Sitting Tennant

Friday’s Sitting Tennant (week 36, 2012) + August/September’s winners

Hebbie's Sitting Tennant

Shilohforever's Sitting Tennant

Sister Chastity's Sitting Tennant

Toby's Sitting Tennant

Hear no evil, see no evil, drink no evil – or something similar appears to be the message of Sitting Tennant today. Whatever the case, that’s a big 5 points to everyone who sent in a picture. And that means that we have two winners of the August/September rollover: Sister Chastity, and for the first time this year, Toby! Well done to you both!

October’s competition will start on Tuesday. Anyone can enter so get picture-hunting!

  1. Toby, Sister Chastity: 45
  2. Hebbie: 35
  3. Shilohforever: 20

Sitting Board of Winners 2012
January
Hebbie, Sister Chastity

February
Sister Chastity

March
Sister Chastity

April
Sister Chastity, Shilohforever

May
Hebbie, Sister Chastity

June
Hebbie, Sister Chastity

July
Hebbie

August/September
Toby, Sister Chastity

Got a picture of David Tennant sitting, lying down or in some indeterminate state in between? Then leave a link to it below or email me and if it’s judged suitable and doesn’t obviously infringe copyright, it will appear in the “Sitting Tennant” gallery. Don’t forget to include your name in the filename so I don’t get mixed up about who sent it to me.

The best pic in the stash each week will appear on Tuesday and get ten points; the runners up will appear on Friday (one per person who sends one in) and get five points.

Each month, I’ll name the best picture provider and then at the end of the year, the overall champion will be announced for 2012!

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US TV

Review: Vegas 1×1 (CBS/Sky Atlantic)

Vegas

In the US: Tuesdays, 10/9c, CBS
In the UK: Acquired by Sky Atlantic HD

As you may recall, last year, everyone when 60s crazy. And by everyone, I mean NBC and ABC, with The Playboy Club and Pan Am. The Playboy Club was hampered essentially by budget and a script that tried so hard to fair to everyone and not be exploitative that not much interesting happened when Amber Heard wasn’t around in a scarlet bunny outfit. Certainly nothing interesting happened when Eddie Cibrian was on-screen.

Pan Am, by contast, had no problems with budget or even its cast. Instead, it was hampered by a script that was tedious bollocks. Trans-atlantic flights are more interesting.

The accusation then was the networks were trying to cash in on the popularity of period cable show Mad Men. Maybe a bit, but given Mad Men first aired in 2007 and the networks had already tried series set in the 70s, 80s and 90s, it’s a stretch to say it had to be because of a mad rush to ape Mad Men. But it was at least an attempt to emulate the tone of the quality period dramas of cable TV. Hell, even Starz is trying to do that with Magic City and it is a cable network.

But all those efforts failed, because fundamentally neither NBC nor ABC can make those kinds of shows. Fox? Don’t even think about it. It’s busily trying to be CBS.

Just as we all were starting to despair that no US broadcast network could actually make decent, quality dramas of any kind any more, let alone period dramas, along comes CBS – our last, best hope for quality – and saves the day with Vegas, written by Nicholas Pileggi of GoodFellas fame. Set in 1960s Las Vegas and based on a real story, it has a stellar movie-star cast that includes Dennis Quaid, Carrie-Anne Moss from The Matrix and Michael Chiklis (The Shield, Fantastic Four, No Ordinary Family), features some seamless attention to detail, a suitably complex bit of plotting and characterisation, and – because it’s CBS – a bit of police procedure.

Oh yes, and it’s got Jason O’Mara from Terra Nova. Can’t have everything right, huh?

Here’s a trailer and behind-the-scenes preview.

Continue reading “Review: Vegas 1×1 (CBS/Sky Atlantic)”

US TV

Review: The Mindy Project (Fox) 1×1

The Mindy Project

In the US: Tuesdays, 9.30/8.30c, Fox
In the UK: Not yet acquired

When is an anti-romcom romcom not an anti-romcom romcom? When it’s a romcom!

You will, of course, have seen it before, the anti-romcom romcom. Sleepless in Seattle spends a lot of time deconstructing romcoms, with Rosie O’Donnell famously remarking to Meg Ryan: “A movie! That’s your problem! You don’t want to be in love. You want to be in love in a movie.”

The Mindy Project dwells a lot on the inauthenticity of romcoms, as well, explicitly having our heroine, the thirtysomething single doctor Mindy Kaling (played by The Office (US)‘s Mindy Lahiri), watching When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle et al religiously since she was a little girl while critiquing their realism.

Yet it wants to have its cake and eat it, by simultaneously following the path trod by Bridget Jones, giving us a woman who doesn’t quite fit society’s female ideal (she’s Indian-American, not a size 0, not very tall and a terrible conversationalist), yet who’s clearly fated to end up with the proud, rude Mr Darcyish doctor she’s taken against from the first moment, rather than the Hugh Grant-alike she thinks she should end up with.

It’s an anti-romcom romcom that dismisses the conventions of romcoms while embracing them. Everything cancels out and it’s a romcom.

It’s also so far the only genuinely funny new comedy of the Fall season: witty, surprising, clever, with a decent cast, decent characters, a proper plot and almost no recourse to cringe comedy.

