October 3, 2022
[queen] BBC Television Channels – 1830BST 8th September 2022 – Announcing The Death Of Queen Elizabeth II … Grid showing BBC Television channels as they announced the Queen’s death.
October 3, 2022
[queen] BBC Television Channels – 1830BST 8th September 2022 – Announcing The Death Of Queen Elizabeth II … Grid showing BBC Television channels as they announced the Queen’s death.
September 7, 2022
[tv] Casting Columbo: the gargantuan unseen effort … A lot of the magic in Columbo came from casting the right actors for villians, victims and supporting cast. ‘Team Columbo considered up to three dozen different actors for every role in every episode. For a typical 1970s Columbo, the casting started with the producer. Three to four weeks before the scheduled start of filming—about the time he hired his director—the producer would compile a list of actors he thought would be right for each part. He’d also send the script to several talent agencies, to get their suggestions. Executives from Universal Television and from NBC would also weigh in. And, finally, the producer would bounce his options off of the director and Peter Falk.’
August 25, 2022
[comics] Neil Gaiman on the Secret History of ‘The Sandman,’ from Giant Mechanical Spiders to the Joker … Long interview with Gaiman on The Sandman comics, TV series, Alan Moore, his history with DC Comics and much more. ‘I love that the House of Secrets and the House of Mystery are on screen. I love that Asim Chaudhry and Sanjeev Bhaskar are respectively Abel and Cain. I love the fact we’ve got Goldie and Gregory the Gargoyle. I look at Gregory and I’m just sad that [artist] Bernie Wrightson is no longer with us, because I wish he’d lived to see Gregory the Gargoyle flying around on the screen, this thing that he made. I love all that. I think that’s so much fun. And I love the fact that if you want to do weird deep dives into DC chronology, you have Lyta Hall, who in some versions of DC Comics existence — not really the one that we were in even by the time we got to the comic — but there is a level in which she’s Wonder Woman’s daughter. And perhaps she is, we’ll never know.’
May 25, 2022
[media] Pop Culture Has Become an Oligopoly … ‘So why might people be more open to experiencing the same thing over and over again? As options multiply, choosing gets harder. You can’t possibly evaluate everything, so you start relying on cues like “this movie has Tom Hanks in it” or “I liked Red Dead Redemption, so I’ll probably like Red Dead Redemption II,” which makes you less and less likely to pick something unfamiliar.’
May 4, 2022
[comics] Arena: The Comic Strip Hero… … A look back in 1981 at the success of Superman with interviews from the creators Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster and other comics artists such as Will Eisner and Art Spiegelman.
April 25, 2022
[tv] ‘You Don’t Understand What This Is Doing to Me’ … Remembering James Gandolfini and a deep-dive into the impact that playing Tony Soprano had on him. ‘To say that Gandolfini rose to the occasion would be putting it mildly. His complex, nuanced, and inspired performance demonstrated remarkable range, not just over the course of the series, or any one episode, but often within a scene, a confrontation, even a single moment, that seemed to transcend mere “acting.” No matter how despicable Tony’s behavior appeared on the surface, Gandolfini was so persuasive and affecting —whether conveying Tony’s rage, passion, or some fleeting flash of guilt — that the audience never turned its back on him. In a troubling age of anti-heroes, Tony Soprano was royalty. His eyes told a million tales, and his performance elevated him to the upper echelon of American actors. He adapted handily to the series’ widened scope, its growth from intimate portrait to rich, blood-splattered tapestry, and he was enormously instrumental in making The Sopranos an epochal cultural event — unofficially the start of what some would call television’s “second golden age.” Whether that’s true or not, it was a golden age of Gandolfini.’
March 16, 2022
[tv] How tainted is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 25 years on? … ‘And then there were the show’s gender politics: for while it foregrounded many empowered women, it also featured a problematic male lead in the shape of Xander. There were other examples of toxic and fragile masculinity on the show, like the reprisal of teenage boy villains into The Trio in series six, but the difference was that Xander was positioned as a nice guy – and rewatching the series now, that’s something which leaves a particularly bad taste. A pretty girl couldn’t walk by without Xander oggling or pestering them, and it mostly goes unquestioned, especially where Buffy is concerned. His entitled attitude towards her and animosity towards every guy she dates is nauseating to watch.’
March 15, 2022
March 9, 2022
[tv] Charlie Brooker: ‘Mr Dystopia? That makes me sound like a wrestler’ … A catch up with Charlie Brooker.
