Regeneration X

January 3rd, 2009

Just a quick post about the new Doctor Who - Mr Matt Smith.

There’s not much I can really add to the thousands of column inches and Internet posts that are no doubt being produced right now but I though I should thrown in my two cents…

I like the look of him - I thought I should get that out the way first. Secondly, I love the fact that he was never mentioned as a possible candidate, although I’m kind of kicking myself now that I never realised that the most likely person was someone that they had purposefully kept secret. Let’s face it, it was never going to be Catherine Zeta Jones…

While I normally find it best to ignore myself when it comes to such things, I’ve had a look back at my previous post on how I would like the next Doctor to be. So let’s compare Mr Smith to my criteria, based solely on the 2 minutes or so he was on-screen being interviewed:

1. Older - oh dear. Not only is he the youngest ever, but he’s younger than me. Weird. However, as Stephen Moffat said, he does have an old edge to him somehow, so I’ll give him half a point.

2. Spooky - he does seem to have a natural weirdness to him. One of my friends commented that he is kind of ugly, with another saying that he looks a bit like a neanderthal. Harsh. A Brother of the Bob also said that he looks like an alien. So he’s a weird, ancient, ugly alien. That’s pretty spooky and has to be worth a point, plus a couple of bonus points.

3. Acting ability - from the brief clips shown, and on the advice of The Flatmate of The Bob who actually saw the Party Animals programme that he was in, it seems that he’s very good. He was also in the History Boys in the West End so he has stage experience which seems like a good thing. Even just the way he was talking about working on the part pleased me, so I’ll give him a bonus point.

4. More serious - impossible to know until he’s done a few episodes. This is obviously going to be down to the scripts more than anything else anyway, but he does seem quite intense in his style (from the extremely limited number of clips I’ve seen). Half a point.

5. Not James Nesbitt - He’s not James Nesbitt! Huzzah! 5 points!

Which gives him a score of 11. And he’s the 11th Doctor. So I’ve scientifically proven that he’s the right choice! Genius.

Ignoring indisputable maths for a minute, ultimately the success of the 11th Doctor will come down to more than just a man himself. The scripts, the production, the music, not to mention the supporting cast, are just as important (let’s face it, the first series would have been far less good without Billy). But the Companion issue is interesting. The Brother of The Bob also pointed out that it would be a bit weird now with Captain Jack in it, with him being (or at least appearing) so much older than The Doctor. That said, it would also be weird with a younger female companion, like Rose or Martha, as they will basically be the same age. So it’s hard to know which way they’ll go on that one. Personally, I hope they have a couple of Companions like some of the previous ones had.

It’s all still rather far away though, as we won’t seem him in action for about 15 months. I should probably be giving more thought to 2009 instead of worrying about next year…

(Oh, and I realise that the title of this post would have worked much better if he was the 10th Doctor. Damn it!)

Christmas has come, and The Bob is getting fat

December 29th, 2008

Huzzah! It’s Christmas!

‘Tis my favourite time of year. Two weeks of holiday, and nothing to do except eat, sleep, and make merry. Plenty of cheese, wine, roast meat, whisky, visiting friends, seeing family, opening presents, laughing, singing, and generally doing as one pleases. It makes me feel like I’m a rich Victorian gentleman who spends his days living the good life. But with better TV.

Of course, Christmas isn’t just about over-indulging - there is the religious aspect of course (but I leave that sort of thing to other people). For me it’s about TV Christmas specials (which are invariably slightly longer, slightly less good versions of all of your favourite shows), the complete anti-climax of who will be Christmas number one (being that the X-Factor winner could release a version of them humming the theme-tune to Animal Hospital and still be the highest selling single of the year); people complaining about the cold weather, the snow, and the ice; or the lack of all these things and the fact that it doesn’t feel festive without them (I’m entirely guilty of this). There are carols and Christmas pop songs, mince pies and mulled wine, parties, gatherings, and staying up so late you become nocturnal. Going back to your home town and bumping into people you haven’t seen for 12 years and trying to make conversation with them. News stories about last minute present buying, followed by news stories about Boxing Day sales ending in riots. The Queen’s Speech, classic films on the telly, fighting with siblings (”get out of my chair and stop eating my smoked salmon!”), and feeling guilty for not sending out Christmas cards again this year.

