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Some of the best articles on the blog. Typically, these have a picture. It's a low entrance requirement, I know.


September 23, 2011

Review: Prime Suspect (US) 1x1

Posted on September 23, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Maria Bello in Prime Suspect (US)

In the US: Thursdays, 10/9c, NBC

Prime Suspect is one of British TV's crown jewels. Twenty years old this year, the Granada show about a female detective's (Helen Mirren) struggles against the misogyny and sexism of her male colleagues during the investigation of a prostitute-murdering serial killer is an absolutely superb bit of television: when I rewatched it this year, I almost cried at how good it was compared to the vast, vast majority modern British television drama. 

Attempts to make a US version of Prime Suspect have been ongoing almost since the show originally aired. But finally, NBC has got its act together and made a series version of the show. Starring Maria Bello (The Mummy 3, A History of Violence) in an impressively wacky set of hats and scarves, it sees DCI Jane Tennison become New York's Detective Jane Timoney, who transfers to a new precinct dominated by men who don't like her and don't trust her, but have to learn to deal with her when she heads up a murder investigation.

And although there will be a collective protest that our crown jewels have been stolen, the show is actually mostly pretty good – when it sticks to the script.

Here's a trailer.

Continue reading "Review: Prime Suspect (US) 1x1"

September 22, 2011

Review: Wonder Woman #1

Posted on September 22, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Wonder Woman #1

Poor old Wonder Woman. What a year - her 70th no less. She's been having nothing but trouble. Let's put to one side for a moment the problems of her intended TV adventures and look to her true home: comics.

Still trouble.

A year or so ago, lauded writer Gail Simone was just leaving the title. She'd left it in quite a nice state. Wonder Woman was getting to grips with "man's world", relationships, friendships, daughterhood, her new power (Zeus's lightning bolts), et al. Achilles had settled down from his time as The Olympian. The Amazons were tickety-boo for a change. Everything seemed happy and all set for the next writer, J Michael Straczynski. They even reverted the numbering scheme for the comic back to #600 in celebration for the next issue.

Gail Simone's final page of Wonder Woman

(Forgive the gorillas - it's a long story).

Then along comes JMS and everything gets shaken up. Everything Gail Simone did is thrown to one side. We get an alternative Wonder Woman with a new costume, who lives in a world where the Amazons are all dead, Wonder Woman is an orphan. Paradise Island is in ruins. The gods have gone. And she has a new costume, too. This wasn't Wonder Woman as we knew it or her.

The cover to Wonder Woman #601

So lots of people stopped reading it, including me. By about issue #608, though, it soon became clear that Wonder Woman's 'Odyssey' wasn't exactly what everyone thought it was and in fact the major reboot was a bit more minor and Wonder Woman would in all likelihood get back to something like her normal self by the end of JMS's run on the title. Which she did, although she got to keep her new costume.

The final page of JMS's run

I actually ended up going back over the run once it was done to read the earlier issues, because it was quite a clever subversion of the whole Wonder Woman mythos that led to something stronger. Trouble was, it took a year to do and at the end of it, turned out to be a little pointless.

Because DC had its own major reboot planned for no fewer than 52 of its titles, including Wonder Woman. Nothing was ever going to be the same again, just as at the end of the pan-DC 'Infinite Crisis' arc back in the 80s. The question was, how was everything going to be different? To be honest, no one yet knows and DC hasn't exactly been forthcoming, beyond telling us everything was going to be different and every single comic was going to start from issue #1 again.

Wonder Woman senses the #52 are coming

It's an easily satirisable position.

Now, four weeks into the relaunch, we have issue #1 of the all-new Wonder Woman. Has it all been worth it? Have there been many changes?

Well, Diana does have a new costume - again…

Continue reading "Review: Wonder Woman #1"

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September 22, 2011

Old Gems: Blue Thunder (1984)

Posted on September 22, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Blue Thunder

Made in 1983, Blue Thunder was a cracking little action movie. Directed by John Badham and starring Roy Scheider (Jaws), it questioned the increasing use of military-grade equipment by the police and the new powers of surveillance available to the police that technology was beginning to afford them.

The centrepiece of the film was 'Blue Thunder' as it was nicknamed, an armour-plated police helicopter with a 20mm chain cannon, infra-red cameras, the ability to hover almost silently and microphones that can listen through walls - famously, as an on-screen caption said at the beginning of the movie, technology that was all available in the US at that point.

The film's message was clear: we have to be very careful about this technology because in the wrong hands, even those of the government, law and order could be subverted. And at the end of the movie, Scheider lands Blue Thunder in front of a train and lets it blow up so no one can use it against the citizens of the United States.

So irony indeed that following the success of the movie, ABC decided to make a TV show in which Blue Thunder is benevolently used by Scheider's character (now played by James Farantino and called Frank Chaney rather than Frank Murphy) to stop criminals, aided by Dana "Wayne's World" Carvey and Bubba "Police Academy" Smith.

Here's the halfway decent titles of the TV series.

Continue reading "Old Gems: Blue Thunder (1984)"

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