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November 20, 2020
[funny] Diana twats the Queen with a corgi: how accurate is The Crown?‘Mrs Thatcher chucks an unflushable turd out of a Balmoral window – In a socially awkward visit by the Thatchers to Balmoral, the panicked prime minister blocks the cludgie and has to remove the offending log with her bare hands before throwing it from a window. In reality, Balmoral is equipped with extra-powerful toilets to cope with the Royals’ habit of eating half a stag for lunch.’
October 23, 2020
[tv] Curb Your Enthusiasm at 20: The show that made a schmuck the hero … Looking back at twenty years of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. ‘“I was born in the same hospital as Larry, three days apart,” [Richard] Lewis tells me, explaining the strange kismet of their lifelong relationship. “We went to the same sports camp when we were 12, and I hated him and he hated me. I never wanted to see him again. He was just a lanky a**hole, and he considered me a chubby a**hole. So we never saw each other again until 12 years later when we were comedians in New York starting out. “He was a big fan of mine, and there was something about his face that scared me. It was like something out of a Polanski movie…’
October 14, 2020
[docu] 40 of the best documentaries you need to watch … A list from Wired of great documentaries available in the UK. ‘8 Days: to the Moon and Back – This is the story of the Moon landing, but told in a completely new way. Created by the BBC, 8 Days: to the Moon and Back uses original declassified audio from Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins as they made their trip to the Moon. In the recreation, which is a technically a “feature drama” but has enough realism to count as a documentary for this list, actors were filmed lip-synching the actual words that were said. The result? It’s a triumph and probably the closest we’ll ever get to recreating that fateful mission.’
October 12, 2020
[moore] Alan Moore Rare Interview: “Superhero Movies Have Blighted Culture” … A standard-issue Alan Moore interview but good to hear his updates on what he’s currently working on and how he and Melinda Gebbie are dealing with lockdown in Northampton. ‘I’ve only retired from comics. I’m finishing off a book of magic now. It’s been stalled for a while but I’m also working on an opera about John Dee with [musician] Howard Gray. I’ve got some short stories coming out. And I’ve also been thinking a lot about what we want to do after The Show feature film. We hope that it’s enjoyable as a thing in itself, but to some degree it could be seen as an incredibly elaborate pilot episode, we think there’s quite an interesting story that we could develop out of it as a TV series, which would imaginatively be called The Show.’
September 2, 2020
[partridge] Alan Partridge on his new podcast: ‘This is the real, raw, be-cardiganed me’ … Funny Alan Partridge profile as he launches a new Podcast. ‘Has Partridge been inspired by any other podcasts? “Less other podcasts, more by the excellence we see all around us: a dog leaping to catch a stick, a ballerina doing a brilliant ballet, a forklift truck driver steering one-handed while smoking.” Having said that, he admits to enjoying the true-crime genre (“Nothing beats settling down with a glass of wine and a plate of sandwiches to be entertained by the ins and outs of a man found battered to death in a hedge”) and is considering using a second series of his podcast to explore the disappearance of a friend who fell from a pier in 2013, never to be found.’
August 18, 2020
[tv] Alan Partridge Gets Lucky… Go watch Partridge looping to Get Lucky.
August 3, 2020
[tv] Comfort Viewing: 3 Reasons I Love ‘Columbo’‘Columbo is one of the very few American series fueled by class warfare. Whether they are driven by coldblooded entitlement, delusions of grandeur or simple greed, the murderers treat the self-deprecating, ostentatiously low-grade cop with seething annoyance, willful condescension or hypocritical benevolence. It is hard to overstate how satisfying it is to see smug criminals get caught right now. Imagine the joy of seeing a rebooted Columbo go after hedge-fund managers, big-game hunters, studio chiefs, YouTube influencers, real-estate magnates or celebrity chefs who picked killing as an acceptable problem-solving method.’
July 24, 2020
[crime] MARIE KONDO ARRESTED AS A SUSPECTED SERIAL KILLER‘She said that the people did not ‘spark joy’ and therefore she drilled holes in their heads and poured in prussic acid.’
June 8, 2020
[tv] Forget Friends! The 25 greatest overlooked sitcoms – from Lovesick to Younger … List compiled by Stuart Heritage. ‘Loudermilk – In some ways, Loudermilk is the archetypal comedy of the decade, in that it’s a) a sad and vaguely redemptive show about an alcoholic and b) maybe a fraction of 1% of people have heard of it. However, it was created by Peter Farrelly and features a brilliant central performance by Ron Livingston, so while it isn’t going to make you fall out of your chair laughing, it is at least capable of being compelling.’
April 30, 2020
[comics] You are so fucked! … By Evan Dorkin.