I love all of these things. There’s only one thing I really hate about Christmas - pantomime. I hate audience participation. I hate the embarrassing attempts to try and make them up-to-date by including jokes about current celebrities or the X-Factor (oh, I did that in the previous paragraph. Damn…) and using well-known songs of the day in an attempt to keep the kids interested (and it’s even worse when they try and change the words to fit the plot). Getting every soap star and g-list celebrity from across the globe to embarrass themselves for 2 months. The “comedy” comes via double-entendres worse than the worst bits of the worst Carry On film, weak references to current celebrities/films/events, men dressed as women, women dressed as men, and a couple of poor schmucks dressed like a horse.

I should point out that I enjoy a good musical, I can suspend my disbelief like the best of them, I’m a fan of good old-fashioned variety, and I love a good punning (as you may have noticed). But I find no enjoyment in a bad interpretation of a classic fairy story with easy jokes, bad music, and performances so mind meltingly poor it makes you want to watch River City just to experience some quality acing. And I’ll say it again - I hate audience participation.

Basically, I find Panto a horrific tradition that has nothing to do with Christmas, and has little to do with the season. It’s about being good to your fellow man, sleeping all day, drinking all night, and eating more cheese than should be allowed. Not comedy donkeys and cross-dressing.

Unless you get really drunk.

Another year over…

December 27th, 2008

Hello, and a Merry Christmas to you both.

I’ve not written anything for ages, as per usual, due to real life getting in the way. As I’m on holiday at the moment, however, I have no excuse. So I promise to write a whole bunch of pointless crap over the next few days.

For today however, I just want to stick my thoughts down about the last series of Heroes. I realise that neither of you probably watch it anymore, but I just feel the need to document my reaction to how they finished it all off.

(As ever, if you haven’t watched the whole of the “Villains” section of Season 3 look away now…)

Well, that was pointless. Basically with all that happened over the course of the series - Arthur Petrelli coming back, Peter losing his powers, Mohinder turning into the fly, Sylar turning good, etc etc - by the end of the last episode, nothing has really changed. Not only did all the major characters survive, but most of the new ones have been killed off leaving us right back where we started.

I think really we can put the whole thing down to a bad dream and move on. There were lots of good bits, and I very much enjoyed the last episode, but hopefully they sort themselves out for the next volume.

A quick note of seasons/volumes etc. According to Wikipedia (so it must be true) season 3 is split between 2 volumes - 3 and 4 - entitled “Villains” and “Fugitives” respectively. So “Fugitives” will still be part of Season 3, but a whole new story arc. The only real affect this has on us punters is that it will be starting in the States in February 2009 (when if it was a whole new season it wouldn’t usually be until after the Summer). The Internet doesn’t seem to want to tell me when it will be on here, but I’m sure the Beeb will keep us informed…

Anyway, let’s not dwell too much on the past; what will Season 4 be like? Well, it seems that Nathan, whose character stopped making sense about 2 years ago, has gone completely off track and has dobbed them all in to the President. But not just the President, but President Worf. If either of you didn’t notice, that was none other than Michael Dorn adorning us (sorry) with his Klingonian presence. Which is probably why we didn’t see his full face (cos of all the bumpy bits…)

A black President though? Didn’t 24 already do that? Oh yes, and the real world has done it too. Though I bet Mr Obama is less handy with a bat’leth. Probably.

With Nathan ratting out all the other main characters to the Feds I guess the next Volume will be about them all pulling together to help protect each other, fighting a common enemy, etc etc. Has this not happened a few times already? It also reminds me of Season 4 of Buffy, which was mostly about the US Government trying to get in on the paranormal action. And it was rubbish.

