Category: Television

Everything I watched in 2015

Based on a rather crazy list by Stephen Soderbergh. TV show dates are when I finished the season.
01/01 – The Stepford Wives, When Harvey Met Bob, Ghost Dog, Metropolis (anime), The Lovely Bones
02/01 – Prisoners, Cry-Baby, My Beautiful Laundrette, Ghost Rider, Jules Et Jim, The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three, Hello Ladies The Movie,
03/01 – The Birds, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
04/01 – Muppets Most Wanted, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Running With Scissors
07/01 – Faster Pussycat Kill Kill, The Love Guru
09/01 – Broadway Melody
10/01 – The Raid 2, Munich
11/01 – Sleeping Dogs Lie
13/01 – SurbUrbia, Stand And Deliver,
14/01 – Time Travelers Wife
15/01 – Non Stop
17/01 – Midnight Express
18/01 – Lara Croft 2, Healing, Mandela Long Walk To Freedom, The Philadelphia Story
– Serial (Season 1)
23/01 – Simon
24/01 – Holy Smoke
26/01 – Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Stranger Than Fiction, Hairspray 2007
31/01 – Secretary, La Dolce Vita, Louis CK Live At the Comedy Store
01/02 – Kill List
02/02 – Illuminata, Memories Of Me
04/02 – Filth
07/02 – While You Were Sleeping, Klute, The Wolf Of Wall Street
08/02 – Eros, Time Crimes, God’s Pocket, Paul Kelly Stories Of Me, Only Lovers Left Alive, Taken
10/02 – Vanya On 42nd Street, Philomena, Sandman Mystery Theatre: The Tarantula
11/02 – Modern Romance, Le Week-End, Money, The Knick (Season 1)
12/02 – The Sculptor
13/02 – R.E.M. by MTV, Tracks
14/02 – Shoot the Piano Player, Up the Junction
15/02 – Muscle Shoals, The Book Thief, Eagle vs Shark, Life During Wartime
16/02 – The Mission
17/02 – Sidewalks Of New York, Chef
18/02 – The Good Shepherd
24/02 – Transparent (Season 1), Happiness
25/02 – Pans Labyrinth, Parks And Recreation (season 1)
26/02 – Life Is Sweet, Olive Kitteridge (season 1)
27/02 – Sandman Mystery Theatre: The Face
28/02 – Agent Carter (Season 1), Legion Of Superheroes (vol. 7)
01/03 – Hockney The Biography (vol. 1)
02/03 – House Of Cards (season 3)
03/03 – Monsieur Verdoux, Blood Simple, The Cosmopolitans (pilot)
04/03 – Episodes (season 1), Everything Must Go
06/03 – Fierce Creatures
07/03 – An American In Paris, The Impostors, 12 Years A Slave
09/03 – Carnal Knowledge
10/03 – Robocop, The Wicker Man
13/03 – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (season 1), Whats Eating Gilbert Grape
14/03 – Frenzy, Bad Neighbours
18/03 – New York New York
29/03 – contempt
30/10 – Rock Star, The Jinx
31/03 – Only Connect series 10
01/04 – A Field In England
03/04 – I’m So Excited, Stuck On You, Red State, Million Ways To Die In the West
04/04 – Fast Food Nation
05/04 – August Osage County, broad church season 2, Sparrow,
06/04 – taking Woodstock
07/04 – 700 Sunday’s
17/04 – The Affair (season 1)
18/04 – Drugstore Cowboy, The Lost Weekend, The Unknown Known
Last Man On Earth
19/04 – Blue Thunder
08/05 – avengers age of ultron, five easy pieces, barefoot in the park, touch of cloth season 1
09/05 – You Can’t Take It With You
14/05 – Agents of Shield Season 2
16/05 – The Rainmaker
18/05 – Mad Men Season 7
20/05 – Shallow Hal, What We Do in Shadows
22/05 – The Fault In Our Stars, Brooklyn Nine Nine Season 2
23/05 – Witness, Berberian Sound Studio, Bobby Fischer Vs The World
25/05 – Aziz Ansari, Chelsea
26/05 – Sillivan’s Travels
30/05 – Miracle On 34th Street
31/05 – The Railway Man, They Came Together, The Double
01/06 – Daredevil Season 1
03/06 – Louie Season 4
05/06 – Chef’s Table Season 1
06/06 – Be Cool
07/06 – Big Fan
13/06 – Brothers McMullen
15/06 – Game of thrones season 5, Veep season 5
17/06 – The Ice Storm, Silicon Valley Season 2
18/06 – Snowpiercer, Chelsea Walls
21/06 – Maleficent edge of tomorrow
23/06 – Duets
26/06 – glass a portrait
27/06 – Million Dollar Arm, The Casual Vacancy season 1
28/06 – Yojimbo
29/06 – Starter For 10
30/06 – Calvary, The Great Dictator
04/07 – Chariots Of Fire
05/07 – The Other One, Bad Words
06/07 – Inside Out
10/07 – Brothers Grimm
18/07 – Super Mensch, The Skeleton Twins
19/07 – Ant Man
21/07 – Ordinary People
25/07 – Whiplash, Lost Boys
26/07 – All Is Lost, 100 Foot Journey, Under The Skin
28/07 – Flying high II
31/07 – Friday Night Lights Season 1
01/08 – House Of Yes, Bulworth, A Most Wanted Man
06/08 – If…, Irrational Man
07/08 – The Daily Show
08/08 – Gambit, The In Laws
12/08 – A Touch Of Cloth Season 3
13/08 – 7 Days In Hell
14/08 – Lost Highway
15/08 – Die Hard 4
16/08 – Awakenings
18/08 – Long Way Down
19/08 – Americas Sweetheart
21/08 – Doc Hollywood
22/08 – Thin Man, The Judge, Reds 2, TS Spivet, the Mule
26/08 – How To Train Your Dragon 2, Be Kind Rewind
27/08 – wanderlust
29/08 – Hunger Games Mockingly Part 1
30/08 – THX 1138
04/09 – Lucy
05/09 – 20000 Days On Earth, Before I Go To Sleep, Mr Robot (Season 1)
06/09 – Friday Night Lights Season 2, Delivery Man, The Immigrant,
07/09 – Hurricane Of Fun
08/09 – Show Me A Hero
10/09 – Search for General Tso
11/09 – Big Hero 6, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
12/09 – No, obvious Child, Life Itself
16/09 – Taxi, She’s The One
18/09 – Mad Dogs Season 1, Broken Flowers
20/09 – Joan Rivers Piece Of Work, The Wackness
22/09 – You Laugh But It’s True
23/09 – Today’s Special
27/09 – Friday Night Lights Season 3
06/10 – Friday Night Lights Season 4
07/10 – L’Eclisse
10/10 – Fawlty Towers Season 1
14/10 – Harvey, Mad Dogs Season 2, Wanted
16/10 – Keith Richards Under the Influence, The Switch
17/10 – Anthony Jeselnik Thoughts And Prayers
20/10 – Accidental Tourist
21/10 – Friday Night Lights Season 5
24/10 – Muppet Treasure Island
25/10 – The Little Death
30/10 – Paddington
1/11 – This Is Where I Leave You
2/11 – The Man Who Fell To Earth
3/11 – Nightcrawler
7/11 – the man who sued God
13/11 – Howard’s End, Master Of None (series 1)
14/11 – What Happened Miss Simone
15/11 – Pride, John Mulaney The Comeback Kid, The Ten
19/11 – Aziz Ansari Buried Alive
20/11 – With Bob And David
23/11 – Jessica Jones
27/11 – The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
06/12 – Rake Season 1, Mr Turner
11/12 – David And Lisa
12/12 – Monsters, Rake Season 2, Call Me Lucky
13/12 – The Imitation Game, Soul Boys Of the Western World
17/12 – Fargo Season 2, Matilda And Me
18/12 – Attack of the 50ft Woman, godfather part 3, Side By Side
20/12 – Star Wars The Force Awakens
23/12 – South Park season 19, The Client, Savages
24/12 – Rake Season 3, Mad Dogs Season 3
25/12 – The Polar Express, Foxcatcher, Doctor Who Series 9
27/12 – Renoir
28/12 – 42
30/12 – Bob And Carol And Ted And Alice

