Friday, 31 January 2014

"Uncle" BBC3 TV comedy Series 1 Series 2

I'm going to go out on a limb here, but "Uncle" is the best UK comedy (I'll  specify 'family based', so I don't count the sublime "The IT Crowd") I've seen since "Beautiful People".
Lovable misfits, Andy (comedian/musician Nick Helm) and his 12 year old nephew, Errol (Elliot Speller-Gillott) have knockout chemistry together. You can see similarities with "Moone Boy" and to a lesser extent the Jack Black film "School of Rock".
Oliver Refson wrote and directed the first 3 episodes (and co-wrote the rest). The pilot started off at Channel 4, the producer then going over to BBC. Their loss.
Episode 3 featured a nifty 80's homage "I don't like you/ I like like you" (co-written by Nick Helms). I'm sure it has loads of hits on YouTube.
Episode 4 taught us useful tips: Jeremy Kyle and teenage knowledge, stress relief (screaming into your elbow) and dealing with panic attacks (the "diarrhoea"song). This show is full of believable and likeable characters (like the delightful "The Mimic" from last year).
Episode 5 resembled a French farce (lots of dashing out of doors and windows), Andy trying to juggle 3 girlfriends, as well as his needy, but sweet sister and Errol's school camp traumas. Best lines: "The Beatles...the Labrador puppies of pop music", Casper the Emo Ghost, balls dropping and "Geronimo!"
Episode 6 - a good way to go out. No soppy resolution, a realistic outcome. Only in "Uncle" could you find a link between killing zombies and farting daintily. Andy goes gangsta with "I'm f**king famous, bitch" and Errol goes Noel Coward/Flanders&Swann with his Germs/Salmonella Song.
Catch this little gem, only 6 episodes.
P.S. Nice to see the "Clockwork Orange" /kinky coffee table in the record producer's office.

Series 2 is just as good. Errol is one year older, and wiser. His relationship with Andy is even more symbiotic. This little gem has even made it down to Australia on SBS2.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

"The Following" Season 2, Episode 2, Fox TV, review

Two episodes down and this show is getting mighty repetitive. The villains once again being one step ahead of Ryan again. The twin psychos (Sam Underwood resembling a young Val Kilmer crossed with Tom Cruise circa "Interview With A Vampire") creating Family tableaux (very "Hannibal" psycho-of-the-week from last year). Underwood was probably the best thing in the final season of "Dexter". How come so many film villains have to be British?
I did smile with the grumpy French assassin cooped up in the hotel room.
I cannot buy the caravan hooker mom/black teen/randy reverend setup. Joe (James Purefoy) complaining about his "dystopian squalor" in front of his hosts then going completely OTT with his orgasmic stabbing scene. "Mom won't like this..." whimpers the daughter.
This is overwrought pap. Having just watched another stunning episode of "True Detective", you sort of get spoilt by HBO quality.
I'm over this stuff. I don't even think elfen Emma (Valorie Curry) can save this series.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

The cheapest way to get from Sydney Airport to the CBD

If you are arriving at Domestic Terminal 2 or 3, take the 400 bus (outside Terminal 3) to Mascot Station (the next but cheaper underground station) $2.30 Adult fare. It's the first stop after the bus turns right off Bourke Street. You can buy your ticket from the driver but have the correct money. Or PrePay, buy tickets at shops displaying PrePay signs.
The 400 bus stops at International Terminal (T1) before T3.
At Mascot Station the fare is $3.80 (as of February 2014) to St James (Hyde Park) or Circular Quay (Sydney Harbour).
If you take the train from Domestic underground station (under the terminal) it will cost $16.40 Adult one way.
International Terminal (Airport Link) costs $17.20 for same destination (but if you are jetlagged or you are travelling with 2+ people), I'd taxi it or take that train from International underground station (if travelling solo).
In summary: $15.90 train or $6.10 bus+train.
The same 400 bus continues onto Bondi Junction from Terminal 3. Bargain.

"Banshee" Season 2, Episode 3, Cinemax, review

The second season is really getting interesting. A juicy murder mystery/love story involving the Amish and Native American communities, the appearance of the real Lucas Hood's son, two excellent fight scenes (one with a huge Indian dude who has the mellifluous tones of James Earl Jones; the other involving Kai doing some fine work with a baseball bat to the balls) and a steamy love scene in the world's widest trailer.
This season could surpass the first.