On the other hand it is also extremely like the rather excellent direction Marvel comics went in a few years ago, in a story arc called “Civil War”, the basic premise of which was that all the superheroes (Spider-man, Iron Man, Captain America, The X-Men, etc) had to sign onto a Government register, stating their real names and powers. Many of the heroes objected to this while others supported it whole-heartedly, leading to the titular Civil War. While this means that there are lots of exciting battles and such like between former allies, it also raises lots of interesting ideas around the idea of being a hero (like, if you destroy half a city while saving the world, who should pay for it?)

But I’m rambling now. In conclusion, hopefully Heroes manages to recapture some of the magic. It needs to have a bit more mystery than recent years, a bit more threat. We know that the main characters are safe, and even if they do appear to die they can always, ALWAYS be bought back to life/saved through time-travel/become another character entirely. A small cull might help with this. I would probably get rid of Claire, Angela, and Mohinder, and not bring back Sylar again (again). But I’d guess that Angela is the only one of the current cast that is likely to be scrapped.

Basically, I’ll probably still watch it but I’m not holding out much hope for the next 12 episodes. Hmm… I think I might start watching The Wire instead…

No Heroics

November 19th, 2008

The Guardian has an article on Heroes today that pretty much says what I haven’t got round to saying on here yet:

I agree with most of the review of the current state of play with the show, but not entirely with the reasons behind it. I haven’t bothered to blog about it in the last few weeks as each episode just seemed to add some many more layers of plot that I wanted to see where it was going before laying my judgement.

Unfortunately they keep using cheap tricks and cliff-hangers to keep the audience interested, but it just seems to increase the level of disbelief. As well as the points mentioned in the article and comments there was also Hiro appearing to kill Ando, and Adam coming back only to be killed off (surely he’s actually dead this time?)

I actually like Matt’s “vision of the future” episode - one flash-forward episode per series is a great way of setting out why the heroes are doing what they are doing, and where things are going unless the world is saved (via cheerleaders or otherwise). Of course, the whole point of this season is for the Heroes (Peter, Claire, Mohinder) to go bad, while the Villains show their good sides (Sylar obviously, Matt’s Dad had a moment of redemption, Mrs Patrelli perhaps). I give it 2 weeks before Claire kills someone just for kicks…

However, I think there are two reasons it feels like it has lost its way (or at least gone the way of Lost). First of all, as mentioned, there is little real character development. This is partly due to too many characters, but it is also because the writers feel the need (or are being forced by the producers/studio) to crank-up the action and shocks. The first series was a real slow-burner if you remember - it took weeks to find out who Sylar was, how characters like Parkman or Hiro fitted into the main Peter-based story, or what the point of Nikki was (what was the point of Nikki again?)

When season 2 started and the ratings fell, I remember reading an article saying that fans were complaining it was dull. Creator Tim Kring replied saying that he thought viewers wanted a slow build up again, with new Heroes and plenty character development. So perhaps the blame should lie on those folk who said that the start of season 2 was too slow and boring.

For the record, I actually really liked Season 2 possibly, I say quietly, more than the first series. Also, I wouldn’t quite yet say that they’ve jumped that shark, but there are certainly a lot of fins in them there choppy waters…

And yet I’m surprisingly good at triathalons…

November 17th, 2008

I’m a pedestrian.

I walk about 4 miles a day (to and from work) and I can walk a good way and at a fair old speed without getting tired. I enjoy my walk to and from work and it’s just about the only exercise I get.

But it’s more than that. Walking just about the only form of transport I derive any pleasure from. Put it this way:

  • I have aerophobia (I take valium on long flights to keep me calm…)
  • I don’t like long train or car journeys much (but then who does?)
  • Not a fan of boats
  • Hovercrafts - can’t really say one way or the other…
  • I can’t drive (failed 3 times when I was 17)
  • I can’t ride a bike
  • I can’t swim
  • I can only jog for about 6 metres before collapsing in a wheezing heap

Wow. When I look at it like that it’s pretty impressive. I suck.