Evan Dorkin's You are so fucked!

March 19, 2020
[tv] Making the Most of the Streaming Services … Useful tips from Feeling Listless. ‘Plenty of us are subscribed to one or two streaming services and I’ve been wondering just how widespread some of the “hacks” I’ve picked up over the years are. So I thought I’d put them up here just in case. Note the following is with the UK in mind but there tend to be versions of these things abroad too…’
March 17, 2020
[tv] Beyond Bargain Hunt: your definitive guide to ‘the wonderland’ of daytime TV … An extremely useful guide if you are new to WFH. ‘The BBC One daytime schedule exists to pummel two messages into viewers. One: your house is full of valuable things that should be sold to the highest bidder; two: the world is cruel and full of people determined to rip you off.’
February 14, 2020
[comics] Young Alan Partridge Adventures #1‘Issue 1 – The Poachers of Swaffham Wood!’

February 7, 2020
[tv] ‘Did we work through hangovers? Most definitely!’ The stars of This Life on their era-defining show … Remembering This Life. ‘Jack Davenport: With Miles, I realised that the more I leaned into his essential twatness, the better things would be.’
February 2, 2020
[funny] The time Sky Cinema Comedy broadcast 13 showings of Groundhog Day.

December 17, 2019
[tv] A brief history of the BBC Christmas Tapes … A history of the amusing, unofficial videotapes created by backroom staff at British TV stations and distributed to colleagues at Christmas. ‘The sketches and songs performed by the VT staff themselves are another matter, however. Aside from the industry-standard naked women which pop up every five minutes (always a puzzle – presumably VT engineers had perfectly good wives at home, not to mention access to proper pornography?), the homegrown humour usually amounts to little more than a frustrated engineer singing about obscure editing procedures to the tune of Da Do Ron Ron. Sometimes they try hard, and it looks amiable enough (one bloke at Central did a sub-Neil Innes effort called ‘I’m Just A VTR Dropout’ which was really smashing), while others mine new depths in desperation – on one occasion, Legs & Co being asked to lip-sync an effort called Nice Legs Shame About The Chromophase, for fuck’s sake.’

December 11, 2019
[tv] ‘The baddies are going to win again’: a brutally honest guide to election night TV … Stuart Heritage on Election Night TV. ‘1am: Despair – Results are coming in thick and fast, and it’s starting to look as if the exit polls were right after all. This is going to be a drubbing. The baddies are going to win again, and there’s nothing you can do about it.’
November 14, 2019
[tv] The 5th Young One: Pay No Attention to the Girl Behind the Sofa … She was hidden in plain sight all along – How could we have missed the 5th Young One? ‘And yes, the 2012 YouTube video shows it: a fifth housemate appearing at least once in every episode of the entire first series. She never moves, she never speaks, you never see her face, and her presence is never acknowledged by any of the other characters, but she’s there.’
October 28, 2019
[anime] The best 25(-ish) anime of all time … Mefi lists Glass Reflection’s Top 25-ish Recommended Anime.
October 16, 2019
[columbo] My top 10 favourite Columbo episodes‘A typewriter pounds. A Mercedes cruises through the LA streets. A writer in a high-rise is lost in a world of his own invention. As the typewriter continues to pound the car parks in an empty lot, the driver steps out and slips a gun into his jacket. So begins one of the pivotal TV experiences of our time. From those first arresting moments, Murder by the Book grabs the viewer by the throat and never lets go. It’s still a cause of pride and joy for Columbo fans that a young Steven Spielberg was in the director’s chair for this. His touch and flair make this a visually unique outing, but he’s only one reason for its success. Peter Falk and Jack Cassidy establish an on-screen rapport that would enrich the series on three occasions, while Steven Bochco’s script and Blly Goldenberg’s score are world class. In short, it’s an A Grade cast and crew and they all bring their A Game to proceedings.’
August 30, 2019
[anime] Go look: We Ranked Anime’s Top 10 Static Shots of Power Lines With Cicada Noises‘One Punch Man – That classic beautiful low angle shot of power lines on a hot summer day. The cluttered crisscross of the lines juxtaposed by the openness of the sky makes this one of the best power line shots ever.’
July 1, 2019
[tv] Streaming TV is about to get very expensive – here’s why … Stuart Heritage on trends in streaming TV. ‘Netflix didn’t become a monster because people wanted to watch a specific show; it became a monster because people wanted to watch everything. When its streaming platform launched, people were spending more than £15 just to watch a single season of a show on DVD. So to be able to watch every season of a show – and every season of hundreds of others of shows – for a fiver a month was revolutionary. The whole point of Netflix was that it was a relatively affordable bucket that contained an awful lot of television. That’s why people liked it. That’s why so many people subscribed and continue to subscribe. To pretend otherwise is to miss the point. That will be a memory soon. The Netflix model was great for viewers, but it couldn’t last…’
June 25, 2019
[tv] The Max Headroom TV Series was really on point about the future back in 1987… ‘Adults, kids, everyone addicted to their screens.’

