Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Review: Being Human S4 Ep 2-4

                        Michaela can't believe her luck when she's thrown into the supernatural world

Seeing as I posted a review of the opening episode of this, the fourth series of supernatural comedy-drama Being Human I thought I should produce another, a sequel, of sorts – oh yeah, it’s all Hollywood glitz and glamour here. I was hoping to get the king of modern movie franchises, Robert Downing Jr, to read it out but he was just a little out of my price range – summarising my opinion of how the series has progressed up to now, half-way through its run.
So, in summary, I’m pleased to say it’s been unfailingly excellent. The new cast-line up has proved a huge success in my eyes. Both Michael Socha’s werewolf Tom and Damien Molony’s vampire Hal are perfect in their roles, banishing thoughts of them as mere replacements for George and Mitchell. Their characterisation is also one of the series’ strongpoints. Tom is an innocent, often naïve with a hefty temper but is always endearing thanks to Socha while Molony oozes cool as Hal, a well-spoken, anti-social eccentric who has to stick to his strict routine as a way of combatting his bloodlust. Of course,  it almost goes without saying that Lenora Crichlow is once again wonderful as Annie, incredibly comfortable in her character by now and also relishing her new role of mother of ‘her boys.’ There’s still not the sense of family and great friendship that made the previous supernatural trio work so well but its early days and is an issue which is itself being addressed in the episodes.
Speaking of episodes, the three that succeeded the promising opener, ‘Eve of the War’ have delivered, being  consistently funny and stirring. The touch is definitely lighter this year which comes as a nice relief after the heady Series Three. Episode two, ‘Being Human 1955’ served its function of bringing Hal to Honolulu Heights (the gang’s humble but garish abode) along with producing some great lines (‘look, are we done flirting cos I’ve made plans to self-harm?’ ) and memorable moments (the tense scene between the antiques shop owner and Hal).
‘The Graveyard Shift’ strengthened the relationship between Tom and Hal as they are forced to work together in a café, a situation that gets worse when vampires attack. This is the episode when the two of them really come into their own; a nice touch for long-term fans being their switching over of ‘The Real Hustle’, an old favourite of George and Mitchell’s, to watch ‘the Antique’s Roadshow.’ It was also nice to see more of Mark William’s geeky Regus and the introduction of self-proclaimed ‘Dark Poet’ Michaela.
The fourth episode immediately receives the award for Best Title Pun with ‘A Spectre Calls’ (a reference to classic film ‘An Inspector Calls’) and is perhaps my favourite so far. James Lance is deliciously duplicitous as 70s spectre Kirby, who claims to have been sent by Nina from ‘the Other Side’ to hep Annie look after baby Eve but seems to have more fun creating cracks in our heroes’ happy home. As someone who loves villains who love being nasty, Kirby is great, played with the right amount of humour and menace. Also, we are given more hints as to the identity of the ominous ‘Man with the Burn on His Arm’ who, it is said, will kill Eve. Bring on the next four episodes!
And if this wasn’t enough, I’m pleased to inform you that I’m planning a thrilling third post to conclude this riveting trilogy of reviews after the final episode of this series has aired.

Until then I will leave you with some fun lines in GIF form. Laters.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

For Valentine's Day...

As it's Valentine's Day, I thought I'd reward all of you, my wonderful Blog-Followers (I'd say how much I love you all here but I'm not sure you feel the same) by posting a sonnet I've written about the special day especially for you. Please enjoy, and do read with any near-by loved one. Here goes.

The Love of the Loch Ness Monster

On St Valentine’s Day, all pair off
Romance heightened, like a piece by Van Gough
Only one is alone, you'll never guess,
This hurt soul is the monster of Loch Ness
For this poor creature, it's always the same
Swimming solitary; there's no Loch Ness Dame
No scaled Juilet to his green Romeo
But that in the water what's that - Oh!
Nessie's enchanted, like never before
'It's a lady monster no doubt,' he swore!
As he greets his muse, he scares a young boy
For she is just a child's big rubber toy
But Nessie doesn't know, he never saw
He thinks they'll be together evermore

Hope you liked it. What? I wasn't gonna write a straight-forward love poem.
I tried to include some of the 'rules' of the sonnet like the twist in the narrative at the end of line eight/start of line, the last two lines rounding it up and ten syllable lines (although on line seven you have to say 'Rom-yo' to make that work).