Swimming is something that most mammals can do to an extent - I seem to remember in that episode of Quantum Leap when Sam was a chimp it was said that they can’t swim due to the way they’re built. There’s also probably some random mammals too (surely bats can’t swim?) but I’ll stick my neck out and say that most mammals wouldn’t drown. Swimming has been something creatures have been doing ever since, well, whatever it was we first evolved from first pulled on its amoebic bathing suit and hit the primordial ooze.

On the other hand, there are only a handful of chimps, a few dogs, and perhaps a squirrel or 2, who can ride bikes. And yet people are usually more shocked by my lack of pedal power rather than my absence of swimming skills. But to me the bike is just a thing people can do. Handy, yes, but it’s not necessary. The fact that I can’t swim could perhaps put me in peril one day, but something very strange would have to be going on when my only chance of survival involved me peddling for my life.

I’m sure biking in good exercise, but then so is walking. And, for that matter, so is boxing, bull-fighting, and buggery, and I’m hardly about to become a pugilist, Spanish, or go into showbusiness.

Just to make sure I don’t do anyone a disservice, the blame for this is entirely my own. I did get swimming lessons at school but never seemed to get to the point of taking off the water-wings (which was pretty embarrassing when I was 17 and doing Higher PE…) My parental units tried to get me to ride bikes without stabilisers, and my siblings all learned, but I was never very interested in such things. There was probably something good on TV.

Anyway, maybe now is the time to learn. Perhaps you all want to sponsor me to cycle 5 miles, or swim 10 lengths? (I have no idea how hard 10 lengths would be…) I’ll use the money raised to train up other mammals to ride bikes… just imagine: The Bob and his Amazing Mammals - On Bikes! We’d be a hit on ITV9…

Right, this post has taken a wrong turn somewhere. I was actually going to complain about people who don’t respect pedestrians, ie drivers, cyclists, and joggers. Especially large groups of runners who take up the entire pavement and force the rest of us onto the road. I’ve often been almost trampled by such people on my way home from work. Students by the looks of them.  Young, healthy and, as they’ve probably only been out of bed for 2 hours, full of energy. Lazy/lucky gits that they are.

As I hurried onto the roadside this evening to avoid the stampede, I wondered what would happen if I continued to walk along the middle of the pavement. Unfortunately they all tend to be taller than me so no doubt I’d get flattened. And I bet they’d all be really nice and apologetic about it too. Damn them all.

Maybe I’ll start taking the subway again. Much safer…

Give us this day our Daily Show

November 2nd, 2008

Huzzah! The Daily Show is now free to view on Channel 4’s website. Click on this here link to get there, and tell them I sent you.

Actually, it’s been on 4OD for a while, but it cost £1 a show last time I checked. However, now we are all free to catch up on any episodes missed, and just in time for the election. Winner.

If you’ve never seen it before, shame on you, shame. Every episode manages to make me laugh out loud more than once, which is quite exceptional if you consider how quickly they must have to put it together. And how miserable a git I am.

To give you some background, The Daily Show (or The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as it is officially called) has been running for years in the States, 4 days a week, and is shown here in Blightly on More4 the day after it’s aired in America. It’s technically a “fake” news show, although it has been said that people who watch it tend to be more aware of what is going on in the world than those who watch real American news stations. Most of the content is about politics, although at the moment that’s not very surprising. It’s also not exactly impartial, clearly favouring Obama over McCain, but who can blame them really.

Recent political guests include Obama himself last week (see the show from 30 October from my link above), Bill Clinton, and also Tony Blair about a month ago. But don’t let the politics put you off: recent film stars to appear, just from the past month or so, include Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, and Steven Martin.