Anyone surprised that NBC turned it down? No, me neither.

Here’s a trailer.

Continue reading “Review: The Mindy Project (Fox) 1×1”

US TV

Review: Ben and Kate (Fox/ITV2) 1×1

Ben and Kate

In the US: Tuesdays, 8.30/7.30c, Fox
In the UK: Acquired by ITV2

So I mentioned not so long ago the general tendency of networks to want to make shows just like other shows that are popular right now. Even if those shows are ones they make themselves.

Last year’s big comedy success for Fox was New Girl, with Zooey Deschanel. Not so much this season, judging by its viewing figures, but last season, it was doing well.

New Girl, of course, is about a slightly dizzy girl-woman who hasn’t quite grown up. She’s adorkable. Really, that’s the word they made up to describe her. And she is. In small doses.

So what more natural way to build on that success than to have another sitcom about someone who’s not quite grown up yet, hey? That’ll be funny and entirely not like having nails hammered into your kneecaps by an Algerian torturer, won’t it?

Boy, Fox and you were both wrong, Fox when they commissioned Ben and Kate – the show formerly called Ned Fox is My Manny – and you when you decided to watch it. And just now when you went for the “not being tortured by an Algerian psychopath” option. You must be kicking yourself, assuming you still can.

Ben and Kate ‘hilariously’ looks at a brother and sister – Ben and Kate, in case you hadn’t guessed – in which single mother Kate tries to get by in life and make ends meet with the occasional hindrance of her brother Ben, a boy-man – a moronic boy-man at that – who fecklessly breezes in and out of her life, trampling everything in his path like a baby bull elephant on its hind legs. Kate has missed out on a lot in life, having responsibility thrust on her so soon, so Ben decides to move in to look after her daughter, Kate in turn believing that Ben will finally learn what it is to be an adult.

Want a bet that’s going to work? And that Ben is tolerable, even in small doses?

Thought not, because not even Lucy Punch as Kate’s friend and co-worker BJ (subtle, huh?) can polish this one. Here’s a trailer.

Continue reading “Review: Ben and Kate (Fox/ITV2) 1×1”

Classic TV

It’s Hammer Time!: Dick Barton Special Agent (1948)

Dick Barton Special Agent

Time for this weekend’s Hammer movie – Dick Barton Special Agent.

Dick Barton may not be a name familiar to you, but between 1946 and 1951, he was as well known in British popular culture as, well, Doctor Who is now. Every weekday evening on BBC Radio’s Light Programme, for 15 minutes at a time, Captain Richard Barton, a former marine commando, together with his bestest pals Jock Anderson and Snowey White solved all sorts of crimes, escaped from dangerous situations and saved the nation from disaster. And the nation loved him: at its peak, 15 million people listened to Dick’s adventures every day.

Even if you haven’t heard of Dick Barton, you’ll have heard his theme tune, possibly on That Mitchell and Webb Look: ‘The Devil’s Gallop’. That’s how ingrained he became in popular culture.

To say the plots were slightly implausible, hackneyed and even cliched would be understate the case. There was literally no cliffhanger, no situation so dangerous, that Dick Barton couldn’t get out of it in a trice, prompting the national catchphrase “With one bound, Dick was free!”

Dick did die a death eventually – at the hands of BBC politics. When The Archers came along in 1951, the establishment breathed a sigh of relief since they could finally get rid of the very un-BBC sensationalism of Barton and his friends. Dick lost his time slot and that was that.

Nevertheless, he was much loved and for the BBC’s golden jubilee in 1972, it broadcast a new, abridged 10-episode version of the very first Barton serial, which featured many members of the original cast: Noel Johnson as Dick Barton, John Mann as Snowey, William Fox as Colonel Gardiner, Alex McCrindle as Jock and Margaret Robertson as Jean Hunter.

ITV eventually picked up Barton’s baton, and in 1979 made a series called Dick Barton – Special Agent, which aired in an early evening slot at the weekends. Available again in 15-minute chunks, the four stories broken down into 32 episodes starred Tony Vogel as Dick Barton, Anthony Heaton as Snowey, James Cosmo as Jock and John Gantrel as Sir Richard Marley. It’s now available on DVD, in case you’re interested, and here’s the title sequence.

Dick and his chums have also been revived yearly in a series of musicals that have toured Britain and lasted an impressive 11 years – last year was the first year that there wasn’t a new Barton musical.

But back when Dick was at the peak of his popularity, Hammer Films obtained the rights to make a movie featuring Dick called Dick Barton Special Agent. So successful was this movie that Hammer went on to make two more movies, Dick Barton: Strikes Back (1949) and Dick Barton at Bay (1950), and had it not been for untimely death of the star Don Stannard, there would have been a fourth, Dick Barton in Africa. Nevertheless, it was the popularity of the movies that encouraged Hammer to look at other BBC properties, including The Quatermass Experiment.

It’s only an hour or so long, it’s deeply, spiffingly thrilling, so enjoy Dick Barton: Special Agent in glorious HD below or all three movies on DVD! It’s preceded by an introduction from Robert JE Simpson.

Continue reading “It’s Hammer Time!: Dick Barton Special Agent (1948)”