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logowas a dream come true for the world at large. A site in gorgeous flash encoding, that served up Heroes, Prison Break, The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, American Heroes, Prison Dad, and Family Break, as well as thousands of old films (and even the entire Doogie Howser back-catalogue if you’re that way inclined) for one and all to watch in streaming HD. No clogged up harddrives or waiting times. Touch my face and call me Susan, it’s an internet miracle.

And the only restriction, it seemed, was the week or so delay between Terrestrial broadcast and netcast required to make the licensing between the Big Media companies who owned the shows and Hulu, their own joint venture, hold up in the stiff breeze of desperately needed TV Ad revenue streams (come on, a mixed weather metaphor is pretty sweet.)

Hulu is configured to recognise your IP address and boot you out of the site with not so much as a flicker of Jack Bauer’s tradesmile to send you on your way back to your own shitty, unilluminated life if you’re not in the US (read either “Not from round here, boy” or even “Unamerican”.)

WHAT? Watching 24 outside the US? That's Terrorism sir...

WHAT? Watching 24 outside the US? That's Terrorism sir...

But gladly a nice free unobtrusive IP Anonymizer application called Hotspotshield allowed you to dodge that Entertainment Bullet by making your connection seem like it was in the US via a huge free VPN circuit you can simply tag into. And the cost? Nothing, HSS automatically sends banner ads your way, so you can buy a mail-order bride whilst Wahey for free US TV again!

Well you can go fuck yourself if you think THAT wasn’t going to change. Hulu caught wise to this little trick (presumably after some complete Sweaty Park Cock ratted on the rest of teh interwebz and told a technician at Hulu, or maybe they worked it out for themselves – less exciting, that one,) and has blocked HSS IP addresses, so now all of the world that isn’t Manifest Destiny has to get its fun from this sexy little image:

Yeah baby, I could look at this for hours

Yeah baby, I could look at this for hours

Already the tech bloggers are squawking angrily about “Hulu’s decision to geoblock its content” – which is half-fair, because really it’s Fox, NBC etc who are making that rule up, and Hulu has to take the flak for being contractually obliged to enforce it and thereby NOT going to prison for eight billion years and pay infinity plus $8 in fines. And read Chaucer (a less well-known but equally gruesome pubnishment for piracy these days. Look it up. DO IT.)

Of course the internet is a big angry Hydra; cut off one path and eight new ones appear in its place. Not only is the staff of HSS running around, seven dusty servers in each arm, looking for an abandoned warehouse to plug their gadgets into (and probably ironically looking for an anonymiser program of their own), but there’s already talk of other anonymising programs that might still do the trick. You won’t find the list here because reading about it online is probably one of the reasons why the bastards found out and aren’t rotting in jail. TRAITORS.

So it’s back to torrents and other even more illegal behaviours for most of the world who simply can’t be bothered to wait the 84 inexplicable months between release dates in the US and everywhere else.

Still, we DO have the BBC iPlayer in the UK, so I’m alright Jack. Which is on tonight…

Mitch Hedberg’s first posthumously released album is being released on September 9th 2008. It’s called Do You Believe in Gosh? and will feature all new material.

For those who aren’t familiar with Hedberg: if Jean Genet and Monty Python were to invent a Frankenstein One-Liner Comedian, the result would be Mitch Hedberg.

He stands out as one of the few comedians whose work is not smutty, offensive, political or “edgy”, and whose subject matter is, as he once put it in an interview “about like Bananas and shit”, but who simultaneously is face-disruptingly hilarious.

Unfortunately he is also dead.

It is perhaps the singular irony of my history of appreciating Mitch Hedberg’s comedy that I only discovered his existence through the announcement on another comic’s site that he had passed away.

Curious about this special mention (and the many others that followed on other comics’ sites soon after the soul-destroying news set in) I went to Limewire and downloaded two large files that turned out to be Mitch’s only two commercial albums. Immediately it dawned on me what me and most of the world outside American college comedy tours had missed in this remarkable comedian. And suddenly I was sad this so recently unknown person had died.

Since his death in March 2005 the power of the internet (particularly in the form of http://www.hedburgh.com) has furnished me with more underground recordings and video clips than should rightly be available for such an underrated and unknown comedian.

And since his two albums were all he had commercially available, it meant rifling through poor quality bootlegs actually yielded unknown jokes and routines. It also let you hear just how many of the audience had committed to memory his incredible one-liners as they yell them out in a comedic frenzy.

And when you hear the jokes, it becomes obvious why he had this effect.

– I haven’t slept for ten days, because that would be too long.

– I got an ant farm…them fellas didn’t grow shit.

– I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too.

