Tv blabs, movie blabs, book blabs. Lots of blab, but no flab.

Sunday, July 31

Still Haven't...

Got to read Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince yet...

I'm currently reading The Surgeon of Crowthorne. A thoroughly entertaining book by Simon Winchester about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. Now, I heard the collective yawn at the end of the last sentence, but I assure you that it's far more interesting than it first sounds. Would you expect a book about a dictionary to include murder, war and asylums? Probably not.

Winchester shows a passion for his topic and weaves the facts into an intriguing story. I never knew that the creation of the first complete dictionary was such a mammoth task. Few of us today would ever give a passing thought about the first people to wonder about the immensity of the English language and why it hadn't been recorded.

After reading three-quarters of Surgeon I have a new appreciation for dictionaries and of the people who devoted their lives to creating the first complete edition. It may cement my reputation as a book geek but I definitely set my dictionaries as my most useful books.

Tonight alone I have referenced my small Australian Heinemann Dictionary seven times. And if I'm looking for an older perspective I'll open my antique Modern Standard English Dictionary from the 1940s. I admit to not owning an Oxford English Dictionary; I will one day take the step and purchase one.

They have a reputation for being boring and dull, but the dictionary is a thing of life; past and present.

Saturday, July 30

Daaah Dum. Daaah Dum. Da Dum Da Dum Da Dum.

Seven is having a theme night this Sunday night. Somehow they've snaffled the broadcasting rights of the Mythbusters from SBS for the two part special on Shark Myths. These guys are always entertaining, and are totally prepared to go all the way to disprove an urban myth. The most gruesome I've seen would have to be when they were trying to bust the myth that you can be decapitated by jumping up or into a ceiling fan.

Watching these guys tackle the Jaws myths should be an interesting show.

Immediately followed by the big fish itself.


9pm on Seven.

I've never actually watched more than a few minutes of this film. So I think it's time that I initiated myself into this world of scary ocean. As if I'm not already not afraid of going in the water!

Wednesday, July 27

Typecasting And How To Steal From Others.

Last night was the first ep of The 4400. A continuation from the 6 part mini-series aired here last year. The mini-series was interesting, but frustrating at the same time. The concept of the show, 4400 people abducted over the last 100 years were all returned at the same time, but the execution of it is rather sloppy. My feeling is that it should be centred upon the 'returnees' as the central plot and the 'agency' charged with finding them all should be the subplot.

In last night's ep Summer Glau (River from Firefly) guest starred as, you guessed it, an inmate of an asylum. She turned out to have the plans for some sort of alien device in her head, and somehow convinced the inmates to build it for her.

The structure turns out to be a large tower built from whatever bits and pieces they can lay their hands on. Now, the idea of a bunch of crazy people doing the bidding of an insane 'queen bee' by building a huge tower sounds vaguely familiar...

What if we change the name of Summer's character to Glory, and the name of the show to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Whedon envy anyone?

Sunday, July 24

I Was Right! Mostly.

I tuned into Nine this afternoon in the hope of being treated with the Cirque Du Soleil produced Opening Ceremony, Reflections In Blue, and what was I rewarded with?

A 30 second montage.


5 minutes worth of snippets.


This was a perfect opportunity to sneakily insert some quality viewing under the guise of a sports program.

Thank you Nine, for once again cementing your reputation as "Still The One" to not give a crap about anything except sensationalist journalism and crap reality shows.

Friday, July 22

Haunted House

Sometimes things occur that make me laugh. Like the fact that my two new favourite TV shows are called Haunted and House.

Haunted premiered on Ten tonight with the pilot followed by the second ep. I caught the ads for Haunted over the last week and it certainly looked intriguing. I have to say that I am very much over the amount of crime driven TV that we have, but I do look out for the odd gem in all of that rough.

Haunted stars Matthew Fox; you perhaps know him as 'Jack' in Lost. The show began on UPN in 2002 with the lead in of some other popular show... it's name escapes me. Oh! That's right, it was called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sadly it didn't pick up the audiences to guarantee longevity and was canned after 13 eps.

A good way to get me to watch an ep of a new show is to have a supernatural twist, then give me good characters in a well written plot. Add to the mix great cinematography and direction and I'll be hooked for sure. Haunted oozes atmosphere and tension. It made me jump several times, and that I really enjoy. It's not pschological terror tension like Millenium was, more along the lines of The Sixth Sense.