Wk19: Wrapped Up in eBooks – the Australian side.

Apple's iPad with iBooks

This column is all about trying to write about new ideas. So much writing about digital online, and trying to say something that no one else has said is tough. But this week is an easy one. One big gaping hole that I have seen under-reported, and for Australia, unreported.

Why is the Apple iBookstore so utterly devoid of books? And in Australia, it is even worse?

I’ve covered the idea of “paperless” before, but what about the nuts and bolts of the ebook market as it stands today? And in Australia?

iPads are expensive, but the cost can be better justified if you were going to put a couple of hundred towards an ebook reader. And despite a lovely reading experience – the is NOTHING to read.

Well, not nothing. But pretty close.

For the last few months, I have had dozens of books I’ve been looking to read. And absolutely none are available on iBooks. We are not talking obscure ones either.

The new Tina Fey memoir (although it seems to be up now)
Street Gang – the new book about Sesame Street
That last Woody Allen book.
The Sondheim biography.
That Tom Waits bio….
…and so on.

Not particularly obscure books. But the point is this –

I’m WANTING to buy my first ebook, and so far I haven’t been able to. I am waving my credit card at you, begging for you to take it. Why don’t you want my money?

Let’s do a quick compare – iBooks Top 10 vs Dymocks Top 10. Only one – Charlaine Harris’s Dead Reckoning – appears in both lists. The rest of it is filled up by 99c books. Repurposed classics like 1984. Not to mention a huge collection of Free books.

iBooks are developing a different audience than a bookshop. The demographics are vastly different. The e-reader base in Australia is miniscule.

But they don’t come close to replicating a bookshop experience. Where I would say iTunes covers off 90% of what you can find in a regular Sanity store – what would you say for books? 20%? 10%?

But there is a bigger story here – which is some types of books have not become digital. Specifically – anything designed for a coffee table. How is an iPad supposed to replicate that? Of those cute little novelty books at the counter.

Other types are better suited to apps. Cookbooks, travel guides and dictionaries can be bought in the App Store, not iBooks.

So iBookstore is little more than a store for novels. And there is a gap for it to expand. Magazines. Comics. Newspapers. An e-reader can handle any text. Why restrict it to one type – novels?

But even for novels, iBookstore is shockingly lacking. No Harry Potter! No JD Salinger. No “To Kill A Mockingbird”. Genre stuff like Star Wars novels. Not even Da Vinci Code. Surely if any ebook will sell, it would be evergreen sellers like the ones above?

So where the bloody hell are they?

I don’t know – but my guess is they are crippled by the same fears we saw in the music industry a decade ago.

– Cost

Digitising, en masse, costs time and money.

– Red tape

New formats come new rights, royalties and deals. Some bigger authors could be squeezing more money. Some publishers may not be able to report digital sales. There are contracts to consider.

– Fear of supporting a format that makes less money

An odd one, but big at the time for music. Why support digital, when the money is in CDs? (The reason is CDs are dying and to not be left behind, and to make more money out of fewer people)

– Artistic stand offs

Like AC/DC and Metallica, some authors might be making a stand.

– Territory rights

A big one for Australia. A book could be cleared for e-sale in the US, but they haven’t investigated Australian rights (or anyone else outside of the US), so to play it safe they don’t allow AU sales.

All this is very frustrating for the people who pay for the people making these decisions – the readers. We don’t care about that stuff. I want to buy a book for my iPad. LET ME.

Why can’t I see the iBookstore on the web? You can only access it via an iOS device. What is the point of that? Kindle’s store is online and easy.

Why is it not just part of the bigger iTunes store? Why not attract those 50 million customers you have?

And why are ebooks not much cheaper? Most new releases seem to be $20, more than an iTunes album. Looking at Fifth Witness – $23 on Dymocks, $20 at iBookstore. Bossypants – $25/$20. Seems as though it should be cheaper no? At least around the same as an album.

I’m not usually cynical, but this time, I think perhaps Apple doesn’t want people to be able to see just how awful iBookstore is. How expensive it all is. And how bad the range is.

I did finish my first ever eBook the other day. I found a digital, pirated copy of the Tina Fey memoir. I couldn’t buy it anywhere (although it’s out now).

And it was great. I got over the fear of taking out the iPad on the train. I read the end of it in a park. Readability and navigation was all fine.

One thing that did annoy me was I couldn’t do anything else with the iBooks app. Searching for new books, looking at other books, would take me out of Tina’s. Closing the program meant I needed to actually search for the Tina Fey book just to pick up where I left off.

The other problem is, once again, I have nothing to read. I am now carrying a Charlie Brooker hardcover with me everywhere I go. Didn’t I get an iPad to prevent this?

I can be forgiving. The ebook market, especially is Australia, is just terrible for everyone – not just Apple. There are so many challenges ahead.

– Sorting out rights to international books.

– Sorting out a format that can hold all kinds of book content

– Think harder about the pricing

– Building excellent stores with good selections

– Building a reader base that uses e-readers

Because right now it is horrid. To the point where there kind of is no ebook market in Australia.

And it was very, very easy for me to find a pirated copy of Tina Fey’s book. I’m sure I could find more. And once again, industry will be racing against piracy.

And if it’s anything like music, it’s the Australian book industry has to wake up fast and embrace ebooks.

(thanks to Jess for the title)

Wk5: I Want My D2C – how can instant TV work?

ABC's iView - a sign of greater things to come?

