Monthly Archives: August 2011

Podcasts of the moment

Answer Me This

Let me preface this post with a little rant…  I hate the term Podcast.  Why? Well, really, the programmes don’t have to be on an iPod and could be called mp3casts, which is more accurate.  Just me being pedantic…  It’s the whole vacuum/Hoover thing really…  As for iTunes, don’t get me started on how horrible that is…  😉


I thought I’d do a little post about the Podcasts that I find most interesting at the moment.  The reason for doing this is that I always find it difficult to find good Podcasts to listen to that aren’t irritating or really amateurish, so this could be useful to someone.

So, to the list! (all of which are available on iTunes..)

1.  Hollywood Babble-on – Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman

Currently my favourite of all the Smodcasts, this one is a recorded live show and features Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman in a relatively structured format.   Ralph Garman is a KROQ radio host based in LA and got together with Kevin Smith for this podcast after numerous guest spots by Smith on Garman’s section of The Kevin and Bean show on KROQ.  Primarily centred around current Hollywood and general entertainment news, the pair chat and improvise on topical themes, but the podcast has evolved over the last year to have it’s own in jokes, so is worth listening to from the beginning; new episodes aren’t confusing though even if you haven’t listened to the old ones!

2.  Answer Me This! – Helen Zaltzman and Olly Mann (not forgetting Martin the soundman)

This is sort of like ‘The Last Word’ in New Scientist, but about any subject, if that helps…  A simple premise, whereby listeners send in questions and the presenters discuss what the answers either are or could be.  Generally, the questions are either silly or odd, although some are quite sensible, but it is mainly the good rapport and conversation between the hosts that makes this a winner.  As an aside, Helen Zaltzman is the sister of comedian Andy Zaltzman…

3.  Hardcore History – Dan Carlin

Dan Carlin is an American Political commentator and not a professional historian.  That said, he brings a remarkable passion and knowledge to these podcasts, which are highly engrossing.  The delivery is well executed and even some of what could the most boring subjects become engaging.

4.  A Bit of a Chat with Ken Plume

Quite an intimate podcast in feel, this features phone or skype calls between the eponymous Ken Plume and a guest, who either chat about random things, the guests career or some topical event/item.  Mr Plume, a nerdy, lovable fellow with a love of Dr Who, chats to whoever he finds interesting, so there is a good mix of well known people and other equally interesting, but less known writers, comedians, musicians and actors.  Guests have included: Molly Lewis, Graham Linehan, David Mitchell, Paul F. Tompkins, Ricky Gervais, Jane Goldman, Dan Harmon, Jeri Ryan, Tim Minchin and Jonathan Coulton to name but a few!

5.  Nerdist – Chris Hardwick, with Jonah Ray and Matt Mira

Chris Hardwick (of Singled out!) hosts this podcast, with contributors Jonah and Matt, which is a lighthearted look at all things nerd, as part of his Nerdist empire.  Quite often there will be a guest who will shape what direction the conversation will go in, but sometimes the show is more freeform or about some topical item.  Guests have included Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, Alison Brie, Bryan Cranston, Alison Scagliotti, Neil Gaiman, Eliza Dushku, and many more, so you can see what audience this is targeted at!

6.  Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews

The best film reviews you’ve ever heard!  I hope that isn’t overselling it.  🙂  Basically, Mark Kermode is a great film reviewer and also a highly interesting chap, and Simon Mayo is the perfect foil for him, letting their banter naturally flow.  Often highly insightful, and also passionate about film, Kermode is good in every show, but his rants are things of beauty.

7.  Tell ’em Steve-Dave – Bryan Johnson, Walt Flanagan, and Brian Quinn

Another Smodcast show, Tell ’em Steve-Dave is the east coast group of Kevin Smith friends, who do a relatively free form weekly podcast.  Occasionally structured around a theme, more often than not it will be vaguely centred around a topical event in their lives.  Each cast member has a distinctive personality and the more you learn about them the more you get out of it, finding yourself more engrossed in their lives and foibles.

Hopefully, there will be something in the above list that you find interesting and if anyone has any suggestions, then feel free to share! 🙂

My Type 40 Tardis

This is my first attempt at a post, so please be gentle, even if you think it’s pants!!!

The creator asked me to post a photograph of my Tardis which currently sits in my back garden. It’s based on the Type 40 Mark 1 Time Capsule as used by the Doctor, who borrowed it on a permenant basis from his home world of Gallifrey…. You don’t need me to tell you that as you already know!!

It resembles a 1963 Police Box which were situated practically on every street corner of London. I currently use mine for storage, you know things like my car, my motorcycle and various gardening furnature because its bigger on the inside!!!

If you like this post I will happily do another going into more detail on the said Time Machine and other’s like it from Doctor Who. I await the feedback!!

Many Thanks

Breaking Bad – The show you should really watch (if you ever get the chance)

A few weeks back, at the quiz night* I host, I read out a question that for some reason proved more difficult than I imagined it would.  Now, I write the quiz myself, so carefully pitch the questions so that they are of a suitably difficult nature, but there should be enough of a clue for them to be fair for even the most quiz hating participant; at the very least it should be possible to take a guess.