Ultimately it is just highly entertaining, and if you are reading this then you clearly have 22 minutes to waste online. Go! Watch! Now!

Tennant’s special

October 30th, 2008

So David Tennant has decided to hang up his trainers and regenerate into a relative dimension of obscurity. I wasn’t thrilled by this news at first, and was originally going to call this post “God is Dead”. But that would perhaps have been a slight overreaction…

I think he’s right - as Russell T Davis and Julie Gardner are both leaving as well this seems like a good time to go, which will let Stephen Moffat have a clear run to do his own thing. There’s also the ol’ “get out-while the going is good aspect”; it would be a shame if he had done a few more series that just didn’t live up to what has gone before. Although I guess the specials still to come could be as bad as last year’s Christmas episode.

Anyway, obviously the big question is Who next? (that pun has been used before, and will be used again). My criteria for how to choose the next Doctor (purely from a personal point of preference) would be as follows:

  • Someone older - I don’t necessarily mean William Hartnell old, but just someone who is a bit less, well, young and er… hip. Someone who can’t just run about all the time. The old Doctors were always a bit more of a father-figure to his companions rather than a buddy I reckon, and it might be good to get back to this a bit. It would also remove any possibility of another romance, which would be a good thing (keep the love of Rose pure!)
  • Someone with a spooky edge - having recently watched some of the old Tom Baker episodes recently, one of the things that made him stand out was that his Doctor was a strange fellow. You feel like you never know what he’s going to do next, and there’s something about his grin that can be rather chilling. He also wasn’t that nice to all his companions the whole time, and in fact was down-right nasty to some. Crazy eyes too.
  • Someone who can act - Tennant and Ecclestone are both actual, real actors, and that give the whole thing an edge of quality that couldn’t be achieved otherwise. There’s always the slight fear that they’ll get in a familiar face, someone young, sexy, and popular, just for the sake of it. So not Russell Brand then…
  • Perhaps someone a bit more serious (within reason) who doesn’t have the constant excitable, nervous energy that both Doctors 9 and 10 had.
  • Someone who isn’t James Nesbitt.

Ultimately I just want someone who is a bit different to what has gone before. And who isn’t James Nesbitt.

The BBC Website has published a list of the top rated candidates and I may as well give them the once over. Let’s look at the front runners:

Paterson Joseph - Like it, like it a lot. He’s quite a big guy, has an awesome voice and plenty of gravitas. I reckon he could also do spooky and intense very well. Obviously there would be plenty said on the fact that he would be the first black doctor, but it surely makes no difference at all. There was talk previously of a female Doctor (can Time Lords change gender, oh geeks out there?) and even rumoured at one point that Billy was going to get the role. Nightmare! Anyway, he’s the favourite with the bookies, and I would be more than pleased if he got the job.

David Morrissey - He’s actually a bit of an unknown quantity for me. Somehow I’ve managed to avoid all the things he’s been in, but I’ve heard only good comments. So I can’t say much more until after the Christmas episode…

Sean Pertwee - I had heard all the others being mentioned before in rumour and small talk, but this one took me by surprise today. And I’m loving it. He also has a great voice (see Equilibrium for details), and great screen presence, and has a slightly mean edge to him that could be awesome. And he’s hard as nails, which would be different.

James Nesbitt - No. No no no no no no no. Seriously. No. Stop that. It’s almost unthinkable. It would just be James Nesbitt in a scarf. No. Alan Davies has been mentioned numerous times in the past and I would be just as against him too. They’re both too famous and familiar, and in every other bloody thing on TV.

Just… no.

Russell Tovey - Once again a relative unknown for me. He was good in the Christmas episode (considering how bad most of it was) but really is just too young for me to agree with.

James McAvoy - Surely he’s too busy with his Hollywood career to do Doctor Who? He also doesn’t do well against my criteria above, but he would probably be okay. I just don’t see it happening.