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Review: Being Human S4 E1 - 'Eve of the War'

For my Creative Non-Fiction module we were asked to write a review of something to workshop (that's where you read out your work and others give feedback, non-Creative Writers). I, as is evidently clear by this blog's title, reviewed the first episode of 'Being Human' which I really think you shou- well, I don't need to say anything more it's all below.

                                                          The new line-up for Series Four.

As I sat down to watch the first episode in a new series of supernatural comedy-drama Being Human, I was a little apprehensive. For the uninitiated, Being Human has the quirky premise – that also sounds like the start of a bad joke – of ‘what if a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost shared a house?’ The stories, in practise, revolve around the trio trying to forge an ordinary life despite their horror–story handicaps. What I have always liked about its previous series is the mix of big plots with a keen sense of humour which prevented it from taking itself too seriously. I also found myself caring about what happened to the characters next – which is really what you want from any good story.
So, even though I enjoy Being Human, the reason I was apprehensive about this new series was, because most of the main cast had left, it was being promoted as something of a ‘reboot’, a term often used to describe new versions of film franchises. I wasn’t totally against the idea of a reboot as the amount of additional characters that had joined the show meant it had maybe become a bit bloated – for example, the premise of last year’s series was more ‘three werewolves, two vampires and a ghost share a house.’ However, as I as a big fan of the show I was worried this reset would go awry. Thankfully, it didn’t and I really enjoyed it.
Firstly, this opening episode really hits the ground running, or perhaps sprinting would be more accurate. We are immediately shown a ‘Terminator’-style future Earth where vampires have taken over before returning to the present day to find Annie (she’s the ghost) comforting a grieving George (he’s the werewolf) who’s girlfriend was apparently not long ago killed by the fanged fiends – it’s shocking news although annoying this big event happens off-screen.
 If this all sounds a bit solemn then there’s plenty of fun to be had when the vampires turn up, hatching plans for world domination, no less, relishing their amorality as they go. Special marks here go to Mark Williams (Ron’s Dad in Harry Potter) who gives an entertaining turn as the geeky ‘Vampire Recorder.’ The mention of whose name elicits the sarcastic ‘‘I’m sorry for a second there I thought you had a stupid name.’’ Also, for those of us who like noticing little in-references, their hideaway is an old warehouse named ‘Stoker’s Imports and Exports’, a nod to the Dracula author.
The whole thing culminates with another cast member biting the dust (I’m not telling who) in a genuinely poignant scene which acts as closure for the series’ past, followed by a look to the future as new resident nice vampire, Hal is introduced. Overall, there could have been more humour but with the amount of game-changing plot the episode was stuffed with I’m willing to forgive. I’m sure the balance will be redressed as the series progresses. Based on this episode, I think I’ll definitely stick around to see it.
                                                Latest 'resident nice vampire' Hal (Damien Molony)
So what do you think? If I was writing it for this blog first no doubt it would have been a lot gushier, the fan that I am, and a whole paragraph would have consisted of 'I LOVE BEING HUMAN. I LOVE BEING HUMAN. I LOVE BEING HUMAN' but I was aiming for a more professional tone and for it too appeal to those who don't watch the show. Thankfully, someone said that they liked how anyone could read it so I think I reached my goal. I enjoyed writing this review actually so I might end up doing a couple more about the series over the coming weeks. Watch this space.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Vids of the Month!

Hello and welcome to the first installment of 'Vids of the Month!'

*Pause for canned applause*

Here I showcase a random group of five videos from Youtube that I think you should take a look at. Get the popcorm ready and enjoy the vids...

