Sunday, 23 November 2008

Of the Death of my XBOX 360

Yeah, I knew this day was going to come. The Red Ring of Death just happened to my 360. I bought mine a few months before the problem was supposedly fixed. So I expected it would happen. So I will say 19 months and 23 days after getting my XBOX it finally Red Ringed. Now I've had some people say that it happens a lot sooner and I've gotten a lot of fun out of it. Crackdown, Bioshock, Portal, Grand Theft Auto IV and Gears of War. Thing is, and this is the thing I'm most pissed off about, IT'S THE FUCKING CHRISTMAS RUSH!!!! Fallout 3, Gears 2, Prince of Persia, Banjo Kazooie and Left 4 Dead. Plus I'd only just downloaded the new dashboard. Now I've got to send it off for like two weeks b4 they can send me back a new unit. I'm really pissed off now, not because of Microsoft (although it is there fault for making the faulty product) but because of just bad timing. Well I need to cry for a bit. And pray that Microsoft will send me a replacement (which they will, I freaking love their return policy).

Friday, 21 November 2008

Of the Cancellation of Pushing Daisies

Fuck. This is a post I've been dreading. Pushing Daisies has been on its last legs since it came back with the amazingly strong Bzzzzzzzzzz!. It was inevitable that the show would be cancelled, it was just a matter of when.

So last night ABC announced that Pushing Daisies would not have any episodes ordered beyond the current 13 (all of which have been shot and 6 of which have aired). Now Pushing Daisies could still come back for a third season, ABC still has an opportunity to big up Pushing Daisies for a 3rd Season (incredibly unlikely though). There's also the chance of another network picking up the show, hopefully if this does happen it happens on cable. In the UK, we will watch any show as long as it is on the main channels. Some shows do die but Buffy and Heroes are still going strong in the UK and these air on a mainstream channel (Buffy in the US aired on one of the shitty channels). We actually ignore many of the shows that we have available over satellite. In the US this astoundingly different, whilst ratings definately aren't as high, so many of the cable channels support amazing shows. The Sopranos, Dexter, The Wire and Mad Men all air on cable and are critically lauded as some of the best shows ever.

Cable works differently to the main networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox). For starters they don't order hundreds of pilots only to be left with one or two shows to last the season. Cable instead order 13 episodes of shows in far fewer numbers. So the shows runs are shorters but it helps quality to cultivate better. So if a cable network were to pick up Daisies it would probably get a 13 episode order out of the gates and since the standards for cable are lower (it reaches far fewer households) it means that it doesn't need to get 10 million viewers to stand a chance. Problem is not many shows are picked up by other networks. Some of the few include Friday Night Lights and Futurama, but they are few and far between (Veronica Mars, Firefly and Arrested Development were never picked up another network).

Bryan Fuller the creator of Pushing Daisies has said however that they are talking to DC about a potential comic book series to wrap up the storylines from Season 2 and then a potential movie which is just a standalone story. Now this is probably the most likely outcome for the show (if anything does happen). Firefly had Serenity made, Arrested Development has a movie offically in the works and Rob Thomas has said that the Veronica Mars movie is the first thing he's going to do after Cupid has finished its first season (I'm so watching it because it's essentially the writing staff of Veronica Mars). So hopefully Mr. Fuller can get a movie or comic off the ground, as soon as he's done with Heroes of course.

So R.I.P Pushing Daisies 2007-2008


Sunday, 16 November 2008

Of Quantum of Solace

I will say that I did not love this movie. It is nowhere near as good as Casino Royale. Casino Royale changed what a modern Bond film should be. Casino Royale was amazingly awesome. It also proved that Daniel Craig is the best Bond. Yes Sean Connery will forever be the definitive Bond, Daniel Craig just brought so much to the role, he might not "look" like Bond but he sure as hell is Bond. Quantum of Solace is a great action movie. If it hadn't been for the Bond name I'd be giving this a 9 out of 10, just like I would for Casino Royale. However because of the Bond name it just isn't.