I’m trying to think of who I would pick, apart from either Mr Joseph or Pertwee. Well, Trevor McDonald is leaving News at Ten, and he does fall into some of my criteria… perhaps not.

Send me you thoughts and suggestion please, in the usual way.

Heroes and Villians

October 9th, 2008

As mentioned in my previous ramble, Heroes season 3 has started. And what a great start it was - enough so that I feel the need to document my thoughts on the subject. However, this is pretty pointless for any of you, as either you watch the show and will know what happened, or don’t and therefore don’t know or care what I’m writing. So stop reading this and go and do something better instead. Like watching Heroes…

SPOILERS AHOY!! If you have any intention of watching Heroes and you haven’t seen up to Season 3, Episode 2 LOOK AWAY NOW!

Righty ho. So you’re the makers of Heroes and you want to set up the new series. What to do? Well, as every seasoned seasonal programme-maker knows, with each new year you need to up the ante. More baddie, harder to kill baddies, and the best method - make some of the goodies turn into baddies! By which I don’t mean a fight to the death between Tim Brooke-Taylor and Bill Oddie. Not that I wouldn’t watch that too…

Nope. It looks as if various of our favourite Heroes are going to turn to the dark side. They’re still trying to make Peter seem edgy and deep, but I still think he is, well, rubbish. Just because he has a scar, speaks in a slightly gravelly voice, and frowns even more than previous doesn’t make him hard. Or interesting.

The big season 2 cliffhanger was of course Nathan being gunned down, just as he was  about to reveal the truth about himself. I must admit that although I seem to feel the need to fill up the Interweb with my own cluttered thoughts about the show, I don’t actually go looking for other peoples (mainly because I don’t what to know what’s going to happen until I’m actually watching the episode). But I can imagine that there were many a comment online about who the gunman (or woman) might be over the summer break. And let’s face it, it could have been anyone at all. My guess would have been Nikki, as it would have been the most surprising. Or a Nathan from the future. Who’d have guessed? Probably lots of people actually. Okay, the least likely option was probably Molly, but that’s because she’s 10.

But no, it was Peter from the future. Great. At least Mrs Petrelli seems to be getting plenty of screen time this year, and we’ve finally been told what her power was (and it should have been obvious really). An interesting side note from this week’s broadcast that Bob’s power seemed to be turning things to gold. Not very sure what Syler is going to do with that one. (I did warn you there would be spoilers…)

Just thinking through the other characters… Claire - looking hot, all dark hair and leather, in the future, sadly still rather whinny in the present. But I have to say the scenes with her and Syler in the first episode were particularly good. As for the man himself, it’s nice to have him back properly, but I can’t help but wonder (and worry) how much he’s going to be in this year as surely Zachary Quinto has been too busy wearing pointy ears and being all logical? I’d look online, but it might spoil something…

Anyway, it seems from his actions towards Claire in the first episode, along with Mrs Petrelli’s dream in the second, that they are going to show that Sylar isn’t just “evil” for the sake of it. He just enjoy killing n’ stuff for the sake of it. Unlike the Bad People who have been released from the holding cells, who are Bad, and do Bad things, like burning people and stealing cars. Wow. And now Peter is mixed up with them and he doesn’t know WHAT to do. How about just not going with them you wet git?

Other folk: Parkman - randomly in the middle of Africa. This will obviously end up being connected more than we can guess to the main storyline, in a Hiro in Ancient Japan sort of way. We’ll just have to wait and see. And I still think Greg Grunburg is the dude and he can do whatever he wants.

Mohinder - seems to have turned into Spider-man, including the mutation storyline. Yet he’s still a bit dull, despite being superpowered and sharing all his scenes (and fluids) with a hottie. She, Maya, is even more pointless than last year, but I should probably give her time. And she’s better than…

Nikki - oh bloody hell. They brought her back from the dead. Or did they? Is she other aspect of Nikki/Jessica? Or someone else entirely? Who knows? Who cares? Nae me laddie, nae me. No sign of Mika yet, and if Monica isn’t in this year then she was officially The Most Pointless Character Ever.

