A Doctor Who weekend for two

David Tennant in some good clothes for onceSpend a weekend in a hotel in Cardiff? Not a totally attractive offer, but not awful: I spent Christmas last year in a hotel in Cardiff and it was actually very nice. All the same, how could a couple of days in a plush hotel in Wales’ capital be made even more attractive?

I know. How about if there was a leaflet available that told you where Doctor Who had been filmed in the city? Grabs you now, doesn’t it?


Okay. How about if there was a blow-up Dalek as well?

Whoops. Disturbing now, isn’t it? It makes the claim, “We’re now seen as a sexy city to visit,” take on a whole new upsetting dimension.

Oh dear. I suspect the Park Plaza hotel is going to have to try harder for this particular cashing-in scheme to work. Perhaps they should talk to Travelodge about innovative ways to drum up trade?


Marvel at the concept of the William Shatner DVD club

William Shatner, laughing all the way to the bankI’m not making this up. There really is a William Shatner DVD club. Every month you’ll get a DVD selected by William Shatner himself (maybe) as well as a newsletter with Shatner’s reviews of movies. There’s even a chance to vote in weekly polls on Shatner’s best Star Trek performances.

“But what kind of movies will I get if I join Billy’s DVD club?” I hear you ask.

Why, ‘Underground hits no one else has’, of course!

By which, of course, they mean absolute bollocks B-movies that no one with any sense will watch and which probably cost $0.99 in the bargain bin – but to you, discerning sci-fi fan, only $4 by post. Films like Immortel: ‘New York 2095. In a strange pyramid floating in the sky, gods of ancient Egypt are judging Horus…’

The sad thing is, I’m absolutely convinced dozens of sci-fans will join. Twats. At least Shatner can laugh all the way to the bank. Did you know that during the bubble, he was the highest paid actor in the world? Now he’s doing this and All Bran ads. Weird, huh?


The difference between the US and UK SciFi channels

Well, there are a few differences, but the big one is the US SciFi channel actually makes new shows. Admittedly, the UK channel does, too, but they’re either video review shows or they’re “Tales from the Conventions”. Plus there’s that new one with Michael Ironside that they’re co-producing with Canadian TV. But other than that, they don’t make shows.

In the US, they make lots of shows. They make really god-awful B-movie sci-fi films, usually starring the likes of Joe Lando (remember him from Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman?) and Bruce Campbell. They make silly shows about alien abductions and psychic powers. But they also make shows like Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis.

Just to ram their American superiority in our faces just a little bit more, they’ve unveiled a new slate of programming. To really start kicking sand in our eight-stone faces, they’re launching a prequel to BSG called Caprica that focuses on the times leading up to the creation of the cylons. While the phrase “television’s first science fiction family saga” sends chills down my spine, so did “remake of Battlestar Galactica” until I actually watched the new show. So I’ll flag Caprica as ‘sounds bad, will probably be very good indeed’ for you to note in your calendars.

Then there’s Snap about ‘a Federal agent who uncovers a deep-seated and seemingly unstoppable conspiracy’. Now that does sound pants and probably will be, too. Persons Unknown (‘a surreal mind-game of a series centering on a group of strangers who awaken in a deserted town with no memory of how they arrived, only to realize that there is no escape’) could be good, although I suspect I’ll spend most of the time looking for bits they may have half-inched off The Prisoner.

The Bishop just sounds inherently amusing: ‘from executive producers and writers Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Conrad Jackson, this one-hour drama revolves around a young slacker whose charmed life is disrupted when he discovers that he has a supernatural gift’. The power to carry a crook. In fact, I could swear Monty Python did a sketch about a fake crime show called ‘The Bishop’ – so best to steer clear of that one I think unless you fancy a laugh.

Blink again sounds like a rip-off, this time of Canadian show The Collector: ‘A group of Afterlife investigators try to help those about to make the wrong choice, in the blink of an eye before destiny is sealed forever.’ Could be good, could be bad, but as if having a show exec produced by Freddie Prinze Jr weren’t enough, this one’s exec-produced by Will from Will and Grace. What next? Shows produced by the Crazy Frog?

Last show of interest is a mini-series based on classic piece of 70s cobblers, Chariots of the Gods. Since that was in some way the inspiration for the worst movie ever made, Hangar 18, I’m dead set against it from the outset.

Nevertheless, compare that with the UK’s SciFi channel and you’ll have to admit, it’s a damn sight more impressive. Curse those Americans, their advanced economy and their high production values.


Hex is hexed

It was rubbish, so no surprises here (other than its initial commissioning), but Hex has been cancelled. No third season then for the uneasy combo of teenagers talking about sex ridiculous amounts while being plagued by poorly CGI-ed ghosts and demons.

This, incidentally, was one of the first moves by Sky One’s new director of programmes, Richard Woolfe. A man with taste. Promising.