Long time readers of my blog (alright, the long-time reader. Alright, my mum) will know that I'm a big fan of BBC3's supernatural drama 'Being Human' (It really annoys me when people call it 'supernatural comedy' which just dismisses the drama. It's as funny as Doctor Who which no one describes as a 'Sci-Fi comedy'). Well, this month it has returned to our screens and as per usual, prequels have been released online to fill out the back story of the series' new characters. The best of them this year is effectively creepy introduction to the Old Ones, the fabled lead vampires who are soon to wreaking havoc in Barry Isalnd (where the show is set). See if you recognise the guest star at the end.

And now for something completely different. Here's a five minute run through every single 'd'oh' Homer utters in the first twenty seasons of the show. It might induce some sort of seizure, turn you insane or perhaps you may have a spiritual epiphany but try and make it to the end.

DISCLAIMER: any ill effects you may suffer as your mind dribbles out your ears while watching this are not the fault of me. Ok, now we've got that sorted. Go ahead and watch.


I'm afraid the thumbnail rather ruins the twist of this vid, Oh well, enjoy!


If you haven't seen any of Peter Serafinowicz' inept businessman here's you chance. He appeared on Serafinowicz' sketch show a few years ago and the man himself has talked of a film being made on the character. Butterfield even has his own Twitter account on which at the moment he is campaigning to get himself appointed the new England manager.


You most probably have seen this by now if you're a Batman fan (and there are a lot of us) but here's an excuse to watch it again. Bane! Catwoman! It's out this summer! Can't wait!

Well folks that's all we have time for today. We'll be back with another volume of videos to make you laugh, cry and skip if you don't like them.

Till next time!

*Perpetual waving until credits roll*

Monday, 6 February 2012

DW50 Countdown: The First Doctor (Part Two)

As said in my previous blog post, in celebration of Doctor Who's oncoming 50th anniversary I'm going to review one story of each Doctor a month. However, each one I pick will be a story that is not usually seen as a classic episode of the series but I will aim to highlight how it is still brilliant TV! This month is dedicated to the First Doctor (see here.) and so the chosen adventure is one of his later efforts, 'The War Machines.' Hold onto your hula hoops, we're going back to the sixties...

When I sat down to watch the above-titled episdoe this weekend, I was coming to it more-or-less completely fresh. I had never seen the episode before (nor, if I'm honest a great deal of Hartnell's stories, something I aim to rectify) and knew fairly little about it. So it was with this open mind that I came to watch this piece of Doctor Who history - and I can honestly say I thought it was ace!

The opening shot is textbook Doctor Who - the wheezing, groaning timless noise of the TARDIS accompanying the machine itself fading into view. This shot is worked into the show's veins and must open 90% of episodes but is thrilling every single time. Wondering where the TARDIS will land is part of the magic of the show.
The destination this episode turns out to be swinging sixties London; a world that seems as alien to a young modern viewer like me as the dead planet of Skaro. It must have also suprised viewers at home as well, this being the virtually the only time the First Doctor went to present-day Earth other than the first ever story. The story waists little time before we are plunged right into this exciting new place to explore. Whilst the Doctor is off, erm, Doctoring, his companion Dodo, has some fun at ''the hottest joint in town'' 'the Inferno' with new Pal, Polly, where they meet cockney sailor, Ben Jackon. Both Ben and Polly are instantly likeable and riff off each other brilliantly; Polly oozes sixties chick and I actually cheered when Ben's raw cockney was heard amongst a sea of clipped received pronunciation.
Anyway, down to business. Whilst the cool kids are partying down (alright then I'll stop) the Doctor is investigating the funny feeling he's got about the newly-built Post Office Tower. Inside is housed an enormous computer, WOTAN, whose proud creator, Professor Brett, hopes will be the centrepiece of a worldwide network which connects all the world's computers together. Ha! Science fiction and it's madcap ideas, eh! As if!
However, as you may have guessed, things go wrong. It turns out WOTAN has designs of his own that include computerkind taking over the human race! Hypnotising scientists over the phone, he plans to build big, chunky computers on wheels called 'war machines' to perform his evil bidding.
Truth be told, WOTAN is a rather rubbish villain. He's largely silent and the idea of a giant computer now just isn't that impressive. I think this is the main reason for his dullness; in 2012, we've seen the 'computers-go-bad' idea done so many times it's a little hard to be excited by. In 1966 I'm sure WOTAN was a terrying notion. Talking about then and now, the quaintist scene in the whole story is surely the moment the Doctor is astounded that WOTAN can calculate a hard sum. Surely they have calculators on Gallifrey?
Also, after the superb first episode the pace does somewhat peter out. The fun of the nightclubs is shunned for the proper story about the construction of WOTAN's war machines whch means lots of time spent watching hypnotised workers marching around in warehouses. However, thing pick up int time by the end of episode three when one machine is let loose on London and the Doctor is forced to take desperate measures.
Overall, 'The War Machines' is great entertainment. With a rollocking first episode, fun new companions and a charming William Hartnell at it's heart, this is great slice of Doctor Who and proves that wherever you dip into its illustrious  history, you will always find something brilliant.