Nathan - quite liking it so far, and more Linderman can’t be bad. I was also very pleased to see Bruce Boxleitner back on the box (sorry, too easy). For those of you who don’t know (ie all of you, unless Ewen is reading this) he was Commander, and latterly, President Sheridan in Babylon 5. Of all the geeky things I’ve ever watched, it is the most geeky… Anyway, he’s the guy playing the Governor in Heroes. Not the world’s greatest actor, but he’s got a certain Clinton like quality to him that makes him seem like a convincing and likable politician type. By which I mean Bill, not Hillary, by the way.

I’ve not mentioned Hero and Ando yet. Well, I always like them really, but it’s hard to get particularly interested in another Quest set by Destiny. Ando developing powers and turning evil? Could either be exciting and emotional as the two former friends battle it out, or could be the shark-jumping moment Heroes has often threatened to waterski towards (if you don’t get the rather mangled metaphor, read this). But a “formula that could destroy the world” sounds suspiciously similar to the disease that could destroy the world last time around. Is it going to be the same power-giving formula that Mohinder has developed? Probably. Will Ando turn evil? Probably not. Only time will tell (pun intended).

So, in conclusion… er… I don’t know. The first episode was great and started up some interesting storylines. The second episode just seemed to add in more questions and intrege, without actually moving the story on much. Still, there’s plenty more to come…

Things can only get similar

October 5th, 2008

Once again I seem to have failed to write anything for a few weeks, and once again I seem to be apologising for it. So sorry, once again, for my lack of posts. To make up for it I will write 9 posts a day, every day, for the next eight thousand years. Honest.

Anyway, the main reason for posting or not is whether or not I have something to say. And quite frankly right now there is plenty to be said about world events (and more to the point, the new series of Heroes has started - more on that later…).

The big issue at present is of course the slow and delicate collapse of capitalism. Or so the media would have us believe. I am not going to write lots about this as I definitely know less than many people about this subject and don’t want to waste your time…

Actually, I tried to write something but ended up with 8 of the most banal, obvious, and embarrassing simplistic paragraphs you’ve ever read, and I had to delete them before I vomited in self loathing. Read this article and you will get an idea of what I entirely failed to even approach in saying. I even tried to write a mocking paragraph about how rubbish they were and it was almost as bad. Let us not speak of this again children.

Instead… I’ll talk about the American election! Hey, no one else has said or written anything on this! I’m sure I’ll come up with plenty of original and witty comments. Honet.

The point has been raised a number of times over the past 8 years that once Mr Bush is no longer the Big Man, the political satirists are going to have a much tougher time. Now, I’ll lay my fairly obvious cards on the table and say that I do want Obama to win, but if he does The Daily Show won’t be nearly as good for the next 4 years. Or will it…

Remember back, if you will, to 1 May 1997. The sun seemed to be just that little bit brighter than it had been for the past 18 years, and most people thought it was shining out of the arse of a certain Mr Tony Blair. Please try and remember this without cynicism - we all* thought that this really was going to be a great thing, a new Britain, possibly even a New Britain. Things could only get Better, etc etc.

Let’s also remember that since then we’ve gained a minimum wage, devolution in Scotland and Wales, er… ASBOs? Um… they repealed the law that meant you could be hanged for treason or piracy. Er, I’m sure there were a few other good things that I was going to mention but I can’t remember what they are now. The Olympics? Please use the comment box below to help me out…

But my point is that if Obama gets the comfy seat in the Oval Office it won’t herald a new dawn of common sense and fairness, greater freedoms and equalities, less wars and terror, a world where all of mankind work together towards a glorious future, of countrymen lending others their ears… you get the point. I just don’t think it will make a huge difference, that’s all I’m saying. That’s the problem with democracy - we spend all this time choosing who to put in charge and then we just complain when they get it wrong. But as someone clever sort (Churchill no doubt) once said, Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried.

