Wednesday, 29 November 2006

Porn Star Peek 30

Challenging times ...

Sorry for my slight disappearance - I've had a challenging few days with transport-induced stress on Sunday and a conference at work (which I was chief arranger & gopher for) on Monday and Tuesday. As a team building exercise an unfortunate few of us were promised a hillwalk in the Pentlands over Monday lunch. I hadn't bargained for the 'hill' being the highest peak in the range - Carnethy Hill - which is 470m high and described as a steep ascent. About the only item of kit I had right was my boots, and I'd been drinking the night before. Not recommended. My camera's batteries wore out half way up Turnhouse Hill (and I knew just how the battery felt) but I have a handful of pics somewhere.

Also had to get through an Indian meal in the evening (I really don't do Indian, but my pleas were ignored). We packed a table of 12 in the Indian Cavalry Club and I had Chicken Kalari - OK apart from my accidentally chewing a green chilli - washed down with several stubbies of Strongbow (I also don't do beer or lager) . Must be a top place - First Minister Jack McConnell was dining at an adjacent table.

I think my troubles (with Stagecoach buses) on Sunday may yet deserve a post of its own and a letter of complaint.

Also, my "Torchwood" review will be late because of my misadventures on that day, and my going to see "Casino Royale" tonight.

Friday, 24 November 2006

Brand spanking new PS3 smashed up

Gladdening the heart of anti-consumerists everywhere and frightening everyone else.

My pick from Media Guardian's first Top 20 Viral chart.

Porn Star Peek 29

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Those Sean Lamont pics!

This is Sean as rugby fans are used to seeing him ...

... and these are not! Sorry, I can't give you the full glory of the second shot (I now see why 'The Sun' censored it last week) but it is on the Dieux du Stade calendar for 2007 or peek at
which is where I've happened upon them.

Apologies for taking so long!

Thanks to scott-o-rama I've found a third pic I think I can just get away with ...

Monday, 20 November 2006

Torchwood - "Countrycide" 8/10

I suspect the Welsh Tourist Board aren't quite as pleased with this episode.

I actually don't have much to say about this one - it was a competent and engaging stab at the horror genre, openly borrowing from more familiar films. The big problem here was the complete lack of explanation. No natural, supernatural or extra-terrestrial reasons were given for the curiously once-a-decade cannibals. The situation 'just was'. Surely the murder reports would have shown up every 10 years too? The reason for taking the whole gang to the Brecon Beacons was very ropey - "oh dear, maybe this is the rift widening its effects".Their so-not-Top-Secret SUV was swiped far to easily, as were their comms - Jack normally has that Bluetooth headset welded to his head. Equally, though I was amused by the scene, what need was there for the cannibal-in-chief (Owen Teale guesting) to feel up both Tosh and Ianto (earning a head-butt from the latter) ?

At least Tosh was given an equal share of the action this week, and appears to be the featured character next time. There was also a good nod of continuity to events in "Cyberwoman" which is only to be encouraged. Probably the major event of "Countrycide" was the sudden ramping up of the relationship between Gwen and Owen - now very definitely consensual and physical - in a surprise last scene.

Screencaps courtesy of The Institute

Porn Star Peek 28

Thursday, 16 November 2006

Frank Sidebottom!

Apparently one of my erstwhile icons is on the comeback trail and will be on Channel M at the weekend. Just a pity I don't get that on Freeview.

For the uninitiated, here's a small (and very blurry) taste, curtesy of YouTube

Torchwood - "Small Worlds" 9/10

There's been much anticipation of this "Torchwood" episode - possibly equal to that for the series as a whole. The reason is the author - P (Peter) J Hammond, creator of "Sapphire & Steel" for ITV in the late 70s - for whom this was a return to the genre. As many of the paranormal themes were repeated here I'm sure the devotees weren't too disappointed. I couldn't fault the themes and plot in general but a few niggles again deny "Small Worlds" a perfect 10 (one would be the boring title itself). Mainly this was the pedestrian/cliche direction by Alice Troughton (no relation to DW#2) but some things were also left unexplained. Whether the latter is down to Hammond or the script-editor I know not.
Though it was definitely another non-ensemble piece, I'm forgiving it for letting Captain Jack take centre-stage, making him a tad more sympathetic and revealing further exploits in his past. Gwen's prominence was undeserved, especially the fairies' arbitrary trashing of her flat - why? Equally why were the two schoolgirl bullies NOT killed by the nasty fairies, as they appeared to be the most prominent and everyday threat to their 'chosen one', Jasmine. All they got, literally, was the wind put up them. Contrast with Jack's wartime sweetheart being cruelly drowned by rain in her own garden, despite being sympathetic to what she felt were benign beings. Does not compute.

All of the above aside, it was a cracking episode. I loved the idea not only that the murderous baddies here were that childhood favourite - fairies - but that they were revealed to be spirited-away children themselves. And for me it was a bonus that these were not alien invaders but ancient forces at work across linear time. Also appreciated touches like their calling card often being a mouthful of rose petals stuffed into their victims mouth - especially memorable during their first attack on a lurking paedophile as he chokes and vomits through Cardiff's indoor market. Quite how Jack had a convenient nightmare of his prior 'fairy' experience in 1906 Lahore and then finding a single rose petal left on his desk is a bit more mysterious.