Matthew Fox's character, Frank Taylor, is an ex-cop-PI who is on the case of an abducted child and is forced to kill the suspect to save himself. The event nearly kills him and he is obviously scarred by it. This experience opens up Frank’s ability to ‘see dead people’.

It is dealt with far differently than what we normally come to expect from ‘beyond the grave’ assisted TV shows. He doesn’t see flashes of the victims in their moment of death - Millenium or Profiler; there’s no helpful ghosty who he becomes pals with - Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased); Frank has no psychic ability to speak of - Medium; and there’s no aliens, demons, or monsters – The X Files, Buffy, Angel (and so many others).

The ghosts in Haunted appear to be poltergeists as well as the general see-through variety. There’s lots of ‘moving’ items, voices and noises. In the second ep tonight the bloody hands banging on glass doors and windows was unnerving.

It’s tense. I applaud any show that can make me jump several times an hour; with two eps every week, that’s a lot of jumping! This is the sort of intensity I was hoping Lost was going to be able to sustain, but hasn’t really managed to find.

I’ll be tuning in next week to see what else is install for Frank. If you are afraid to watch when it’s on so late, set a tape and watch during the day!


My other favourite new show is the most bizarre medical drama I’ve seen. Its title character is possibly one of the most un-likable men on TV. I would say in most other shows he’d be the doctor that is called in when there’s no other choice because everyone hates being around him.

Placing House as the central character makes the whole show take on a unique attitude. The writing is very snappy and the wit is sharp. The characters were three dimensional from the pilot episode so they can already draw on emotion and conflict.

The medical side of the show is slick and the actors deftly deal with the verbal vomit that comes with this sort of show. The visuals of drugs working and ailments are in the style of CSI, and a little gross at times. I can’t stand watching anyone have a Lumbar Puncture, even if it’s simulated. It just makes me squirm at the pain.

I think it’s the unique addition of comedy that makes this program stand out against the others. Laughing is part of life, and I think that that is what most medical dramas lack. They focus on the intense drama so much that it becomes routine. I need a variety of emotion to give me reason to allow a show to take me to those extremes. They’ve taken a leaf out of Buffy’s book by allowing the characters room for humour. If I can laugh with a character I’m more willing to cry with them.

House is abrasive, honest and rather unconventional. It doesn’t appear to be afraid of throwing issues around nor making the difficulties of their roles trivial. I don’t envy the pressure that lies with anyone in the medical field, and House is a good reinforcement of that.

I Canna Give 'Er Any Mooore Cap'n!

With the passing of Star Trek legend James Doohan, I reminisce about a time some years ago:

The family (when there were four of us) were sitting down in front of the box and we watched the classic tear-jerker 'Ghost'. It's all rather serious and the climax of the movie approaches. The bright white light appears above Patrick Swayze and as he starts to go, my brother (then 10ish) states loudly, "Beam me up, Scotty!"

Thus was the emotion of the film disrupted by a simple, yet highly amusing, observation.

Thursday, July 21

Conspiracy Theory

Our dour Prime Minister is in London at the moment.

The media is currently buzzing with details of the latest 'incidents' in the London Underground.

I just recalled that Mr PM was in Washington on September 11, 2001.


I think not!


You can call me an ink-stained book-lover all you want, but I think tonight's airing of Harry Potter Magic At Midnight was rather good.

Movies have huge premiere events around the world, and no one bats an eyelid. Have an internationally broadcast event for the launch of a children's book and people look at you like you have some sort of ailment.

Sure the host was a knob, and spent too much time rambling about nothing in particular, but the real reason to watch was to see what the Adelaide girl who one the big competition got to do.

She got to interview J.K. Rowling, in what is possibly the most relaxed and open interview I've seen her do (Rowling, not the girl...). It may simply be the fact that she was more comfortable speaking with a 10 year old, than with the reporters she would normally face. I've said before that her interviews on the Harry Potter DVDs are a total waste of time and effort. She seems so uncomfortable with it all and doesn't really explain anything. I'm not looking for spoilers, just some deeper explanations and thoughts into the building of such an epic story.

It's disappointing that Ten didn't air this sooner. I'm sure the ratings would have been more impressive and perhaps relevant within 48 hours of the book's release than 5 days later.

The highlight for me was Rowling reading an excerpt from chapter 6 of Half-Blood Prince. I wasn't excited about the fact that it was her reading the passage, but simply because in prime-time on a Thursday night Australia was watching a woman sitting in a chair reading aloud from a book.

