Won’t you marry Me?

In an error of judgement worthy of Boris Johnson I got Ang the Soldier Solder boxed set for Christmas.  Downton Abbey for those of us who like a bit of rough, starts off with a badly realised version of Northern Ireland during the troubles and an IRA funeral – you know they’re IRA because everyone has a mullet.

Even though it’s 1991, the UK still looks like the worst part of the 1980s: huge hair, huge shoulder pads, huge telephones. In fact, the only thing that isn’t big is the production values.

But the scariest part of all isn’t even Ang’s incomprehensible desire for Robson and Jerome – the bastards who kept Unchained Melody in the charts, long after we’d gotten over Ghost.

No, it’s a very young Cersei Lannister playing a squaddie’s wife:

The future queen of Westeros representd
The future queen of Westeros

And she hasn’t. Aged. A year.

That’s some dark, dark magic.

 

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Kapow ComicCon, Day 1: A Wil Wheaton of Nerds

For years comic book fans in the UK have looked across the sea at San Diego and New York and wondered why the land of Wells and Clarke had nothing to offer.  While the US had their huge events, premieres and panels, all we could do was wait for grainy videos and vicarious emails.

No longer!  Kapow was the first attempt at a big British comic convention and proved that it’s not the size that matters, but what you do with it.

Queuing started at 8am with many already in full costume, and didn’t stop until the day was over. The first panel we attended was a Fans vs. Pros quiz, hosted by Jonathan Ross which pitted John Romita, Jr., Mark Millar, and the immortal Dave Gibbons against Stewart Lee and a couple of fans out of the audience.  Obviously no real substance, but a lot of fun and a nice way of letting the coffee injections take effect.  The fans won, of course.

Mark Gatiss was our next victim. One of the League of Gentlemen, Professor Lazarus, one of the Mycrofts Holmes and a thoroughly nice chap, he waxed lyrical on all things horror (Halloween ruined American movies), televisual (“[Stephen] Fry. Bastard Fry”), and supernatural  (“Crystals. Fucking Crystals”). He could have done an entire weekend and I’d have been happy. Just as well, since he made us miss the Green Lantern Panel (Gatiss. Bastard Gatiss).

With a bit of time in hand to look around the stalls, picking up some nice stuff from Genki Gear and Insert Coin T-Shirts, it became increasingly difficult to navigate the Supermen, Batmen, Penguins and Steampunks so I dragged Ang away from the yaoi and started queuing again.  How many Supermen does one city need before it starts to feel like a Monty Python sketch!  Next year I’m going as Bicycle Repair man.

We got really lucky with the last panel of the day; the one every geek, nerd, and fan wanted to see, the Thunder God himself, Thor. After a lot of herding and surrendering of technology (the comic book fan equivalent of Gitmo) five hundred of us got to see twenty-five minutes of footage from Branagh’s movie (with script co-written by the Great Maker) and if the whole movie is as good as those few minutes then it’s going to be a real Easter treat.

Hemsworth is perfect as the hammer thrower, Sir Anthony Hopkins eats the scenery as the Allfather,  Tom Hiddleston gave a good turn as Loki and we even got a brief, tantalising glimpse of Stringer Heimdall. Talk about your 60 degree day.

It’s a shame the movie is in 3D, but at least JMS’s script (and a fantastic cameo that must have left him wet) is full of the humour and excitement fans of Babylon 5 know to expect.

Coming soon: Kapow 2: They Queue in Blood.

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I blame Maggie Philbin for having to learn second-order integration.

Tomorrow's World Logo

Image by Damien Ryan via Flickr

It’s safe to say that Tomorrow’s World was responsible for the careers of most of this generation’s scientists in the UK and Ireland.

The show was oftentimes ridiculed for being out of touch and it was joked that having your product featured there meant it would never be seen outside of a research lab, but that half-hour on Thursday evenings gave a love of science to myself and many others over the years and is sorely missed.

While rumors of its return turned out to be nothing more than a cynical branding exercise, the BBC has finally released some old episodes from its archives.  Unfortunately, the SDI simulation that I mistook for reality isn’t one of them.

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Doomed to repeat its mistakes

Sid Jenkins

Image via Wikipedia


Skins in its present form had its
final episode last night. True to form it was a rather stylised
presentation of an A-level results day with some smashing music and a
hard hitting performance from Larissa Wilson.
Next year’s series will feature a while new cast of rowdy teenagers with
Sid and Cassie popping in occasionally. I’m not sure how it’ll work
as, for me, it was the characters that made the show, but I’m prepared
to give it a chance.

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And I looked, and behold a pale horse

The War GamesImage via Wikipedia

I would encourage everyone to check out The War Game, a BBC fictional documentary by Peter Watkins which was never shown due to governmental pressure. Appearing to be the first of what is now a genre of “aftermath” movies from Briggs’s sublime When the Wind Blows to ABC’s The Day After Guttenberg-fest, it’s in equal measures frightening, harrowing, and an ultra-realistic depiction of what might have been.

I grew up in the 80’s of Reagan, Thatcher, and Haughey and remember the all pervasive fear of nuclear war. Survivalist books were on the best seller lists. Chernobyl gave us in Europe an idea of the widespread damage a nuclear detonation could do. Even Tomorrow’s World got in on the act with a special programme simulating a Soviet Nuclear attack being repelled by Reagan’s fantastical SDI programme (if anyone can find something on this please let me know).

Of course, since I was only nine years’ of age, I truly believed there was a nuclear attack. Thankfully Mr. Tulié put me right the next day in school.

UPDATE: Ferg pointed out Threads, an eighties documentary which is just as harrowing.

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