I agree with Michelle Griffin in her recent SMH article (link) that suggests Australians are third class citizen when it comes to digital consumption.

Amongst the many great points she makes, she suggests that people download so they don’t have to avoid the internet for months. How could you avoid revelations in Mad Men or Lost? Even airing Lost within two weeks of the US date was too late.

But why did it take so long at all? What are the blockages? What’s being done? And will it work?

Programming a TV station must be hell – I’m not going to pretend it’s easy. People who complain about how Sopranos was on at 2am have a point, but God knows how many parties get their say – contracts, advertisers, ratings etc. What to air?

New shows are a risk, and Australian TV still sometimes waits for it to be a hit in it’s home country before committing money. Network schedules are worked out far in advance, and ratings times fluctuate between countries. Holding back a Lost premiere by a couple of weeks might lead to real boost in advertising money.

But Australian TV is learning. The ABC just announced Doctor Who will be airing within the same week of the UK dates next season. They even managed to show the Christmas episode within 24 hours. Brendan Dahill, network programmer for ABC1, even acknowledged Australia’s advanced downloading as the primary reason for this.

Yet, they call this “fasttrack”. It needs to be the norm!

A more impressive and innovative solution from the ABC came last year, when they put the new episodes of Doctor Who on their online iView service straight away, allowing the slower moving TV audience to get to it a couple of weeks later. A great move. ABC has the rights. iView is not a slave to programming time slots. And there’s no need to worry about advertisers.

We are hitting the point for TV that music hit years ago – people who have gone digital and people who have stayed traditional are exclusive. Those who download and/or watch online are not going to watch it on TV – ever. And if you don’t cater to that audience, you’ve lost them.

TV ratings are like music charts – they don’t represent a large part of the audience. Those who watch, listen and love, but don’t contribute to ratings. But downloading TV shows and movies can still be a pain. Is there a way to bring the two together – an online viewing world?

To do it, the big TV studios will have to break down some old school boundaries. But it’s feasible and imaginable.

BBC’s iPlayer is fantastic. The quality is great. And easy to use. They commission and own most of their material. But it is, of course, geo-blocked but free to UK users.

But what if I could pay?

I would definitely do it. Maybe some people wont, but I would get every TV show just after UK airings. Live streaming of the channels. All the neat social features and recommendations. It’s an awesome program!

Will they lose buckets of money if they do this? Maybe. What they get from subscriptions, they will lose on syndication to overseas channels. There is still big money for regular TV.

But it comes back to my point of two audiences. Would a direct-to-consumer TV portal appeal to much more than the downloaders, the digitally savvy? It will probably eat away a bit – but at least it’s not free.

Another way to look at it is much like Netflix Watch Instantly that breaks international boundaries and is tied to a TV studio. The technology is there – but maybe the big shows have too much money involved to take that risk. But there are other shows.

But there are other shows. Despite what your cable network will tell you, there’s only so many hours and channels. And none of it is on demand.

Sticking with the BBC, I can think of dozens of shows that are great, and not on TV. And they could have it online. Blackadder. State Of Play. More.

I know that cable networks occasionally gets some shows – like Black Books. But again – it’s two audiences. Those who browse channels to see what’s on are different to those who have heard about Black Books and want to watch it now. And for new shows, these savvy people are tastemakers, spreading precious word-of-mouth.

Imagine a HBO player. Access to the latest shows and all the old classics. On US release dates. HD streaming quality. No more waiting for Channel 9 to show something at 2am. How much would you pay a month for that?

Then there’s shows like Bored To Death, or all those awesome HBO telemovies. Chances are these second tier shows will never make a splash overseas. What have HBO got to lose from making them available online.

Then there’s international shows. PPS is a service who does something similar for Cantonese shows – shows that have no hope for a local syndication.

Finally, there are shows made by independent studios or have fallen into a rights abyss.

A bright, varied and full digital TV catalogue online. That’s the dream.

But it might not last. There is one very big hurdle to overcome, and one that is coming up quickly;

What happens when the TV becomes a computer?

iPlayer works on Apple TV, and can be accessed from some gaming consoles. But those are special cases, and special interfaces. Full net access from a TV is still not commonplace. But it’s coming.

Why would you watch the Brady Bunch on Foxtel/Sky, when you can watch Boardwalk Empire on a HBO player that can be accessed from your TV. And why would a TV station buy Boardwalk Empire’s rights?

Maybe there will always be passive viewers who want things programmed for them. But for everyone else, why will there be any need for TV stations at all? Especially all those ones that just pump out marathons of old TV shows.

So, maybe the TV station, previously the only distributor of TV shows, has to die before this can happen. Unless they can adapt.

TV viewers are getting more demanding. The downloading genie is out of the bottle. And one of the reasons we download is because we don’t want to wait, and it’s easier.

But the TV studios can give us what we want – instant availability, watched at our own pace. Wrap up the package with old shows and other bonuses. Direct to consumer – no middle man.

Culture Vultures Forced To Go Pirate – Mary Griffin’s SMH article (http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/culture-vultures-forced-go-pirate-20110107-19ikg.html)

PPS streaming for Cantonese TV shows (http://www.ppstream.com/)

BBC iPlayer (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer) UK only, really.

ABC iView (http://www.abc.net.au/iview/)

Doctor Who Transmission on ABC news, with Brendan Dahill’s quote (http://www.doctorwhonews.net/2011/01/dwn260111235812-australia-transmission.html)

30 for 30: Doctor Who

30 for 30 – as I reach my fourth decade of being, I’m writing about some of the things that made the three that came before what they were. 30 – mostly trivial – things that have been a part of 30 – mostly trivial – years.

23. DOCTOR WHO

Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, the current stars of Doctor Who

My favourite show at the moment is Doctor Who

I am a big nerd. And I like being one. I love falling in love with stuff. And the great thing about science fiction (or this terrible word “genre”), is that it provides someone a lot to get into. Star Wars novels, Lost encyclopedias, etc.

(It’s why I love REM as well. So many albums. So many singles to collect. So many special editions. Hooray!)

But there are huge gaps in my nerd-om. Tolkien. For years I thought Tolkien was the name of a character in Lord of the Rings. Battlestar Galactica. By all accounts an amazing show. Just looks cheap and shit to me. Heroes. God what an awful show.

4 years ago, I could say the same thing about Doctor Who. Now, I am obsessed.

What the hell happened?

My pre-season three knowledge of Doctor Who could be summed up thus:

– The Doctorin’ The Tardis song, by KLF, that samples Gary Glitter’s Rock ‘n’ Roll

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Adk1ujjmguo]

– The episode of Press Gang (written by future Who showrunner Steven Moffat) called UnXpected – about a  Doctor Who-ish character called Colonel X.

– A skit from the Late Show where a bouncer throws some Daleks out of a night club.

– The show had recently seen something of a rebirth, and Billie Piper was now an actor.

– Tim was a big fan. Paul was a fan as well.

