Tuesday, 21 May 2013
Before we get into the finer points of dissecting this episode of Doctor Who, it's worth establishing that the episode exists in two states in my mind. In one part, it exists as a single, fun episode of television with all the accompanying thrill and peril of your average Doctor Who episode. In the other, it exists as both the culmination and justification of a troubled, often frustrating run of episodes. It's important to point out this dichotomy because it cuts to the heart of why this episode was simultaneously one of the best of the recent half-season, and also why it was also deeply problematic and exacerbated a lot of the problems that have irked me about the show this year.
Thursday, 16 May 2013
Continuing our run of doing semi-topical episodes, this week Joe and I talk about the recently finished fourth season of NBC's Community. It was a turbulent year for the show, a favourite of mine and most of the Internet, it seems, which started with the firing of creator Dan Harmon, then saw the show being delayed from its October start date to the Spring, then the departure of Chevy Chase, yet it still managed to earn a fifth season renewal. We talk about all of these issues, how we felt they impacted the final product, and what hopes we have, if any, for the next season.
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One aspect of Doctor Who that I haven't really touched upon this year is the visual style. This is partly because there is a general tendency to view television as less visual than film since it's a writer-driven medium rather than director-driven one. This is more than a little wrong-headed, obviously, because they are so similar, but the quicker production schedules and generally lower budgets of television means that it takes something special - a Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones, for example - to really stand out as something that needs to be discussed in terms of its direction. It's also in part due to the fact that, as I've mentioned in the past, the show maintains such a generally high, professional sheen over everything that it's rare to see something that really stands out as exceptional about the way the show is put together. Generally, it's the performances and the writing that draw the attention, not the direction.
Friday, 10 May 2013
Marvel are in a pretty strong, if unusual position these days. The release of The Avengers was the culmination of years of careful, costly work bringing some of the company's best known characters to the big screen in separate films, then bringing them all together for one epic adventure. It was an unprecedented endeavour, and one which could have fallen apart spectacularly if too many of the films failed, but it wound up delivering a film that was a critical and commercial triumph that took even the most ardent Marvel fans by surprise. The only problem now is that they have to follow The Avengers with more standalone movies, and it's a tough transition to go from something so grandiose to something relatively small, because any success will pale by comparison: even Wish You Were Here looks puny compared to Dark Side of the Moon.
Wednesday, 8 May 2013
For fear of messing with the established SRS formula ever so slightly, Joe and I have decided to expand a brief but popular feature from an earlier episode and turn it into its own strand within the main podcast. To that end, please enjoy the first episode of Michael BayWatch, in which we critique the work of tits and fireball auteur Michael Bay in the form of a Crimewatch-style public service announcement.
In this episode, I take a long hard look at Bay's latest film, Pain & Gain, followed by a long hard look at myself for agreeing to go and watch Pain & Gain. It's a deliberately short, sharp shock to the system, and depending on the response we'll do more of these as and when a film bearing Mr. Bay's name threatens our screens.
Be safe, and don't have nightmares.
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Monday, 6 May 2013
After last week's mostly good, but also horribly dreadful episode, it was nice to see Doctor Who right itself a bit this week, even if that meant offering up a story which, whilst fun, was not terribly memorable. It did, however, see a brief return of a plot structure that the show has played with in the past: Doctor Who without The Doctor. In fact, by my reckoning, this is the first use of this particular trope since "Turn Left" way back in 2008, and even though the episode moved away from it by the midway point, it was still interesting to see how Moffat's Doctor Who functioned without the presence of Moffat's Doctor. Turns out that it works surprisingly well, which is testament to what a well-oiled, if workmanlike machine it has become.
Sunday, 5 May 2013
Danny Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is a trainer at the Sun Gym in Miami, Florida. He's a smart guy who believes that hard work will pay off if you believe in what you are working towards, be it killer deltoids or a nice house with a big lawn. But Lugo's been knocked back a few times in life, not least of all because of his white collar criminal past, in which he used his intelligence to defraud people of a lot of money. Given a second chance by the gym's owner (Rob Corddry), Lugo starts looking for his shot at the big time.
Monday, 29 April 2013
On this week's episode, Joe and I take inspiration from Derby's iD Fest, a film festival which each year chooses a theme and curates its schedule based on whatever that overarching theme is. This year's festival is held from the 9th to the 12th of May at the Derby QUAD, and the theme is Family.
After discussing some of the great films being shown at iD Fest, we start to discuss films about dysfunctional families (of which there are many), films about more-or-less functional families (of which there are few) and detail how Andy Samberg screaming in a wood has its basis in Greek literature and Freud. We wrap the episode up with a list of our favourite on-screen families, which nicely encapsulates the trends we discuss in the episode; cannibalism, incest and murder.
As always, you can stream the podcast using the link below, or preferably (from our point of view) you can subscribe using iTunes. If you choose the later, please rate it and leave a review because it helps us to get more listeners, and also gives us something to obsess over. Speaking of which, you can also Like us on Facebook, assuming that you do.
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Time travel can, in the right hands, be an immensely powerful storytelling device, one which can serve any number of styles and genres. If you want to see how it can be used effectively for comedy, thrills or queasy dread, you only need to watch Back to the Future, Twelve Monkeys or Primer. Alternatively, you could just watch Doctor Who, a series which, owing to the nature of its protagonist, has had ample opportunity to employ time travel to those ends and more besides. Some of the best, most innovative episodes in recent years have used time travel to great emotional effect, particularly in episodes like "The Girl in the Fireplace" which emphasised the fatalism at the heart of a good time travel story. It's an intriguing, haunting conceit to give someone the ability to jump around in time at will, then reveal that ultimately there are some things that can't be changed.
Sunday, 28 April 2013
"Heartthrob" Luke (Ryan Gosling) is a stunt motorcyclist working as part of a travelling carnival. He rides into town, performs for the locals, then leaves. Given his nickname and outlaw allure, it's hardly surprising that he leaves behind a string of women as well, and upon returning to Schenectady, New York, he discovers that Romina (Eva Mendes), a woman he had a brief encounter with a year earlier, is the mother to his child. Determined to do right by his son, because he's afraid that growing up without a father would turn him into a drifter like him, Luke sticks around when the carnival leaves town.