Posted on January 26, 2006 | |
Just in case you missed it, wedged as it is under news of Kenneth Williams' diaries being dramatised, the Media Guardian reports that BBC4 is to remake A for Andromeda. Just like last year's The Quatermass Experiment, which featured new Doctor Who David Tennant, it's going to be a condensed version of the original, performed live on the night.
In case you missed The Quatermass Experiment (it's available on DVD if you want to catch up), it was actually rather good and quite creepy – a curious combination of theatre and television that's so rare these days. Since I'm the proud possessor of the Quatermass Collection as well, I can say it was significantly better than the original, which was slow moving to say the least – of course, by the standards of the 1950s, the original was a veritable hurricane.
As I recall, the story's pretty good, despite being put together by Nobel Prize-winning physicist and “life evolved in space” nut Fred Hoyle. It bears remarkable similarities with the naffo Species, although it bears none of that movie's deficiencies, so we know it can fit into a couple of hours without serious plot-curtailment. I have high hopes for this live version. No word yet on casting, but I suspect D Tennant will be a bit too busy to make an appearance this time round.
PS BBC4 again. They've definitely been at those super-wheaties.
PPS I had copies of the few remaining bits of A for Andromeda and its sequel The Andromeda Breakthrough back in the early 90s, but I purged them long ago in one of my Nights of the Long Video Knives. You can view the title sequences at TV Ark. While you're at, have at look at the Ace of Wands titles, complete with Thames TV opener: they're magnificent. They were victims of my library purge, too. Sigh.
Posted on January 25, 2006 | |
We're re-entering the 70s. First Doctor Who becomes a Saturday night regular again. Now Noel “Late, Late Breakfast Show” Edmonds is returning to prime-time weekend viewing with Deal or No Deal. Based on the Australian game show of the same name, It's been doing well in the afternoons apparently.
I'm surprised it took this long to become a hit though. It's already being hailed in the US as the next Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, despite being hosted by Howie “St Elsewhere” Mandel who appears a bit more like Master Po from Kung Fu than he used to.
But Noel on a Saturday night. Can we take it?
UPDATE: Charlie Brooker sums up the show, in case you've never seen it.
Posted on January 22, 2006 | |
NBC has announced that the current season of The West Wing will be the last. I won't be mourning its passing that much, since I mourned its death at the start of the fifth season. After writer/creator Aaron Sorkin was fired at the end of the fourth season, we were all waiting to see if the show could carry on with even a tenth of its former presence; it was no surprise to see that it couldn't. Sorkin really has a gift with dialogue that demonstrates so clearly that writers have far more of an effect on the quality of US TV and film productions than they're given credit for.
In contrast to the first four seasons (the latter two admittedly not as good as the first two), the fifth season was dismal: the plots were dire, dialogue merely functional rather than entrancing and characters behaved inconsistently.The sixth season - the one currently airing on More4 in the UK – was a definite improvement, although nowhere near the heights of the Sorkin years, while the seventh season has had to deal with obvious budget-cutting. It has had a couple of good moments, though, but it's still lacked the elegance and style of the early years. Ironically, the best episode so far was written by Bradley Whitford, who plays Josh Lyman and who obviously can remember quite clearly what made the show great in the early years.
The only things the later seasons had that Sorkin's work didn't were realism – the earlier seasons being obvious Democrat wish-fulfillment fantasies – and coherence: you could tell the man never planned what he was going to do until the last minute, resulting in characters and story arcs that got picked up, dropped and forgotten willy nilly. Mallory, Ainsley and various other first-rate incidental characters would just disappear without anyone asking where they'd gone. Even Sam (Rob Lowe), who was originally planned as the central character of the show, disappeared during the Orange County elections in the fourth season, never to be mentioned again.
Still, the 'Let Bartlet be Bartlet' theme got repeated in different guises at least twice during the first four years and got repeated two more times during the sixth and seventh season, so this attention deficit wasn't limited just to Sorkin's time.
It'll be sad to see it go, but with most of the main characters relegated to guest parts of late, it won't be the passing of old friends any more, just the disappearance of new acquaintances.