Before he was Mr Interactive, Charlie Brooker was Mr Dystopia, creating disturbing, prescient vistas of the very near future. What if the prime minister had to have sex with a pig, live on air? What if anxious modern parenting turned into 24-hour hyper-surveillance? Even Nathan Barley, his 2005 comedy co-written with Chris Morris, came eerily to pass. That eponymous, portfolio-careered hipster could have been written yesterday. “That makes me sound like a wrestler,” Brooker says, not without satisfaction. “A really mean, horrible wrestler. Here he comes, in the blue corner: Mr Dystopia.”
February 7, 2022
[tv] The FBI is going crazy-stringboard crazy … Slate takes a look at the Crazy Wall trope often used in TV and movies. ‘Nowadays, some might chalk up the explosion of this trope to prestige television and cinema trying to advance a complicated plotline. This is why journalist Richard Benson in 2015 called our age the “Post-it Procedural.” For example, the Baltimore detectives in The Wire, now almost 20 years old, tried to crack a complicated drug ring using a board to pin up all the photos, press clippings, and index cards with information on the suspects. The board—and the data flowing in from the detectives—became the focal point of the investigation and the show, helping the audience to know who and what was important. If it was on the big board, it mattered.’
January 21, 2022
[worzel] Worzel’s Warning … A remarkably dark Jon Pertwee song warning about stranger danger in the 1970s.
December 27, 2021
[tv] What Was the First TV Show to Reference the Internet? … ‘The X-Files had to have been among the first shows to use the web in a storyline, in “2Shy,” which originally aired in November 1995. The episode features a mutant serial killer who sweet-talks self-conscious women online, convinces them to meet in-person, then pulverizes their flesh for sustenance. (Moral of the story: Chat with strangers online and an alien will turn your body into goo.)’
December 22, 2021
[tv] Is “Succession” the Best Sitcom on Television? … ‘What makes any good sitcom work is an ability to repeat itself with small differences. Kendall is still a wimp who swings between self-satisfaction and an insatiable hunger for reassurance, and Strong is fantastic in his portrayal of this back-and-forth. But in Season 3 he fashions himself as a woke warrior, which opens up new satirical avenues for the show. “Fuck the patriarchy,” this patriarch manqué shouts at the press on his way into a charity gala. “Another life is possible, brother,” he tells Tom, urging him to leave Logan’s camp. (“Fuck you, plastic Jesus,” Shiv tells Kendall at one point, hitting the nail on the head.) He is also obsessed with tracking the public’s response to his newfound reputation as a whistle-blower, asking Greg to “slide the sociopolitical thermometer up the nation’s ass and take a reading.” The hapless sidekick checks Twitter and notes that Kendall is “the No. 1 trending topic, ahead of Tater Tots.”’
December 3, 2021
[tv] ‘We were two tortured idiots trying to make TV’: The Adam and Joe Show, 25 years on … ‘One of the most striking things about rewatching The Adam and Joe Show is how well most of it has aged (there are notable exceptions, including a debate about the relative merits of vinyl versus CDs). That’s partly because – comfortingly or depressingly, depending on how you look at it – mainstream entertainment hasn’t actually changed that much. The subjects of their parodies – Star Wars, Friends, Loose Women – remain ubiquitous. People Place, their very funny pastiche of daytime TV programmes that “take on these really massive subjects but do them in a huge hurry, and involve members of the public and just rush them all the time”, as Cornish puts it, remains painfully spot-on.’
November 23, 2021
[movies] Dune / Terry and June Mashup …
November 18, 2021
[tv] The Real C.E.O. of “Succession” … Profiling Jesse Armstrong and Succession. ‘At first glance, it might seem surprising that “Succession”—a show saturated in knowing detail about Manhattan, even if it is concerned with a global corporate business—was conceived by a British showrunner and is the product of a writers’ room in London. The Roys, though, have British roots: Logan is from a working-class Scottish background, and the mother of the younger Roy children, Caroline, is a frosty English aristocrat. Armstrong told me that in considering Caroline’s class background he had in mind someone like Lady Caroline Blackwood, the author and the daughter of the Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, who was married to both Robert Lowell and Lucian Freud. The barb-trading discourse of the family, and also its aversion to the expression of emotion, are recognizable as culturally inherited traits. When Kendall visits his mother and tries to confide in her late one night, she recommends that they wait until morning, so they can talk “over an egg,” then scarpers before he rises.’
