Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sunday surprise

Andy pretty near tore his finger off playing football today. I tell you, that was a grisly injury; blood everywhere, very painful.

When I got home, had a shower, ate me tea, I cast about a bit for something to do. I could have gone out, read a book, picked up the guitar, but was just too restless to concentrate. In the end I settled for the old standby of channel hopping. Of course, digital integration now means that blindly punching the remote gives you almost as much chance of hitting a radio station as a TV channel, and I ended up listening, absolutely riveted, to Radio Three’s presentation of The Pitmen Painters, by Lee Hall (Billy Elliott).

In the 1930’s, a group of miners from Ashington started an adult education group, and after completing a course on evolution decided to tackle art appreciation, not knowing what art appreciation was. After fruitless attempts to explain art and art history with a slide projector, Durham University lecturer Robert Lyons, in exasperation, tells them to try it themselves. In doing so, he forces them to confront their own desires and disappointments by realising the only way they will ever understand art is to become artists.

What Lee Hall then does with this factual material is create a play, both moving and hilarious, that examines notions of artistry, ownership of art, privilege and overcoming the strictures of class expectations.

It’s a very fine play, and if you find yourselves with nothing to do in the next seven days, you can listen to it using the BBC’s iPlayer service.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Let's Twist again

The BBC’s Oliver Twist ends tonight. Stripped over the last week, it may well have been a great bit of telly, or not; I really couldn’t say. I’ve read the book four times and seen twice as many adaptations, and just couldn’t be arsed with another one. I mean, Oliver bloomin’ Twist; it’s not exactly Shakespeare, is it?

Friday, December 21, 2007

A deep sigh of relief

Presumably coming at Macworld - Leopard's dumbest feature, refined:

TV: Best of the new

John Rogers says Life is the best new network show of the fall. I like it, but I don’t love it. Not even in my top three.

Currently rocking the Thomson satisfaction scale, in descending order, are:

Chuck – I wasn’t the pilot’s biggest fan, thinking that Reaper was more solid, and had better legs. Sketchy, unsympathetic characters and the obvious built-in obsolescence of the premise really turned me off. But whereas Reaper has given us the same episode every Tuesday, Chuck has developed into my most eagerly anticipated show of the week. Hot women, great action, unresolved sexual tension, and laugh out loud geek humour make this a winner. Plus, I’m a little bit gay for Captain Awesome. Who isn’t?

Pushing Daisies – alright, so it’s sweet enough to topple a diabetic. It’s also constantly inventive, snappy, and balances its heart-warming whimsy with often cruel cynicism and a vein of dark humour as black and bitter as the purest chocolate.

Journeyman – although sadly going no further, this was a great new take on the travelling angel genre, which, like Chuck, overcame a wobbly pilot and became a very rare thing indeed: a mature genre show. No angst ridden super-powered teenagers here, just a man trying to keep his life together while doing the bidding of a faceless, nameless agency. Pulled just as an interesting mythology began to develop. Shame.

As for best new cable show of the yearthat’s a no-brainer, innit.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

More DVD news

‘Tis the season to be jolly, indeed.

A year and a half back, I wrote about the obsession and dedication of Craig Robins, the Stephen Moffat fan who petitioned the Beeb to grant him a licence to publish the DVD of Moffat’s lost 90’s sit-com Joking Apart.

The first season release was a true labour of love, and must have done well, because this landed in my inbox this afternoon:

Now what would you really like for Christmas this year? How about Joking Apart Series 2 on DVD? Sadly, Santa can't deliver because it won't be out in time but at least you'll be able to have it as soon as it's released on 17th March 2008.

It will be a two-disc set this time and the extras include commentaries on all episodes featuring Steven Moffat, Robert Bathurst, Fiona Gillies, Tracie Bennett, Paul Raffield, Andre Ptaszynski (producer), Bob Spiers (director) and Stacey Adair (Production Manager); the 1991 Joking Apart pilot episode (one of a series of pilots that were shown under the umbrella title of 'Comic Asides'); a complete set of scripts in pdf format; 'Joking Apart in the Studio' pdf article; plus a colourful companion booklet. Theoretically, we could just about have squeezed everything onto one very full disc but only at the expense of picture quality, so I opted for two discs instead, especially as a lot of work had been put into digitally restoring the episodes. They genuinely look far better now than they did when shown on TV in 1995. And the inclusion of the pilot will be particularly welcomed by all those of you who emailed me, asking for it.

The DVD is available to pre-order now on our new look website. Pre-orders will be despatched during the week preceding official release.

Season One was very,very funny, and with Moffat commentary, and scripts to boot, this is a package that’s really too good to miss.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Burned Vamp show comes to DVD

Those of you, ie everyone, who follow DMc’s blog, might also have been catching Blood Ties, the PI/Vampire show he worked on last year, that has been airing on Lifetime in the States, CityTV in Canada, and Living in the UK. It’s not the greatest show in the world (which, by the way, is back next month), but it is a fun chunk of supernatural action with a hot love triangle and mad goth wardrobe and so, I suppose, mission accomplished.

Lifetime split the season into two chunks, labelling the back half of the produced season one as season two. Who knows why these decisions get made; we can only watch from afar, shrug our shoulders and carry on.

Without Lifetime’s support, it doesn’t look as though Blood Ties will be getting a second (or third, depending on your point of view) season, and its final two episodes have been burnt off online. Streamed, no less. Yuck.

Of these last two eps, Denis says:

The script I wrote (that now won't show on TV in the US, I guess, what a drag) is one of my favorite pieces of writing I've ever done. A really cool story that was well-made and well cast. And Peter's season finale was a thing of beauty too.

Scarred overseas fans can take some solace, however, in the news that Contender Entertainment have announced the Region 2 DVD set of all 22 episodes, due to be released in January. No news on features, but here’s the pic: