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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.


July 12, 2010

In praise of Jonathan Ross's past work

Posted on July 12, 2010 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Jonathan Ross

So Jonathan Ross's BBC chat show has finished. It has ceased to be. He's off now to ITV.

It's easy to knock him for Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. Although he frequently knew what he was talking about, probing his subjects with surprising depth, and could be original and edgy with his interviews, a lot of the time he was teenage-boy childish, crude and even rude to his guests. And no one but no one criticises Hershey's bars in front of an American - foolish man.

However, the "not very good" qualities of Friday Night with Jonathan Ross shouldn't make people forget just how talented he has been in the past. He's been particularly good at introducing Britain to other countries' pop cultures, particularly when talking about film.

He first came to fame when he revolutionised chat shows back in the 80s with his Channel 4 show The Last Resort, which was the first UK chat show to "do a Letterman". On the show, he was able to bring on guests who rarely if ever appeared on the other networks, even when few in the UK knew who the guests were. Here he is introducing Britain to Steve Martin, for example.

But it's for The Incredibly Strange Film Show that he should best be remembered. This 80s show gave pretty much every film nerd and teenage boy a knowledge of Jackie Chan, John Waters, Ed Wood, George Romero, Sam Raimi, Russ Meyer and numerous other directors they probably never would have had otherwise heard of.

He's also produced some excellent travelogues, particularly of Japan for his show Japanorama.

So let us not knock Ross so easily. He's one of the few people on TV willing to share his passions and enthusiasm unselfconsciously on TV and there aren't many of those about any more. And who else would be willing to make an entire documentary about the search for Spiderman artist Steve Ditko in which he eventually finds his subject and is able to talk to him – provided Ditko isn't filmed during the interview. Failure? No, because it was both informative and epic fun.

July 9, 2010

Weird old title sequences: The Six Million Dollar Man (1974-1978)

Posted on July 9, 2010 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Six Million Dollar Man

"Steve Austin, astronaut; a man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. We can make him better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster."

If you grew up in 70s Britain, particularly if you were a boy, you probably already know those words off by heart. They're from one of the most iconic title sequences in TV history, and anyone who was anyone used to watch the show every week. The show was, of course, The Six Million Dollar Man in which former astronaut turned test pilot Steve Austin (Lee Majors) is seriously injured while testing a new plane. He loses his right arm, his right eye and both his legs, but the government nevertheless has plans for him. They're going to turn him into a 'bionic man', giving him mechanical replacements for his missing limbs so he can perform missions that no normal man - or even team of men - could do.

See if this brings back any memories for you.

Continue reading "Weird old title sequences: The Six Million Dollar Man (1974-1978)"

July 6, 2010

Review: Identity 1x1

Posted on July 6, 2010 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Keeley Hawes in Identity

In the UK: Mondays, 9pm, ITV1/ITV1 HD

I'd really like to be able to cheer on ITV. For years, it made some of the best dramas and comedy this country ever produced. Then it fell into a deep, dark hole which looked like it had no bottom. But under Michael Grade and Peter Fincham, it started to look like it had a future again and even began to put out some semi-decent programming.

I'd like to say that Identity, which stars as Ashes to Ashes' Keeley Hawes, The Wire/Queer As Folk's Aiden Gillen and Soldier Soldier's Holly Aird as a crack police squad dedicated to foiling identity thieves, is at the spearhead of ITV1's resurgence, a gleaming piece of taught drama, intelligent plotting, realistic dialogue and plausible characterisation that any network could be proud of.

I'd like to.

Continue reading "Review: Identity 1x1"

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