– I’m against picketing, but I don’t know how to show it.

– I wrote a script and gave it to a guy that reads scripts. And he read it and said he really likes it, but he thinks I need to rewrite it. I said, “Fuck that, I’ll just make a copy.”

– I did a movie with Peter Frampton. He’s a musical genius, but I don’t listen to his stuff. So I had to continuously try to draw attention away from the fact. Hey Frampton! Do you like toast too!? As do I. It is warm and crispy and the perfect place for jelly to lay. Now stay away from me Frampton, I ain’t got shit to say to you!

In fact his appearance in the movie he mentions above was Almost Famous. Depressingly, he doesn’t utter a word. That movie would have torn my face off with awesomeness had they given him a role.

As with all good comedians, Bill Hicks, George Carlin (so recently deceased at the time of writing) it always seems too soon when they did (even for Carlin, who was a less than sprightly 71.)

With Mitch it is worse, because the nature of his material meant it was so short. To make matters worse, (or better?) Hedberg penned and directed an all-comedian star movie called “Los Enchiladas” featuring the wonderfully acerbic Dave Attell and the other top one-line machine Todd Barry (whom I accidentally saw live in new York in 2004 before I knew what I was witnessing.)

What’s so heartbreaking is that it is commercially unreleased, with only a few teaser clips online. We can only hope, pray and quietly will it that the world will hopefully latch onto this guy, and that we will all become 13% more happy.

After his death the following show aired on the E! Channel in 2006.

And thanks again to the persistence of Mitch’s fans and the internet, the new cd has finally been greenlighted and features unreleased live material from January 2005, a few months before this wonderful soul’s demise. The release will be from Comedy Central Records. And it will rock.

Til then, you’ll find me listening to the bootlegs, and reminiscing about times I don’t even remember.

Do yourself a favour and buy these albums.

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Last night, right before I went to sleep, I had a movie flashback – three kids, some kind of bubble, space travel and weird aliens on some kind of circuit-board style ship.

Only ten years ago I would have been stumped and would have to wait to accidentally catch a rerun to ever find out what this movie actually was. However, thanks to the wonder of the community chest that is the internet, it took all of nine seconds and a perceptive Yahoo Answers entry to get me what I needed.

Here, as a tribute to those movies, and my lost youth, are those key nostaglia-tastic movies of the 80s that don’t make it into conversation anymore, except as part of a vague unanswerable question.

This one’s for me, for my brother and sister, and for all kindred spirits caught in that otherwise forgettable age of the 80’s, here are those classics that creep in the far corners of our minds like the madwoman in the attic. Torrent Files linked in the title. Spread the love.

1. Explorers



Yup, the bubble space travel movie I watched by accident when I was, dunno, seven? Turns out that enticing story of three boys who run a computer program that creates a sphere that can be programmed to travel, holding the boys inside it, was the young work of River Phoenix, Ethan Hawke and James Cromwell (supporting, not one of the boys, he was old even then…)

IMDB tells us, Ben Crandall, an alien-obsessed kid, dreams one night of a circuit
board. Drawing out the circuit, he and his friends Wolfgang and Darren
set it up, and discover they have been given the basis for a starship.
Setting off in the ThunderRoad, as they name their ship, they find the
aliens Ben hopes they would find… but are they what they seem?

Well obviously not. But I don’t remember the outcome. Bittorrent here I come (oh come on, it’s gotta be public domain now.)

Trailer:


2. Flight of Dragons


Read my lips: THIS MOVIE IS BETTER THAN YOUR FAMILY. A brilliant self-reflexive tale based on Peter Dickinson’s real life book “Flight of Dragons.” Dickinson, as well as his book, appears in the movie in both a ‘real life’ world and a parallel magic world, whose conflict with reality is the basis for the movie in the first place. Fredric Jameson would have loved this film, which stars James Earl Jones as a baddie that would kick Darth Vader’s cack black Helmet right into Chewbacca’s furry face. Watch it and be educated in what makes good storytelling.

I had a chance to thank Don McLean who wrote the title track recently. He looked puzzled that I didn’t mention American Pie of Starry Starry Night.

Whole movie:

3. Flight of the Navigator

So synonymous with Christmas in my family the movie causes synaethsesia, and the mention on its name alone makes me smell presents, oranges, outlandish dolls that are also nutcrackers and general merriment. From the freakish voice that guides our boy hero into a secret hangar that houses a spaceship, floating quietly, to those melting stairs that solidify perfectly in midair, to the computer that starts off as a dull automaton, then absorbs the boy’s socio-cultural influences and starts talking like Kermit the frog on ADHD drugs. Brilliant, thoughtful, and fun!

