It’s Not Tomorrow if You Haven’t Gone to Sleep yet

Yeah, OK, so I missed my deadline: I’m typing this after midnight. But it’s still the same day I got up in, in sleep-cycle terms. Also in terms of how the TV listings mags give the days, too. Which can actually get a little bit confusing sometimes.

It stems, of course, from the days when all TV would have stopped by midnight or shortly after. Yes, kids, I know it’s hard to imagine, but TV stations used to “close down” at night. One or other of the channels used to even have a wee programme that was actually called Closedown, if I remember correctly. I think it was one of the weird religious things, where a priest or minister would come on and give a Thought for the Day kind of mini sermon.

Anyway, and still on TV, apparently the best comedy show around, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, is having that annoying recent habit, a mid-season break. We have no idea when it will be back. And… well, if you’ve watched it…

No, I’m not going to say any more about it. Just hurry up and get back, guys.

I may actually backdate this post, just so my daily posting doesn’t show a gap. After all, I’m treating it as still Thursday 16th of February, even if the clock doesn’t.

Things We Can’t See

There are certain interesting TV programmes that I’d like to see but I can’t watch for ethical reasons.

If you’ve been around here much before you’ll be familiar with my contempt for Rupert Murdoch and all his works. I’m far from alone in that attitude, of course. But this means, most notably, that I would never get Sky TV. That has only ever mildly bothered me on the odd occasion when they’re showing a film I’d like to see that isn’t available elsewhere.

But things have taken a turn for the worse lately, and it’s largely the fault of an American TV company that I generally heartily approve of: HBO.

Actually the rot probably started to set in when Sky got the rights for Mad Men Season 5, after the first four had been on BBC 2. I’ve still never got round to seeing the later seasons.

But the problem with HBO shows is that Sky has the exclusive UK right for something like five years. And that means I haven’t been able to see Westworld. Which is a shame, because everyone was talking about it a few weeks ago.

More worryingly by a long way for me, though, is that the new series of Twin Peaks, which is not being made by HBO, but something called Showtime. It’s due out in May, I believe, and guess who has the UK rights?

Showtime seem to have a streaming service, so maybe that’ll work here. I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t, though.

On the other hand, in doing some research when writing this, I discovered that Westworld is available to download via iTunes, so maybe the same will be true for Twin Peaks.

Either way, it’s going to cost. It would be a lot better if these kinds of things could go to proper channels.

More on The OA

I got to the end of The OA. Which didn’t take too long, seeing as it’s only eight episodes.

It was another one where I enjoyed the journey, but the destination was kind of annoying. Though luckily, not quite as annoying as I thought it was going to go at one point during the last episode.

One of those stories where you’re left not knowing what exactly it was trying to say. The ambiguity of the ending is not inherently bad, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind an open ending in general. But I think this falls down slightly because it doesn’t address several of the points it raises.

This (non-spoilery) review catches the mood of it all very well. I note that it describes it as “Season 1.” That may not mean there’s any plan for a season 2, though. I’d be surprised if there were, really.

They’ve also got a spoiler-filled version, which you should only go near if you’ve watched the whole thing.

Oh, Eh?

I watched the first episode of Netflix’s The OA last night. Very interesting. I’m looking forward to watching the rest, and speculating about what “OA” might stand for. “Operational Assistant”? “Overcome with Angst?” I kind of want it to have something to do with UFOs, but that would mean it had to be “Object” something.”Object Activity,” for example.

But none of that would make much sense. And I’m betting that it won’t be anything easily guessable.

One could of course google it, but that would be to walk into a pit of spoilers, and I came into this knowing exactly nothing about it, which is great.

Also watched the first episode of Person of Interest, which my son has been singing the praises of for some time. No bad, looks quite promising.

And (a bit of a TV-fest last night) a few episodes of That 70s Show, which my daughter has been singing the praises of. Quite funny, quite (but not exactly) like the real 70s. The joke may wear thin, but it should be good until then.

Classy

I just watched the last episode of Class, BBC 3’s web-only1 Doctor Who spinoff.

It is really, really good. If you haven’t seen it you should stop reading this now and go and watch. Really. I’ll still be here when you get back.

Eight episodes with special guest appearances at the start and (spoilers) the end, about five young people in the famous Coal Hill School. Famous from the very first episode of Who, of course, right up to the 50th and beyond. It’s now an academy, not surprisingly. And it seems that it it — or always has been — something of a nexus in space and time.

I’ll not say much more, as it would be hard not to get spoilery. But I will tell a little anecdote of how I watched it.

I saw episode 6 first. Why? Because I was careless, and iPlayer has stupid defaults. I went to the site and searched and found the programme, and started watching the first episode it presented me with. Because that would be the first episode, obviously, right?

