Posted on September 18, 2007 | |
In the UK: Sundays, 9pm, BBC1
In the US: Not yet acquired
I feel sorry for Mrs Palin. Isn't her husband ever home? He's always off globe-trotting somewhere. It doesn't seem fair on the poor woman. But then, maybe she gets a share of the proceeds from the inevitable coffee table book from each series.
Now Michael Palin's off trotting round Eastern Europe. It's a bit of a whistlestop tour: Sunday's episode took in four - or was it five? - countries in under an hour. But if you're used to the Palin formula, it's moderately entertaining, albeit with diminished returns from previous series.
Continue reading "Review: Michael Palin's New Europe"
Posted on September 16, 2007 | |
In the UK: Mondays, BBC4, 9pm
I'm not a big fan of British comics. At least, not the Beano, et al. The only time I ever came across them when I was growing up was in doctors' waiting rooms. So the first episode of Comics Britannia, a new history of British comics, shouldn't have been that interesting to me.
Narrated by Armando Iannucci and featuring interviews with the writers and artists behind the Dandy et al, Comics Britannia was still surprisingly riveting. I don't whether that's the union man in me, wanting to turn every obvious example of exploited labour into a parable of the virtues of joining a union. But certainly you couldn't watch this documentary without thinking that a lot of talented people have been hard done by over the decades thanks to exploitative management.
Featuring contributions by fans such as Steve Bell, this first episode did at least give you an appreciation for something that even if I still think is mostly tedious and unfunny, seems to have entertained millions over the years. It's well researched, well structured and some actual budget seems to have been spent on injecting the various interviewees into faux comics backgrounds. It also does a good job of explaining the historical and social contexts of the comics and why some kids seemed to find them funny.
Fortunately, the remaining two episodes are on slightly more interesting topics: the gender-specific comics, such as Eagle and Bunty, of the post-war years; and the darker comics of the 80s and 90s, which should feature an interview with Alan Moore among others. Worth watching, even if you have minimal interest in the subject matter.
Posted on September 16, 2007 | |
Well, you can't say I didn't give it a chance. I hung in there for five episodes. To be fair, Flash Gordon has got a lot better since episodes one and two, which were pretty appalling.
But even with three straight episodes in a row that were officially “not that bad”, according to The Carusometer, thanks to improved characterisation, more exploration of Mongo (there are Hawkmen now!) and better humour, it's still a bit on the tat side. It's the kind of programme that you'd end up with if you took up a couple of teenage boys, thrust a camcorder into their hands and said “Here, shoot a science fiction series. You've two days, $100 and all the babes and iMovie effects you need.”
It is amusing. It is starting to overcome its problems. But it's still nothing remarkable. If it maintains its current levels, it could be a diverting way to spend an hour at most - kind of like something shown during a “the worst of Stargate” evening.
The Medium is Not Enough hereby declares Flash Gordon is a 4 or “Major Caruso” on The Carusometer quality scale. A Major Caruso corresponds to a show that David Caruso might exec produce or star in. After channelling all the effects budget into buying the most powerful trailer in the world for himself, he will use glove puppets to depict the denizens of the alien world. Production will have to be stopped when, after insisting he do all the stunts because he's a “world class athlete”, he finds he needs a body double to do the far too taxing “going upstairs” scenes.