Perhaps I Was Wr... Wro... Nope Can't Do It

Scanning my TV guide for some indication of the Cirque Du Soleil coordinated Opening Ceremony, Reflections in Blue, and it's giving me nothing.

So, simply based upon speculation, I think Nine are going to air the event on Saturday at 2pm. Every other day next week has the same twice a day schedule, so my immense powers of deduction lead me to believe Saturday at 2 will be the time to switch on.

I'm off to set my phone to remind me.

Wednesday, July 20

Facts & Figures

Wonka is rolling in golden tickets. $55mil of them in fact.

Pirates of the Caribbean sequel has a name. Not the first sequel, we already know that it’s called ‘Dead Man’s Chest’. I’m talking about the second sequel! World’s End.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was tested in Chicago and some peeps wrote their thoughts. Mostly positive, but it sounds like Steven Kloves has used his Hulk hands to type with and managed to botch the plot again.

Add another 2.7 million extra copies of Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince to your shopping list. Some book 6 sales facts.

It's a book that made more in it’s first weekend than the combined total of the two top grossing films released the same weekend. Woohoo for books!

I still haven’t started it and will do my best not to read any spoilers!

Critics response to the new book: “Many found it Rowling's deepest, most accomplished work, with a tragic conclusion that left even reviewers in tears.”

But I’ll be betting that the Pope wasn’t one of the millions who pre-ordered a copy.

Scary Hindsight

This post contains very offensive comic book covers and panels from yesteryear.

Some are very funny.

Others are just plain offensive now.

Tuesday, July 19

Which Johnny Depp Are You?

You Are Edward From "Edward Scissorhands."

You are very shy and often misunderstood. Innocent, sweet, and artistic, you like to pass your days by daydreaming and expressing yourself through the arts. You are a truly unique individual. Unfortunately, you are quite lonely, and few people truly understand you.

Take The Johnny Depp Quiz!

I find this rather interesting. And amusing.

Thanks to Violet.

Cannon Fodder

Some new shows coming to US TV with some familiar faces. I've listed a few that sound interesting, and a couple that are purely there because there are people we know in them.

I've also posted the media blurb about each show. I'm lazy, I admit that.

He looks a bit constipated reallyBones
Forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel, “Boogeyman”), who works at the Jeffersonian Institution and writes novels as a sideline, has an uncanny ability to read clues left behind in a victim’s bones. Consequently, law enforcement calls her in to assist with murder investigations when the remains are so badly decomposed, burned or destroyed that the standard identification methods are useless. Brennan often finds herself teamed with Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz, “Angel”) [What a ridiculous name!], a former Army sniper who mistrusts science and scientists when it comes to solving crimes. Brennan and Booth clash both professionally and personally, but so far the chemistry between them has only played out in a fictionalized account in Brennan’s latest mystery novel.

In the middle of the ocean, a cargo freighter makes a chilling discovery: an extraterrestrial craft has landed on earth. Enter Molly Anne Caffrey (Carla Gugino), recruited to await the planet's first contact, along with a carefully assembled team made up of a brilliant physicist with strong religious beliefs, a language and communications expert and a highly trained covert operative. Together they implement the long-gestating Operation: Threshold, charged with finding out the purpose of the landing and the fate of the ship's crew, and preparing for the worst-case scenario of an alien invasion.

Surface – Formerly known as Fathom.
Ever wonder what life would be like if a new form of sea life began to appear in locales all over the Earth? Naval officers in the South Antarctic Sea, a family in San Diego, the Oceanographic Institute in Monterey, and fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico are about to find out. The organisms are beautiful, but are these innocent creatures more than what they seem? Embark on this unfathomable journey to discover what might be lurking just below the surface. Cast: Lake Bell, Jay Ferguson, Rade Sherbedgia, Carter Jenkins, Leighton Meester.

Gilmore Girls' breakout star Jared Padalecki and Smallville's Jensen Ackles are Sam and Dean Winchester; two young brothers bound by tragedy and blood to a dangerous, "other-worldly" mission. Crisscrossing the country in their '69 Chevy Impala, they carry on their missing father's quest to seek out and silence the supernatural forces responsible for their mother's murder twenty years ago.

How I Met Your Mother - Alyson Hannigan’s new sitcom.
Marshall has just dropped a bombshell on best friend Ted. He's going to propose to his long-time girlfriend. Now don't get Ted wrong: he's thrilled with the news. But it makes him realize that he had better get a move on if he hopes to find the kind of true love that Marshall and all his other friends have. Rest assured, and flash-forward to a happy ending for Ted as he recounts, in flashback, to his young children (and us) the story of how he finally met his one true love, the story of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER. And with the eccentric company that Ted kept as a young man on the hunt, it's amazing that he met any girls at all.

