13/12/2019

Now it’s time for Labour to decide…


The UK General Election result suggests that the Labour party needs to make one crucial decision during the so called `period of reflection`. Do they want to win a General Election again or are they content to remain in opposition indefinitely? Regardless of personalities or leaders or pressure groups this is the moment they have to decide. Political parties do have to make this kind of decision and it’s wrong too for them to cling doggedly onto `traditional` values when the world has changed so much. Surely politicians are there to carry out the will of the people whatever that may be? They may guide, persuade, cajole, even lecture us but as yesterday proved the people will have their own way. The Conservatives in general- and Boris Johnson in particular- now seem to understand this. Its time Labour did too- or else they won’t be in government any time soon.

09/12/2019

His Dark Materials Episode 6 review


However good this series has been till now, episode six is a masterpiece containing drive, action, tension and some superbly pitched emotional scenes. The horrific core of Philip Pullman’s story is rendered pulling few punches in an hour that is certainly not for younger viewers. Terrible truths mingle with triumphant actions that a multi million dollar film might muster with far more resources. And there’s still two episodes to go!

06/12/2019

Top of the Pops 22 Nov 1984


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. John Peel: "Hello admirers and welcome live to another Top of the Pops, and it's great to be back on the programme, huh Tommy?" Tommy Vance: "It's going to be a real blisterer this one. We are live this week. We have loads of good music for you, starting with this man, Nick Heyward. Here is his Warning Sign." 
[34] Nick Heyward: Warning Sign. This is Tommy Vance's last go at hosting Top of the Pops. He will be appearing in sound only from now on, on wunnerful Radio 1. Rumour (ie some bloke on the internet) suggests the new Controller of BBC 1 wanted changes made   to the line-up of hosts. That Controller's name? Michael Grade. He joined the BBC in the summer of 1984, becoming Controller on 1st September. Fortunately that's pretty much the only change he makes while running BBC1. Whether some bloke on the internet is correct about Michael Grade wanting Top of the Pops to be less of a wrinkly's roadshow, it's notable that 1984 sees the departure of a lot of long term presenters. J**** S***** goes after the 30/08/1984 edition (the one on the train). D*v* L** Tr*v*s' last show was 25/10/1984. And, Andy Peebles shorter run came to an end on 20/09/1984.


04/12/2019

The War of the Worlds Episode 3 review


“Somethings got to happen soon” says Amy mid way through a drawn out siege but I wouldn’t bank on it! I’m not sure what to make of this closing episode at all as it feels like a large chunk of storyline has somehow been removed from what should surely have been a 4 part series. Then again the pace of episode 3 is so languid it sometimes feels like there isn’t enough material to fill it. If the results stop short of the epiphany that Peter Harness might be expecting his audience to have then it’s affecting enough on an emotional level. However it is very slow indeed and some crucial moments of tension just don’t seem to work. Can hiding under a reasonably tall table really mean a whopping great Martian won’t spot you? Where is the `let’s pull someone from under the table` drama? Harness certainly goes for the profound aspects of the scenario but when it comes to the scares or the action this episode is lacking which is a shame.

02/12/2019

His Dark Materials Episode 5 review


When you reach the end of this compellingly morbid episode you suddenly realise Mrs Coulter isn't even in it! It’s an interesting idea to go into the second half of the series with a different intent. For all the talk of how dark a story this ultimately is the action so far has stayed mostly on the side of easier to digest fantasy save for the odd outburst from Mrs Coulter. There’s been no real clues as to what might be happening with the stolen children yet here matters take a different turn. Edgier than the four episodes preceding it, `The Lost Boy` takes the story down a dark alley of mental instability, shock discoveries, grief and nasty murders. Each key scene revolves around the dead and the lost giving it the feel of an episode of Game of Thrones with equally sudden moments that will make the viewer gasp. 

29/11/2019

Space 1999 - Last Sunset & Voyager's Return


Last Sunset
Just as the Alphans look into the possibility of settling on a planet called Ariel, an alien probe attaches itself to an Eagle and once esconsed in the base suddenly releases what appears to be gas but turns out to be air. In record time this spreads initiating a speedy (and well realised) terraforming that gives the Moon a blue sky, a Sun and fresh air. It doesn’t take long before people start messing around in swimsuits. Its rare for an episode to contain so much that is incredulous yet to centre around a narrative that proves to be reasonably gritty for the series. The new look lunar landscape turns out to be something of a convenience for the show to undertake a `main characters stranded` episode which it does rather well.

27/11/2019

The War of the Worlds Episode 2 review


This production is making the most of a story most people watching would know something about and is doing so by showing just how chaotic and dangerous things are on the ground. Every shot we’ve seen so far of the Martian war machines has been from a character’s perspective and this aspect is carried through in the second episode’s signature sequence in which hundreds of panic stricken people on a beach are attacked by one of those machines. It’s a brilliant miasma of fire, panic and mayhem set against a backdrop of plumes of black smoke over a choppy sea. Just to add to the cinematic feel of things, George and Amy’s reunion takes place across the upturned wreckage of a boat; remind you of a major film? Likewise, George’s initial view across the beach is a homage to Dunkirk, both the real thing and the movie. Moving back and forth through time, the story unfolds gradually yet if you were to look at synopsis very little happens. This is more than anything a mood piece- every scene could be an album cover or a painting.

25/11/2019

His Dark Materials Episode 4 review


This is the most conventional episode so far which means its ideally placed to keep viewers who might have been feeling the series was meandering a little. Those of us who regularly review these sorts of programmes sometimes forget the simple things that appeal to larger audiences and part 4 has them in spades. Taking its cues from classic Western scenarios with an icy replacing the sand hinterlands of classic films, we have strangers on a mission arriving in a town where the reception is frosty in every sense. Lyra becomes even more proactive effectively persuading both Lee Scoresby, an Indiana Jones style aeronaut and a large armoured bear to accompany the Gyptians as they head even further North. There’s a bar fight, a cooped up formerly powerful figure and the authorities are not far behind. If we lose some of the less conventional aspects of the story we gain a self- contained tale of characters eventually banding together to head into danger.