June 13, 2019
[truecrime] The Queasy Verdict of ‘The Staircase’ … A spoiler filled analysis of the true-crime series The Staircase. ‘The series is clear about how much of a problem the eccentric, bisexual, erudite Peterson is for the jurors. The Staircase isn’t interested in theorizing who actually killed Kathleen (and includes only one offhand reference to the actually quite credible theory that an owl did) because its focus isn’t solving a mystery. It’s illuminating how flawed and naïve the concept of blind justice is. The jurors in Peterson’s case can no more put away their own preconceptions than they can realistically isolate themselves from TV news and the firestorm surrounding the case.’
June 6, 2019
[tv] Toast star Matt Berry: ‘Nobody wants to hear about my psychic wound’ … Profiling Matt Berry and his new TV show Year of the Rabbit. ‘One lovely moment has Rabbit explaining his beat. “This city is a rat eating its own babies, babies made of shit, and once it eats its own shit babies, it shits them out again, and then it noshes them, and that goes on and on until the sun turns cold and the sea goes back into the sky.” Which is of course exactly the sort of briefing Met boss Cressida Dick wishes she could make. Year of the Rabbit could be the unexpected comedy delight of 2019. Equally welcome news is the fact that Berry is planning a fourth series of Toast of London…’
March 27, 2019
[tv] Is This Time Alan Partridge’s last Aha!? … Reviewing Alan Partridge’s latest TV series. ‘Thing is, as the Gibbons brothers have noted, by 21st-century standards of discourse, he is frighteningly plausible. When he mutters aloud about his wife being an “awful woman” on air, it reminds of Donald Trump’s “nasty woman” remark during the Presidential debates – there is too much about Trump that is Partridgean, or vice-versa. Similarly, that Piers Morgan now co-hosts a breakfast show has raised the suggestion that Partridge is redundant. Which is unfair on Alan – he is a psychologically complex, not entirely unlikable character whereas Morgan is a flat-out, flat-track tedious boor lacking Alan’s residual moral fibre.’
March 12, 2019
[movies] Why is pop culture obsessed with battles between good and evil? … An interesting look at why modern stories tend to be narratives about Good Guys vs. Bad Guys. ‘It’s no coincidence that good guy/bad guy movies, comic books and games have large, impassioned and volatile fandoms – even the word ‘fandom’ suggests the idea of a nation, or kingdom. What’s more, the moral physics of these stories about superheroes fighting the good fight, or battling to save the world, does not commend genuine empowerment. The one thing the good guys teach us is that people on the other team aren’t like us. In fact, they’re so bad, and the stakes are so high, that we have to forgive every transgression by our own team in order to win.’
February 22, 2019
[tv] ‘We’ve had a love-hate relationship’: Steve Coogan on bringing Alan Partridge back to the BBC‘But timing is everything, and the alchemy that sees Partridge back at the BBC on the cusp of such huge national change couldn’t be more perfect. Like King Arthur in Avalon, he waited for his time to come. And come it has. Although the show doesn’t directly reference Brexit, because it’s a train that is moving too fast, and they’re not in the business of political satire, it hints at the current divisions over everything from gender politics to the #MeToo movement and lets Partridge grapple with them. Coogan says Partridge’s lack of a mental gatekeeper is the gift that keeps on giving…’
January 30, 2019
[tv] Smart TVs Are Dumb … Alex looks at the business model around Smart TVs. ‘Earlier this month, Vizio’s chief technology officer, Bill Baxter, told The Verge that the reason his company can sell TVs so cheaply now is that it makes up the money by selling bits of data and access to your TV after you purchase it. Baxter called this “post-purchase monetization.” “This is a cutthroat industry,” he said. “It’s a 6-percent-margin industry, right? … The greater strategy is I really don’t need to make money off of the TV.” This is why your TV was so cheap.’
December 13, 2018
[tv] The Assassination of Gianni Versace review – a grim portrait of gay life‘In following Cunanan’s deadly joyride, the show also takes us from Miami to Minneapolis to Chicago to La Jolla. One moment, we’re at the Versace mansion, as chiseled butlers serve orange juice on silver trays, and the next we’re in seedy motels and lakeside cottages as characters snort heroin and hunt quail. The contrast says as much about class as it does the geographical scope of the murders; Cunanan is both killer and liar, but more than anything he’s a striver, with Versace advertisements thumb-tacked to his wall and an expensive wardrobe mostly gifted to him by the older, rich men whom he dates and, in some cases, slays.’
November 8, 2018
[truecrime] Is Our Love of True Crime Shows Really About Social Justice? … more analysis of the True Crime documentary genre. ‘While audiences were divided over Steven Avery’s guilt following the first season of Making a Murderer, most agreed that the evidence presented in the documentary and at his trial—at least what they saw—made a strong argument for it to be reexamined. Making is less about a case being closed and more about how Avery was prosecuted, which is why series co-directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos prefer to call it a “social justice” series, rather than a true crime one. “I think what scares me about [the true crime label] is often people think it’s fetishizing death or somehow exploiting someone’s tragedy, and that’s certainly not at all what we were about,” Ricciardi told Deadline.’
October 23, 2018
[akira] Alan Partridge / Akira … an epic mashup by Gavin Mitchell.