Bond isn't Bourne. Bond is Bond, he doesn't have an action scene every 15 seconds. The action scenes are all well done, there is no way I would say they're not, its just the film had something lacking. Now I'm going to pin this writers strike. Oh you evil bastard, first you ruin my television and now you've hurt Bond, someday I will make sure you pay. The story is just wafer thin, it just sets up the next action scene. Quantum is the corporation used to create military coups to take down governments whilst at the same time they are interested in controlling the worlds water supply to hold the world at ransom. In this there are two revenge stories, Bond trying to revenge Vespa's death and the new Bond Girl trying to kill her families murderer (who also happens to be the person that Quantum is dealing with). That is about it. Within the first 5 seconds Bond comes racing out in Austin Martin (thank god, that car was underused in Casino Royale) with gun shots blazing. The plot is merely a means to an end, to link the car chases, boat chases, foot chases and dogfights. Undeniably cool but decidedly un-Bond.

Now the acting is once again superb, Daniel Craig shines as James Bond just like he did in Casino Royale. Mathieu Amalric is great as the villain. But there also seems to be a lack of motivation. He's a great villain but he's just not developed enough. The new Bond girl, Camille, is attractive and whilst the character is decidedly two dimensional, she still is great in the role showing of some real emotion (such as in the explosive final fight).

Quantum just seems to have suffered from not only a rushed production due to the writers strike (seriously, that thing is really pissing me off now) and also being the middle film of a trilogy. Now I felt weird at the end, almost as if the story wasn't over, and then it struck me. This is a trilogy!! Quantum isn't defeated soundly at the end of this film, they still exist and they're still "everywhere". Now I might be mistaken, Quantum could just become a recurring villain in this new age of Bond or their story will be wrapped in 2010/2011. So Quantum suffered from middle-film syndrome. Just like Lord of the Rings: Two Towers suffered for being the middle film (although it is still a superb film). If it is the case bring on Bond 23. With no writers strike, a suitable climax and hopefully less focus on the action it could be as brilliant as Casino Royale.

So in conclusion I have to give Quantum of Solace a 7.5 out of 10 It is a great film, it's just it suffers from not really being that great a Bond film. And yes I am cheating with the score. but hell It's better than Crank which is pure action, but just not in the range of 8-10 film.

Alright I feel weird about giving Quantum of Solace a 7.5. That puts it near to Crank in terms of quality. I would like to state. It is a far better movie that Crank. In terms of an action movie, it is in reality a high 8 or maybe even 9. But as stated it is only a 7.5 for a Bond film. Just like Doctor Who Season 4 is a great season of television for any show, but for Doctor Who it just feels lacklustre. So when reading my review, think "great action film, alright Bond film". Crank is just fun, Quantum of Solace is just a Bond movie that suffers from a weak plot.

Please believe me, this is quite possibly the hardest score I've ever had to give, if you look, I've actually changed every score for movies because 3.75/5 just isn't a usable score. So I've changed all my reviews in a 10 point scale.

Clear up. NEW WATCHMEN TRAILER!!! That movie will be epic. Admittedly this version just doesn't do it justice (I've got the hi-def version saved on my laptop which I've watched more times than is healthy.) Next weekend I will aim to do Iasg14's challenge. I just hope I can find 10 usable links with which to torture myself.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Of Lost Season 5 Premiere Date

Alright a small piece of news. Lost is back on the Wednesday 21st January. However that is not all. The other better piece of news is that not only is it back in just a little over two months (I'm already counting down the days by the way), no the better news is that it will be a THREE HOUR PREMIERE!!!! Yup three hours devoted to Lost. Sure one of those hours is a recap of the first four seasons but well that still leaves the next two hours which will be the first two episodes of Season 5. So 'Because You Left' and 'The Lie' will be there in all their glory for me to devour.

Now for all UK fans that means that Sky One will probably be airing them the next Sunday (that's the 25th for the astute). Now will they give Lost all the 3 hours? I really don't know because 24 will be back then and that normally airs on a Sunday as well. Personally I'd give all the hours to Lost because 24 was quite bad in Season 6, although Season 7 could be good. They'll probably only air the two episodes in the UK anyway meaning that 24 won't have to be moved (that is if Sky One actually air both episodes on that night)

However Wednesday is also the night that Pushing Daisies airs. Now I can't imagine a better show for Lost to be paired with. Especially with Lost being a very strong show in the ratings. This could mean that Pushing Daisies gets a full season. However it probably won't happen. I guess we'll find out next week when ABC announces the rest of their schedule.

Lost Premiere Date

Friday, 7 November 2008

Of Shows in Trouble

Alright I feel completely lousy, so I aim just to make this a bit short.

