015
[quotes] The Complete Quips of Mad Men’s Roger Sterling
… ‘(To psychiatrist) “I’m just acknowledging that life, unlike this analysis, will eventually end, and someone else will get the bill.” (S6, E1)’
April 5, 2015
[tv] The Original Rainbow Cast Out of Costume
… Go look at this rare cast photo from the fondly-remembered children’s TV programme.
March 26, 2015
[tv] Clarkson Agonistes
… great analysis of the Jeremy Clarkson sacking by Tom Ewing … ‘So for Jeremy Clarkson, the man who plays this superhero, to be laid low by the dull grind of consequence, of taking responsibility for his actions, is a great betrayal. The carefree promise of no consequences – the heart of the Top Gear magic – has been broken. It’s not surprising – though still pathetic – that denial would be an easy reaction to this, a stamped-foot, fingers-in-ears assertion that the facts don’t matter, that breaktime hasn’t ended, that every logic and common sense fact of workplace relationships be suspended so that our hero can – yet again – jump free and rollick on to his next adventure.’
March 17, 2015
[tv] At 18, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Is Still Revolutionary
… looking back at Buffy The Vampire Slayer … ‘In many ways, Buffy was a conventional television heroine, in that she was pretty and blonde and perky, and she talked a mile a minute about clothes and homework like a normal teenage girl (as opposed to the theatrical soliloquies delivered by characters in The WB’s next teen drama, Dawson’s Creek). But the show’s subversiveness was spelled out by creator Joss Whedon in the opening scene, as a nervous blonde girl and a cocky, older-looking guy in a leather jacket break into Sunnydale High School late at night. The girl seems scared and keeps hearing noises. “We’re just going to get in trouble,” she tells him. “You can count on it,” he replies, licking his lips. Finally, once she’s certain there’s no one else around, she reveals her distorted vampire features and sinks her teeth into his neck.’
February 16, 2015
[tv] Totally Mexico! How the Nathan Barley nightmare came true
… a look back at Nathan Barley
“When he started out, Nathan wasn’t what we’d now call a Shoreditch hipster,” Brooker says. “I’d never even been to Shoreditch. It was more about moneyed young guys who claimed to be working in television when really they were living off their parents. He was more of a Made In Chelsea figure, and he kind of morphed into a Hoxton idiot for the TV show.”
Chris Morris, the creator of The Day Today and Brasseye, had written listings in secret for TVGoHome. Around 2000 he suggested that they try to develop a show around the Nathan character and east London’s increasingly absurd club/art scene. “We talked about the show for years before we made it,” says Brooker. “Chris was adamant very early on that there should be a tiny acorn of likability to Nathan, something irrepressible. He does terrible things but he has an endearing sort of rabbity enthusiasm to him. In the fake listings he really was a cunt, whereas in the TV show he’s a twat – and there is a difference.”
February 13, 2015
[curtis] Infinite Adam Curtis
… go watch a perfectly done, never-ending Adam Curtis documentary … ‘Four hundred times a second, on the Moon, Condoleezza Rice tried to undermine Marilyn Monroe. A tipping point which would later be disastrous for those who study their careers…’
February 11, 2015
[tv] Sorkinisms II – The Sequel
… another supercut of Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue recycling on TV and movies. [thanks Feeling Listless
January 20, 2015
[tv] Jon Ronson in Conversation with Adam Curtis
… Curtis discusses his Bitter Lake
– his new film … ‘I found a man in the [BBC Archives] who spends his time recording the bits in between the programmes when they are broadcast. He writes down in detail all the announcements and the trailers, plus all the bits where things go wrong. So far his log of this stuff has got to 7,500 pages. He’s convinced that we don’t really understand television. He says the idea that you can break television up into discrete programmes is wrong. He believes television is really one long construction of a giant story out of fragments of recorded reality from all over the world that is constantly added to every day, and has been going on for 70 years. But what really opened things up for me was the realisation that there was an even further forgotten source of images. Not in London, but hidden all over the world. A BBC news cameraman called Phil Goodwin came to me and told me that the BBC offices in major cities have kept all their recorded footage in cupboards and store rooms. There are hundreds of tapes of what are called rushes – the original, unedited material from which news reports are created. And they were just lying there…’
December 10, 2014
[tv] The Mystery of the Creepiest Television Hack
… the true story of how a Pseudo-Max Headroom briefly hijacked Chicago TV broadcasting
one evening in 1987 …
Then the camera cuts to Max from a slightly new angle, facing off screen and bent over. His mask dangles near the camera; his face is off screen and his buttocks are hanging out, front and center. “They’re coming to get me!” he screams. On the right side of the screen, a woman lazily spanks his ass with a flyswatter. “Come get me bitch!” he yells. The scream becomes a distorted, symphonic drone. And then just as quickly as his arrival, the signal cuts out, and Chicago was back to the eerie quiet of the regularly scheduled Dr. Who episode.
