11/06/2018

Top of the Pops 12 and 19 May 1983


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. 12/05/83 - Tommy Vance: "Edition 1001 of Top of the Pops! Good evening and welcome!" Mike Read: "Great party record to start off with, Modern Romance's Don't Stop That Crazy Rhythm."Tommy Vance: "Woo!"
(Edition 1000: It's worth tracking down the few snippets of edition 1000 currently on Youtube. There's a lovely introduction with Richard Skinner and Diddy David Jacobs in which Richard Skinner comes across as a far more relaxed and natural broadcaster than he does when he's hosting Top of the Pops. He's sitting down for this introduction so maybe he should always be allowed a chair from now on when he's in studio.)

[26] Modern Romance: Don't Stop That Crazy Rhythm. Everything's different. New sets. New title sequence. Same pool of presenters of course which is one of the reasons BBC4 has jumped from edition 999 to 1001. Modern Romance are appearing on the main studio stage -the one with banks of raised rostra behind the performance area for the audience, or Top of the Pops cheerleaders- and a couple of wide shots reveal that the makeover is more superficial than it first appears. The geography of the set is the same. The black and white Eidophor screen is still on the left, and the neon Top of the Pops logo is on the right. The main difference is the replacement of  the large metallic arches with ranks of scaffold-like scenery. Bolted to the set are circular neon elements that echo the shape of the Top of the Pops logo, but have a diagonal line coming out of the bottom right that makes them Q-shaped. The most significant effect of the new scenery is to form a definite wall. The arches used to open onto a black backcloth which made it look like Top of the Pops was being broadcast from a formless black vortex. Now it's clearly located in a television studio. Joining Modern Romance is a middle aged dancer who looks like someone's uncle has rushed the stage; he's dressed in blue with a backwards red baseball cap perched on his head. He's named-checked by Tommy Vance as "Will Gaines," and a quick Google search reveals he's a much more significant figure in dance than his treatment here would make you think. John Bishop's direction excludes him and the audience at home don't get a good look until the instrumental. Maybe John Bishop intended the reveal of the tap dancer to be a surprise, but it comes across more as an attempt at exclusion. It's as if Modern Romance turned up with Will Gaines and insisted he perform with them, but the Director had other plans. If you really want to see Will Gaines strut his stuff then head over to Youtube and watch the clip of him dancing on The Arthur Haynes Show.

08/06/2018

Could the Copyright Directive destroy the Internet?


Later this month the European Union will vote on changes to the Copyright Directive, a 2001 act designed to protect copyright holders in the digital age. However an amendment called Article 13 has crept into this vote and has repercussions for anyone online. With much of the current debate distracted by GDPR, data breaches and Facebook this seems to be happening under most people’s radar. I’d not heard about it till this week when some media outlets began flagging it up. The consensus amongst commentators is that, at best, these amendments are flawed and at worst could cause all sorts of repercussions from stopping memes to causing Wikipedia and YouTube to close or even as one site put it “destroy the Internet as we know it”.

06/06/2018

Solo- A Star Wars Story review


Star Wars fans- like fans of many things- are never happy. They want new films that are almost the same as the original series yet when they happen they complain of lack of originality. Throw in a curveball and they don’t like that either “it’s just not Star Wars” they moan. This is probably why we end up with Solo, a perfectly serviceable big screen romp but one devoid of any particular purpose. Had it been populated by all new characters it might have been more impactful. Being a prequel though we know at least two of the lead characters and their spaceship will make it to the end so there’s a lack of jeopardy when it matters most. We’re also waiting to spot those throw forwards so we can tick off how Han got this, why he says that, etc. It makes for a curiously flat watch because about 40% of the aspects that can thrill us in a movie are just not going to happen. Whatever scrape Solo gets into you know he’s going to make it.

03/06/2018

Maze Runner - The Death Cure review


Towards the end of this breathless movie a city is being attacked in as chaotic a manner as you’d expect. Vehicles exploding, people running, buildings collapsing and so on. Having been in the midst of all this our point of view is slowly yanked skywards allowing us to view the wider extent of it in a memorable tableaux. This is just one of a myriad of moments from director Wes Ball that propel what should be a simple action film into something better. It’s typical of how The Death Cure , the third and final part of the Maze Runner series, never stops moving in exciting and interesting ways pulling the maximum thrills from what is ostensibly a thin narrative. 

28/05/2018

The Greatest Showman review


There are tales of people going back again and again to cinemas to watch this musical; in fact it’s still on at some of our local screens over five months after it first opened. This is rare these days even for some huge blockbusters. Yet some critics panned it on release last year – “big top baloney” was one of the comments made but it’s outlasted the movies released around the same time. The PT Barnum depicted in the film would surely approve of this turn of events. According to the narrative he welcomed criticisms which he felt helped promote the show and sell tickets- we even see him in a hat with word `humbug` written in gold lettering on it! Now its available to buy the rest of us can find out what the fuss is about….

25/05/2018

Top of the Pops 28 April 1983


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby: John Peel: "Live from Shepherd's Bush London it's Top of the Pops." David Jensen: "Gee, John this is the 999th edition. I guess it marks the end of an era" John Peel: "I don't think so. Not really. It is a special programme though, not only the European charts but also the Southeast Asian charts."David Jensen: "That's right, but to kick off something new in our chart from Galaxy, this is Dancing Tight." John Peel: "Is there any other way?"

[20] Galaxy: Dancing Tight. Galaxy are rhyming tight with night. We can't be far from follow up rhymes with right, sight, and trite. Still never mind that. Regardez! At the back of the stage. Behind the lead singer. One of the Zoo dancers is determinedly doing the robot dance despite the fact that it doesn't really match the song. Can he keep this up for the whole programme? (John –Perhaps he is actually a robot?)

23/05/2018

The Gifted season one review


Of the many fantasy series currently playing on multiple home viewing outlets, The Gifted may well be the most traditional and straightforward. A spin off from the X Men universe it focusses on a disparate group of mutants struggling to survive during a government crackdown on their kind. As the authorities- in the form of Sentinel Services- employ increasingly inventive and ruthless methods, the so called `mutant underground` are forced to question their own tactics. After so many series- notably another X Men cousin Legion- doing their best to bamboozle with narrative or visual trickery it is refreshing to discover linear storytelling and characters we can root for and become interested in.

21/05/2018

Yanny vs Laurel


So here’s the clip…..

Which name do you hear? This conundrum has been driving people crazy over the past week or so and this is just one of zillions of posts, Tweets and general online chatter as to which word is actually being spoken. It’s remarkable. I’ve seen footage of two people equally convinced of the word they heard but one of them quite categorically hears “yanny” whereas the other equally hears “laurel”. What has fascinated people is the fact that whichever word you hear there is no ambiguity about it and you cannot understand how someone else could hear a completely different word. Not since the gold dress / blue dress has there been such an online kerfuffle!