And that’s about it.

I know even less about Tolkien.

The home for comics and sci-fi in London is the world famous Forbidden Planet store – and I would wander in around once a week.

Doctor Who is the biggest thing in the UK sci fi world, and it makes sense that almost half their top floor is devoted to Doctor Who. What is this stuff? People seem to love it.

Toys. Posters. Bubble bath. Costumes. Lunch boxes. It’s over whelming. And I knew nothing about Doctor Who. I have to say – I was a little jealous. Someone who loves this show is going to have so much fun.

I felt the same way as a kid, wandering into Utopia Records, Sydney’s biggest and best heavy metal music store. They would have, say, Japanese Blur records, that I would buy. But they had this whole other section of the store – merchandise. Kiss mugs, Megadeth wrist bands, Manowar posters. My little indie bands didn’t make this sort of stuff. It must be so fun to be a metal fan.

When series three started – with Martha Jones replacing Rose Tyler as the companion – it was all over the news. It was front page of every paper. It really just got to the point where they were going to take away my nerd credentials. When science fiction hits the front page of all the papers and I knew nothing about it, something was wrong.

So it’s really simple actually, the story of how I came to Doctor Who. I sat myself on the sofa one Saturday night and watched the episode 42 on BBC1. It was pretty exciting. I liked it.

So the next week rolled along, then the next. This next run of episodes – Human Nature, The Family of Blood and Blink are probably still the best run of episodes the show has ever had. These episodes won a million awards, and my heart. Blink, especially, is regarded as the greatest Doctor Who story of all time. I’m certain a whole generation of English kids will never forget it.

I’ve been watching it ever since.

I love the message of Doctor Who. The positivity. It’s the opposite of Dark Night, and in general dark sci-fi. It’s so damn positive.

And exciting. Boiling the premise and the point of Doctor Who, it’s this – stay curious and love life.

At it’s very best, it makes the everyday come to life. Statues can be amazing monsters. Your shadows could eat you alive. The crack in your wall could lead to another world. Looking up at the night sky, it’s not just pretty stars. It’s possibilities.

It’s what I love best about sci-fi. It fires the imagination. For me, this show that’s new to me, is about the purest form of all that’s good about sci fi.

That halloween I bought an excellent raincoat and went to a party as the Tenth Doctor. The raincoat is so great.

Doctor Who was also my road into British actors. Because it is one of those rare occurences when something that is hugely popular is also critically acclaimed.

I have a Brit Awards drinking game – a drink for every presenter you don’t know. And there are lots. People from old radio breakfast shows or soaps I’ve never seen. But Doctor Who opened me up a lot.

The list is amazing. David Morrisey and John Simm’s work led me back to the excellent State Of Play mini-series. Catherine Tate, who I heard about but never saw her show, was new to me. Peter Capaldi led me to The Thick Of It. Currently I am enjoying Mark Gatiss’s history of horror movies –  a man I first heard about on Who.

I guess that touches on the educational aspect of Doctor Who. But it goes beyond the silly dropping of “happy prime numbers” into a plot.

Then there’s Doctor Who Confidential – the hour long behind the scenes of Doctor Who that airs after the episode on BBC3. I’ve been chewing over a career in TV or film, and part of it comes from watching DVD extras, and some from watching Doctor Who Confidential. Every week is a lesson on lighting, or scriptwriting, or stunts, or location scouting.

There was also a kids game show based around Doctor Who called Totally Doctor Who. Primary school kids would get into the science of the show, play games and meet the stars. How amazing – shame they cancelled it.

All this happens because of what I said above – the sweet spot of being popular and critically acclaimed. Doctor Who holds such an unique place in British culture. It can do almost no wrong, and a hell of a lot of good.

And hey, it delights me that cockheads like James Murdoch hates Doctor Who, because the brand is so big, it keeps the BBC alive. In a recent rant, he claimed how unfair it was the BBC use Doctor Who to launch games and services like the iPlayer because it gives them a competitive advantage. Another win.

As of this year, Steven Moffat took over as showrunner for Doctor Who. He was another reason I was drawn to the show. He’s one of those writers I have loved all my life – from Press Gang to Coupling.

I am a Moffat fanatic. And although he’d written some of the most acclaimed episodes of Doctor Who, he was still only getting out an hour of TV a year. Jekyll did ok, but a planned second series never happened. Adam and Eve never got off the ground. His script for the Tintin movie was rewritten and is still nowhere near completion. The worse was the dismal US version of Coupling.

I also discovered along the way that Moffat was a life long Doctor Who fan. I’m not sure how to explain the feeling, but when this man who brought me so many good times, who I never met, got his dream job, I was so happy for him. I went out and got really drunk on his behalf. I didn’t care about the people leaving the show. Just that this guy I never met had something good going for him.

I’ve avoided saying what is great about Doctor Who episodes here – there’s plenty of that online. But the Moffat series, starring Matt Smith, was perfect – the best yet. If you want to start somewhere, start with the first episode of that series – the Eleventh Hour.

It also means I’ll be following this show for a while longer, as I pretty much think I will watch anything Moffat is involved in until one of us dies.

As for the Doctor – who knows. Maybe the next team will be awful. And maybe the team after that will be great. Its impossible to tell. But that’s what I love about it. Anything is possible.


30 for 30: The Late Show

30 for 30 – as I reach my fourth decade of being, I’m writing about some of the things that made the three that came before what they were. 30 – mostly trivial – things that have been a part of 30 – mostly trivial – years.

14. THE LATE SHOW

The Late Show cast (from l-r): back row - Tom Gleisner, Rob Sitch, Mick Molloy, Tony Martin. front row - Judith Lucy, Jason Stephens, Santo Cilauro, Jane Kennedy

In Australia in the early 90s, there was a Saturday night sketch comedy show called The Late Show, on ABC. 10pm every Saturday, without fail, I would sit my ass down and watch it. It lasted only two years. And, like Monty Python, I have followed the careers of everyone involved in that show.

I’m not the only one. This show truly touched a generation of Australians. Everyone who was around at the time knows it. It was groundbreaking, taboo smashing, mind bending stuff. And it made me laugh my ass of.

Amazing to think The Late Show only lasted two years, but I guess the Office and Fawlty Towers were even less than that. The Late Show team consisted of Tony Martin, Mick Molloy, Rob Sitch, Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy, Jason Stephens and in the second year, Judith Lucy.

Based in Melbourne, this crew all had radio backgrounds. Again like Monty Python, it was the coming together of various writing teams. After the Late Show, those teams broke up again, to do amazing things in other fields.

But let’s talk The Late Show.

On the whole of it, it’s a pretty standard sketch comedy show. If anything, there was an overload of them on Australian TV at the time – Fast Forward, Full Frontal, The Comedy Company. But it was just – better. It made fun of itself. Maybe it helped that it was on the ABC.