“As far as I can tell,” the Doctor observes at that very moment, “a massive electric shock. He must have died instantly.”
November 23, 2014
[tv] TV Binge Watching Recommendations: November, 2014
… ‘1. House of Cards. 2. Game of Thrones.
3. Breaking Bad. 4.Tie: Sherlock, Homeland.’
October 15, 2014
[comics] Netflix unveils first look at new superhero series Marvel’s Daredevil
… ‘Daredevil certainly feels like it has potential. Even though existing shows like Arrow and the recently launched Gotham have already staked out street-level superhero territory, there’s a richness to the character, who wrestles with Catholic guilt over his vigilantism, and a confidence to the execution that suggests Daredevil could cross over to non-comic fans looking for a stylish crime story.’
October 7, 2014
[movies] The League of Gentlemen Vs. 2001
… ‘Dave, my wife tells me there is a block in your toilet!’
October 6, 2014
[buffy] Ayn Rand’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer
BUFFY: My shoulders are naked and I am drenched in the blood of my enemies. You are my physical and mental equal. I wish to express my respect for you in the physical embodiment of my ideals: the act of love. Let us have sex now.
ANGEL: Buffy, I can’t. You know that if I were to experience even a moment of perfect happiness I would lose my soul.
BUFFY: This sounds like a problem for you, not a problem for me.
ANGEL: I can’t –
BUFFY: We’ll just do me, then. Kneel.
September 11, 2014
[tv] Warren Ellis’s Heisenberg Theory
… Warren Ellis On Walter White … ‘What keeps him alive is being a fictional supervillain. What kills him is being human.’
August 31, 2014
[lego] Lego Fawlty Towers Hotel Reception
… go look at this loving recreation of the hotel reception set from the classic BBC sitcom Fawlty Towers.
August 14, 2014
[books] Against the Tide
… Review of a book profiling the late Mary Whitehouse via her archive of letters … ‘Reading Mary Whitehouse’s letters is like digesting a scrambled Charlie Brooker. Dr Who is “teatime brutality for tots”. The World at War has too much genocide in it. Complaining of Chuck Berry’s performance of “My Ding-a-Ling” on Top of the Pops in 1972, she elicited the observation that the song began “with such a clear account of the contraption in question including bells”, that although the possibility of a double entendre was recognised, the BBC felt it was unlikely to “disturb or emotionally agitate its listeners”. But of course Whitehouse was permanently agitated. In editing this material from her archive, Ben Thompson not only works hard to salvage entertainment from some tedious cultural jeremiads, he also – and more interestingly – tries to make some sense of them…’
August 12, 2014
[tv] The 1979 “Rockford Files” Episode that Inspired “The Sopranos”
… David Chase was trying out characters and situations used in the Sopranos twenty years prior to the start of the series … ‘In Just a Coupla Guys, Tony the mob boss (Antony Ponzini) is a doting father who also happens to be a killer. Anthony Jr. (Doug Tobey) is a good kid acting up to get his dad’s attention. Jean (Jennifer Rhodes) is the long-suffering mob wife, trapped in a suburban mansion. And Mr. Lombard (Gilbert Green), is an aging former boss who may or may not have lost his marbles. There’s even a Catholic priest (Arch Johnson), although he’s nowhere near as attractive as Father Phil, the clergyman who caught Carmela Soprano’s eye.’
August 10, 2014
[comics] The Complete 14 Batman Window Cameos
… ‘A compilation of all 14 window cameos from the 1960s ABC TV series Batman. Almost fifty years later, some of these folks are still remembered today–Others, not so much.’