The question was:  “Bryan Cranston stars in which chemistry influenced series?”

Not too hard I thought, but I was a little surprised when many people were stumped…

Clearly, ‘Breaking Bad’ was not as well known as I had thought, which is a terrible thing, as it is a gem amongst the dross that TV churns out.

What struck me was that not only had they not seen it, but they weren’t even aware of it.  For a show of this quality that is surprising, but also highlights the poor marketing, lack of respect for the viewer and lack of respect for the show shown by the TV channels.

Breaking Bad in the UK has had a patchy run.  FX showed the first season, FiveUSA showed the second season and then… nothing.  Season 3 got dropped like a hot potato and the latest Season, which got underway in the US recently, is unlikely to be shown.  Not a situation you would expect of a show created by Vince Gilligan, who has an excellent track record, well known to X-Files fans.

For those that don’t know the show, very briefly, the premise is this:

Walter White, a high school Chemistry teacher is diagnosed with cancer and to make sure that his family are taken care of financially, he decides to make some fast money by cooking meth.  As he has no connections with this world, he teams up with a drug user and ex-student, Jesse Pinkman and the new venture stutters into life, with huge consequences for all involved.

While this premise may seem bleak, and the drama is indeed downbeat and extremely bleak, there is a dark humour running throughout the show that never lets it truly hit rock bottom.  The shows greatest asset though is its writing, with perfectly balanced scenes of mundane life and high drama, both moving at a snails pace and then quickly as events unfold.  It is a tribute to the actors and the script that the slow pace of many of the episodes doesn’t feel like it’s dragging, but just adds to the tension of plot.

So, for something so good, how can it be that it is so unknown in the UK?

For some reason, the show has not found an audience, or at least a large audience, in the UK.  This could be down to the subject matter, the channel, or it could be down to scheduling.   It is quite possible that FX and FiveUSA may not be everyones first port of call for their entertainment, so the channel could well be a factor and scheduling may have had an impact, but I suspect that the subject matter and pacing may have been the reasons.  This is a great shame though, as if you allow the slow pace to pull you in, the time spent with it is highly rewarding and much like ‘The Wire’, the depth and quality of the writing continues to reward you on repeated viewings.

Unfortunately, many of todays TV companies and viewers favour the fast paced, quick cutting crime dramas, but Breaking Bad is more considered and refined;  More Hitchcock than hokey procedural.

If you like decent drama, with depth, thought and executed perfectly, get hold of the DVDs  and enjoy!

*P.S.  Yes, I like a quiz.  It’s nerdy I know, but fun, so there… 🙂

GoW3 intro…

Not sure if there are any other Gears of War fans reading this (aside from Darren), but I am a massive fan. And this video – which is actually the intro cinematic to Gears of War 3 – has me all kinds of excited, especially since I’m currently reading the last of the tie-in books “Coalitions End”.

The clip’s called “We’re all Stranded now”, and those who’ve played the games/read the books will get the meaning behind that. Watch, enjoy, and join me in squeeeeeeeing like a girl.

They’re cancelling Eureka….

Now, I’m something of a newcomer to the Eureka party. I only really started watching it a few months back when Hibiscus got her hands on the DVD’s of series – sorry, season – one (and because Felicia Day kept mentioning her guest appearances on Twitter), but right from the off I could tell this was something I was going to enjoy. Likeable characters I could relate to, a glut of techy sci-fi nonsense, a good sense of humour, and plenty of eye candy.

I hasten to add that Colin Ferguson is not what I consider "eye-candy"

And now SyFy (stupid spelling for a TV channel) have decided to cancel this surprisingly popular series only days after confirming a sixth series. Cancelling a series is bad enough, but doing almost immediately after you’ve told everyone they have another series is just malicious. What’s more, is that in a press release regarding the cancellation, they praise the crew, the cast, and the writers, thank their supportive fanbase, promise that the remaining season yet to be aired will be bigger, better, and draw in ever more fans. Surely if a show’s doing that well, and is set to do even better, pulling the plug on it is just stupid?

“After painstaking consideration, we have had to make the difficult business decision to not order a season six of Eureka. But Eureka is not over yet. There is a new holiday episode this December and 12 stellar episodes set to debut next year, marking its fifth season and six memorable years on Syfy. The 2012 episodes are some of the best we’ve seen, and will bring this great series to a satisfying end. We are very grateful to Bruce Miller and Jaime Paglia, their team of incredible writers, and an amazing cast and crew who have consistently delivered a series we continue to be very proud of. We thank the fans for their support of this show and know they will enjoy its final season in 2012.”

Maybe I’m failing to grasp some vital part of making TV shows. Maybe I’m just being naive. As Slackwagon has pointed out in his posts here on this august blog, TV execs like shows that make money off the bat, so I could understand Eureka being cancelled after series one, but after five series? Maybe it was supposed to be cancelled earlier, but someone never got the memo. Or maybe SyFy are total arse-hats.

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