October 2, 2018
[moore] The Cardinal and the Corpse … Go watch this little-seen 1992 docudrama by Iain Sinclair & Chris Petit. Alan Moore appears as himself along with Derek Raymond, Michael Moorcock, Tony Lambrianou amongst others.

September 21, 2018
[comics] From Bond to ITV’s Strangers: why is everyone ‘fridging’? … A Look at why the “Women in Refrigerators” trope went mainstream. ‘WiR has been prevalent in superhero narratives since The Amazing Spider-Man comic shockingly killed off Gwen Stacy in 1973, inaugurating an era of darker stories in which actions had serious consequences (although these consequences were disproportionately suffered by women). Since comics writer Gail Simone gave the trend its name in 1999, publishing a list of “superheroines who have been either depowered, raped, or cut up and stuck in the refrigerator”, the term “fridging” has been used mostly about superhero storytelling. But it has seeped into mainstream pop culture too, particularly in the past decade as comic-book adaptations have dominated blockbuster cinema.’
September 12, 2018
[tv] One Second From Every Scene in Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

August 15, 2018
[tv] Alan Moore on Patrick McGoohan’s “The Prisoner” Part 1 | Part 2 … Moore also discusses Twin Peaks in this focussed interview. ‘In my opinion, and possibly in Patrick McGoohan’s, the trick is to recall that your prison and its bars — at least the mental ones — are entirely of your own manufacture. Free the mind and, as they say, the body may well follow. Seen in this light, The Prisoner becomes a big and mouth-watering cake of a production, with succulent sultanas of plot and speculation, a frosting of cryptic mystery, and an enormous rasp-file at the centre of it.’
August 6, 2018
[tv] Harvey Pekar Collection on Late Night, Late Show, 1986-1994 … Interesting compliation of Harvey Pekar’s appearances on Letterman especially if you’ve read his comics but never seen the shows.

