Category Archives: TV

A Matter of Loaf And Death

“A Matter of Life And Death” (2008) movie poster Ah, yes, Wallace & Grommit, possibly the best dog-and-human comedy act since… ever.

This new one (a cereal killer is slicing up bakers just when Wallace & Grommit open their bakery, Top Bun), is well done. Not quite as flawless as The Wrong Trousers or The Curse of The Ware-Rabbit, but very funny.

It’s a little rushed is the only thing. While The Wrong Trousers managed to fit an entire B-Movie into half an hour, perfectly executed, and The Curse of The Ware-Rabbit successfully filled a feature-length 90 minutes (well, 85), without feeling flabby, this one feels slightly rushed, and a little unfinished.

What would be lovely would be if Aardman extended it into a full-length feature. It doesn’t need too much more story, but with more time they could build up a bit more tension, flesh out Wallace’s infatuation with Piella, reveal her villainy more gradually, and give us a proper coda at the end.

God, I’m a moany git. It is still, a lovely, lovely film and you should watch it, forthwith.

Hey Kids, Piracy is Stealing

It’s the logical evolution of the piracy warning. Posted by someone to YouTube. In a blatent and shameless violation* of copyright.

From the start of The IT Crowd, season 2, episode 3.

*Though, given that it’s a clip, arguably for the purposes of review and comment, it could considered exempt under the ‘fair dealing’ exceptions. Not like you really care.

Scientology versus…

…The BBC

Panorama recently tried to do a documentary on whether Scientology still uses questionable practices on its adherents and critics. As they were making it, it inadvertently turned into a documentary about how Scientology relentlessly stalks investigative journalists who try to report upon it.

Cringe as blank-eyed cultists descend upon John Sweeney & crew, like sinister government agents upon a UFO contactee. It’s one of the creepiest things I’ve watched for a while. The whole thing is (currently) available on the BBC website, though some folk have kindly posted it to YouTube too:

Especially worthy of note is Scientology Media Control Operative, Tommy Davis, a man with dark glasses surgically implanted on his face to conceal the fact that he has no eyes. Tommy is the co-star in the bafflingly-unsuccessful Scientological media counterstrike to the BBC programme, a clip of the BBC man finally losing control and shouting at Tommy (after a week of Agent Tommy and his goons following them incessantly and gatecrashing all their interviews). What’s funny about the clip is that, though the ‘Church’ claim it shows Sweeney being unreasonable, it also quite clearly shows Tommy continuing the soulless tirade which triggered Sweeney’s raised voice, and seemingly oblivious to the British man attempting to shout sense in his face.

Anyway, of course, all this merely served to give Panorama probably the biggest ratings boost in its history and make the Scientologists look like a bunch of very paranoid bunnies indeed.

The Scientologists’ counter-documentary is on their website. (YouTube too.) Ironically, its extensive use of CCTV footage—not to mention their seeming ignorance of the notion that journalism sometimes includes ‘criticism’ and ‘hearing other points of view’—merely serves to bolster their position as fucking paranoid.

If you’re not already tired of the whole thing, you can read the BBC/John Sweeney take on it in The Sun (“Sorry for shouting… you creepy weirdos”), and The Guardian (“Panorama backs Sweeney episode”).

…South Park

It isn’t the first time that the tentacles of Scientology have reached out to smother an incisive news documentary. When South Park threatened them, for example the dark priests of Hubbard mobilised celebrity maddy Tom Cruise. By jumping on sofas and threatening not to promote Top Gun 3, the top Scientologist spokes-celebrity, apparently persuaded Paramount (who own Comedy Central) to not repeat the episode.

The bit explaining Scientology’s ‘Genesis Myth’ is only a minute or so long, and worth a watch even if you don’t like South Park. (Yes, it is what Scientologists actually believe. They also believe that your brain may explode if you absorb these secrets without the proper training. You have been warned.)

…The competition

Frankly, if you’re looking for a freaky, buzzword-infused alternative religion promising to expand your mind and empty your wallet, you could at least choose one with its tongue firmly in its cheek.

Charlie Brooker is a poetic genius

I just rediscovered Screen Burn, the column Charlie Brooker writes for The Guardian. (You may have seen the book of the same name, which is a collection of some of the early columns.)

He reviews television, sortof, through a haze of poetic vitriol. Anyway, I just pissed away a glorious 45 minutes catching up on Charlie Brooker’s unique and side-wrenchingly funny mind bile. A sample:

Terrible thing, anticipation. For instance, if I locked you in a room and calmly informed you through a hatch in the door that I planned to return in an unspecified period of time and beat you insensible with a car jack, chances are you wouldn’t enjoy the intervening hours very much, even if I’d left you a couple of magazines and some battenberg cake.
Screen Burn, Charlie Brooker, The Guardian, 15 April 2006

I love the bit about the battenberg cake.

If you’re not convinced, try a quick column or two for yourself. You’ll like it, I promise.
If you like it and need a stronger fix, why not try TVGoHome, his original irregular series of faux Radio Times pages? It’s a brilliantly creative satirical stab in the face of contemporary TV, which even now is being minded by desperate TV execs for new programme ideas. It’s available from all good book shops, in case you don’t like reading things on the Internet.