Breaking Bad – season 4 now on Netflix

I’ve been enthusing for a while about Breaking Bad, the show in which timid Hal from Malcolm in the Middle turns into Scarface over the course of five seasons. Although season 3 was patchy – and the “fly” episode one of the dullest things I’ve ever witnessed – its last two episodes were gasp-out-loud-I-can’t-believe-I’m-seeing-this good. They were Dexter levels of good.  Continue reading

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Revenge

I’ve become hooked on the most ludicrously melodramatic television series since 90210 ended its season run. Now on about episode 11 here, I’ve been slow to warm to ABC’s retribution drama. It is, essentially, Dynasty without the shoulder pads and 90210 without the humour. Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) is a wealthy socialite with a secret: she’s actually Amanda Clarke. Her father died in prison, framed for a crime he did not commit. Monte Cristo-style, she swears revenge on all who brought shame on her family, and the thrill is in watching her devious plans unfold.  Continue reading

Outstanding episodes in mediocre TV shows: 1 – Stargate SG1

I’ve spent my whole evening re-uploading my game mods here following the loss of hosting from two major sites. I therefore didn’t have much time to prepare tonight’s post, which is a shame because I had a cracking idea.

It’s happened quite a few times where I’ve been channel surfing and encountered a TV show of which I’ve already seen a few episodes and established that the programme is not usually much good – but on this occasion where I’m just too damn lazy to change the channel, the episode has been spine-tinglingly brilliant.

“A Matter of Time” from season 2 of Stargate SG1 is one such episode. When I saw it some years ago, I just remember my mind being completely blown – first by its impressive-on-a-low-budget special effects, and then by the mind-melting concept of what it would be like to experience that situation.  Continue reading

Goodbye, Wisteria Lane

And so Desperate Housewives ended, and of course, I cried. After eight seasons, the final episode aired here on Sunday – some four weeks after it was shown in the US, and eight days after Kathryn Joosten re-enacted for real her character’s demise. That was particularly poignant, knowing that Karen was really dead, and it was as beautiful an on-screen check-out as I’d ever seen.  Continue reading

The Undateables

One look at The Undateables and it would be easy to assume that it’s a lurid freakshow designed to exploit and ridicule its vulnerable protagonists. The very idea is offensive, but The Undateables is compelling viewing nonetheless. Maybe it’s because it’s sympathetic and the people it features so very likeable – such as 23 year-old comic Luke, who has Tourette’s, who would have no trouble getting a girl if he didn’t shout obscenities.  Continue reading

British Isles – A Natural History

I caught a marathon of British Isles – A Natural History while channel-hopping, and I guess I must just have been in the mood for an unfussy, really well made documentary, because I watched the entire thing in one sitting. I love that sort of thing – tectonic plates, fossils, dinosaurs, glaciers and cavemen. It takes me back to the huge science encyclopaedia I had as a kid.

British Isles – A Natural History is an eight-part series presented by Alan Titchmarsh. The BBC originally screened it in 2004, but it was picked up by Yesterday and shown, uh, yesterday. The programme spans from 3 billion years ago to the present day, showing how Britain was once on the equator during the Pangea days, and the resultant desert made the earth rich in iron, which manifests today in the exceptionally lush grass in the West Country.  Continue reading

Free movies?


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I’m umming-and-ahhing about an offer from Lovefilm. They’re offering six months for £9.99 via the xbox, which is £2 per month – less than the price of a single rental from Blockbuster. It’s a sweet deal, but I already have Netflix and I’m making good use of that. Netflix is all inclusive but doesn’t have any brand new titles. Lovefilm has a flat subscription rate but if you want to watch the newer films, you have to rent them on a pay-per-view basis.

I was chatting about this with a friend, and they made the comment that the deal was unfair: they’d been illegally downloading films so didn’t see why they should pay for what they had hitherto got for free. This irritated me, because it’s pretty much exactly the same as me saying that I used to shoplift sweets from Woolworths and now I buy sweets, so if I have to pay more for Lindt chocolate than I do for Snickers, that’s unfair because I used to get either for free.

Where do your shows and movies come from? Yes, via your TV set, or via your PC or xbox. Yes, via the internet, but how did they get there? Someone had to make them. Someone had to invest millions upon millions to make them happen. The only way they get to fund the next episode, let alone the next series, is via licensing rights, and that means finding a channel to broadcast them.

Some TV channels recoup the hundreds of millions they spend on buying content through subscription (Sky, and in a roundabout way, the BBC) and some through direct advertising, but the latter’s purchasing power has been diminished because they don’t have as many viewers as they did. Part of that is through legitimate on-demand services like Netflix, Lovefilm and Hulu, and part of that is the eye-watering impact of illegal downloads.

When people download films and shows for free they are devaluing the content: it’s not worth as much to the networks because they can’t ask for as much to sell the broadcast rights, and it’s not worth as much to the broadcasters because fewer people are watching, which makes the channels worth less to advertisers. Less advertising means less original programming, which means less content.  Continue reading

Will Blood and Chrome be frakking awesome?

The new trailer for Battlestar Galactica‘s spin-off series Blood and Chrome is doing the rounds, and it looks impressive. “Reimagined” BSG was – particularly in the second season – probably the best television drama ever made, before it petered off in the final season and its first spin-off Caprica was a little weak. Here’s hoping Blood and Chrome will do better. The concept art above makes it look interesting, at least.

Click here for trailer