Oh, haven't I mentioned the five minute scene when several characters suddenly refer to our hero. who as fans insist is called 'The Doctor', as Doctor Who? I'm afraid it seems as if we've all been wrong all these years as it's here in (literally) black and white when WOTAN and Brett say things like 'Doctor Who is required' and 'we need Doctor Who.' There may not be another blog post on here for awhile, at least not until my frazzled fan-brain has recovered from the strain.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

DW50 Countdown: The First Doctor (Part One)

Welcome one and all to a new monthly feature. Whoah, whoah come on, people, let's not get too excite- oh you're not.
As you should be aware, next year is Doctor Who's half-centenary - which means it's fifty years old! A remarkable achievement which only applies to a very few select number of programmes. So as it is now 11 months away from said year, I'm going to devote a blog post each month to each Doctor chronologically. To accompany this, I will then review one of that Doctor's episodes that is not seen as a great example of Doctor Who and try to show how it is still great telly. Hmm, let's get on with it, you say? Well, yes. I agree quite...

'Have you ever wondered what it's like to be travellers in the fourth dimension?'
                                                                          The Doctor (William Hartnell)

When we first see him, through the eyes of school teachers Ian and Barbara, the Doctor appears a long way from a lot of things we associate with his character now. He looks shifty, loitering in a junkyard and hanging around an old Police Box. He's short-tempered, barking at the schoolteachers when they show themselves. Crotchety is a word oft-used when describing the First Doctor but he most certainly is here. He's dangerous and untrustworthy. An alien. He locks Ian and Barbara in the TARDIS because they may tell his secret. What might seem impossible to modern viewers, the Doctor, at first, is not a hero.

On their first trip to prehistoric Earth, he and his friends don't foil an evil villain but just try to save themselves from some socially-unstable cavemen. In the next adventure, the Daleks make their first appearance but the Doctor's part in their defeat is as rallyer, intent on getting the peaceful Thals to attack their miltant enemies.
Over his adventures, however, the Doctor warms greatly. He, Barbara and Ian become friends and he shows a more caring side with Susan, his granddaughter. When she eventually leaves, he's close to tears.

Talking of companions, the First Doctor must hold the record for the most. In his three year tenure, people are in an out of the TARDIS like flies (not that you see a lot of flies in the Tardis but they must be there). Highlights other than those aforementioned include Blue Peter's Peter Purves as spaceman Steven Taylor, hard-nosed superspy Sara Kingdom (who, in a bold move for the series, dies at the hands, well plungers, of the Daleks) and swinging sixties couple Ben and Polly. Alongside the familiar staple of an attractive female companion, Doctor One would always be accompanied by a young male friend as well, as he was most certainly not an action man and the show needed someone to occasionally get physical with the enemy.

Overall, the First Doctor's era is hodge-podge of so many different big ideas that sometimes it seems unsettled and unsure. But that's because it is. The show was still finding its feet. And so was its lead character. But what Hartnell possesses in abundance are the Doctor's trademark qualities; his genius mind, his love of human company and, perhaps the reason he is so loveable, his eccentricity. William Hartnell is undoubtedly the father of all Doctor Whos. And so should he always be remembered.
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