Umm television is fucked. Completely. Today I've seen that three of my favourite shows are in trouble (one of which hasn't even aired yet!!!).

Alright those three shows are Pushing Daisies, Dollhouse and Terminator. As you may know I love Pushing Daisies, Terminator is a great TV version of the movies (it's better than Terminator 3) and Dollhouse is the latest show from the genius that is Joss Whedon. If you don't know him, where have you bin for the past decade? Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dr. Horrible, Serenity and Toy Story. Joss Whedon is a living legend.

Right now about them being in trouble. I've already posted that Pushing Daisies needs help, and by help I mean like a miracle, a real deus ex machina. Pushing Daisises is on its last legs. We might get 22 episodes (that's a full season) but that's only if you include the first season. It's going to be almost impossible to get another 9 to finish Season 2 let alone a third season. So whilst the show looks to be getting increasingly awesome over the next few weeks (Emerson's daughter, Randy Mann, Gina Torres, Ned's brothers, Chuck's dad and some Norwegians are all involved) it will probably end with the 13th episode of Season 2. Whilst this was supposed to be a two parter culminating in episode 14, due to no more episodes not being picked up by ABC (they make Lost) 13 might have to act as a de facto finale for the show (unless Mr. Fuller wouldn't mind making a movie to finish the show? (God how sad is it that I'm already asking for a movie when the show isn't even dead yet?))

However this might actually mean good news. Yup if Pushing Daisies dies, Heroes gets good again. Odd as it may sound it's true. Bryan Fuller creator of Pushing Daisies was a writer on Season 1 of Heroes and wrote the awesome Company Man and was also the writer who dealt with Claire back in Season 1 (remember when she was an interesting character?) If Daisies dies Fuller has said that he is going to go back to Heroes, he might not work full time on the show but at least it will mean that show will get a competent writer. No offense to Tim Kring, Jeph Loeb and Jesse Alexander but you really need to step up game, especially because two of you worked on Lost!! (although they didn't exactly write any episodes or prove themselves like Lindelof, Cuse, Vaughan or Goddard have). So with Bryan Fuller back on board who knows Heroes might finally get awesome again (woah deja vu)

Next up is Terminator. This show actually is in the least amount of trouble of the three. Its been picked up for a full season (22 episodes) and is being moved to a day where it's not expected to maintain a high level of ratings, and since the viewership of this sort of show is going to be quite loyal you can expect that it might actually hold onto some its viewers. However the bad news is that the night is Friday night (remember this in America) and it's not a night known to cultivate massive success. Unless of course you count the X-Files. So we may be saying goodbye to Terminator in May (which is a shame because Summer Glau (Firefly/Serenity) is now officially the longest serving Terminator with more screen time that Arnie got as the character).

Finally, and this is the one that hurts the most, Dollhouse. Joss Whedon makes great stuff. Anything he makes is guaranteed to have a rabid fan base. The problem is, is that his shows don't "appeal" to the masses. And yet the masses could easily love them if they watched it. Buffy is massively popular, not just with geeks but with so many people. It's like Lost, that show should only appeal to a group of geeks who love sci-fi and yet because of cool and interesting characters the show is a mainstream success. It's why Britain is a place where sci-fi is generally accepted. Doctor Who is a national phenomenon, Life on Mars is a critical success, theres a slot on BBC called the "Buffy" slot and Heroes has been picked up for lifetime rights by the biggest broadcaster in the UK. All these shows have a sci-fi theme. Yet they enjoy success in Britain, success that isn't normally seen across the pond. For some reason America can't get beyond stereotypes when it comes to genre television. Battlestar Gallactica is not the same as the original 70s version, it's in fact a massively political show with interesting and developed characters. So many great genre shows have died, such as Firefly (another Whedon show) due to America just not watching. And yet they would enjoy it. Lost is going to make six years and X-Files made it nine. Both of these shows are inherently genre and lasted for a good few years. Yet Dollhouse (which I'm almost positive will be awesome) will only make it 13 episodes. It's being aired in a the Friday night death slot just like Firefly did and look what happened to that? 14 episodes and dead. At least we're guaranteed to make it to 13 and it'll make an awesome DVD. Damn I'm really depressed now.


Bryan Fuller to go back to Heroes

Terminator and Dollhouse on Friday Nights

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Of Dead Set

Grrr I keep promising to put a lid on the television reviews but it's my first love so I can't really stop. I would have posted a review last night but I got a tad tired so didn't write it then.