July 12, 2018
[movies] My Incredible, Agonising Quest to Find the Worst Movie on Netflix‘But my quest hit a snag. Though there were many truly awful sounding movies listed, every single thing I looked up seemed to have been removed from Netflix. InAPPropriate Comedy, a sketch comedy show directed by the Shamwow Guy that was widely accused of being racist? Gone. Avalanche Sharks, a horror film about, well, what it sounds like it’s about? Also gone. I was beginning to worry that, due to the constant reduction in the number of movies on Netflix, all the real garbage had been purged.’
June 25, 2018
[movies] David Lynch: ‘You gotta be selfish. It’s a terrible thing’ … A Profile of David Lynch. ‘There is another striking scene from childhood. One night, Lynch writes, he encountered a beautiful naked woman walking down the street, bruised and traumatised. “It was so incredible. It seemed to me that her skin was the colour of milk, and she had a bloodied mouth.” He was too young or too transfixed to find out who she was before she vanished. After art school, Lynch hustled for years to make Eraserhead, widely believed to be a response to the birth of his first child, Jennifer, who had club feet. Cineasts still debate what the onscreen infant was made of: skinned rabbit, lamb foetus? But when I ask Lynch he bats it away. “I don’t talk about the baby.”’
April 9, 2018
[space] Exploring the Secrets of Soothing Spaceship Sound … a look at the soothing white noise of fictional spaceships … ‘In the intervening years, Snell has taken it upon himself to sample and loop the ambient hums of dozens of science fiction ships, building an unlikely but sizeable YouTube presence of over nine million views and over a hundred videos. Whether it’s the calming tone created by the USS Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation, or the throbbing pulse of Dr. Who’s Tardis, Snell aims to shine a light on an important element of science fiction that most people don’t often think about—what the spaceships sound like.’ [via MetaFilter]
February 28, 2018
[books] Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read … and what we watch and listen to. ‘The lesson from his binge-watching study is that if you want to remember the things you watch and read, space them out. I used to get irritated in school when an English-class syllabus would have us read only three chapters a week, but there was a good reason for that. Memories get reinforced the more you recall them, [Jared] Horvath says. If you read a book all in one stretch—on an airplane, say—you’re just holding the story in your working memory that whole time. “You’re never actually reaccessing it,” he says.’
February 22, 2018
[tech] Go look at some Anime Floppy Disks

February 7, 2018
[tv] Paradise found: how The Good Place divinely remixed the sitcom … Stuart Heritage on The Good Place‘Decency is baked hard into the DNA of The Good Place. It’s the show’s entire reason to be. Its characters are trapped in a terrible scenario, and they can’t escape unless they improve as people. They are in a hopeless situation, but hope is their only way out. Forget all the formal bells and whistles. Forget that they are learning to be better because they are studying the works of pre-eminent ethicists and philosophers – even if it has caused some bookshops to set out “Chidi’s Choice” tables laden with all his go-to literature – just the fact that basic positivity is the engine room of a sitcom in 2018 is refreshing.’
January 22, 2018
[wormwood] The Bitter Secret of ‘Wormwood’… Another Look at Errol Morris’ Wormwood. ‘If Morris had simply recounted the facts, even in a way that emphasized the real suffering of the victims, that would have shocked nobody. They are the stuff of every spy movie, a genre that has successfully turned state surveillance and assassinations into seductive excitement. But unlike that genre, Wormwood—a word for a bitter poison, used by Hamlet to describe bitter truths—doesn’t produce dramatic tension by exploiting our desire to be in on the secret. It exposes us to the baser side of that desire: the narcissism, mean-spiritedness, and contempt that are so often the psychological realities of secrecy.’
January 18, 2018
[tv] The Sopranos to Blackadder – what are the definitive series of the best TV shows? … On Series 4 of Peep Show: ‘The elements that made Peep Show so brilliant are all here: the scene-stealing secondary characters in Super Hans, Sophie and Johnson; dialogue that is clever, funny and contains revelatory human truths. It feels like writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong felt bold enough to push the farce as far as they could. Their skill is making even the most outlandish feat – being an accessory to arson (episode one), eating a dead dog (episode five), urine soaking through the church ceiling on to the hats of wedding goers below (episode six) – feel believable, because we’ve been on the excruciating path that got Mark and Jeremy there.’
January 3, 2018
[morris] The Truth Is Out There: Errol Morris’ ‘Wormwood’ … Errol Morris discussing his Netflix documentary …

