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Air dates of all the new seasons in the US are over on Futon Critic. If it’s airing, it’s on Futon Critic.


Review: Doctor Who – 2×7 – The Idiot’s Lantern

The Idiot's Lantern

I’m supposed to be writing a white paper on the Web 2.0 conference I went to in Edinburgh last Monday. So naturally, because I am the King of Procrastination, I’m writing about Saturday’s episode of Doctor Who.

On the whole, I’d say not bad. The 50s tele stuff made me all nostalgic for a decade I never lived through, which was quite impressive. The face-sucking was done nicely.

On the other hand, the union flag/jack debate annoyed me because Rose was just plain wrong (gasp, factual inaccuracies in Doctor Who!). The plot and the denouement had a few issues that really couldn’t be fixed in post. And the general bog-standard interpretation of the 50s – great decade for wife beaters, we fought in the war for the right to be lippy, etc – began to grate. Could we avoid the moralising please?

Basically, a reasonable filler piece as has been remarked elsewhere.

The Man Without A FaceOne last thing. Writer Mark Gatiss is a long-time sci-fi fan, something you may have noticed if you watched Doctor Who Confidential after the episode. He has, for instance, played Gold in the Big Finish Sapphire and Steel audio plays. So I wonder where he got the idea for the face-sucking in The Idiot’s Lantern. I’ll give you a visual clue: here’s the baddie in the fourth Sapphire and Steel TV ‘assignment’, as they’re called. Look familiar?

He does like his homages does Gatiss.


Season finale: Lost

Lost's big foot

Lost‘s finale was just so plain weird and wacky, it deserves its own entry in my continuing season finale guide. Worry ye not, UK viewers, I won’t spoil it for you.

Most of the second season has been dull. Sorry to say that, but it’s been dull (and, it turns out, mostly pointless). The last few episodes have reversed that with several hours of shocking carnage that have wiped out all kinds of popular characters you never thought would get the chop (assuming they don’t make miracle recoveries, hide under large objects, etc). It’s all been really rather good. The finale was some really tasting icing on the cake, though.

First off, don’t expect any answers to questions you might be having. You won’t get any. At least, you won’t get any that make any sense or that couldn’t be elaborate bluffs. Yes, you will find out what happens if you don’t keep pushing the button down the hatch, but you won’t really know why. You’ll find out why the plane crashed on the island, but again, it won’t make too much sense. Etc etc. Lots of revelations. Lots of flashbacks where you see characters’ pasts intertwining. My theory of a live-action role-playing game is starting to make more sense, too, given the number of wigs and false beards that people are starting to sport.

But it all doesn’t matter because all the new questions are even more interesting and send the show in all kinds of odd directions. I got the feeling while watching the finale that Lost was turning into 70s weirdo Bermuda Triangle show The Fantastic Journey. Look at the picture above. That’s a giant statue of a foot (we’re assuming there used to be more to it than that, but who knows). Now count the toes (click on the picture to make it bigger, if you need to). See what I mean? Weird. And there’s a whole lot more weird where that came from (this was purely incidental weird that doesn’t affect the plot in any way, BTW, so don’t think I’ve ruined anything for you).

It’s going to be a long wait for the next season, given they’re going to try to run it without re-runs (January start instead of September, next season?) and the ending is particularly gripping, so I’m giving this a high tension rating

Tension rating: 10/10

PS One of the great things about Lost incidentally, is that it uses Australian and other non-American actors. Apparently though, there are enough Australian actors in the US for them to be used to play non-Australian roles in Lost, too. I say this because the finale casts Alan Dale (Jim from Neighbours) as a posh English bloke. Odd.

PPS Am confidently expecting an article from Lucy Mangan to appear in The Guardian in about 18 weeks or so about what she’d like to see happen in the finale. At about 1600 words for a double-page spread and at the standard freelance rate for The Guardian, that would be about £350 or so that could be mine if I wrote it right now. But I’d never pitch it because it would be a complete waste of time and space for everyone including the readers. Sigh.


How many director’s cuts does one film need?

Blade Runner

Blade Runner had a difficult path to the big screen. There were various cuts, including the infamous version shown at the test screenings. An ex- of mine actually went to one of them and she says it was one of the most violent and sick films she’s ever seen (which is saying something). Under pressure to make something more acceptable to the viewing public, director Ridley Scott put out a movie he certainly wasn’t happen with; Harrison Ford refused to play ball on the narration the studios demanded be added to the film and delivered it a dull monotone he was convinced would never be used in the final version – how wrong was he?

About a decade and a half later, Ridley Scott was given the chance to put out a version he could put his name to – the so-called Director’s Cut, thus starting a trend that continues to this day. It turns out he wasn’t happy with that either, so he’s doing yet another one, due to be released in September.

Does Blade Runner really need that much fiddling with? Look at what happened with Star Wars. George Lucas keeps mucking around with that and it gets worse each time. It’s reached the point where he’s actually now being forced to release the originals again on DVD because everyone hates his new versions and would much rather have the original cuts (and because it’s a chance to extract even more cash for the fans).

The question is, what does Scott actually want to do to Blade Runner this time? Sure, ripping a unicorn out of Legend and sticking it in Blade Runner didn’t look fantastic, but what’s he going to? Shoot some footage of some more unicorns especially? Do a Lucas and add extra glowy eyes to Ford during key scenes to make it obvious Deckard’s a replicant?


Gillian McKeith: the least frightening woman ever, it turns out

'Dr' Gillian McKeith You know ‘Dr’ Gillian McKeith, right? That nasty, humourless woman with the fake doctorate who turns up on Channel 4 to look at people’s poo and pronounce judgement on them? Yes, her. I’ve written a lot about her elsewhere, if you want to know a few more reasons why she should be shunned like a PlayStation-using Amish.

Anyway, some people think she’s scary. She’s not though. She attacked Louis Walsh and was so furious she fell over and sprained her wrist. Wow. Anyone not fancy their chances in a fight with her? Thought not.

There’s an obvious joke here. It’s so huge and obvious, it’s like a giant magnet sucking every other joke in its vicinity towards it. It involves the words ‘better diet’ and ‘wouldn’t fall over’. Anyone want to stoop ever so low and say what everyone else is thinking?