Review Round Up - Arctic Monkeys, Black Adam, Bullet Train


Arctic Monkeys' first album was named with some prescience `Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not` and this is a mantra songwriter Alex Turner has followed through so some sixteen years on they now occupy a territory rather close to what was once known, with some disdain, as `middle of the road` music. These days people are too wise to dismiss an entire sub genre especially one that produced some of the best songs ever. Strings, slow songs, conversational lyrics and atmosphere tinged with thoughtful reverie pervade their new album `The Car`. It helps that the album’s release was preceded by that of its two best songs. `There’d Better Be A Mirrorball` is tethered by a repeated synth line and finds Turner less cynical than the characters that inhabited `Tranquillity Base`. Wistful might be the best description of this song. For me though it is equalled by `Body Paint` which I described on Facebook soon after I first heard it as “class” and I’d underline that description now. The final runout could be David Bowie and that’s a complement.


Top of the Pops 1 Oct 1987


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Gary Davies: “Hi, really nice to see you again. We've got a terrific show lined up for you tonight. In the studio we have Shakin' Stevens, Steve Winwood, we've got Gary Numan, and the Bee Gees.” Mike Smith: “And also, live over here we have the Sisters of Mercy. Highest new entry this week.”

 [13] THE SISTERS OF MERCY: this corrosion. Right down at the front of the stage watching The Sisters of Mercy are a pair of punks. They don't do alot now, but like Chekhov's gun they'll become important in the final act of tonight's programme. The bloke has the word IDOL printed in red on the back of his black leather jacket. “Coming up later, Nicky Campbell, new DJ on Radio 1,” threatens Mike Smith.



Liverpool River of Light 2022

 Each year, Liverpool hosts the River of Light event in which ten works are displayed around the area near to the Mersey bringing art into the public domain. These are free, some of them interactive and you can wander around them in any order. The 2022 event opened on 21 October and runs till 6 November with displays switched on from around 5.30 till 9.00pm. Here's some photos and video clips from the various displays...


Doctor Who- The Power of the Doctor review


Action and nostalgia aplenty mark a great finale for Jodie Whittaker

Regeneration stories always stand apart from regular series of Doctor Who though sometimes can feel either anticlimactic or too over the top. Laced with heavy doses of nostalgia, `The Power of the Doctor` (complete with its double meaning title) manages to hold together remarkably well considering the number of enemies and friends mounting up as it progresses. It has the heft of a sixtieth anniversary story even though the date is a year away and you wonder exactly what the series can do for that birthday. This ninety-minute special is exciting and includes moments that will make you cheer and gasp with surprise in one of Chris Chibnall’s more rigorous scripts. Ironically just as he leaves, he finally seems to have got the hang of how to put together an epic Doctor Who story that doesn’t fall flat at the end.




Top of the Pops 24 Sep 1987 (plus bonus TOTP USA!)


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Gary Davies: “Hi, good evening. I hope you're well. Welcome to another Top of the Pops.” Mike Smith: “We've got a star-studded show tonight. Madonna, Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson. All comin' up.
Gary Davies: “We start off with Johnny Hates Jazz. I Don't Wanna Be A Hero.” Mike Smith: “Right over there.”

[11] JOHNNY HATES JAZZ: i don't want to be a hero. A good song but not the one I'd chose to open this edition. I've always felt the opening song should be punchy and energetic. I Don't Want To Be A Hero is a little too laid back, despite lead singer Clark Datchler's literal air punching to the staccato beats in to the chorus. It's not my job to edit Top of the Pops. This week that job belongs to Brian Whitehouse who is back after a couple of weeks of musical chairs with his two other partners in the game; Stanley Appel and God-King-of-all-Light-Entertainment Michael Hurll.


Wreck review


Sometimes a story is so delightfully absurd that it actually becomes quite endearing despite itself. This six part series set on a cruise ship sails expertly between horror and thriller tropes yet somehow ends up smelling fresh. Courtesy of writer Ryan J Brown the narrative focusses on teenager Jamie Walsh who has sneaked on board the cruise shop Sacramentum (even the name is creepy!) in an attempt to discover what happened to his sister Pippa who seemingly vanished on the previous cruise. The resulting mystery / thriller/ scare story probably won't help an industry still recovering from the `plague ship` headlines of the pandemic yet becomes a gripping if slightly bonkers joyride.



Sea Life Centre London Aquarium Photo and Video Special!

 If you find yourself in London, then I'd highly recommend the Sea Life Centre London Aquarium as an interesting place for people of all ages. The place is so well presented, really atmospheric lighting with mood music and different environments recreated. The assorted fish and sea creatures are fantastic. It takes about an hour and a half to two hours to go round. As you can hear from the clips it can be a bit noisy but that's all part of the atmosphere. Here's some photos and footage from my own visit there on Friday. Exhibits and penguin behaviour can vary!