November 3, 2021
>> The 100 greatest TV series of the 21st Century … ‘It felt like the right time to survey the television landscape because arguably it has been the defining art form of the past 21 years: where once, rightly or wrongly, it was largely patronised as cinema’s younger, more rough-and-ready sibling, today its artistic credibility is unassailable, while the advent of streaming platforms has also given shows the ability to reach unprecedented global audiences all at once. And so, in order to mark TV’s ascendancy, we have decided to ask the question: what are the greatest TV series of the 21st Century?’
October 19, 2021
September 20, 2021
[columbo] Celebrating Murder by the Book’s 50th anniversary … A look back at the first episode of Columbo. ‘However, what most makes Murder by the Book sing is the presence of Jack Cassidy as the ultimate foil to the scruffy Columbo. His Ken Franklin is urbane, stylish, arrogant, extroverted – and utterly heartless. Yet being a double murderer never seemed such fun given Cassidy’s gleeful wickedness that makes him one of the series’ most cherished guest stars. Cassidy is my favourite Columbo guest star killer of all. I rate many others extremely highly, but Cassidy had the X-factor and was the absolutely perfect choice to play Franklin. Just as Donald Pleasence was born to play Adrian Carsini in Any Old Port in a Storm, no one could have embodied Franklin better than Cassidy. His contrast to the earthy Falk makes their every encounter absolutely zing.’
August 23, 2021
[netflix] Self-Learning Netflix Algorithm Produces Jeffrey Dahmer Stand-Up Special … ‘“Our proprietary algorithm has always served our viewers the most engaging content possible, and we’re thrilled to announce its latest creation, Jeffrey Dahmer: Losing It!” said Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, who shared his hopes that the infamous serial killer’s “incisive and unapologetic takes on relationships, cannibalism, the working life, drinking, necrophilia, and human dissection” would have viewers “unable to turn away” from their screens. ‘
August 19, 2021
[movies] Nestflix … A pretend streaming website showing fake TV shows and movies shown within real TV shows and movies. So well done!
July 30, 2021
[tv] Columbo: an origin story … A look at the early origins of the TV detective series and the three versions of Columbo. ‘It became a case of third time lucky for Levinson and Link (and the Lieutenant) when they heard Universal were on the lookout for good mystery scripts in 1967. The Prescription: Murder teleplay was duly picked up by the studio, but who to cast as Columbo – a character more pivotal to the story than originally intended? Lee J. Cobb, then in his 50s, is said to have been the first choice, but his schedule was too full to allow it. Bing Crosby was famously offered the role but turned it down as he was enjoying retirement (and the lure of the golf links) too much. Instead, and despite reservations about him being ‘too young’, Levinson and Link turned to Peter Falk, who had just turned 40. Filming wrapped up in late 1967. The rest, as they say, is history.’
July 28, 2021
[curtis] Adam Curtis Knows Exactly What’s Wrong With Right Now … The documenatary filmaker is interviewed about his latest series Can’t Get You Out of My Head.
In his new epic series, Curtis pulls together such disparate threads as Chairman Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing, the stoner duo who created the Illuminati conspiracy theory, Tupac Shakur, and Dominic Cummings. Through these personal histories – and many, many, more – the six-part film picks apart the rise of individualism, the fall of democracy, failed revolutions and corrupt systems of power, the addictive nature of social media and the combined psychological impact all of that has had on us.
July 14, 2021
[horror] Eddie Munster and me: the secret lives of spooky, sinister screen children … A look at how children cope with playing horror roles on TV and film. ‘In another film Kord references in her book – 2008’s horror-thriller The Children – the actor Eva Birthistle remembers the barely contained glee of the obstreperous child actors assigned to murder her on set. “Their confidence just grew, like, in the first week, then they were sort of … delighted they were going to kill us all,” said Birthistle.’
June 18, 2021
[people] Stewart Lee Interviewed — 1996/2021… Fascinating Stewart Lee interview – He’s asked the same questions 25 years apart. ‘I hope when I’m picking on people or things to laugh at, there’s always an element of me being the twat for bothering to express the wrong/mad/obsessional opinion I am – I hope it works both ways, with me as a kind of ignorant victim of myself, maybe not.’
June 11, 2021
[curtis] Adam Curtis Hate Matrix … ‘I mean we were just having a lovely time for my nan’s birthday, what does that have to do with nuclear disarmament? – Man whose Butlins holiday footage was played, over-exposed and at half-speed beneath Aphex Twin’s Avril 14th.’
