Tuesday, 31 October 2006

November "Attitude" - Take That, History Boys etc

Sorry I failed to cover last month's annual "Porn" issue (actually not one of their best) but here's a bumper crop of scans from the current issue. The re-united Take That are on the cover with an exclusive photoshoot and an interview with Anthony Crank. Ironically it's now Gary Barlow looking the fittest - the others look a bit ravaged.

Despite getting a coup with the 90s pop combo, the magazine are a bit slow on getting a feature on "The History Boys" which was released here in mid-October. I apologise in advance that the layout means I've cut 4 of the cast out of the trouser-dropping shot.

Lastly, as they rarely have attractive fashion spreads the fact they have 2 retro-styled shots mean I've included an example from each.

Also inside is a quick chat with chanteuse Amy Winehouse whose current single "Rehab" is a current favourite of mine.

Monday, 30 October 2006

Torchwood: "The Ghost Machine" 8/10

Probably the best episode of the 3 shown so far, though still with its faults so not quite a 9 from me. I've not read or heard any other views yet, but I'd imagine those disappointed or appalled at the first 2 episodes (if they stayed) were better pleased with Helen Raynor's "The Ghost Machine" - a fairly simple plot requiring minimal special effects. Basically all about an alien device and the indirect effects it has. In fact it was so simple that the first 10 minutes or so, dealing with Gwen's experience of the device (where she is psychologically 'sent back' to experience the fear and loneliness of a schoolboy evacuee during the war) was something of a 'red herring' once the main plot followed up Owen's traumatic flashback to a 1963 murder via the titular device. Burn Gorman really took the opportunity to shine as the obsessed Owen, adding much needed dimensions to the character, especially in two face-offs with Gareth Thomas playing the murderer tracked down after 43 years.

As noted I'd say this was Owen's episode, and the faults for me mainly lay with attempts to shoehorn in more of Jack and Gwen. The aforementioned first 1o minutes, led by Gwen, hinting at a menace which never came to pass and, more so, a scene with Jack in the Hub's shooting gallery didn't really get us anywhere but were very well done.

This episode has been largely drained of the black humour that had been to the fore in episodes 1 and 2. Possibly a little too much - with Owen otherwise engaged we looked to Captain Jack and caught him on a 'serious' day. This bossy and brooding Jack is now far removed from the cheeky rogue met by the ninth Doctor and Rose. Hope we haven't lost that Jack for good.

I also had a slight problem with the 'ghost machine' foretelling events as well as recalling them, especially if the premonitions don't neccessarily come true - as was key in the climax of the episode.

Another small niggle for me was the "Strictly Come Dancing" line which should have placed the episode around Christmas week (if the final was on TV). It obviously wasn't Christmas so the word 'final' should have been avoided. But a very minor quibble.

Next week's episode looks to be Ianto's with the discovery of his alarming secret in the basement. I'm guessing it will be really bad or really good.

Screengrabs courtesy of The Institute

Thursday, 26 October 2006

Porn Star Peek 24

Monday, 23 October 2006

Torchwood: "Everything Changes"/"Day One"

I wasn’t disappointed by “Torchwood”, though some elements are a little overfamiliar for this genre. I’ll be watching it all over again on BBC2 on Wednesday. Here’s my random thoughts on both episodes.

Though I’m apparently the minority on this, I slightly preferred Chris Chibnalls’s episode 2 better than RTDs opener. Basically because, as happens regularly, Russell’s episode was full of great one-liners but had plotholes you could drive a tractor through. It was most glaring in Captain Jack’s relationship with and knowledge of both Torchwood and the good Doctor. Apparently Jack is in Cardiff, home of the Time Rift, to wait for the Doctor and is keeping himself busy with Torchwood. But Torchwood has been tracking the Doctor anyway, and he was in the Canary Wharf HQ during the battle between Daleks and Cybermen, an event Jack is completely aware of. If he’s gone to the trouble of finding and treasuring the Doctor’s Sycorax-severed hand, surely he’d have tried to meet up with the rest of him? Why’s it so likely that the Doctor will pitch up in Cardiff? – he’s only been there twice and the first visit was by mistake. And why is the hand so special that the sex-obsessed alien used it as a ‘hostage’ in episode 2? Is Jack waiting for a specific time and place?

Chris Chibnall though trumped RTD with the glorious “came and went” quip by Captain Jack referring to the victim who fatally evaporated upon reaching orgasm.

There’s a certain triumph of style over substance (a little too many aerial shots of Cardiff and a completely pointless scene of Captain Jack looking heroic atop a tall building) but all likeable and largely forgivable. The first episode introduced us to the team and new girl Gwen plus packed in two big shocks at its climax. I’d been spoiled by one (Jack being indestructible, presumably thanks to Rose) and had guessed the other (Suzie NOT being a regular or a goodie) but they still had the desired effect. The subtler point of Gwen ‘replacing’ the corrupt Suzie and thus providing Torchwood with a moral heart rather than an amoral mission wasn’t lost on me either. How Jack never really being in any life-threatening danger plays out will be interesting – it seems only Gwen is in on this secret so far. Presumably he can't even be injured. Also Jack appears to know future events as well so surely he’s one up on everyone anyway. Was he here when the TARDIS landed above in “Boom Town”?

