Random stuff on Life, the Universe and Science Fiction

Archive for May, 2011

30 Day TV Challenge: Day 4 – Your favorite show ever

As most of you will have guessed, as far as fandom goes I am above all a Star Trek fan and this is the pinacle of that. The other shows are great and I love them all but the huge ensemble cast, including many great recurring characters, and ambitious, detailed and far reaching storytelling, not afraid to tell a story over multiple episodes and seasons, pushes this show to the top of the heap.


30 Day TV Challenge: Day 3 – Your favorite new show (aired this t.v season)

From Steven Moffat and Mark Gattis, this series is a perfect modernisation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s great investigator. Set in modern day London, Benedict Cumberbatch stars with Martin Freeman as Doctor Watson. The thing that sets this apart from so many adaptations that have failed is that it keeps Holmes as just that, an investigator. He’s a fantastically talented detective, an eccentric, but what he’s not is an action hero. This series keeps Watson and Holmes doing what they’ve always done but in the modern day.


30 Day TV Challenge: Day 02 – A show that you wish more people were watching

I don’t so much wish more people were watching this so much as wish more people had the opportunity to.

Originally called Engrenages, this is a French Police procedural drama that most people have probably never heard of. Over here it’s shown late at night on BBC4 and doesn’t get much attention. I’m pretty sure it’s never been shown in the states. Following the cases of Police Captain Laure Berthaud of the Paris Police, this show is really great, the sort of gritty police drama we in Europe do so well. 8-12 episodes per season following a single case is just the right length to be able to fully flesh out the investigation with plenty of twists and turns without much filler. The main characters along with Captain Berthaud are the Investigating Magistrate in charge of the investigation (the French system has an investigating judge overseeing the CID), the prosecutor working with the police team and a young ambitions defence lawyer.

I can’t find any clips or trailers in English, but here’s the opening credits.


30 Day TV Challenge: Day 1 – A Show That Should Never Have Been Cancelled

Well, everyone has chosen Firefly here so I’ll go against the obvious with-

All the Star Trek sequel series started with an average first couple of seasons but Enterprise was never really given a chance to shine. Maybe it’s because DS9 and Voyager both started while the previous show was still going strong whereas Enterprise was out all on it’s own but the audience just didn’t give it the chance to get better that they’d given to DS9 and Voyager. Seasons 3 and 4 were really good, but unfortunately by that time people had stopped watching and it was cancelled just as it was beginning to show how good it could be.

I was one of those that really didn’t mind the original opening theme that much, but this is what it should have been –

And here’s the original-


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 30 – Your Favourite Film This Time Last Year

I saw this film for the first time a little over a year ago. Dustin Hoffman is just fantastic as the Autistic man who is taken out of care by his half-brother (Tom Cruise) when his father dies. Cruise’s character is incensed when he doesn’t receive a full inheritance when his father dies and discovers that $3 Million is being given to the half-brother he didn’t know he had. He then proceeds to kidnap his brother and drive him cross country to LA to meet with his lawyers.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 29 – Your Favourite Film As a Kid

This is a great little musical film. Lionel Jeffries is the standout performer as Grandpa Potts. I just love the music. Fantastic.

Here are some of my favourite songs:


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 28 – The Most Obscure Film You’ve Ever Seen

I know I only did the last one of these this morning, but I’m so behind everyone else on this and I had a spare few minutes on my lunch break, so here’s another one today.

“If I’m Not Back In 10 Minutes, Call the Pope!”

The title pretty much says it all. Definately the most obscure film I’ve ever seen, shown to me at the Scifi Society at uni and we had an interesting time watching it. Be warned though. It’s really, really bad.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 27 – Your Favourite Independent Film

This low-budget Canadian psychological thriller/horror film made almost entirely on a single set with different lighting is really great. Included in the cast of at the time unknown actors are Nicole DeBoer who went on to play Ezri Dax in Deep Space Nine and David Hewlett who is now known to Stargate fans as Rodney McKay.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 26 – Your Favourite Foreign Language Film

Day 25 has been delayed for reasons that are unlikely to become apparent at the moment. It will appear in the next few days.

Flags of our Fathers is a fantastic film, but it’s lesser known accompaniment is even better. It is, in my opinion, Clint Eastwood’s best achievement as Director. This brilliant film shows the horrors of the battle for the island of Iwo Jima from the point of view of the Japanese. Very interesting to see a war film from an unusual side. Despite the American director, this is very much a Japanese film.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 24 – Your Favourite Animated or Children’s Film

Gerry Anderson’s collection of Supermarionation series were my absolute favourite shows growing up and this was their first foray onto the big screen. Fantastic fun. I mean just look at all the explosions just in the trailer!