So many great sketches. Shitscared. Graham And the Colonel. Pissweak World. Most of that probably means nothing to many of you. At the end of this post there are some clips. It’s a very Australian sense of humour.

Everyone at school watched it. Every Monday was always a game of ‘did you watch the late show?’, and some of the more talented smartasses amongst us would re-enact the scenes. We knew the classic ones by heart, and some forward thinking kids also taped the show and traded them.

It wasn’t just the kids at my school either. Everyone cool I know loved it. Isabelle loved them, and from memory, had a crush on Tony Martin. She even saw them once doing a vox pop but was too shy to talk to them.

They did one precious episode in Sydney, and everyone was keeping an eye out for them. These guys might just be on the street I walk home on! It was really quite a phenomenon.

I would still kill for a The Late Show t-shirt. They made them when the show was on air and I was far too young to buy stuff like that. I see one around and I almost want to offer money right there and then to strangers in the street. The ABC finally released two volumes on video, which I memorised every word.

Finally, a nice DVD was released, but it’s only 3 hours in many. Your heart would break the first time you watched it, as you realised they didn’t include your favourite sketches. To this day, it’s the only official relic of this magnificent show that we have.

I carried around the newspaper article declaring the Late Show break-up in my wallet for months. I didn’t get it. Why would they end. I decided in my head it wasn’t true, but a new series never came.

The writing teams split off. Tony and Mick ended up (back) on radio with the Martin/Molloy Show. It was on after school on the dreadful 2Day Fm network, but I still listened everyday, putting up with bad pop music. By now I was already discovering obscure music. But I would never miss Martin/Molloy.

I called up one of their competitions once and actually won some CDs, Soul Asylum’s second album and a Brownstone one.

Rob, Tommy G, Jane and Santo formed Working Dog Productions, pretty much the best TV production team in Australian history.

The first was Frontline – a no-laugh-track mockumentary of Current Affairs shows – with a bumbling host, a cynical network and the dangers of broad appeal journalism. Oh, and laughs.. Airing when I was 14-16, it did a lot to form my views on politics and the media.

One episode, the Shadow We Cast, was a defining piece of television for me, one I think about almost everyday. Anchor Mike Moore wants to reverse the damage done to minorities by Current Affairs shows. He is oblivious to his own hypocrisy, attacking Pauline Hanson, then following with stories about foreign investors. He makes a list of all the minorities he wants to help.

Prowsie, his boss, in a moment of anger, writes on a whiteboard what Current Affairs is really about. Stereotypes. Chinese are Triads. Vietnamese are drug dealers. Aborigines are drunks. And so on. Mike almost discovers this, and is pushed away and led out of the room. The camera hangs onto the whiteboard for a second before the episode ends.

You can watch the end of the episode here.

[youtube= http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAQdoV6IuSU]

Working Dog’s best work was, of course, The Castle (1997). Their first movie, it’s the story about an Australian family who is ordered by the government to move to make way for a new airport. But the eccentric family refuses and fights the government for the right to live in their homes. It was an allegory for Aboriginal Land Rights. And the funniest Australian movie you will ever see.

Working Dog only made one more movie – the very good The Dish (2000). But they concentrated on TV instead. The talk show The Panel, the game show Thank God You’re Here and the recent, extremely good The Hollowmen. The latter follows the work lives of a fictional Australian government department – it’s a lot like the UK’s The Thick Of It.

Mick and Tony flirted with movies too. After a hosting his own failed talk show, Mick played lead, wrote and produced Crackerjack (2002), and BoyTown (2006). Tony wrote and directed Bad Eggs (2003), also starring Mick. All those movies were met with only minor success.

Mick is now a host for hire. Tony had a second day in the sun with the Get This radio show on Triple M. Running for three years, it really showed off his voice and writing talents. A runaway ratings and critical success, it’s little wonder Triple M always hated it and dumped it.

I am still excited about any project by any member of the D-Generation. I only just discovered Santo, Sam and Ed’s World Cup Fever, which brought back the news and sports of the Late Show with some fantastic sketch comedy.

I don’t know if the idea of a reunion has ever been floated around. I guess everyone is older, and all have healthy careers to some degree. But to see all of them on screen together again, playing some of these classic characters, would be a dream come true.

Because, 17 years after it went off the air, I’m still the same kid hoping for that 3rd season.

Some clips! Not just boring text!

My favourite recurring sketch is ‘Shitscared’. About Rob and Mick, this terrible Evil Knievel types, always interviewed by Tom.

Here’s the very first one

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJbzCHdy850]

Movie world

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kHz60FBpaI]

A car stunt

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyDJl9lO89A]

Pissweak World! This is not too far from the truth in Australia.

Marine World.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji_DQEmtAEc]

Airworld

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmRn520zzGA]

Guides. Here’s Christmas Parties and one of the three Dinner Parties.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xm1n63qZSk]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WvekHsUmm0]

Songs

What’s All That About

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRussXGnxIw]

REM Song

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjhsZ8ZMTzY]

Billy Joel

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRFhUQ516rg]

Mick and Tony Vox Pops

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrK2dO8NO2s]

Shirty The Slightly Aggressive Bear

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nm6JfoJpBbA]

Charlie the Wonderdog

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNRcWk4NcgM]

Random sketches

Still Number Four, a comment on rival Channel 9’s tagline of “Still Number One”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n42lNEoP5zE]

20 Inappropriate Love Songs

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCJZDpHVoGA]

30 for 30: Star Trek

30 for 30 – as I reach my fourth decade of being, I’m writing about some of the things that made the three that came before what they were. 30 – mostly trivial – things that have been a part of 30 – mostly trivial – years.

10. STAR TREK

The cast of the original series of Star Trek

I watched and loved a lot of Star Trek. It’s not my favourite show ever, but has been with me for over half my life.

I’m a nerd! And not even the cool type of nerd that’s become hip. Fuck those pussies. I’m an actual nerd. And with that, comes Star Trek.

But the world conspired against me. It used to be on 4 nights a week when I was a teenager, and I usually slept in front of the TV anyway. It was, for several years, Star Trek followed by Letterman. This was how I grew up.

From age 12 or so, up until now. There’s simply no other show that has lasted this long. There are 725 episodes (across 29 seasons) and 11 films. So one and half times the Simpsons, and Star Trek were hour long episodes. Once I got in, how could I not be affected? It’s almost 800 hours of television!

I bring up Star Trek to stop people who I am bored with talking to me.

It’s pretty awful for anyone involved in the making of Star Trek, but I have often, very often, used Star Trek as a conversation killer. And sometimes a date killer.

OK, not so much a date killer. But sometimes you are talking to someone to see where they are at. And sometimes I come across cooler than I am – blame the job and the love of jokes. And when I realise I’ve wasted a drink or two talking to some girl I have no interest in, I bring up Star Trek.

It is pretty amazing how quickly the conversation stops. To most women, you’ve just turned into a slug or something.