Dead Set was a great zombie TV show. I think I can say that it is one of a kind in that respect. I do believe that zombies have not been attempted in a stand alone TV show before. Occasionally in episodes yes but not a full TV show devoted to a zombie outbreak. Buffy the Vampire Slayer has used zombies as have many animated TV shows but not to this extent. Dead Set is teaming with zombies. It's also very dark. It's not a Shaun of the Dead in any respect. Shaun of the Dead was written as a comedy first, there's also the fact that Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright are massive zombie fans, they enjoy movies like 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead. This is evident in the way they treat the genre. The movie is teaming with references to previous zombie movies, stores are named after stars of other zombie movies and causes of zombie outbreaks in other movies are mentioned. Dead Set doesn't do this. It is a British zombie movie. In fact of an zombie movie it is most comparable to 28 Days Later (due to the setting) and the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead.

Dead Set was masterminded by Charlie Brooker, the guy who presents Screenwipe. If your astute enough you can see a lot of him projected onto the Producer (by far the best character). Brooker shows a lot of talent in a show that it is extremely different from Screenwipe but still gets across a lot of points about how Big Brother works. They are definitely hidden but they're there. How all the people in the house hook up and say it's "true love", how all the people in the house are in there to make money so they don't have to work (brilliantly played off against the scene of dead bodies being carved up for bait) and the way that alliances are built up against certain characters.

Dead Set was incredibly gory. Gorier in fact than some zombie movies. In the last episode there is one of the goriest death scenes I have ever seen. It also looks frighteningly realistic. This is where Dead Set really comes into it's own. In terms of television production values it looks amazing. It feels like a zombie movie. Not like many British TV shows which feel very weird in their production. There are definitely some very movie like qualities in the way that the show was made, but for a television budget it is really impressive.

I will say if you are looking for a light hearted portrayal of zombies don't look here. This is a very bleak portrayal of a zombie holocaust. The humour is very dark (although the producer is hilarious because of this) it's not funny in the way that Shaun of the Dead was. There is no "beating zombies up to Queen" there is however Davina McCall being brutally stabbed through the eye. In terms of tone thing those last few minutes in the pub in Shaun of the Dead or 28 Days Later.

The characters are all spot on. Threes the unlikeable northern guy, the gay person who gets on that one persons nerves, the older chap who the younger people think is a pervert, the stupid woman, the annoying one and finally that one guy who seems like a normal human being. They are used here to great effect and whilst some do get annoying it is nice to have a diverse range of characters in a zombie movie. Shaun of the Dead focused on a bunch of friend, but here Dead Set took people from all over due to the Big Brother setting and some of them hated each other. It's exactly how people would react.

Dead was a very good zombie tale. Not the best one ever, but due to it being a television show it was great. It's not going to change how we see zombies, it does however make you reflect a little. Whilst the humour and morale are somewhat shadowed (as they should be unlike in the original Dawn of the Dead where consumerism is clearly being mocked) it still makes you think. Dead Set is one of the few shows where I sort of sat a little shaken after the credits had rolled. Only two shows are able to do that consistently to me (The Wire and Lost).

I will level a criticism though the main character got very annoying with her constant "fuck off". I'm not saying I didn't like the swearing it's just the way that she spoke that got on my nerves. Also shaky cam? Good occasionally but here it seemed to be a tad overused. However it did give a visceral nature it didn't help give us much intimate detail of these characters. The characters whilst spot on were only playing towards a stereotype and due to it not being a "proper" TV show meant they weren't given much personality beyond that of your typical Big Brother contestant. I will applaud that they used fast zombies as slow zombies just don't make sense nowadays, however I believe that there wasn' the proper sense of claustrophobia that should be offered in this sort of show, which is odd considering the setting (I believe this can come down to the widdening of the Big Brother house).

It was an interesting ride and one only marred by a few niggles and the fact that there are better zombie stories (whilst very different Shaun of the Dead is one of them). Overall Dead Set gets 8/10 and was a great watch for Halloween.

P.S. I would like to say that Screenwipe will be back November 18th on BBC4 if you like Charlie Brooker, this news also comes with the fact that there will also be a spin-off about the news, called Newswipe early next year. Finally please check back at this post on Fables. I've updated it and it now includes a score for the first 75 issues.