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 23 – Your Favourite Thriller/Mystery Film

We return to normal service on the blog today.
Selected by the BFI as the greatest British film of the 20th Century, this Carol Reed film really deserves the title. Set in Vienna in the ruined post-war period when the black market thrived, an American called Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) arrives to meet his friend Harry Lime who had offered him a job, only to discover that he had been killed in a car accident the day before. As Martins tries to find out what happened he realises that some of the details do not match up and with the help, and sometimes hinderance of Major Calloway (fantastic performance by Trevor Howard), the local Royal Military Police commander, he investigates.

Also worth mentioning is the amazing and unique soundtrack played entirely by Anton Karas on the Zither.

Once again, this film is out of copyright so available in it’s entirety on youtube for free: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=un26BBFQ5_M

But if you don’t have time for the whole film, here’s The Opening Theme and First Scene which introduces the setting:


Some People Just Can’t Take Critisism

This afternoon I had my first experience of how nasty and rude some people on twitter (certainly no-one I follow) can be sometimes if they don’t agree with you, even people in positions of responsibility with thousands of followers.

I got a call from my fiancée Lizzie while I was out at lunch today and during the conversation she mentioned that she’d seen the cover for this month’s Doctor Who Magazine when their twitter account had been retweeted by someone she follows and that she was annoyed that she’d been spoiled by it. DWM (@DWMtweets on twitter) use their latest magazine cover as their twitter picture and this latest cover contains on it spoilers for the fourth episode of this current series of Doctor Who.

Granted the only spoiler text on the cover was the title of the said episode but the picture that accompanied it showed significant information about the characters in that episode that you wouldn’t get just from the title of the episode. In fact, the title of the episode would suggest other characters entirely based on information previously given in the series.

Anyway, I have no particular problem with minor spoilers, but I know quite a few people who do so I avoid passing on those spoilers that I know and I follow basic internet-spoiler etiquette which is that spoilers should always come with a warning and have to be clicked through to or highlighted or similar. Likewise I don’t think that magazines should print spoilers on the cover where it can be seen by anyone browsing a newsagent. Spoilers should come with warnings and only inside the magazine. One of the reasons I love SFX magazine is that spoilers for everything are always well marked so I can avoid them when I want to.

This was also not the first time DWM had printed spoilers on the cover. In just the previous issue (#433) they’d printed a very big spoiler on the cover of the magazine regarding the season premier episode so I thought I was pretty justified in tweeting the following

“Doctor Who Magazine (@dwmtweets) do love to print spoilers on their front cover don’t they? Not very responsible.”

Not much happened, as is usual when I tweet, but after about 40 minutes I got my tweet re-tweeted by Tom Spilsbury (@tomspilsbury) the chief editor of DWM:

“IT’S THE TITLE! RT @jacobnorton DWM (@dwmtweets) do love to print spoilers on their front cover don’t they? Not very responsible.”

I tweeted back politely, attempting to explain my point and while I was doing so I started getting my @mentions column filling up with supporters of Mr. Spilsbury telling me I was ‘stupid’ and and an ‘Idiot’ and that they were sorry that he had ‘to put up with this kind of idiocy’ from fans. After attempting to explain my point for a while and recieving this sarcastic and rude response:

“Would you prefer we print a load of blank pages every month? WOULD YOU?!”

I decided to give up. It amazes me how someone who is a professional in a probably quite highly paid job can’t take a little criticism without shouting at me over twitter and rallying all his fans to attack me for it. Just because I have a difference of opinion to him doesn’t mean that I deserve to be belittled. It’s not as if I was engaged in a persistent campaign against DWM or anything. He’s an editor of a national magazine and has to be prepared for people to disagree with him on things occasionally. If he wanted to engage me in dialogue, a reply to me rather than a retweet that showed my comment to all his followers would have been far more appropriate.

About half an hour after the tweet attack had stopped, Mr. Spilsbury actually tweeted an apology at me and gave some decent points in his defence for the magazine cover. If that had been his initial tweet to me, we might have been able to have an intelligent conversation about it, but it was not to be.

Today I was attacked, albeit digitally, by a decent number of people for my opinion because it differed from theirs, that this can go on among adults in the modern day astounds me. I don’t want to attempt to retaliate or anything, that would be sinking to their level. They’re really not worth me getting angry about, but I certainly won’t be buying any copies of Doctor Who Magazine during Spilsbury’s tenure as editor.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 22 – Your Favourite Horror Film

Happy Star Wars Day everyone! May the fourth be with you!

Wes Craven’s masterpiece is my favourite Horror film. It’s great fun and a brilliant spoof on the horror genre while still being genuinely terrifying.


30 Day Film Challenge: Day 21 – Your Favourite Fantasy Film

I’ve been away in the Lake District for the long weekend, staying half way up a mountain with no mains electricity or mobile phone signal so I hope you’ll forgive my lack of blogging the last few days.


Indiana Jones is my favourite fantasy film series and Last Crusade is the best of them as far as I’m concerned. It’s got Sir Sean Connery as Henry Jones Senior and John Rhys Davis’s character Sallah is one of the best things about the series. Other than that you have evil Nazis, tank chase, a zeppelin and the greatest quest ever.