Avengers Endgame review

The pre- release hype for Avengers Endgame has been quite intense and avoiding spoilers even more so. It is hard to recall a superhero film that has such a weight of expectation sitting on its shoulders not to mention multiple suggestions as to just how that cliffhanger at the end of Infinity War might be resolved.  Like a lot of you I re-watched that movie a few days back but did not predict what happens. Of course such situations can end up meaning people are disappointed only because they’ve built up a scenario on their head. So does it live up to all the heady anticipation? Well let’s see shall we, as ever, after the spoiler warning…


Top of the Pops 19 Apr 1984

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Singers: "Freeeee, Nelson Mandela. Freeeee. Freeeee. Free, free, free Nelson Mandeeeeelaa." Peter Powell: "Hi and welcome to a live transmission of Top of the Pops! It's absolutely packed! We've got Queen and also Thompson Twins!" Gary Davies: "We've got Blancmange and err [waves hand] we've got Nick Kershaw. We've got great music. Stick around. First though, to get us under way, the err Special AKA."

Top of the Pops time slip: Last time on BBC4 it was 29th March. Suddenly it's 19th April. What happened? The strike by Scenic Services workers came to a head on 4th April after 12 weeks of disruption. The BBC's policy had been to keep live programmes going and accept disruption to recorded ones, which might account for the escalation of live editions of Top of the Pops since the move to the smaller emergency strike studio; four out of six shows This policy changed at the start of April when striking workers were sacked and staff at Television Centre walked out in sympathy. BBC1 went off the air for 24 hours on Thursday 5th April but the union did not have the resources for a prolonged strike and the dispute came quickly to an end. BBC4 skipped Top of the Pops' triumphant return to its ancestral seat (studio TC8) for more prosaic reasons (D*v* L** Tr*v*s) and suddenly it's Maundy Thursday 1984.


Ad Break#11 Acceptable in the Seventies

Three odd Seventies ad campaigns. 
 “I’m a Gnu
Typhoo. Gnu. It’s such an obvious rhyme when you think about it. This is the way people thought in the 70s.  Launched in 1903 and named after the Chinese word for `Doctor`, Typhoo always had a witty way with slogans and as far as  can be ascertained the company chose to use a Gnu simply because it rhymed with their distinctive moniker. The series of ads were animated and featured a very civilised Gnu extolling the worthiness of the product. The song accompanying them was an adaptation of a ditty composed by Flanders and Swan, a comedy duo popular in the 1950s and 60s. 


Space Time Telegraph- The blog about classic Doctor Who

If you’re a fan of classic Doctor Who that ran from 1963 to 1989 then check out my other blog Space Time Telegraph. You’ll find reviews and features on various aspects of the series and its fandom. Some of you will know this used to be a wider Doctor Who blog that ran for 3 years till it was stopped at the end of last year. Originally I thought of maybe putting the best posts into a book but there is so much visual material that an online format seems the best way to present it.

I’ve taken out all the posts about modern Doctor Who to turn Space Time Telegraph into a resource for the classic series. I’m not re-activating it on a regular basis so don’t expect new posts regularly but there will be occasional updates as and when I have stuff to put on there. Meanwhile reviews or articles concerning the modern series will be posted here. In terms of new releases of old stuff they will go onto STT so I’ve moved the recent `Macra Terror` review onto there for completism. This change in no way suggests I’ve given up on modern Doctor Who, merely that it’s taken this long for me to work out how best both blogs can work to complement each other. I am now handing the Terranium Core to Mavic Chen. Here you go, Mav. 


Top of the Pops 29 Mar 1984

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Mike Read: "Hello flower people." Andy Peebles: "Hi. Good evening and welcome to another action packed edition of Top of the Pops. Mike Read: "That's right. Number 29 this week, great track from The Special AKA Free Nelson Mandela." 
[29] The Special AKA: Free Nelson Mandela. The limitations of the emergency strike studio cause a problem when The Special AKA turn up with too many people. They have to spread over two stages. Four singers are on one side of the studio and the band are crammed onto a tiny stage opposite. It ends up working really well and gives the camera operators lots of opportunities for good shots; including one looking across the studio with the band in the foreground, the audience in the middle, and the singers in the background nicely framed against the black cyclorama. Some of the audience are confused about where to look. Do you watch the band or the singers? The consensus seems to favour the four singers. They are on a higher stage so they must be more important. The Quantel box gets pressed into action a couple of times with a comet trails effect. It keeps the vision mixers busy. Yes, mixers, two of them are credited; Angela Wilson and Bill Morton. Let's hope the studio gallery isn't as cramped as the stage or everyone will be jammed in like The Special AKA. No wonder Michael Hurll has chosen this week to go on holiday. John Bishop grabs the producer's credit. 