Anyway, at least things can’t get any worse. Unless we end up with a certain President Palin.

(* apart from the 3 people in Surrey who actually voted Tory that year)

Who will buy?

September 17th, 2008

Anyone who has ever lived with me, been round to my place, or indeed had me in their house, while watching TV will know that I have a tendency to hit the mute button during the advert breaks. In fact, tendency is perhaps not a strong enough word. A compulsion, an obsession, a sine qua non if you will.

I just can’t help it. Come the quarter hour and the remote will magically appear in my hand, finger poised to silence the dire warnings of the lack of car insurance, lady products, or appropriate dog food in our sorry little lives. For me though, as I can’t drive, am not and do not possess a lady, and don’t enjoy the taste of dog food, these are unnecessary interludes.

I fear that moaning about specific ads may become a semi-regular feature on here, as they really do make me want to curl up and buy (nothing, ever again), but here are some of the adverts that have caught my eye recently…

Stella Artois: They’ve finally dropped the “Reassuringly Expensive” thing, as that only works if it actually costs more than any other beer. Which it doesn’t. It’s also not very nice. And makes you want to beat up women (allegedly) hence why it is know as “wifebeater”. Allegedly.

Their new advert features all sorts of exciting medieval/fantasy style computer graphics and people in costumes, and even has a voice over by Patrick Stewart himself, telling us that Stella is from ye olde days and is made with only the traditional ingredients of water, hops, and er… the other ones.  He even promises the excitement of some sort of online game thing. So basically, all the things that would normally draw me in. But it’s Stella. Even if Patrick Stewart came round to my house to read The Lord of the Rings to me, recreated my favourite scenes from I, Claudius, and said “Make it so” when I offered him a cup of tea, I still wouldn’t drink Stella.

Well. okay, maybe if he did all of those things. But it would have to be all three…

Hovis: This features a wee boy with something of the Oliver about him buying a loaf of ye olde breade from ye olde shoppe. But, shock horror, when he walks outside it seems to be slightly less olde. There’s a horse and cart in the street, but when he goes round the corner there’s suddenly motorcar. And then there are some World War I soldiers obviously heading off to war. And then returning (although they have too many limbs if you ask me…)

Yon boy (whose clothes have changed somewhat) turns a corner to find some ruined buildings - yes, you’ve guessed it, he’s now reached World War II. This is followed by a street party and some giggling girls (the 60s?) and then, rather strangely, he wanders between a large group of policemen facing off against a group of strikers. Is that really the best way to depict the 70s? Well, I guess it’s better than him bumping into Slade…

He eventually gets home and is all modern n’ stuff. Great. The point of the advert is that Hovis still make bread the way they used to. Which is blatantly not true. First of all, it’s hard to imagine that it’s baked by hand, otherwise half the country would have to be employed in the process. Even more so, the machines they use now are no doubt faaar more efficient and hygienic than even 20 years ago. Which is a good thing for all concerned as it keeps prices lower.

But the main thing this advert says to me is “British life in the 20th Century was just completely awful and depressing”. If these were our defining moments then I hope we manage something a bit better this century.

The thing is, it’s actually all rather impressive as an advert, and probably is quite affective and effectual for most people. I’m just ye miserable olde cynic.

To learn about the worst of them all, read this here article, which is far more eloquent than I could ever manage. What really gets me is that it’s a pretty good service that shouldn’t be too hard to advertise with just the basic facts. But these are overshadowed by the Hucknell Horror.

However, an extra note on this would be that they have followed Ginger Mick up with… Mel B. It’s got all the same problems as the previous, including a last line spoken by the bearded one himself of “Well, I spiced up her life”. Really? Is that really what you wanted to say? Really? I would have gone with something like “At least all that TV should keep her mind off having Eddie Murphy’s baby.” I’d buy that for a dollar…