Trailer


4. The Peanut Butter Solution




Cultural effect – minimal.
Total viewing audience – 3 including me.
Story-telling ability – 3 billion. And then some.

Ok, what other Canadian made for TV movie I saw serendipitously in a fringe Cinema in the 80’s (that still exists by the way!) features an evil artist whose paintings you can step into, a disused house whose mysterious contents scare the hair off a boy, tramps that tell the boy that peanuts and dead flies wiped all over the scalp will solve his problem, hair that grows visibly, hair harvesting for magic paintbrushes….OH MY GOD THIS MOVIE IS CRAZY. The production company has wonderfully stuck to its crazy guns all these years too. When I saw this flick at the age of 7, I was so scared I quit my Youth Group and had nightmares. Awesome.

Whole movie in lieu of dead torrent:

5. The Storyteller



Ok it’s not a movie but a series. Fine, BUT – Written by peacefully resting Anthony Minghella, created somewhere between England and the US, puppets by Jim Henson and narrated by John Hurt – how was this going to be anything but “The Awesome?” Only a few episodes exist (nine in all), and each inhabit a realm between puppetry, live action, Grimm Tales and modern storytelling, it was usually to be found in the gaps between Flight of the Navigator and Explorers on the Christmas Schedule. Poetic, subtle, rich, the kind of entertainment that makes kids into better people.

6. Weird Science

One of the first Buzzwords at my boarding school was Weird Science. “Have you seen it?” Damn right I saw it. I saw the shit out of it. And again we stumble upon famous people in movies, a la Explorers. This time it’s Anthony Michael Hall (of the actually quite dull Pirates of Silicon Valley) and Kelly LeBrok playing the role of every 80’s boy’s girlfriend…

The TV series spin-off means that this entry is a little more mainstream than twisted peanut butter hair magic house crazy stories, but it’s a gem nonetheless.

Trailer:


7. Dark Crystal

Jim Henson reappears on the list (in a movie directed by the the brilliant Frank Oz, who somehow manages to be the director of this, Death at a Funeral AND the voice of Yoda) in a wonderful story that…well, I don’t really remember but it was GREAT.

over to IMDB:

Another planet, another time. 1000 years ago the mysterious Dark
Crystal was damaged by one of the Urskeks and an age of chaos has
began! The evil race of grotesque birdlike lizards the Skeksis, gnomish
dragons who rule their fantastic planet with an iron claw. Meanwhile
the orphan Jen, raised in solitude by a race of the peace-loving
wizards called the Mystics, embarks on a quest to find the missing
shard of the Dark Crystal which gives the Skesis their power and
restore the balance of the universe.

All I remember is being terrified of those puppets.

Trailer


8. The Last Unicorn

Made by the Flight of Dragons Team of Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass (who made shedloads of awesome stuff including animated versions The Hobbit and Return of the King, though no-one seems to remember these), this is another GREAT example of 80’s creativity. I’ve included the German cover as it was infinitely more popular in Germany and the country deserves credit for that.

Trailer


It is my hope that posts like these and so many others might lend a little extra life to these gems embedded in the long tail of internet culture. Keep them alive. They were made for love, not profit. Long may they live!

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I’m hardly a mouth-frothing fan of Coldplay, but the new video for Violet Hill, produced by Between The Eyes cuts together archive footage of politicians such as Bush and Blair singing, dancing and playing music to the time of the song.

Additional horrifying footage of the dead of war, terrorist training videos and such makes this a macabre celebration of destruction and oblivion by the elected and selected of the world.

Good work.

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The will of the TV executive is as mysterious as the ways in which God is said to move.

Shows that are commissioned that never should have been aired because they are rampantly frog-stupid. Take any of the Big Brother’s after Series 1. Or those dancing shows. Or that brainless TV clip show. Or your face. That’s right – I’m saying you should have never made that face.

Even worse is when true gems are cancelled after a limited, or even extended and quite successful run for no apparent reason other than appeasing the peon masses who “want to see more about Britney’s puke on eBay.” Dullards. But anyway…

Here are the gems we have been deprived of in recent years. For each one listed I will be praying to the dark lord SATAN for justice to be reaped in the form of a faceful of poisoned locusts.

5. Carnivale

2 Seasons of crazy malevolent metaphorical carny-drama which served as a backdrop for the ultimate battle between good and evil. And fuck me was it great. It featured the weird wobbly-headed dwarf from David Lynch’s movies, who spoke of magic at the beginning of the (alas but) 2 seasons and served a wonderful turn as the go-between for the carny folk and the mysterious “management” – a shady character who doesn’t appear until right at the end of season 2. The show was master of two things:

a) Cinematography – Carnivale was shot in the most amazing way, that made every scene look like a real old style dustbowl American photo brough to life. The opening credits alone, with the eerie half country and western, half Arabian music, is unbelievably impressive.

b) Things happening really slowly. Unusually for a TV show, Carnivale took its time. Plots would take hours to unfold, developments were few (but unpredictable) – it was atmosphere itself.