Wrong. The rationale is sound: iPlayer is a catch-up service; and the episode you’re most likely to want to catch up on is the current one. So the episode I saw first was 6, “Detained”, which must have been current at the time.

Thing is, I don’t think there can have been a “Previously…” at the start — though there was later — or I think I’d have noticed. I was just impressed with how it started straight in, giving touches of backstory in moments of dialogue, so that by the time the five teenagers were locked in the detention classroom and the plot began to unfold, I was really impressed with this in medias res beginning and compact storytelling.

Well, of course, after that I realised my mistake and went back to the beginning. And when I got to 6 again it did have a “Previously…” But if you didn’t start at the beginning, it was probably the best one to start at.

Is it great? Maybe. It’s certainly got the potential to be so. It’s better than early Torchwood, maybe not quite as good as the best of The Sarah Jane Adventures. Well worth watching, and I hope there will be more serieseseseses.


  1. Well, that’s a tautology now, of course []

The Sadness of Empty Seats

It is very sad to see all the empty seats at the Olympics in Rio — especially remembering how hard it was to get tickets four years ago.

I expect that not many people in Brazil are well enough off to afford tickets — though you’d think it would be incumbent upon the organisers to set the prices at a level where people could afford them. It’s not as if it’s the ticket-buyers who pay for the bulk of the games’ costs, after all. That would come from the corporate sponsors. Or so I would expect: I don’t have the actual figures.

You’d think that there would be a lot of tourists. I’m sure there are, but it looks like it’s not enough to fill the seats. Maybe getting to Brazil and buying the tickets is just too expensive for many.

And of course there were empty seats visible at London 2012 too, which annoyed everyone — especially when we discovered that many, many seats went to corporate sponsors, who then just didn’t bother to use them. But then, everything was shown as sold out on the ticketing site. Aparently in Rio that is not the case.

Oh well, you get a better view on the telly, anyway.

Smith & Jones

The “other” Labour leadership candidate, as you might say, is called Owen Smith. There is a Guardian and New Statesman columnist and noted left-wing writer called Owen Jones.

It’s easy to confuse them; I saw this article (which is actually from almost exactly a year ago, and is about the first leadership election, but never mind) today and was confused, because it seemed strange that Jeremy Corbyn’s opponent would be writing a piece warning of the attacks that will come if Corbyn wins.

Then I realised that the byline was Jones, not Smith.

All I can say is that Kid Curry & Hannibal Heyes, and Mel & Griff Rhys — and indeed, The Doctor & Martha — have a lot to answer for. 

Hell and Heaven

We come to the end of what I can now confidently say was my favourite series of new Doctor Who so far. No matter how good it was when it all came back with Chris Ecc (as we still like to call him in my family); how much we liked David Tennant; how manically brilliant Matt Smith was from day one: Peter Capaldi was on fire this season, and Stephen Moffat is at the top of his game as showrunner.

Were this last pair as good as “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances” or “Blink”? It’s hard to say definitively, because those were so shockingly good when they hit us. But I think in time we’ll say so. I don’t doubt that Capaldi and the production team will win BAFTAs this year, and I’m sure that one of the last two will get the Hugo.

Awards may not mean that much (though let’s face it, they do) but when you see an award-worthy performance, or read something that you know is likely to win, that deserves to win — you know you’ve experienced something special.

And we experienced something very special in this season of Doctor Who And particularly in the last three episodes.

I just read a foolish comment on a Tor.com post about how great Capaldi is. It said, in effect, “That episode was only about the gender & skin-colour switching regeneration.” Yes, that was it it was about that one thing and nothing else.

Seriously, though, that was a nice touch.

One thing I haven’t seen or heard mentioned is how terrified the Time Lords were of him — well, Rassilon, at least: one guy, and they send a vast floating gun platform to bring him in. Of course, it turns out that Rassilon was right to be afraid.

One thing about this episode and more importantly, the previous, seems to be causing people some confusion. The Doctor didn’t spend two billion years (or whatever) in the clockwork castle. Two billion years worth of copies of him — each with some awareness of its past iterations, triggered by the word “bird” — go through a near-identical experience.

Though Hell Bent proves that even The Doctor — or Stephen Moffat — is confused by this.

Mind you, the planet on which the castle is built does experience all that time, we must assume, as The Doctor observes how the stars have changed.

What the episode does do is address the old philosophical question of whether matter transmitters make copies. In the Whoniverse at least, they do.

Unless the whole thing is a simulation, including the changing stars.

Anyway, masterful, glorious work. I’m looking forward to the Christmas special.