TV TV Cream looks at programmes for schools and colleges
Watch!, to take one of the fondest-remembered examples, provided junior pupils with a weekly dose of 'topic work' on a different subject each term - Darwin and evolution, Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, various overseas cultures and assorted historical periods (the Romans, feudal Britain) were among the areas covered by a smiling man-woman duo (most famously the grand-sounding yet relentlessly chummy Louise Hall Taylor and James Earl Adair). As well as the informal clothing (open-necked shirt or bright polo-neck for the 'boys', floral prints and roomy blouses for the 'girls'), the trick used here was to have the presenters appearing to learn along with the viewers, rather than declaiming facts and figures straight at them. They didn't have all the answers, but could find them out, thus (hopefully) spurring the children on to further study after the programme.
Personally I prefered Zig-Zag ...
Travel The full text of Michael Palin's 'Sahara' is online; although it was a cut above other travel shows on television it lacked the urgency of previous adventures. There was an excitement to the first series, 'Around the World in Eighty Days' -- was he going to beat Fogg? In 'Pole to Pole' and 'Hemmingway' there was at least a path to follow, the game being how close he could stay to the path laid out. In 'Sahara' he just seemed to be pottering about trying to go everywhere he could. The only episode with resonance was the last, as he revisited the buildings from 'The Life of Brian' -- for a few moments the story became personal again. Reading the following though, I did feel someone had cancelled Christmas:
Sahara was filmed between February 2001 and February 2002. For various reasons, it was impossible to shoot it as one continuous journey. Summer heat and all-year-round bureaucracy forced a number of breaks upon us. The diary days in the text represent days at work, give or take the very rare day off, and not time spent travelling out to the desert.
Not a journey any longer ...
News I've been wondering of late why I don't write about the news here. Myra Hindley died tonight and UK firemen have just returned from a 48 hours strike with another coming soon (possibly) unless a deal is done. Both heady subjects and I'm sure there will be other bloggers writing long passages as you read. But I won't be commenting on them or a great number of what must be quite important news stories. To be honest I simply don't know enough about the subjects to give an informed opinion. I don't know what the mood was like when the moors murders were taking place; I can't imagine conditions must be like for some fire workers. Which leads to my other reason -- how can anyone. Why do people have this inbuilt need to express their opinion on subjects they don't know anything about? Television news programmes have of late been asking people to 'text' in how they feel about a subject, express themselves in 260 or so words. And often the answers are fatuous and ill informed. I just don't see the point in adding to this collecting mass of trash here. Not about the news anyway.
Who The story of ‘Shada’ is legendary in Doctor Who circles. It was to be the classic end of Season Seventeen, and Douglas Adams great swansong. Tom Baker was at the height of his power. But after location recording was completed around Oxford and some studio work, industrial action meant the show was never completed. Although there was talk of remounting and completing the piece the following year other internal politics prevailed and nothing happened. Eventually Adams reused large chunks of the plot in ‘Dirk Gently’ and subsequently refused to novelise the original. The footage eventually surfaced on BBC Video, with proceeds to charity, and filmed inserts by Tom Baker (still mad as a hatter) at an exhibition screaming ‘SHADA’ into the camera menacingly. This was deleted when stocks ran out and the story again returned to history.