Friday, 24 January 2014

"Dracula" Episode 10, finale, NBC TV series, 2013, spoilers

"Dracula" went out with a bang, literally. Bye bye to wireless electricity.
 Lots to like in the final episode (with possibly no Season 2 due to low ratings). The creator, Cole Haddon, was the writer for this finale. Although Harker and Van Helsing (love his nifty crucifixes) seem to be geared up for a vampire hunt in the last scene (shades of  the final scene of 1979 version of "Salem's Lot".
Van Helsing goes postal - mayhem in his lab, knifing good one Renfield (I'll miss that big dude) and a creepy revenge scene (kids putting the bite on daddy in the cellar). As Nigel Powers told Austin, "Never trust the Dutch, son."
The Italian seer was underused (loved his cool specs). The Jane/Grayson fist fight could have been much longer (a la "Banshee" fight scenes).
It's been a fun (and sumptuous to look at) ride - Victorian melodrama, bodice-ripping, dismemberment, blood lust, steampunk, a spot of lesbianism, secret societies, revenge and eternal love.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Annoying stuff my daughter does

She's 20, lives with us and is, by and large, a good kid.
BUT... she annoys me at times.
Here is my trivial rant, but it gets it off my chest, rather than nag at her all the time.

1. How does she succeed to get toothpaste drips UNDER the sink?

2. Powerboards always have stuff charging whether they are being used or not.

3. Cracks her knuckles.
4. Uses toilet paper by the metre.
5. Her 5-2 diet.
6. Newly ironed clothes that accumulate on the bed over time.

HANG ON.....  okay, she has piercings, and dyes her hair weird colours but... she works hard at Uni,
she doesn't smoke, take drugs, have tattoos or drink to excess.

What am I bitching about?

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

"The Musketeers" Episode 1 BBC review

Fine production values, atmospheric wintry locales, an appealing cast and just the right balance of drama with tongue-in-cheek. I think "Da Vinci's Demons" covers a lot of similar ground - swashbuckling, buxom wenches, well toned abs, spies, carousing in the tavern, evil church figures, pretty European scenery. All actors with English accents.
Yes, it's a 'romp' and will rate well.....but
... if you want to see the best version, seek out Richard Lester's "The Three Musketeers"(1973) and "The Four Musketeers" (released a year later but filmed together).
Great cast of British actors: Frank Finlay, Oliver Reed, Christopher Lee, Spike Milligan, Roy Kinnear. Charlton Heston having fun as Richelieu. Faye Dunaway as a kickass Milady. Raquel Welch in her best role as the klutzy Constance. All the cast have English accents (some Working Class, to denote the French class system), none with the "Allo, Allo" accent. This accent idea was quite groundbreaking for 1970's cinema.
Richard Lester combines action, steam punk (check out Richelieu's gadgets) and cheeky humour.
The definitive retelling of an old favourite.

Best line in the BBC version:
"Want to go to Heaven for 50 sous?"
"Are you a religious nutcase?"
"It was a metaphor."

Happy First Birthday to my crappy blog

Started January 16, 2013. 

As a retired old fart, it keeps me busy, lets me ramble on about trivia/pop culture and doesn't hurt anyone. 
Comments gratefully accepted.

Monday, 20 January 2014

"The Following" Season 2, Episode 1, "Resurrection" Should I stick with it?

A great opening episode, well crafted and intriguing new characters. But I remember I was suckered into this series after an impressive opening to Season 1. Disappointment soon set in.
The subway massacre was nasty stuff. The new psycho/necrophiliac with male model looks (Sam Underwood) could be an asset. As long as he (and his twin) don't overdo the "Weekend at Bernie's" routine. "Huggy Hug" ... karate chop.... stand in the corner plus a grumpy French chick. Funniest scene in the series so far. Well done Kevin Williamson.
Keith Carradine (so good in "Dexter", before that show went off the rails too) brings some class to the show. Valorie Curry's punky new look (resembling my daughter) was a disappointment. I liked her elfen, smiling psycho look from Season 1.
I'll give it another go next week (but I said that last year....up until a dud Episode 15).

Sunday, 19 January 2014

"Banshee" Season 2, Episode 2, Cinemax, A spot of Bible-bashing

This show has always focused on the visceral. This episode ticked the boxes. Soft core porn, nymphets, female prison shenanigans, exploding cattle trucks (and the resulting buckets of cow parts in the jacuzzi), lots of fist fights (this is almost a running joke now - witness the sheriff's assault on the Indian casino), loads of emotional closeups and revenge on no-goodnik ex-husbands.
The Bible-bashing (yes, literally) was the coup de grace.
Kai's Clark Kent offsider turning on the jacuzzi blowers was a nice touch. Bloody good. (Ignore that).
Sheriff Hood interacting with Proctor is always the highlight of the show, though. Not the gratuitous sex and violence.
Much better episode than last week.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