April 26, 2021
[tv] @xnemxia on Twitter: … ‘I wonder who killed her / What the fuck’
April 15, 2021
[tv] How Columbo Became an Unlikely Quarantine Hit … ‘Columbo isn’t quite hardboiled like detectives out of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler; he’s also not flashy or well-dressed like Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot. The show isn’t gritty like many American crime shows, and it isn’t whimsical like some of the British detective shows you’ll find on Masterpiece. There isn’t a lot of violence; instead, Falk brings a comic tone to his character. Columbo, basically, is the most soft-boiled detective show I’ve ever seen. And soft is all I’m looking for these days.’
March 8, 2021
[tv] Aha! – The Oral History of Alan Partridge … The real-life origins of Alan Partridge. ‘I was able to see quite quickly that this character could have more scale than just doing sports, and it seemed to me that the chat show was a perfect vehicle. I had a very strong image for Alan, and whether it actually happened or not, I’m not sure, but I think I remember a sports reporter on TV interviewing some footballers who then threw him into the swimming pool. He had to put on a brave face while sopping wet. That, to me, was everything about Alan – having to be brave in the face of his own humiliation. The principle with Alan was: how can we torture him the most? (Patrick Marber)’
March 4, 2021
[tv] Charlie Brooker in Conversation with Adam Curtis … A long discussion covering many topics.
All the unedited tapes from which the news stories were cut… They are extraordinary. They’re like a strange, magical world that is halfway between real life and the snippets of doom that we transmit. There are terrible things on them – but the overwhelming amount is just the record of stuff happening. I’ve got hundreds of thousands of hours of it, and the effect of watching it is incredibly calming. It sends you into that kind of dream state we talked about earlier, where you start wondering what happens to all the billions of billions of moments of experience that are never recorded. Where does that all go to? And I find myself drifting off into wondering about what other people’s experiences must have been like in the fragments I’m watching.
February 16, 2021
February 15, 2021
[curtis] Adam Curtis’s Seaside Dream … Curtis visits Walton-on-the-Naze in 1983. ‘[Curtis] aimed to show that ordinary people could find fulfilment away from the ever-growing influence of global capitalism. His film was broadcast by the BBC on Tuesday 19th April 1983, only one day after 33 people were killed when terrorists bombed the US Embassy in Beirut. This documentary was “Just Another Day: The Seaside” and it depicted the small coastal town of Walton-on-the-Naze, where innocent holiday-makers found pleasure in a technology-free utopia…’
February 9, 2021
[tv] From Tupac to Dom Cummings: meet the cast of characters in Adam Curtis’s new series … A looks at the personalities behind Can’t Get You Out of My Head. ‘George Boole, who invents Boolean Logic – a way of describing what goes on in people’s minds mathematically. It is the concept behind algorithms. His great-great-grandson – Geoffrey Hinton – now works in artificial intelligence at Google. Another of her relatives in the late 19th century puts forward the idea of being able to see the fourth dimension, which inspires a lot of the work of Alan Moore.’
February 8, 2021
[tv] The John Munch Cinematic Universe … A good look at how one fictional cop unites a number of TV and Movie Universes. ‘Munch was based on real-life Baltimore homicide detective Jay Landsman. After retiring from doing actual police work, Landsman became an actor who pretended to be a cop in The Wire, a show that already had a character named after him (as did Michael Chabon’s 2007 novel, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union). When Homicide ended in 1999, Munch took the unusual step of getting a transfer to another fictional precinct. He became a regular on the New York-based show Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, the first of many, many Law and Order spin-offs. Munch remained there until his on-screen retirement party in 2013, where he reminisced with characters from Homicide some 14 years after that show’s finale. This, it’s worth noting, is not a typical career trajectory for a fictional TV cop.’
February 1, 2021
[tv] Adam Curtis Explains It All … Adam Curtis has a new series of film coming out and the New Yorker has a preview/interview with Curtis. It has comments from “a former comic-book writer” called Alan from Northampton for those that are interested. :) ‘[Alan] Moore told me that he felt “quite neurologically fizzy” after each film. At the end of the binge-watch, he sent Curtis a postcard, comparing his work to “the kind of dream where we become aware that we are dreaming and can thus attain agency over the torrent of nonsense.”’
November 30, 2020
[tv] Rediscovering “Columbo” in 2020 … Great comic on the pleasures of watching Columbo right now.
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.
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.’