Review Round Up- Endeavour S6, Anna & the Apocalypse, Inside the Factory

Though at first it seemed like an unnecessary addendum to a franchise that had already continued beyond the demise of its principal character Endeavour has turned out to be quite a gem. Its 1960s setting allows for it to be both historical and have contemporary resonances within a decade rich with storytelling potential. As well as this it has two leads whose performances are amongst the best in tv today. While Morse enthusiasts no doubt scour every episode for links and references to the original series (of which apparently there are several) many of us simply enjoy the quality of the stories, setting and acting. Even the fact that our knowledge of the original series tells us that several characters are clearly not in mortal danger doesn’t detract from the tense scenarios writer Russell Lewis dreams up. 


Shazam! review

In this lively addition to DC’s otherwise serious catalogue of superheroes we find out what happens when a fourteen year old boy becomes an adult man of many powers simply by shouting “Shazam!” It’s not actually his name as it goes; in fact the film is amusingly peppered with potential namesbut for obvious legal reasons he can’t really be called Captain Marvel as he was named in the original comics. The premise is reminscent of those Eighties bodyswap movies- and there’s a little homage to Big included – only with super powers. And it’s great fun!

Spoilers from hereon..


Primeval Season 3

First published 2009. Words by Tim Worthington. When your big list of Things You Need To Write is headed 'SATURDAY - DINOSAURS', it can mean one of only three things - either that there's been a strange resurgence of interest in Simpsons-riffing early nineties Jim Henson-sponsored puppet satire Dinosaurs, or that it's time yet again to scoff at Jon Pertwee's vehicular vanity and complain about one of the most intelligent and thought-provoking Doctor Who scripts ever being rendered a laughing stock by 'special' effects that were lazy and rushed and generally rubbish even for 1974, or something that falls somewhere between the two. Ish. Yes, Primeval is back, and in the grand tradition of evolution it's looking like a very different show these days...


Top of the Pops 22 Mar 1984

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Peter Powell: "Hey everybody! Welcome to another edition of Top of the Pops! It's Janice and I!" Janice Long: "Hey do you realise that this is the first time that -uh- we've done it together. In the show tonight people like Culture Club, Sade, and UB40." Peter Powell: "And a new number one! But for starters this is Depeche Mode! And People! Are! People!"

[29] Depeche Mode: People Are People. Depeche Mode have discovered the joys of hitting things with other things; there's a cymbal, a tom-tom, some sort of a-frame with dangling pipes, and a piece of corrugated iron with the word PUS sprayed on it. Experts in hitting things with different things will know that the word PUS makes all the difference to the sound of corrugated iron. The song's lyrics are sparse. It's almost as if they're a flimsy excuse to cobble together a song from exciting industrial noises. Keep an eye on the male dancer behind the band. What is he doing? It's almost robot dancing (appropriate) but he keeps hitting odd exaggerated poses. It's as if he's simultaneously invented walking like an Egyptian and Voguing several years early.


Robin Hood review

In this lively, tightly edited action film, the familiar Robin Hood tale is refashioned as a revolutionary saga set almost entirely in the city rather than the woodland. We don’t see Sherwood Forest until the last couple of minutes of what is clearly intended to be the first movie in a new franchise. Poor box office and even poorer critical response means sequels look unlikely which is a pity as there are interesting foundations here. Critics are odd- if they like a film any similarities to other movies are declared to be interpretations or ` a new spin` or a homage. If they don’t like it such touches are dismissed as theft or lack of imagination. So while both direction and editing do bring to mind Guy Richie and Christopher Nolan this is a good thing. And if the idea of bows and arrows sounds a bit low key these days then this is the way to present them.