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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.


November 3, 2008

Review: The Sarah Jane Adventures 2x6

Posted on November 3, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Sarah Jane Adventures

It's the second part of that story about astrology: don't tell me you didn't see it coming?

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November 3, 2008

Lost Gems: Life Story

Posted on November 3, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Tim Piggott-Smith and Jeff Goldblum in Life Story

Earlier this year, I was bemoaning the fact that not only is there very little mainstream science programming, the stuff that is around is dumbed down almost to the extent that it's completely worthless. Okay, so BBC4 is trying to fill in the gaps with things like The Story of Maths, but everywhere else, there's nothing but rubbish.

Which is a shame, because the BBC used to produce some truly excellent science programmes, usually as part of its Horizon strand. Possibly the biggest jewel in its crown was Life Story, which was billed as a "Horizon special". This was a feature-length dramatisation of the race by Francis Crick and James Watson against Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins in the 1950s to discover the secrets of the structure of DNA. It depicts how the quick-moving Crick and Watson were able to beat the more methodical Franklin and Wilkins to the discovery using Franklin and Wilkins' own work - while still finding time to flesh out the characters of the scientists involved and give an unpleasantly accurate picture of the misogyny of 1950s Britain.

This was how to do science dramatisation. Step aside rubbish like Egypt, Life Story had Tim Pigott-Smith and Jeff Goldblum as Crick and Watson, and Juliet Stevenson and Alan Howard as Franklin and Wilkins. It had a script by William Nicholson (Shadowlands), based on Watson's book The Double Helix, and direction by Mick Jackson (The Bodyguard). It ended up winning three awards, including a BAFTA for best single drama.

However, it was such a good dramatisation and the science was so accurate that it quickly became popular at universities and schools as a teaching aid. As a result, although it was made available as a VHS video, it was priced at the $160 institutional mark. It hasn't been made available on DVD, it's only been repeated a couple of times. It's a Lost Gem.

Here's the opening few minutes which sets the scene for the rest of the film.

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November 3, 2008

Review: 30 Rock 3x1

Posted on November 3, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

30 Rock

In the US: Thursdays, 9.30/8.30c, NBC
In the UK: Five, from January (probably)

Wake up, NBC! Wake up!

I don't know if you've noticed this, but Tina Fey has been something of a hot property of late. Thanks to her scary impersonation of Sarah Palin (here with Will Ferrell as George Bush), people all over the world are waking up to the fact that despite having been on and written for a recent season of SNL, she is in fact a comedy genius.

Not NBC though, because they've waited until the end of October to bring to our screens the latest season of 30 Rock. Set behind the scenes of a fictitious NBC sketch show, it features Tina Fey as the show's bewildered liberal producer and Alec Baldwin as the interfering conservative executive in charge of Fey's show, east coast programming and microwave ovens. And it's easily the best comedy on television at the moment (yes, better than The Office, etc)

Well done, NBC. Would you like to look at your ratings? Scary, aren't they? Want to start thinking a bit more in future, maybe, about how you could capitalise on events rather than simply staring at them blankly?

Of course, there may have been doubts about the show's funniness. Would season three be as funny as previous seasons?

Don't be silly. Of course it would.

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