"The Spoils of Babylon" the best bits, US TV miniseries spoof, IFC

  • All of Will Ferrell's introductions (honourable mention to Doris, the waitress in the background)
  • Episode 1's Devon reading Jonas's compass inscription ("....Your Fat")
  • Episode 2 "Welcome Home Darin" banner. 
  • The breakfast scene with nutbag Cynthia (Kristen Wiig) and Lady Ann York (Carey Mulligan).
  • Post coital bedroom scene (Devon lying covered with mannequin body parts).
  • Episode 3 Tobey Maguire's beat poet scenes/drug montage, loved the Dylan wig.
  • Episode 3 Tim Robbin's death scene.
  • Episode 6's beach love scene, booming waves and strange body part silhouettes.
As each episode is under 30 minutes, the jokes and tom foolery don't wear out their welcome.

Makes you want to re-explore those overblown but addictive mini series of the mid 70's. "Rich Man, Poor Man" was my guilty pleasure.

For a sendup of 80's horror schlock, seek out UK Channel 4's "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace" (2004). There are several similarities: a wanker author to introduce the series, use of crap models, histrionics from the entire cast and dodgy editing.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Melbourne Midsumma Festival 2014 January 12

My wife and I are in our late 50's. Each year we make a trip to the CBD for the opening day of the Midsumma Festival (Celebrating Queer Culture). It's free and only 5 mins walk across the Yarra from Fed Square (in the Alexandra Gardens). This was a huge improvement on the dusty Birrarung Marr where the carnival was held in 2013.
Great atmosphere, friendly people and very inclusive. Homophobes could learn a lot by visiting and observing. Nearly 100 000 people visited the carnival on the day.
We returned for the T Dance on the Main Stage until 10 p.m. Lots of fun. Must bring our dog for the dog show next year.
A big thanks Festival organisers and the Melbourne City Council.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

"Banshee" Season 2, Episode 1, Cinemax, ...Same, Same

I must admit being underwhelmed by the season premiere, after such a kickass finale last year. Too much talk, not enough overwrought silliness. There was the usual feverish bonking and an inspired highway heist mid episode. Looking forward to more Procter action next week. Not sure about this new dude, Agent Racine, either.

Monday, 6 January 2014

"Los Angeles" A novel by Peter Moore Smith, 2005, review

Sometimes it good to just grab a book off the library shelf and take a punt. This was worth it. A strange little book about a reclusive albino, Angel, son of a powerful movie producer, who meets then loses "Angela", a stripper who lives next door.  Angel relies on mind altering mediation, bourbon and TV dinners. He is obsessed by physics (especially the nature of light and the concept of alternative worlds). He has "Blade Runner" constantly playing in his rathole West Hollywood apartment. It's a love story of sorts, a quest (Angel searches for his lover all the way to Rio). It's a portrait of the movie capital as well as a LA noir in some respects. The characters are well drawn, the back stories of Angel's Hollywood mogul family fascinating, the portrayal of mental instability is vivid and unflinching.
As I was reading this weird but engrossing tale, I wondered whether the author was going to 'drop the ball' in the later chapters. He doesn't. The resolution was slightly hokey but satisfying.
If you like a book that combines LA noir, mental instability and quantum physics - this one is for you.

340 pages, published by Hutchinson, 2005

Trivia: The author is Julianne Moore's brother.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

The evil twins gimmick - 60's US TV sitcoms

It's a tried and true storytelling gimmick - the twin sister/brother/cousin, usually evil or moneyed. Think the old switcheroo with "The Prince and the Pauper" or "The Prisoner of Zenda".
US 60's sitcoms constantly used this ruse to stretch their shelflife/ratings. Here's my list, I'm sure you can think of others:

  • "The Patty Duke Show" (inspired by Disney's "The Parent Trap" 1961)
  • "The Flintstones" (Fred and Barney had doubles at different stages)
  • "The Addams Family" Morticia had the nutbag relative, Ophelia, she had daisies growing in her hair, from memory, if she tried to pull one out, her knee bent upwards
  • "The Munsters" with Herman's conniving brother, Charlie
  • "The Beverly Hillbillies" Max Baer Jr (Jethro) frocked up as twin sis Jethrine. Inspired! Looking like Jack Lemon in "Some Like It Hot"
  • "Bewitched" Samantha's sister, black-haired Sabrina trying to seduce the hapless Darrin
  • "I Dream of Jeannie" - those dark wigs come in handy - Jeannie II, the wicked sister.
  • "Gilligan's Island" had Gilligan and Ginger with doppelgangers. There were only 7 castaways on the island so you had to spicy it up somehow.