News

Wednesday’s deep news

Sophia Myles

Doctor Who

Film

Books

Music

Radio

Theatre

  • Bonnie Langford and Sandi Toksvig have a two-woman show

German TV

British TV

US TV

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US TV

Third-episode verdict: John from Cincinnati

John From Cincinnati Carusometer2 Partial Imaginary Carusometer

Well, it’s time to pass a third-episode verdict on John from Cincinnati, I reckon. I could hold out until episode five, because everything’s a bit murky still, but I don’t think there’ll be much point: the verdict will be the same.

You see the trouble is, it’s completely mental. Seriously mental. Not since Twin Peaks has there been such a surreal mind-f*ck of a show. Even obviously kooky shows like Northern Exposure can’t hold a candle to the insanity that is John from Cincinnati.

We’ve had hotels haunted by terrifying ghosts that we can’t see. We have drug-dealers who listen to opera. We have people who speak like they’re in Lord of the Rings. We’ve had the kiss of an incontinent parakeet heal the wounded and bring the dead back to life. And, of course, in the first episode, we had levitating surfers.

Then there’s John, around whom all these strange events occur. It’s becoming increasingly clear that John is not from Cincinnati, but is in fact either John (the Baptist) or God Himself. John says the end is near and his pronouncements seem to change reality. He also doesn’t need to go to the toilet. In fact, he doesn’t know how.

You see? Mental.

All these odd events – and sterling dialogue that actors just like to eat up – keep us going through an otherwise not desperately exciting tale of washed out surfers and a dysfunctional family living in California. What the grand design is, I don’t know. I’m hoping there is one, so I’m sticking with it.

Fortunately, the Carusometer knows how to deal with such mental programmes, because it has a hidden z-axis.

The Medium Is Not Enough has great pleasure in declaring John From Cincinnati a 2i or Partial Imaginary Caruso on The Carusometer quality scale. A Partial Imaginary Caruso corresponds to “a show in which David Caruso might cameo as Wayland, the Saxon god of the smithy. Eight feet tall, he will walk through the ancient city of Marrakesh, reading out the instruction manual for a Krups coffee maker in the lost language of the Etruscans. Before him will walk and crawl and fly every manner of bird and beast that dwells upon the face of the Earth, singing the collected works of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The show will be cancelled after a season”.

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BFI beats Oyster

Interesting technological discovery I made today: your British Film Institute membership card has the power to block Oyster cards. Yes, when you’re at the head of the queue to get on the tube or off a train, find out your love of film beats the mighty Oyster’s radio powers in the most embarrassing way possible.

Honestly, it’s true. I took the BFI card out and instantly my Oyster card worked again. I’m suspecting some kind of metallic ink is behaving badly.

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News

Tuesday’s “don’t you point that thing at me” news

Radio Times covers

Doctor Who

Film

  • Anika Noni Rose and Lucian Msamati are to star in the The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
  • Trailer for The Hitman online
  • More cast members, including Idris Elba, for Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla
  • Iron Man to film in Vegas
  • Stills and a trailer from John Rambo

British TV

US TV

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UK TV

“Blake!” Or alternatively, “Mutos!”

Blake's 7

Anyone else been sticking with the Blake’s 7 audio adventures over on the SciFi Channel? It’s by a bunch of ex-Doctor Who writers (from the glorious (?) Sylvester McCoy era) and stars none of the original cast. You’re probably not, because you have to listen to every episode via the cocking useless Flash player on their web site.

However, through the miracle of technology, I’ve been listening to it on my iPod, where it’s a tad more accessible. We’re up to episode 21 now. After a shaky first four or five episodes – there are 36 in all and they’re about five minutes each – it sort of settled down and is actually quite listenable.

There have been changes though, some of which will probably annoy fans and some of which are just rubbish or change for change’s sake. Blake and Servalan are both Scottish for one thing, Jenna’s American and Avon’s from South London apparently. Servalan’s coming across more like a slightly over-ambitious branch manager of Rumbelow’s, office partying her way to the top, than a space commander and Avon doesn’t sound like he’s even passed GCSE Computing yet. We’ve also lost all the good dialogue that characterised Blake’s 7 when it was really hitting its stride and there are no proper allowances for description: the Liberator may have used to have looked like a mosque on its side in the TV series but it might be a two-kilometre long tangerine by now for all we know.

We’ve also had a bit of a line-up upheaval, with Cally the crap telepath swapped out in favour of an equally crap Federation commander (no, not Tarrant, although it could have been him from that description) played by the omnipresent vocal talents of India Fisher. And horror of horrors, there’s no teleport or force wall and the Liberator has to do hyperspace jumps to get anywhere. Sacrilege!

Still, there have been some plot changes for the good. Blake and co haven’t had the easiest time of getting the Liberator and the still-unnamed Zen to do their bidding. Thanks to the mystery of why the Liberator was abandoned in the first place actually being explored this time, it’s also all quite eerie on that repossessed alien starship, which is a welcome change.

The episodes are kind of diverting, though, more because you keep wondering when they’re going to occasionally intersect with the TV series again rather than because it’s a great piece of work. And they haven’t really got cracking at the terrorism thing yet, which could make it all worthwhile. I’m going to stick with it and let you know whether to buy the inevitable CD set once it’s finished.