Ghost Whisperer
Jennifer Love Hewitt returns to series television in a riveting look at the link between the living and the dead, between life and death. Inspired by the cases of famed psychic James Van Praagh [Eeek! Scary psychic guy.], it focuses on a young newly-wed endowed with the unique ability to communicate with spirits, who has spent her entire life coping with this extraordinary gift, but who also yearns to lead an ordinary life--if only the dead would stop talking. And what they are saying leads her to some unusual psychic investigations.

To me this sounds like an attempt to cash in on Medium’s well deserved success. We’ll see whether it can bare the same scrutiny.

If you’re a fan of Lindsay from Angel, then catch him in his new Jerry Bruckheimer drama Close to Home.

Show’s we’ve not seen but have been cancelled already:

The Inside - out already
Tim Minear was responsible for most of the best moments of seasons 3 and 4 of Angel, he took on Firefly then, when it got chopped, took up Executive Producer on Wonderfalls. So when the net started to rumble with news of a new Minear show TV looked to have another interesting show on its way. Again, airing on Fox is a bad omen for any show.

The Inside follows Rebecca Locke (Rachel Nichols), a young special agent who joins the FBI’s Violent Crimes Unit (VCU) in Los Angeles. We learn that a very dark chapter was written into Rebecca’s life long before she began training with the FBI.

Another Whedon alumae's ill-fated show:

Point Pleasant
A show by Marti Noxon (former Buffy show-runner, the one who made season six so dark...), Point Pleasant looked to be the new Buffy, capturing that unique mix of drama, comedy and the supernatural. Sadly, it was on the Fox network, and like so many before it (Firefly and The Inside for example), the plug was pulled.

And returning to our screens next year, probably, is:

Battlestar Galactica
Season two. 20 episodes continuing the fight for survival.
As often happens with fantasy series, Galactica's complex mythology can pose a barrier to newcomers. If you have trouble breaking through, let go of the story and focus on the characters. You'll understand them, their conflicts and their desires, because they're recognizable humans in all their glorious complexity.
And that's what makes Galactica a great TV series.

Is Lost, lost?

Sunday, July 17

I Crumbled

Couldn't help it.

I was planning on holding out.

I was going to wait till I finished book five.

I wasn't even going to look for it.

Then I saw it.


And it was mine.

Unlike some, I will wait till I'm finished book five to start Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Wednesday, July 13

Totally Ignored... Again

I received this email today from the Cirque Du Soleil website:
This Saturday, we will be presenting Reflections in Blue live under the stars in Montreal! Reflections in Blue is a once-in-a-lifetime presentation created to inaugurate the MONTREAL 2005 - XI FINA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS.

I thought you might like to know that this special event is going to be televised live... to over 140 countries worldwide! So be sure to tune in on Saturday, July 16 (please check your local listings for the precise time in your area).

To help you find the TV station that will be showing the opening ceremonies in your area, we have created a special page listing the official broadcasters from around the world.

And don't forget to come back and visit Cirque Club next week: we'll have complete coverage of the event!

So, I get all excited. Go to the link broadcasters, find out Nine have the Australian broadcast for it. Skip over to the Nine site and what do I find?

Absolutely nothing.

Nine are usually the champions of swimming; we have people competing in it, so I don't understand why they aren't showing any of it that I can find. Not that I'm likely to be glued to my TV for the whole competition, but I'm surprised that it's not even a blip on the radar.

Tuesday, July 12

There's No Cure For Stupidity

You can lay down the most strict instructions and all will be foiled by someone who can't read a calendar.

A bookshop in British Columbia got the date wrong and sold a 'small' number of copies of Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince.


Guess they've been taken off J.K.'s Christmas card list.

Thursday, July 7


While the master is away the children will play?

It's time for another bout of 'The Blourne Identity'.

If you already know where I am cause I've told you, then don't give the game away!

Hint: I've travelled to see Canine Dancing.

Tuesday, July 5

The Immaculate Conception

I've been blamed for the spawning of another blog.

His Divine Shadow has just been birthed, so let's help it into the world.

Sunday, July 3

The World At War

No one can say that Steven Spielberg doesn't know how to scare us: Jaws, Jurassic Park, and E.T.'s feet. Nor can one say he can't produce thrilling action: the Indiana Jones series and Minority Report. He can also reach into the human soul to find thoughts inspiring and equally horrifying: Schindler's List, The Colour Purple, and Saving Private Ryan.