“In its essence, Wormwood is a story about a very, very smart young boy, now a man in his 70s, who has been involved in an epistemological journey into the nature of his father’s death. And I like to think that the movie, in its attempt to examine these questions, matches his own sophistication about these questions. How do we know what we know? How do we know that my father was murdered? What does that murder mean? He asks this question again and again and again, particularly near the end of the film. It’s one of my favorite sections of Wormwood, when he asks, ‘What does it mean?’

“It’s the same question that I’m always asking: What does it mean? And this irony, which I learned from Eric, is not something I imposed on the material—the irony of, How much are we willing to sacrifice in order to know something? Knowledge comes with a cost. And to what extent is knowing something worth the price that we have to pay to know it? The other option is to live in a fantasy, but if you ask me if there’s anything that makes us great, it’s the pursuit of truth. It’s the fact that we attempt to reach outside of ourselves and to know something about the world around us, and ourselves.

December 24, 2017
[tv] The 1978 Radio Times: Christmas TV, before Thatcherism ruined it … a look back at Christmas TV in the late Seventies … ‘In 1978 we had “special guests”, “stars” and “presenters” but I could find only one mention of the word “celebrity” in the listings, used in relation to David Soul, in a programme on 29 December. “David Soul epitomises the star of today. He is the new-style Hollywood celebrity,” we were informed. We quickly got back down to earth, though: the programme was followed by Citizen Smith, the sitcom starring Robert Lindsay as Wolfie Smith, leader of the revolutionary Tooting Popular Front.’
December 14, 2017
[tv] The 50 best TV shows of 2017: No 6 Mindhunter … This new Netflix series is definately bingeworthy. ‘Mindhunter may be sold as a drama about serial killers. But it’s as much about Holden Ford’s relationships. With those rapists and murderers, sure, but also with Tench, with his cynical FBI colleagues and with his girlfriend, Debbie (Hannah Gross). But the central pairing, and certainly the creepiest, may be the bromance (of sorts) between Ford and Ed Kemper. Kemper, as serial killer enthusiasts may already know, is the intelligent, 6ft 9 Californian necrophiliac who murdered his grandparents, mother, mother’s friend and six female students before engaging in acts more despicable than even the darkest mind could conjure. He confessed before the police could catch him.’
December 12, 2017
[tv] Steve Coogan wrestled with including Brexit in Alan Partridge’s return … Today in Alan Partridge news… ‘It was only after some soul-searching that the comedian opted to include the decision to leave the EU in his alter ego’s return to the BBC. “The world has coalesced into a situation that is sympathetic to Alan, which for me is quite depressing,” Coogan told the Radio Times.’
December 8, 2017
[people] The unlikely life of Norris McWhirter, kids’ TV star and the original Brexiter … a look at the fascinating life of the co-creator of the Guinness Book of Records and extreme-right winger …

If you wanted to be unstoppably hectored by someone in tie and blazer about how the Edward Heath government had committed treason by taking us into the Common Market in 1972 and then find out the the name of the acrobat who performed a quadruple back-somersault on to a chair at the New York Hippodrome in 1915, and the artiste who caught him, Norris McWhirter was your man.

And you can add to that the fact that Norris, along with his twin brother Ross, created the Guinness Book of Records, which had sold more than 75m copies in 37 languages by the time his involvement ended in 1996.

We will never see his like again, not because the world doesn’t teem with libertarian ideologues, nor with grown men who know too much about the minutiae of stuff; but because combining these two disciplines successfully in public seems beyond our wit in 2017.