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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.


October 22, 2010

Review: The First Men in the Moon

Posted on October 22, 2010 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The First Men In The Moon

In the UK: Tuesday, 10pm, BBC4

HG Wells' The First Men in the Moon is one of Wells' lesser known sci-fi books. While The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and even The Island of Dr Moreau get remade all the time, The First Men In the Moon had a rather lovely 1964 film adaptation starring Lionel Jeffries and co-written by Nigel Kneale, but that's been it.

Now, there are few UK TV writers today who are bigger sci-fi fanboys than Mark Gatiss. If he's not writing Doctor Who, starring in Doctor Who, appearing in documentaries about Doctor Who, presenting documentaries about horror movies, appearing in documentaries about Nigel Kneale, writing Lucifer Box stories that pastiche 19th century fiction, updating Sherlock Holmes, et al, he's thinking about it. I know he is. I can sense it.

So leave it to Gatiss to not only realise there's this gap in the HG Wells adaptation record but to fix it by writing a 90 minute TV movie based on the book - and, naturally enough, starring in it.

Now, BBC4 isn't exactly big budget, so you might be expecting something put together with some local theatre stars, a couple of pieces of string and a bit of papier mache. But The First Men in the Moon follows on from previous low budget, high gloss sci-fi productions, such as The Quatermass Experiment (which also starred Gatiss), A for Andromeda and Parallel Quest, by being very good looking, having a great cast (Rory Kinnear) and some quite extensive CGI, all while staying reasonably faithful to the source material - both the book, and because this is Gatiss, the movie.

It's just a pity everything was done with such a knowing wink in its eye. Here's a trailer:

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October 21, 2010

Series finale: Rubicon

Posted on October 21, 2010 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Truxton Spengler in Rubicon

In the US: Sunday 17th October, AMC
In the UK: Acquired by BBC4. Will air 2010/early 2011

I've more or less stopped doing these full-season reviews of TV shows, on the general grounds they take time and effort, and I'm quite lazy - plus there's always What Have You Been Watching? on Fridays to do brief reviews.

But the first season of Rubicon, I think, is quite an instructive piece of TV, and what with it coming to BBC4 soon, I thought I'd go over some of the things that make it interesting and worth watching, and what it teaches us about US television production.

I'll avoid spoilering anyone who has yet to see it because they're waiting for it on BBC4.

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October 21, 2010

Weird old title sequences: The Great Egg Race (1979-1986)

Posted on October 21, 2010 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Great Egg Race with Heinz Wolff

You know, sometimes I think I have psychic powers. Only last Thursday, I was thinking to myself "Ooh. I know what I should do for next week's Lost Gems: The Great Egg Race. Everyone loved that." What should happen within about two hours? The BBC only went and stuck vast chunks of it up on the BBC Archive, that's what, which makes things a whole lot easier, if less impressive now.

The Great Egg Race, for those too young, too American or not nerdy enough to be watching BBC science programmes during the early to mid-1980s, was a fabulous homage to British boffins and inventors, a predecessor for things like Robot Wars and Scrapheap Challenge, and firmly in the tradition of the outwards bounds courses et al that led to Now Get Out of That at the same time. In it, teams of inventive and engineering-minded British people would be set seemingly simple challenges and armed only with their ingenuity, a small workshop and a whole array of kitchen-equipment and random objects, they would have to construct a mind-blowing gizmo or series of gizmos that would solve the challenge better than the other teams - preferably in as Heath-Robinson a way as possible.

Originally presented by Play School/Play Away host Brian Cant, the show got its name from the main challenge of the first series, in which teams from around the country tried to build machines that could propel an egg as far as possible, powered only by elastic bands. This episode includes the show's famous theme tune, as well as its first weird old title sequence. More after the jump…

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