The War of the Worlds is a story that takes all of these and rolls them into a film that is potentially a monster unto itself. H.G. Wells' tale has been spun into many forms and taken from even more. Whether from Orson Wells' radio play, to the 1978 musical recording (which is still eerie to listen to), to the 1953 film of the same name, Wells' text appears to have spawned the last century of Alien invasion movies. Written 50 years before the best known 'alien' event, it may have even spurred the eager believers into buying into the cover-up. It certainly was heavily drawn on by the creators of Independence Day.

I went to War of the Worlds with no more knowledge of the story than the musical recording reveals, and fully aware of the little relevance that would bare to this film.

It is still the trend to uproot stories and set them in America. I understand that American studios obviously see this as the only way they can sell a film to their native audience. We are very thankful, though, that Harry Potter is still English and that Middle Earth wasn't transferred to the American Civil War. I wasn't surprised that Spielberg brought the War to his home turf, but I think we've seen enough apocalyptic destruction throughout the USA.

I still think that movie trailers are a double-edged sword. The studios want to attract as much attention with them as possible. So, they'll try and use the money shots from the film to have the most impact. The problem with this is it takes the impact out of the sequence within the film's context. The shot of the bridge exploding and the highway and vehicles careening towards the houses and total destruction are hugely powerful within the film, but when they occurred I wasn't as impressed as I felt I should have been.

This is a huge CG film in a very small way. Spielberg constantly mentioned the fact that he wanted to stick with the characters rather than zoom out to show all of the action. This really enhances the tension for the first two thirds. The absolute horror of the slaughter when the tripods first emerge from the ground will stay with me for a long time. The popping noise, which may seem comical, is unpleasant when added to the visuals.

As an ardent non-fan of Tom Cruise I found his portrayal of the deadbeat Dad rather convincing. There weren't too many Bruce Willis inspired heroic moments that jarred me out of the reality of the moment. Though, I did feel that Cruise's character was a little too lucky. Far too many 'close calls'. No one is that lucky.

Dakota Fanning screams a lot. For a child who is famous for her mature performances of beyond-their-years children, it is jarring for a while to see her being such a child! Justin Chatwin is sufficient as the rebellious teenager, but is too easily forgotten.

The alien machines are stunning. Real enough to have an effect and spectacular enough to drum up the fear needed to make millions of people run for their inconsequential lives. The thunderous call of the Tripods still echoes in my chest every time I think about it.

The absolute chaos that encompasses the middle third of the film is Spielberg in his element. Crowds are scary. I'm not a fan of any crowd really, and terrified people are the worst. When the characters arrive at the ferry, the mayhem is nigh-on overwhelming. An open space that is totally claustrophobic. Then, of course, the trumpeting is heard and we have some Titanic inspired sequences.

Once they get into the basement with Tim Robbins, Spielberg shifts gears into a different claustrophobic nightmare. Robbins' unhinged character is a good threat in theory, but isn't effective in really upping the stakes for Cruise and co.. In what is amazing choreography of actor blocking, camera moves and CGI integration the sequences where the little green men enter the basement, and when the Tripod probe searches the basement are amazing to begin with, but the probe sequence loses all of it's momentum when the choreography becomes too smart for it's own good. Only with a heavy scent of MacGyver do the measly humans escape the probe.

This is when the film gets messy. Dakota is captured and so Cruise must let himself be taken too. He happens to grab some handy artillery on the way. This is when Bruce Willis takes over the roll for a moment when Cruise sacrifices himself to get blood sucked, and instead manages to blow the Tripod up.

The demise of invaders is a tough sell. It's hard to imagine that they spent thousands, if not millions of years investing in this total annihilation, and forgot this major detail. I think the downfall of the aliens felt like the epilogue rather than the climactic finish, and, indeed, if Cruise's destruction and escape from the blood-drainer was the climax it didn't have the impact it deserved.

The ending left me totally unsatisfied. Not in the least am I saying that I wanted satisfaction from the slaughter of 2 billion people, but for the character's that I'd spent the last two hours enduring a nightmarish hell I wanted some resolution. Sadly, the events are easily foreseeable from the moment the family splits. It feels so cheesy that I walked out of the cinema conflicted as to whether I liked or totally hated the film.

I've come down on the side of liking it. It's an emotional and wild experience that ends in a different place than where it began.

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