It is even quite easy to do.

ALL you have to do is, when you’ve already started talking about stuff, say “Hey, you don’t watch Star Trek do you?”

It’s a beautiful line.

Because it looks like I am interested in furthering this connection. And the way I want to get to know you better is through Star Trek.

There are, as far as I’ve been able to determine, 3 reactions.

1) A quick dismissal. Maybe 3 or 4 more minutes of chatting, then next toilet, smoke or weak excuse break, our seats will be gone and we wont talk again.

2) A feigned (or genuine) interest. Basically the girl tries to engage in this conversation. This is a BOLD move on her part. She is going where no women drinking at this bar has gone before.

Oh, what do I like about it, you ask?

Well, I like the PREMISE. How it’s just a blank page for good writers to hang strong Sci-Fi IDEAS. (That goes down a treat with the ladies).

Oh you know Spock is Vulcan?

Actually, he’s a HALF Vulcan. (His mum was a human). (Girls love that line).

I’m not trying to be obnoxious really. This is just how I speak about nerdy stuff, that includes Trek.

Anyway, that soon ends.

3) The woman I am talking to is actually a Star Trek fan and we talk about Star Trek.

THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED.

I have used this tactic over 100 times. Yes, part of it was when I discovered it, I tried it out a lot. But god, there are a lot of annoying women out there, and sometimes I just want to talk to my friends.

And never, ever once, have I met a female Star Trek fan in the wild.

I haven’t seen every second of Star Trek. But I’ve seen a lot of it.

The original 60s stuff with William Shatner? Check. Seen them all.

The Jean Luc Picard/Patrick Stewart stuff with the robot? Yup.

Deep Space Nine, the lesser known one with the black guy that everyone compared Obama to, in the comics and sci-fi world anyway? Yup.

Voyager, the one with the woman captain? Say maybe half of that.

Enterprise, the one with the guy from Quantum Leap (and the god awful Diane Warren song). Again about half.

I read some of the original novels. One of my favourite comic book writer – Peter David – wrote some great stories.

I’ve seen all the movies, although I only just saw the 10th one, after the 11th one came out.

But my interests waned. In school, when I watched anything and everything, I caught every episode. When Deep Space Nine was cancelled in 1999, my active interest died there too. Like comics, I took a break, and music took over my life completely.

I don’t know a terrible amount of people who like Star Trek at all.

James likes it because we both grew up with it. Casey likes it, I think for the same reason as me – it was on and we watched a lot of TV as teens. Nigel. Really, I am running out here. You either like it, or you don’t. And then there’s that 3rd level where you loved it.

A girl I liked had a housemate who was really into Trek – she was a girl too. She had Trek stuff in the house – a big stand up cut out of a character from memory. I didn’t know her very well, but I told her I liked Star Trek.

Funny though because she got defensive. A bit dismissive. Oh, that old thing. I wasn’t being patronising – I’m a fan – but I guess for her, she’s had to put up with a lot being a Trek fan. People make fun, patronise and flat out misunderstand.

Not that it really matters, but she was a very attractive girl as well. She would be by no means a social outcast. But she was in the fanclub or something, and hung out with a group where she can express her interest. I just wish that she would have talked to me – not so we could have talked, but that the world has made her hide.

In the UK, I’m not sure I’ve met one Star Trek fan. I know quite a few Americans though – it’s where the show was created, and it’s natural, cultural home. It is a bit of an American view of the future.

Which is all very odd, because so much of Star Trek is in popular culture. Phrases like “where no man has gone before” appear everywhere (like in the end of Almost Famous). “Live long and prosper.” 50% of Futurama is pretty much Trek. Like chess – I don’t understand how you can see this world without knowing the basics of Star Trek. What do you think when someone mentions Warp Speed or something? Do you walk through life like it’s one big joke you don’t get?

I was very excited when the new Star Trek movie came out. I saw Star Trek: First Contact in the cinema, and was pretty excited to revisit this world in a darkened cinema and a big screen.

Above I stated that there are over 750 hours of Star Trek. Well, that new movie would be in the top 20 hours of that 750.

Not a terrible amount happens, but it’s a fun action film with some cool ideas. But what really got me is the tone of the film. I really hated Dark Knight, and that dramatic, emo bullshit. I’m an optimist and the future is bright. And Star Trek, that new movie, was bright.

It is the main reason I love Star Trek. It is so optimistic. There is no drama within the crew. They work on each week’s threat together. People of all races and genders (even the odd robot or hologram) working together. As an immigrant in the country I grew up in, I was drawn to this.

I love the idea that maybe one day we will all get along and live these exciting lives. How can you not be?

So if for some reason you want to wade into this whole mess of Star Trek, the 2009 movie is the perfect place to start.

The single greatest question facing mankind is clearly this:

Which is better – Star Trek or Star Wars?

In the late 90s, Star Trek got very bloated. Movies, two TV series, books, comics, blah and blah. It was too much.

Star Wars however was still 3 perfect movies (and a number of really good books actually).

So Star Trek was easy to bash in the 90s, where Star Wars was a lot like James Dean – it left a pretty corpse, and it didn’t age.

Then Star Trek went away, and Star Wars got bloated. Those prequels are awful. Some of the worse films I’ve ever seen. Now there’s a cartoon and an upcoming live action comedy(?) series. Almost all of it is shit. And it really shows how limited the Star Wars idea was. It really had no more to give.

Star Trek however, came back with a very good movie. The memory of past fiascos are fading. What made Star Trek great in the first place still stands.

But Star Trek has never been great in movies. It’s a great premise (Stage Coach in space) and the perfect set up for a monster-of-the-week. Whereas Star Wars was one epic story, start to finish. We are comparing apples and oranges.

In the end though, I like Star Trek. All those amazing stories. 40 years of great ideas, swash-buckling adventure and cool gadgets. It just can’t be beat.

And Luke Skywalker is a whiny sook and the dude kissed his sister. What the fuck?

(Alex Zane did a poll once on XFM asking this very question. Almost every caller said Star Wars. Zane responded to several callers with “How about that bit in Wrath Of Khan where Kirk screams KHAAAAAAAAN?” and none of the callers had actually seen it. So if you’ve not seen it, your opinion is pretty worthless)

So, I have mainly avoided talking about the actual content of Star Trek. The intricacies of which characters I like, what season was best, etc. I think there is enough of that on the internet.

If for some reason, you are a Star Trek fan, and you came across this, here are my top 20 stories (movies and 2-parters count as one) of Star Trek.

