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January 4, 2008

What would your Mastermind subject be?

Posted on January 4, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Just caught tonight's episode of Celebrity Mastermind with Danny Wallace, Nicholas Parsons, that bald veggie restauranteur and that Scottish one off Loose Women who looks like she's sucking a wasp (and acts like it). An interesting collection of specialist subjects: the history of Tranmere Rovers; the life and works of Edward Lear; the lives of the Pankhurst women; and, erm, Ghostbusters. See if you can match the subject to the celebrity. It'll be really easy.

Anyway, I got to pondering a couple of things. You see, there's a thin line you have to tread with your specialist subject. Obviously, you have to be good at it for one thing. But there's a kind of social snobbery with it. "What's that? Your specialist subject is 'Chantelle off Celebrity Big Brother'? Okay... Mine's the Aeneid and its relationship with medieval Latin poetry. Is that you fetching your coat?"

I'm not sure I'd have had the balls to go on with Ghostbusters as my specialist subject.

But I'm not sure what my specialist subject would have been. 'TV's a little too broad. 'US TV' would confine me to a dungeon of Dallas, Dynasty and Dawson's Creek, knowing my luck. 'Doctor Who' really wouldn't get me anywhere at all, since the questions would be set by someone who's memorised every second line from the annuals and wants to know what kind of toy Davros used to entertain baby Daleks with. Plus it would be a bit nerdy. But picking a non-nerdy TV subject (eg Play for the Day, the works of Carla Lane, The Sopranos) carries with it all the joy of learning the Highway Code and eating your greens, and I don't really have the time to brush up on four seasons of The Wire (fifth starting on Sunday).

So I'm still thinking.

How about you? What would your socially acceptable, TV-related specialist subject be?

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January 3, 2008

Review: Thunderbirds night

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

All About Thunderbirds

In the UK: Wednesday 2nd January, BBC4

BBC4 likes themes. It likes seasons. It like evenings. It likes repeats a lot. Sometimes, they're good, such as the now-traditional yearly Ghost Stories seasons.

Sometimes, though, you have to ask yourself, “What's the point?” Sure, somebody, somewhere liked Dance Britannia and is grateful that finally someone has seen the sense to put on a sort of social history thing about dancing. But even fans of Gerry Anderson – you know, the guy behind all those 60s puppets series like Joe 90 – must be wondering who exactly was supposed to have gained anything from BBC4's 'Thunderbirds night'.

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January 2, 2008

Review: Doctor Who - The Girl Who Never Was

Posted on January 2, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Girl Who Never Was (Doctor Who)

Ah Charley. How we'll miss you. Well, assuming we've not been listening to any of your stories since the Divergent Universe disaster.

When Big Finish was starting up and figured it could invent a few new companions of its own, Charley was the only one of the new companions who could be described as good or popular (sorry Evelyn and Erimem fans). Enthusiastic, actually wanting to travel with the Doctor for a change and with a good chemistry with the eighth Doctor, she made even the cruddier stories tolerable. We also were treated to a precursor to the Rose/Doctor romance that was tastefully done and with a near-adult depth that the onscreen equivalent would be sorely lacking.

Then C'rizz turned up, the writers forgot how to write for Charley, the romance wasn't so much nipped in the bud as snapped off at the root without any real explanation and the best companion of the Big Finish range quickly became a next generation Tegan or Adric.

As people have been surmising since Sheridan Smith landed the BBC7 companion gig, Charley's days have been numbered for quite some time. Following the departure of C'rubbish in Absolution, we now have Charley's swansong in The Girl Who Never Was. Written by her creator, Alan Barnes, it gives us more than a few reminders of why she was once so good as well as few bemusing moments that I will now coin a new adjective to describe: Bigfinishian.

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