Just as the series reached a crucial 2nd season finale, with main characters possessed, dying and other things that I’m not going to tell you, HBO pulled the rug from under creator Daniel Knauf’s project, and we quite simply are left with no resolution. Like reading Douglas Adam’s last and uncompleted novel The Salmon of Doubt, it’s an amazing piece, but all the more depressing when you come to the end of the work with no resolution. DAMN YOU HBO!

4. Firefly

Not surprisingly, Fox Network make their first of many appearances on this list (mostly because they are absolute losers when it comes to preservation of good programming.) Firefly was the brainchild of Buffy creator Joss Whedon. The episodes, which follow the adventures of a motley crew of interplanetary pirate cowboys, who are good natured but STEAL SHIT.

A marvellous cross between wild western and science fiction, the show was basically fucked in the face by Fox executives. The episodes were shown out of chronological order (dddudhdudhdudhdddddddduuuuuuuhh!!!111) and the show was binned like a bad tuna sandwich after about 14 episodes. The consequent uproar by Firefly fans around the world and rampant DVD sales spawned the film Serenity which kikked ass with three k’s.

For more info on the quite weirdly wonderful story of the fans’ takeback, look for a documentary called Done The Impossible, released in 2006. Actually, don’t look for it, just click that link. Wow, teh interwebs.

Whedon said he’s never work with Fox again after the debacle. Only now he is. What a tool-bar.

3. The Adventures of Brisco County Jnr


Anyone who knows Bruce Campbell or his work can stop reading now. He’s a legend.
For everyone else, go buy the damn DVD box set. Here was yet another cross between sci-fi and the Old West (only it came first, having been made in 1993 or so.) AND it had the mother of all chins, Campbell in it.

Campbell (or Brucey-babes as no-one calls him) plays a sheriff Brisco of the title, who is out to avenge his dead father, who was murdered by the Bly Gang (headed by a seedy and amazingly focussed Billy Drago, whose real name is actually William Burroughs, but he changed it so as not to be confused with the author of the same name no I don’t get out much actually now you come to mention it.)

Brisco and a few other bounty hunters loosely revolve around a plot to find The Orb, some kind of crazy mystical time machine thing. The show is filled with deliberate anachronisms and running gags about the future, alluded to as “the coming thing” – a must for anyone who appreciates quality television CUT DOWN IN ITS PRIME BY FOX THE COX! I’M NOT YELLING THE CAPS LOCK JUST BROKE.

2. Family Guy


Family Guy got axed in 2003 if I remember rightly. Why? Because the cocksucking witch who ACTUALLY controls Fox told some snake-limbed exec to do so, of course. After a successful run in the US and the UK (where, thanks to the monitors not actually realising that Family Guy is NOT for children, the show was first broadcast at aroun 3pm in the afternoon pm) the show vanished after season 3. Back-slapping all round, douche-bags.

Again, fans rallied. Sites sprang up demanding back the Griffins, Quagmire, the whole crew “back on the air now before I stab you with this bit of lead”. And when the DVDs went on sale in the UK, they outsold all other TV shows put together times 432.

Ok that’s a lie. But it did VERY well.

Fox buckled like the animal abusing losers they are and put it back on primetime so we could all download it on torrents again whilst complaining about show’s getting cancelled due to lack of revenue.

AND to Fox’s credit, they commissioned American Dad!, a sister show with independent characters that has, to my mind, ended up stronger than Family Guy. But anyway. Both Seasons are now well into their senior years.

1. Futurama.


This one was less the fault of Fox and more the fault of…oh wait – FOX!!!! Due to some dispute about creator Matt Groening’s Simpsons show, Futurama got unrenewed after 4 fabulous maths in-joke laden seasons of geekery.

Once again the “pig of luck” struck and, in November 2007, Futurama’s creators David X Cohen and Groening were reinstated as ‘rulers of everything”. In addition to the season the first of what is rumoured to be four feature-length movieswas released called “Bender’s Big Score.” And it ruled my face off. I now need plastic surgery. Here’s what I intend to look like.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:
Arrested Development – I loved the Bluths. It’s the crazy show that could. And I’m really glad it did.

Wonder Showzen – This show actually changed the way I think about television. Buy both seasons. MTV2 did something right for once in it’s crap life. And then negated that good immediately by cancelling the shit out of this amazing yet mental show.

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