1. Best of Both Worlds (TNG, 1990)
2. The Visitor (DS9, 1995)
3. Past Tense (DS9, 1995)
4. Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982)
5. All Good Things (TNG, 1994)
6. Far Beyond the Star (DS9, 1998)
7. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
8. The City On the Edge Of Forever (TOS, 1967)
9. Star Trek (2009)
10. Shattered Mirror (DS9, 1996)
11. The Doomsday Machine (TOS, 1967)
12. Crossover (DS9, 1994)
13. Mirror, Mirror (TOS, 1967)
14. Space Seed (TOS, 1967)
15. Descent (TNG, 1993)
16. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
17. I, Borg (TNG, 1992)
18. Q Who (TNG, 1989)
19. Explorers (DS9, 1995)
20. Endgame (VOY, 2001)

Looking at this list really makes it hit home – I do love this show. So many great stories! So many ideas! Every week was something different. A time bending character study, or an all out action packed dog fight in space. All tied together with this wish of living better lives, working together, and leaving our predjudice and hate behind.

Steven Moffat – a writer let loose

If you’ve never watched Doctor Who before, this Easter is the time to start. And not because of the event of a new actor playing the Doctor, but for the return of Steven Moffat – my favourite TV writer of 21 years – to our screens.

Steven Moffat and the best storytelling plot device there is

I myself only started watching Doctor Who for one reason, and that was Moffat (he wrote at least one episode a season since the show was revived in 2005).

It all started with Press Gang in 1989. Press Gang was Moffat‘s first ever writing job. The producer thought the pilot was the best ever first script she had ever read. It was a teen drama/comedy about a bunch of high-schoolers who ran a student newspaper. It also had the neat trick that the Office repeated years later that had a great love story boiling away in the background.

I could go on and on about Press Gang, and the slew of awards it won. But there was one really important point about Press Gang that informs all of Moffat‘s work ever since – it was SMART. Playing around with flashbacks, red herrings and plot twists, it confounded my expectations and got my 9 year old mind whirling – and it’s never stopped.

I bought the DVDs for Press Gang in my twenties, the only kids show I’ve ever bought on DVD. It’s amazing how much of it has stuck in my mind. Long joke pieces, amazing moments – and the characters. My boyhood crush on Lynda Day has led to a life long troubles with smart, bossy, feisty women.

At the time, I didn’t know the man behind the show was Steven Moffat. Turns out he wrote every single word of every single episode.

Moffat fell off my radar until the comedy Coupling (there were a couple of unsuccessful shows that were never shown in Australia). Relationships between men and women, sexual politics and failed encounters – expertly dissected with wit and typically mind bending plot twists (odd for a sit com yet never feels out of place).

It was my perfect show for those crazy early 20s. Again, every episode was written by Moffat. And it was around this time I made the connection between the two shows.

He’s always alluded to his love of Doctor Who and science fiction in his work, but has mainly worked in comedies and dramas set in our time, with largely ordinary people. He did write a Doctor Who sketch for Comic Relief one year, but he became the real thing when he wrote one of the most acclaimed episodes of the new series’ first year – The Empty Child. Then there’s Blink – largely regarded the single greatest episode ever – and there’s about 400 of them.

And now he’s taken over Doctor Who completely, and I’m so excited for him. It’s seeing the dreams come true for someone I’ve known for decades. And I’m so excited to see what he brings. The man never treads water. He’s always trying something new – even his failures fail on ideas, it never drifts into lazy writing.

I’ve learnt a lot from Moffat over the years. Being smart is the big one. Looking at things from every angle. And girls. So much about girls. His deep, deep obsession with sex, love and romance should readdress Russell T Davies‘s campness (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Moffat wrote other great shows (and has another one, a 21st century take on Sherlock Holmes, out this year, and the screenplay for Spielberg/Jackson’s Tintin movie). Everything is worth exploring, if you’re the TV exploring type.

If not, and you have one hour to spare, I suggest next weekend’s Doctor Who. A great writer will be let loose on prime time. With big crazy ideas for a big audience. It’s going to be something you’ll remember for at least 21 years.

Since Page One

The BBC has just announced Steven Moffat will be taking over Doctor Who in 2010. It’s amazing how this guy keeps popping back into my life every so often.

I would be a different person if not for watching Press Gang when I was young. The story of teenage kids that ran their own newspaper, it was full of great plot twists, fantastic dialogue and…in Spike and Linda…shaped all my young notions of courtship and love. Every 4:30pm I would come home from school and turn to the ABC, and catch up with my friends at the Junior Gazette.

(Favourite episodes: At Last A Dragon – Spike and Linda’s first date. The Rest Of My Life – Spike is caught in a building explosion. The Last Word – when a kid with a gun invades the Junior Gazette. Day Dreams – an imaginary future for the team.)

I didn’t know anything about Steven Moffat at the time. I didn’t know that every episode was written by the same guy. I didn’t know that the vision he had also led to many awards being won. I just loved the show. It was easily my favourite show at the time, as a kid, and it inspired a teenage me.

Many years later, almost ten years later, I came across a show on late night ABC called Coupling. It was an energetic and exciting sit-com about 6 friends, and the adventures of finding a partner in your twenties. The dialogue was super smart, and the show format was inventive – one episode was a split screen all the way through. Another was the same nine and a half minutes repeated 3 times from different perspectives.

It made a big impact on me, at that time in my life. I bought all the DVDs and watched them all. And this is where I realized that the guy who wrote this show was the guy responsible for Press Gang. The similarities were there. The dialogue, the inventiveness of the form, and most importantly the romance.

(Favourite episodes: The Man With Two Legs – Jeff falls in love but ends up telling her that he’s an amputee. Split – Steve and Susan break up, leading to a battle of the sexes over a split screen. Naked – Jeff’s birthday becomes a disaster. Nine And A Half Months – the finale, and a baby.)

Friends and I used the terms pioneered in this show. The Sock Gap. A girl I could not get out of my life, we called her the Unflushable. As I was going out more and meeting more people, all those odd encounters, faux pas, and miscommunications were so well portrayed in Coupling.

He has written four episodes of Doctor Who, and they are easily the best four. The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances won so much acclaim – a kid wearing a gas mask in WWII, the introduction of Captain Jack and all sorts of goodies. The Girl In the Fireplace was such an intricate, beautiful love story that crosses time and space (with lovely French-ness) and finally Blink, which barely had the Doctor at all, but the most brilliant villains (don’t blink!).

By all accounts Moffat’s always been a big fan, and it’s heartwarming for me to see this man, who has brought me so much happiness, getting his dream. The point of all this, I guess, is that I feel this way at all. I feel like I’ve known Steven Moffat for so long. He was there when I met Linda Day and courted her. He was there when I got trapped under that building. He was there when I made a fool of myself in a bar with a pretty girl. He was there when I fought clockwork mechanical soldiers in the far flung future (ahem).

Anyway, good work old friend. Looking forward to seeing you quite a bit more.

Danny

Who Do You Love?

I have fallen in love with Doctor Who. 6 months ago I’d never seen a second of the show. As of the current writing, there is probably nothing in the silly world of pop culture more important to me.