Top of the Pops 17 Sep 1987


Words: Chris Arnsby. Gary Davies: “Hi, good evening. Welcome to Top of the Pops. We have six acts live in the studio including Cliff Richard, Karel Fialka, Rick Astley.” Mike Smith: “On video tonight we've got Luther Vandross and right over here we've got a deaf leopard. Look.”

 [31] DEF LEPPARD: pour some sugar on me. Hope you like Gary Davies and Mike Smith. They're presenting the next four shows. Gary Davies is here for the next month to cover the launch of Top of the Pops USA, or Top of the Pops as the Americans obtusely insisted on calling it. Top of the Pops USA (I'm calling it that for clarity, if not accuracy, OK) launches next week (1987 time) on 25/09/1987 and Gary Davies will be providing the links for acts performing from London. Mia Peebles (no relation to Andy, or the town) will be hosting from Los Angeles (probably, I haven't actually looked up where Top of the Pops USA was made. It's bound to be Los Angeles, that's where all US Telly comes from). As mumu03 pointed out in the comments to the 06/08/1987 write up, Top of the Pops USA also accounts for a lot of Michael Hurll's absences recently -he's busy setting up the new programme.


Review- Cobra Kai Season Four

 Sensei and sensibility

Some series reach their fourth season and struggle to reclaim the magic that made them a success in the first place. Not Cobra Kai. This oddball series which once seemed an unlikely excursion is now firing on all cylinders. The fourth season, which debuted at the end of last year, is the best yet. Packed with incident it manages to overcome the potential hurdle of characters constantly shifting allegiances each season by stealth every bit as impressive as the fighting scenes. Mixing old and new characters there is more than enough for both long term fans who recall the films and viewers who have just become hooked by the series. That shorter episode ten part season approach pays off every year meaning there is no slack whatsoever. 


Review - Titans Season Three Eps 9 - 13


Titans has never looked more gothic than it does in `Souls` which could be a pilot for a spin off series. We left poor Tim Drake last episode after he’d been shot by Crane and this episode opens with him on an old fashioned steam train being bothered by an especially aggressive conductor. Also on this train is Donna Troy who of course died at the end of last season. Before long Hank turns up with a car as the other two escape the train and head into a snowy forest. We’re in a monochrome afterlife which makes a nice change to the usual grim Gotham streets. It’s best not to examine too closely just how any of this can happen- especially when they discover they can dream up weapons to fight off shadowy ghouls- and go with it. As well as being visually interesting this episode also contains some great character beats and given the subject matter some humour as well. Just listen to the song playing when Hank draws up- `Living on a Prayer`! This is intermingled with Rachel who is trying to bring Donna back to life on Paradise Island and it’s great to see so many characters back again.


Top of the Pops 10 Sep 1987


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Simon Bates: “Thursday night. Welcome to Top of the Pops. We're working our way to Number One just before seven thirty. Here's Peter Powell.”

Peter Powell: “Thank you Simon! And celebrating a massive hit in the States and now in the UK! Heart and Soul! Here's T'Pau!”

 [5] T'PAU: heart and soul. Last time, in the comments, Billy Smart pointed out that [“flame-haired songstress”, © All journalists ever] Carol Decker had problems deciding whether to mime along to the main vocal track or the chanted backing track, and she jumped between the two. It's true. She does have problems choosing a lane and tends to switch depending on which is most prominent. Watching and trying to guess when she'll change becomes mildly hypnotic and maybe there should be some kind of This Way Up drinking game which involves taking a slug every time [“flame-haired temptress”] Carol switches. Now, here's your chance to earn 50,000 pop points by naming another member of T'Pau without using Google. Too late.

T'Pau have, “been in the States, at the moment, for the last ten weeks,” according to Simon Bates. So who did I see two weeks ago on Top of the Pops, Simes?


"Flame haired songstress"


Review - Titans Season Three Eps 5 to 8

 Context is everything of course and albeit a tad late here we find out exactly what’s been going on with Jason in the excellent `Lazarus`. Arguably this would have made a great second episode even if it took way the shock of him seeming to die which was taken away in the actual second episode in any case. Essentially a four handed episode without any of the other Titans and an excellent script from Bryan Edward Hill unfurls a story of a boy trying to impress his mentor who in turns is doing his best to stop the kid getting into any more trouble. It reverses the arguments of episode one which painted Bruce as uncaring- as Dick saw him and accused him of- to reveal exactly the opposite. Stung by how his time as Robin damaged Dick, he is determined not to repeat the mistakes with Jason. The latter though, still traumatised by what happened to him in season two, thinks Bruce is trying to protect him because he’s weak and wants to show otherwise hence his attempt to confront the Joker. It’s a potent brew that bubbles constantly and includes some of the best scenes the series has so hitherto played.