Hopefully Torchwood itself will be explained more fully in future episodes. Just now it’s hard to square this affably amateur Torchwood branch (#3 of 4) with the xenophobic and pristine HQ seen in “Army of Ghosts”/”Doomsday”. Just how much amnesia drugs and hard-drive hacking is needed to retain their security? Who funds them if they’re outside of the UN or government – are the Royals still in charge? The Hub looks like it requires a lot of expensive upkeep, as well as regular pizzas. Why has Tosh got a transfer from UNIT (or was she undercover in "Aliens of London"/"World War Three"?). Why is the ostensibly American Captain Jack in charge of Queen Victoria’s imperial spooks? And what of Jack’s timeline – how long has he been with “Torchwood” and why is he trusted since the team admit to knowing very little of him (are these employees immune to psychic paper?). How long has it been in his life since the events on Satellite Five? Does he even age?

Oh and Burn Gorman (given the honour of being the first "Torchwood" nude in ep 2) is a bit buffer than I expected!

Anyway I loved the ride for 100 minutes and can't wait for episode 3.

My ratings :
"Everything Changes" 7/10
"Day One" 8/10

26 October update: rewatched both episodes on BBC2 screening last night. Slightly happier with both (but not enough to amend my apparently controversial marking), as I was able to spot things I missed first time as where was too much to take in. These were especially small but important bits of dialogue and the odd vague scene which meant more in hindsight. I still feel "Day One" flows better, untied from the many obligations the opener had to include. The plot is very familiar from many a sci-fi show, but it has less plotholes and belief suspension breakdowns than its immediate predeccessor. Equally the non explanation of so many things about the status and modus operandi of Torchwood 3 itself really lets "Everything Changes" down badly. While ep 2 does no better it was certainly the duty of the debut story to do that. And Suzie's actions and motivation leading to the shock climax are odd and/or sketchy. Why confont Gwen at a spot she knows is carefully watched from below - Suzie herself revealed this to Gwen earlier! How did she know when and if Gwen would turn up anyway? I doubt the latter two gripes will be resolved later in the series but I've some hope the main "Torchwood" questions might be. As to the mystery of Captain Jack himself, and his immortality, well I think we can all guess the latter condition and I'm happy that the backstory of the man himself will unravel slowly. The immortality has given him a darker air than the Jack we knew in 2005. He also has an unquestioned authority with his colleagues - I noticed in the repeat screenings how both Ianto and Owen call him 'sir' in a completely unforced manner.
Episode 3 - guest starring Gareth Thomas and John Normington - looks to be a departure from the slightly flippant first pair of episodes. Given that writer Helen Raynor so impressed RTD with this one that he gave her a DW season 3 two-parter slot, I'm very encouraged that things can only get better.

Porn Star Peek 23

Thanks to my mate Stuart I am able to re-instate this favourite feature ...

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Glasgow at Night

Not one of mine alas, but I felt this was such a stunning shot I should share. Includes the newly built BBC Scotland HQ (on the left) and the Clyde Arc.

More from the photographer accessed via


Wednesday, 18 October 2006

New Lanark: 14/10/06

Having missed several exploring opportunities over the late summer, the very mild conditions last Saturday set me off toward one of my targets - New Lanark. Unfortunately I set off a little tardy, around midday, and made the oh-so-wrong decision to go via unlovely Cumbernauld. Like an omen it clouded over as I alighted the bus in the centre. I needed to change to a local bus to take me to the train station (and thence to Motherwell and Lanark) so looked for direction signs, bus stance indicators and timetables. There were none. I looked for a way to cross the main road to the other side, where the eastward buses stopped. There was none. I ventured upstairs into the grey and soul destroying 60s mall where I knew a covered bridge joined both sides. Even this proved difficult for the uninitiated to navigate, though I made a note of the business card machine hidden up there. Eventually, having found no clues to getting any place and with a very real chance of getting stranded in the mall or environs for the afternoon I spied a taxi rank and made my chauffuer-driven escape, certain that I'd be doing the same on my return leg. At the train station the brusque women in the ticket office told me there were no tickets either and that I'd have to pay on the train. At least they had timetables and ready markings of which platform to choose. The sun re-appeared as I awaited the Motherwell train.
Suffice to say, on an October afternoon, I reached Lanark around 4pm. Admittedly I diverted via the local Wetherspoons (using up some newly acquired money-off vouchers which made my glass of wine £1.25) but I knew the unseasonal warmth and sunshine would be evaporating before too long. Headed down the small valley which is occupied by the village of New Lanark itself. The first of the photos above was taken from the path down. I snapped away for about 20 mins max before working up a sweat in my winter coat on the uphill path back out of the valley. I got a bit lost again in Lanark itself but managed to re-trace the transport links back to the dreaded new town. Standing waiting in the roadside 'hole' which 'serves' the eastward buses I was ignored by the first Dunfermline-bound bus and had to wait there for another half hour! Not recommended.
Paid for a third taxi back home from what remains of Dunfermline Bus Station but I'd missed "Strictly Come Dancing", "Robin Hood", "Casualty" and forgot to put a ticket into the triple rollover lottery.
Hope you enjoy the snapshots from an unexpectedly stressful Saturday.

Thursday, 12 October 2006

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