It’s good to note that this happens to me sometimes. And I think many people I know too. Getting really, really into stuff. Watching a whole season of some TV show in a weekend. Looking up all of a band’s interviews on the internet. Every live performance of some comedian on YouTube.

Obsessive? Perhaps.

I think it’s a bit more like finishing your food.

Anyway, back to the Doctor. Of course, I’ve heard of him. And I’m completely aware that the Doctor Who phenomenon is one of the biggest, longest running sci fi franchises in the world. I know a Dalek if I see one. I know Billie Piper is in the new one. That’s about it.

But being here, one of the things I wanted to do was get into British culture. I’ve been watching British movies. Buying best of CDs by bands like James and Squeeze. And when the huge, inescapable publicity of the start of Doctor Who season three was everywhere, I sat myself on the couch and decided to give the thing a go.

And it’s love.

See, the problem with American sci fi, as typified by Star Trek, is it has to be believable and plausible. You can find books discussing the science of Star Trek. Whereas British sci fi has a long tradition of being just unexplained. The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Red Dwarf and so forth. Sure, they screw around with what can possibly happen for drama (destroying the world to build a highway) or laughs (playing billiards with planets)…but at the heart of it, British sci fi will choose inspiring over plausible.

And Doctor Who, which from a distance seemed weird and cheap, is the most inspiring of all. The new series has shed the old crap production values. It’s a super slick, modern show. No wires. But the stories are so excellent.

Every week, the Doctor travels through time to a new adventure. He is a Time Lord, the last of an ancient race. His ship is a TARDIS, which due to a malfunction is stuck looking like a British Police Box. He’s usually got a companion or two in tow, who has befriended the friendly Doctor.

From that flimsy premise, we can go anywhere. Werewolves attacking Queen Elizabeth the first, to the day the sun finally goes nova. The fall of Pompeii, to the upcoming London Olympics.

At the heart of it all is the Doctor himself. Played by so many actors over the years, he is the same person who has fired the imagination of so many people for so many years. An adventurer, who rarely resorts to violence. An intellect and proud of it. An optimist and a knowledge seeker. Always wanting to see what this universe can be, always excited about new challenges. A man who always does good, an loves life.
And it’s easy to forget the bloody thing is at heart, a kids show. One Saturday morning, possibly because I was still up, I watched Totally Doctor Who, the kid’s talk show devoted to the Doctor. How lucky are these kids though, to have stories written for them that win sci fi writing awards, and best drama TV awards, year after year.

So for me, of course, I love the Doctor. I’m an optimist. I’m always excited by new things. I also like obsessive things. Things with rich histories. And a sense of funny. I also love good TV. The sad scenes – up there with some of best teen drama I’ve ever seen.

The Doctor explores every corner of the galaxy, hoping there is something amazing he has never seen before. And for me, after so many years of loving music, TV, movies, books etc…it’s a great feeling to know there are things out there I can fall in love with. I’m not that sad dude who still misses the X-Files.

Below: this Halloween, I dressed up as the Tenth Doctor. The raincoat came in handy for the weather, I tell you.

The Doctor


Danny Yau
London

Television Addict 1

I have cable TV for the first time in my life. I also have wireless broadband at home for the first time. Yes, look at me. I know what year it is! So the combination has led to a lot watching of TV shows. And current stuff! Not just Press Gang on DVD. As it’s finale season…

The Office (US)
I know people who feel it’s a crime to watch this show. You are missing out. It’s taken the place that Arrested Development left in my heart. If you only know the UK version, well, a lot has changed. Its more of an ensemble piece. Every character is great and have their own story. And there is more subplots – it’s the one thing the US are great at – building tension over weeks.

Steve Carell is amazing. Very different to Ricky Gervais. He’s not a mean soul, more of a loser. The Rainn Wilson/Dwight character is also very different now to the Gareth character. Rainn is a nerd. His perfect woman is an anime character. He loves Battlestar Galactica. The new character of Andy is possibly my favourite of them all.

But it’s the love story. Handled with beautiful subtlety. Season Two was the highlight. And after three years, I think they finally nodded again to the UK series, and turned a classic scene on it’s head. When Jim asks Pam out, quite publically, she says yes, and the season ends. It was such a great hour of TV.

Really, you’re missing out.

Heroes
Well, it started of great. Television Sci Fi is always touch and go. We see so much in movies that the cheap production values and lack of planning really comes through. But the concept and the style is great. And they don’t try to be too much more that bubblegum adventure either.

Pity then that the season finale is so shit. Plot holes everywhere. The mystery has no pay off. It reminds me of the hollow feeling I had after Spiderman 3. I’ll watch next season, sure. But we expected a lot. And this show was built on hints and shadows and didn’t pay off.

Lost
If you’re a fan then you probably know what happened by now. Brilliant, eh?

They kind of lost their way for a bit, but they are back on track. There is a mission. The characters are in fascinating places. And always, it’s so well done. We’re getting answers thick and fast.

I just wonder how they are ever going to resolve it ALL. Like, how will they possibly tie up every single weird thing? How can there possibly be a single explanation that makes us go ‘of course!’? But I’m so there. So there.

Doctor Who
A new discovery. How could I not? It’s the one big geek show I’ve never discovered. And when I heard David Tennant based his Doctor on Jarvis cocker, I was set.

British Sci Fi has such a rich, peculiar history. It’s usually made on low budgets, so they usually have less spaceships, and less explosions (and less cast). And then there’s that British sense of humour, that Douglas Adams view of the universe. That’s all come into force in the new Doctor Who.

It doesn’t try to be American. Production-wise, it reminds me of Harry Potter. But it’s all about David Tennant as the Doctor. He will be a defining character for generations. The scripts are always brilliant – th cream of British writers (including my hero, Steven Moffat).

The episode just aired here was Human Nature, with the girl from Spaced/Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. I’m so happy to be around for this. I want a sonic screwdriver light pen thing I saw on Amazon.

The Sopranos
When you watch TV on DVD, you get to a point where you go…one disc left, it’s almost over…what will I do now?

There are two episode left in the Sopranos. The stage is set for all hell to break loose. They’ve been killing people off, left right and centre. And they still manage to have something to say.

I loved the episode ‘Walk Like A Man’, all about AJ being the emotional boy after a break up, descending into depression, and all it says about being a tough guy in the modern day. This show is just so damn good, so sophisticated, without being flashy. The violence is down to earth, making it more disturbing. They still talk about people who died years ago, they aren’t just written out and forgotten.

What will I do without this show? I’ll have to visit Jersey one day. The bigger question though, is how will this all end? How do you end one of the greatest TV series of all time?

So that’s usually my Saturday. Watch TV on my computer until Doctor Who hits at 7pm or so. I’m going to miss it. Heroes, Lost and the Office are done. Sopranos is not far behind, and only a month or so of Doctor Who left. Sigh.

Maybe it’s time to go out and see my London more.

Danny
London