Archive | Featured articles

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


December 17, 2009

Random Acts of Ali Larter/Weird Old Title Sequences: Coming to London in a purple wig and silver miniskirt to film the UFO remake

Posted on December 17, 2009 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Ali Larter

Be still my beating heart. Ali Larter could be on her way to London next year to film a $150 million remake of Gerry Anderson series UFO, in which she'd play the part of Virginia Lake (more on her in a minute). I obviously don't have pictures of that (yet), so here's a picture and a vid from the first annual Los Angeles Gala, which was raising money for Friends Without Borders.

Significantly, though, this means we can have the first Random Acts of Ali Larter/Weird Old Title Sequences tie-in here on the blog. Because UFO had some weird old titles.

UFO
UFO
was Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson's first attempt at a fully live-action show. He'd had a sort of stab at it with Secret Service, in which Stanley Unwin voiced a puppet version of himself, but whenever they did a long shot, they'd just use live action footage of him instead. It was about as convincing as it sounds.

But UFO got Gerry Anderson into live-action proper. The plot to UFO was similar to that of other shows he'd done before, particularly Captain Scarlet: The Earth is under attack from an alien race. What for, we don't know at first, but it soon becomes apparent they need us for our body parts.

Yep, they're kidnapping us, stealing our organs, and transplanting them into their bodies. A later episode, The Cat With Ten Lives adds a little wrinkle to that, but all the same, it's pretty sick and a great concept.

Naturally, when we humans find out about this, it being Gerry Anderson world, we come up with a top secret defence strategy and matching organisation: SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organization). With submarines underwater that can launch planes, satellites called SID (Space Intruder Detector) in orbit for monitoring, a Moonbase that can monitor space for approaching UFOs and send out spaceships to intercept, and a whole load of ground-based attack vehicles, all it needs to be complete is a top-secret underground headquarters. Which it did - under Harlington-Straker Studios (really Pinewood) as a cover, of course, and not to save on production costs for the show.

Naturally, of course, because of all the powerful magnetic fields that the Moonbase equipment puts out, all the women running it up there have to wear purple wigs.

Moonbase girls

Still, everyone wore string vests down on the submarine.

String vests on UFO

A tussle
The show itself was an interesting tussle between Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. On the one hand, Gerry wanted to do business as usual, and everything was going to be much as in Thunderbirds et al - that is, missions of the week.

Sylvia, on the other hand, wanted to do characters. She wanted to do stories that could be considered as drama. So the episodes of UFO vary between the same old plots you'd see already (Gerry's stuff) and interesting ones, such as Confetti Check A-OK, which looked at SHADO boss Commander Straker's guilt over the married he'd ruined (Sylvia's stuff).

He's a haunted man is Straker, channelling all his energies into his job, because he's screwed up his personal life. In A Question of Priorities, he even sacrifices his own son so that the aliens can be stopped.

There's also a slight disconnect because the show was shot in two filming blocks due to a change of studios. During the second block, which also saw a change in the writing department, George Sewell, who had played Straker's second in command Alec Freeman during the first block, was unavailable. In his place came Wanda Ventham as the more memorable Virginia Lake. Because initially she essentially had a man's lines - just like Cathy Gale before her on The Avengers - Lake was strong, tough and took no nonsense from Straker or anyone else. Because she's a character who was co-opted at the last moment, she's also notable for having been a research scientist in the pilot episode, a computer specialist and headed up Moonbase at one point.

From UFO to Space: 1999
The show didn't do too badly, but it didn't do as well as everyone hoped. By the time the second season was ready to go, it became clear it wasn't going to pan out, even though the show's creators had hoped a shift of focus to life on the Moonbase might have helped out.

So instead, Gerry and Sylvia decided to come up with an entirely new show set on the moon: Space: 1999, which I believe I've already covered.

On the whole, it wasn't a great show, it has to be admitted. It definitely had its moments and in terms of plot, although not in terms of charm, it's head and shoulders above Anderson's previous shows as well as Space: 1999, although the latter trounces it significantly for production values. There are a few classic episodes, but no more than a handful, so I wouldn't be buying too many from Amazon, if I were you.

Anyway, brace yourself for the weird old title sequence of UFO. In case I forgot to mention it, UFO was set in the then far off future of 1980, where all the fashions were strange and futuristic and the cars were just mental, too. But all of that gets explained in…

If they are going to remake an episode for the movies - for there are three planned - I'd recommend Mindbender, which involved everyone hallucinating because of a strange moon rock. Standout moments, apart from the fact Stuart Damon of The Champions is in it, is when Commander Straker gets affected and begins to hallucinate that his entire life is fictional and is being filmed as part of a TV series, masterminded by a woman called Sylvia. The clue, as they say, was in the episode title. You can watch the whole thing below. Aren't I nice?

Have you seen Ali Larter acting randomly? If so, let us know and we'll tell everyone about it in "Random Acts of Ali Larter"

Read other posts about: ,

December 2, 2009

Review: Heroes 4x12 - The Fifth Stage

Posted on December 2, 2009 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Fifth Stage

In the US: Monday 30th December 2009, 8pm, NBC
In the UK: Oh, you know, some time round March or April. Or May

This is the last episode of Heroes before it goes away for its Christmas break, and comes back in its old time slot, 9pm. It's another Tim Kring effort, and he only tends to write episodes where something big happens.

Spoilers ahoy…

Continue reading "Review: Heroes 4x12 - The Fifth Stage"

Read other posts about: ,

November 26, 2009

Review: Heroes 4x11 - Thanksgiving

Posted on November 26, 2009 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Heroes - Thanksgiving

In the US: Monday 23rd November 2009, 8pm, NBC
In the UK: Oh, you know, some time round March or April

It's Thanksgiving in the US right now, where no doubt millions of families are busily having icy conversations and fights amongst each other.

Well, if they have superpowers anyway. Spoilers after the jump.

Continue reading "Review: Heroes 4x11 - Thanksgiving"

Read other posts about: ,

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295 296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 331 332 333 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360 361 362 363 364 365 366 367 368 369 370 371 372 373 374 375 376 377 378 379 380 381 382 383 384 385 386 387 388 389 390 391 392 393 394 395 396 397 398  

Featured Articles

Marvel's Iron Fist

Season two of Daredevil but done right