Now it’s back, in a new production on BBCi from Big Finish Audio. It’s been slightly re-written to incorporate Paul ‘its only a matter of time until I play him on TV you know – c’mon I dare you’ McGann as the Eighth Doctor but everything else seems present and correct – its even got Lalla ‘I married Tom’ Ward as Romana. And K9 is in it. With sitcom legends Melvyn Hayes and Andrew Sachs. Considering the original Shada has slipped into continuity, I know there are going to be some fans who aren’t going to like it. Actually I find it a shame they couldn’t have include McGann’s audio companion Charley (India Fisher) in there somewhere. She’s the best thing to happen to Who in years ...
Books Sometimes authors tell the truth about how they decided upon the idea for their new book: Richard Morgan in Slate Magazine:
It started out from an argument I was having with a Buddhist. The point of conflict was the karma system. He was arguing any suffering you undergo in this life is a direct result of something bad you did in a previous life, which sounds fair until you realise that you can’t actually remember any of your previous lives. Then, it suddenly starts to sound existentially pretty fucking unfair. After all, if you can’t remember a previous life then to all intents and purposes that life was lived by another person. And why should you be paying for someone else’s crimes?
Am I the only person who read the first sentence and imagined him screaming and shouting at the placid face of the Dali Lama?
Competition This month's competition is a bit different and in the mold of the kind of thing they used to run on Blue Peter. I got the idea from a recent email from Vicki. I'd like you to send me the story of how you decided upon the name for your weblog. There are some really unusual ones out there which must have been inspired by something. If you haven't got a blog but use a nickname which you use all over, that'll do instead. You've got until 14th December to email, the subjectively best one after that date will find a 'feeling listless' soundtrack getting lost in the Christmas mail. I'll post any I receive with a link back to your site (or your favourite site), so get typing ...
Music For anyone in the area, the sublime Eva Katzler will be playing the Jazz7 on Sunday 17th November 2002. It's at HUGO'S, 25 Lonsdale Road, Queens Park NW6 6RA. The music begins at 8.00pm and you can book ahead on 0207 372 1232. More information can be found on the website.
Hello I have noticed that I've recently had a massive increase in my readership over the past few weeks. Hello to all you new readers. Why not sign my guestbook and let me know who you are? I'm having a few off days, but rest assured proper service will resume shortly.
Science? "Close, But No Cigar"
Internet I haven't been able to find Yahoo! Internet Life for months, to the extent that I ordered a folder at WH Smith last week. A week later I found out it has ceased publication. This is a tragedy. Of all the internet magazines, it was the only one which didn't patronise it's readership and genuinely thought of us all as a community -- one of their best articles was about how we all reacted to September 11th. There was a great month column by Roger Ebert. Speechless. Their URL now links to this page, which hardly a substitute.
People Joshua Jackson arrested. Great photo.
Who For the interested, BBC7's content has been launched. As Ananova reports:
"It will also include shows which went on to become TV hits such as Goodness Gracious Me, Room 101 and The League Of Gentlemen.

The 7th Dimension slot will mark the return of Doctor Who for the millions who missed the adventures of the Time lord. The show disappeared from TV screens more than a decade ago and there has often been talk of resuscitating the classic show. A one-off film was made starring Paul McGann in 1996.
According to Outpost Gallifrey, we should actually get that excited: "Likely to launch the Who broadcasts are the Jon Pertwee radio dramas "The Paradise of Death" and "The Ghosts of N-Space," with other programs to be announced later." I'm sure they're eyeing the Big Finish back catalogue with great interest.
Life I haven't been too happy the last couple of days. The reasons for my unhappiness are in the centre of the stuff which I can't talk about because of the blog rules, so I'm sorry but on this occasion I can't give you a confessional. Just think of all the stuff which pisses you off sometimes and fit them in this space here:

But I'm enjoying the healing power of film, college, drink and the internet, so I'll no doubt break out of it soon. But until then experience feelinglistless truly feeling listless.
Rest My unofficial Cameron Crowe retrospective continued tonight with 'Jerry Maguire'. For ages something bothered me about one of the shots in the film. I didn't look anything like the rest of it. It's the one were Zellwegger runs out of the house barefoot to meet Cruise in the street. Unlike the rest of the movie it has a look of magic realism to it. The audio commentary answered the question. It's a homage to 'My So-Called Life', in particular, the scene in the pilot when Brian has finished walking Angela to her house after she's been dropped off by the police. Crowe says it's one of his favourite TV shows. In fact Wiinnie Holtzman who wrote the thing appears with his mother in the 'you complete me' scene in the living room at the end. I think we may have found a director for the reunion film. It's only a matter of time now ...
Writing Watching 'untitled' the other night I wondered whether Lester Bangs ever tutored Cameron Crowe on his writing style as well as his approach to writing; and if he did how that advice might sound. Looking over this article by Joseph Hayes of The Burry Men, I might have an answer:
Now look again and find those pieces that turn you off, and examine that phenomenon. What makes you turn the page? Look at your own writing in terms of what impresses you in other writer's work, rather than trying to collecting credits from magazines that pay in copies. Because while those small publications have tremendous value, they can be a crutch, and the willingness to accept that crutch is based upon a lie.
You can almost see Bangs in here talking about how Crowe needed to move up to 'Rolling Stone' from 'Creem' magazine.