Good dual design on the CGI fairies, keeping some similarity between the dainty white ones and the 'winged Gollum' attack versions. And creepy use of the fluttering wings sound - subtle but effective.

Best for me was the climax. In two ways it was reminiscent of the resolution to last week's very different episode. Both had a member of the team making a painful decision, and in both cases a loved one was 'given up'. Unlike last week though this equally correct decision looked anything but as the sacrifice was the little schoolgirl Jasmine. Ultimately both Lisa and Jasmine were already on the dark side when we first meet them, even if neither are fully there. More intriguing is that Jasmine and her band of element-wielding 'hoodies' are still out there fully charged. Will this be followed up? Will Jack's decision to follow Jasmine's wishes be repaid?

A little worried about the deja-vu feeling of Hammer Horror yokels I got from the trailer for next week's episode - a pity as it's my favourite title so far - "Countrycide".

Monday, 13 November 2006

Porn Star Peek 27

Sleepy head

No "Torchwood" review today - only the latest victim of my nodding off on the sofa around 9ish. I've also missed the 2 consecutive episodes of "Spooks" and the finale of "The Amazing Mrs Pritchard". I think my head is still on BST.

"Torchwood" review on Thursday hopefully!

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Porn Star Peek 26

Torchwood - "Cyberwoman" 9/10

I've risked a nine on this one as it was such a rollicking good ride. Had its flaws again, but only ones which came to me later. The fact that they didn't distract from my enjoyment gets "Cyberwoman" extra.

If last week's episode showcased Owen this one (as expected) was Ianto's. Seen as little more than a discreet and subservient butler for The Hub up until now, the plot here really had the character (and actor) let rip. Basically Ianto has secretly saved his half-cybernised girlfriend Lisa in the Torchwood Three basement - her condition meted out in the embattled events of parent programme's "Doomsday".

Once 'Lisa' breaks loose and fatally cocks up the 'upgrade' of a Japanese expert Ianto has brought in to treat her, the rest of the team get involved and put the Hub on lockdown. Only Ianto refuses to believe his 'Lisa'is already gone and puts his colleagues at risk to prove it. There's a great twist of a dilemma at the bloody climax which made brilliant telly. Full marks to Gareth David-Lloyd for meeting the challenge - the episode stood or fell on his central role here. I'm especially thinking of Ianto's confrontation with Jack, his disgust at discovering Lisa's first victim, and his tears of desperation as he realises he must destroy all that is left of his girlfriend.

Apparently Neil Kinnock sponsored Lloyd's acting career in his youth - I think the trust has been repaid on this evidence. The fact that I agree with Captain Jack that Ianto looks good in a suit helps too (the suit needed a thorough dry clean after this episode I'm sure!). All the other team members get moments of their own here, and Jack really gets to test his immortality - it's hinted that he'd maybe prefer to die - and there's another same-sex kiss to tally as he breathes life into an unconscious (or dead?) Ianto at one point. I'm sure there are particular 'fans' out there that would have been het up about that, missing the point of the scene entirely. In fact the 'parallel' snog between Owen and Gwen was far more gratuitous, both in the narrative and in reality. Jack seemed to have his spark back too, which pleased me. A word too for Caroline Chikezie who suffered steel undies as the titular monster and managed to divide playing the human remains of Lisa from the calculating and ruthless cyberwoman.

This could have been a boring 'bottle' episode featuring only the standing Hub set and very few guest parts but it was packed heavy with action and pathos. Though I'm not sure if it's a good thing, this is the closest in style (and legacy) to "Doctor Who" that "Torchwood" has been so far. In part "Cyberwoman"was a direct sequel to the closing episodes of DW series two, in part it was a postmodern "Frankenstein", complete with Hammer Horror butchery. There were echoes too of the tragic lone opponent still being lethal theme of "Dalek" in 2005.

James Strong's direction was vibrant and effective - again playing to a sense of confined claustrophobia evident in his "Doctor Who" 2-parter this summer. It was all very red, black and silver-blue.

If I was to criticise, Lisa's ulimate demise (brain now transposed again into the body of an unfortunate pizza-delivery girl) under united gunfire of Jack, Gwen, Owen and Tosh seemed, well, overkill. That was the only glitch that registered at the time, souring an otherwise excellent scene. Shortly after I also realised it would have been nigh-on impossible for the surgery to have taken place without third party aid. But it was Ianto's dilemma that got me right there - sent back in to kill Lisa on the threat (or bluff, it transpired) that Jack would kill them both if he failed and then faced with the further horror of Lisa's second victim - a fate that came about from a 'logical' perversion of an extant human longing.

For much of the episode it appeared we were going to have a second 'regular' despatched in the space of four episodes, but thankfully poor Ianto is still there. As he's unaware of that potentially life-giving kiss, hopefully his understandable grudge against Jack won't be forgotten. There's definite mileage for future events there.

Screencaps courtesy of The Institute:

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