Exit Wounds.

TV Bastards. Utter, utter, utter bastards.

Truth be told, I had read somewhere online about the thinning down of the cast but as with all of these rumours (spoilers as it turned out) I didn’t think they’d actually go through with it. I thought it was of the order that Norman Lovett would be playing Davros, or hundreds of Britney Spears were going to show up in the last series of Doctor Who. Torchwood isn’t bloody 24, I thought, it doesn’t go around killing regulars (unless it’s going to resurrect them the next week, of course). It’s the ghost of Whedon again true, but even more shocking because it’s just not something a Who related series does often. I’m surprised the credits didn’t roll in silence over a shot of a stethoscope and a PDA, just to underline the point.

Owen had it coming. But not Tosh, who truth be told was always one of the few things to make the show bearable in the first series and like all the others has blossomed this time around. Both Burn and Naoki followed usual the routine for a character’s final episode and put in their best performances of the series; Owen screaming at the irony of dying twice, having spent two episodes appreciating what he’d be missing and Tosh desperately making sure he had a tranquil death even as she bled out of her chest. So she was covering for Owen in Aliens of London! It’s fitting that her final moments in the on-screen Whoniverse should bracket her first, mention of the space pig included. That final breezy video was heartbreaking and actually brought on my first tear. Torchwood made me feel and not in a shouty, sweary way. Huh.

This final exchange for one and a half beloved characters was so good it threatened to overshadow what had already been a pretty exciting episode. The opening alien encounters were as fun as anything in the preceding series from the dealing with the reapers Indiana Jones-style through to the cameo from the Hoix, their name finally mentioned on-screen. But clearly it’s a ruse to get the team (and us in position) for the demolition of Cardiff, which it has to be hoped will be rebuilt with some kind of logical street pattern. When I visited, I spent an hour and a half in the evening looking for a Jazz Club only to discover that two streets in close proximity had the same name and I’d been looking at the wrong one.

In spite of the slightly cheesy slow-mo release of the Weevils, Ashley Way confirmed that he is Torchwood’s best director, even referencing Martha's reveal crane shot from The Sound of Drums when Jack appeared in the past. But he made the most of the city, and it was great to finally see Cardiff Castle being Cardiff Castle after the interior was used to double for a monastery in The Sarah Jane Adventures – and we didn’t see enough of it that if the mother series should want to use it as part of a medieval setting its still there for the borrowing.

I still live in hope that PC Andy’s role will be expanded should there be a third series -- the chemistry with Rees was sweet, even if I didn’t quite catch all of their dialogue over the screaming and explosions and music. Eve Myles proved herself indispensable again as Gwen, authoritative and vulnerable in the same and proving why she didn’t get the bullet. If Gareth David-Lloyd seemed slightly wasted (and not in the class-A sense of the word), James Marsters’ work was magnanimous this time around, not consciously stealing scenes left and right. It’s not unusual for a previously sadistic character to be given a modicum of humanity and the doors open for his return.

To ender ponderland briefly, considering some of the evil that was done here by some people, how some some people weren't held account for it? Also,how old is Jack now anyway? Older than the Doctor apparently which is pretty good going considering he’s had far less screen time overall. More could have been made perhaps of the sheer horror of being in a constant state of life under six foot of dirt, but then again how exactly is one to film that? But now we discover that there were three of ‘our’ Jacks knocking around at one point during World War Two, and that he’s apparently been frozen in that chamber for the whole of the past two series.

How’s that going to be missing from the records though? Who knew he was there? Don’t they ever have a body audit? I suspect it’s like that room which seems to be in most libraries which is filled with random crap which no one wants to deal with and is left there for years. Good to see the Andrew Davies inspired version of Torchwood again, and I’ll say it again, if there’s a Casualty 1906 knocking around, why not costumed Torchwood too? If this and the usual question of how much the authorities know about the only the things wrong with an episode, Torchwood’s become must-see television.

Actually about the only thing wrong with the episode was Jack's brother Gray. I was watching The Hampster Factor last night, the recommendable feature length documentary about the making of the film Twelve Monkeys which has an interesting scene in which director Terry Gilliam casts a young boy because he has amazing eyes but on set discovers that he simply can’t the performance he wants. Luckily, his producer has brought another child actor, who isn’t quite as cherubic but is wonderful as he looks amazed around the departure lounge of an airport. The casting of Lachlan Nieboer (whose only other works appears to be this short) in this episode was another example of that, the selecting of an actor for their looks, in this case his similarity to John Barrowman.

I’m not often one to single out actors for criticism, except for Mr Barrowman of course, who when he’s good is very, very good and when he’s bad he’s crying. True, Grey was hardly the most shocking of villains, but Nieboer was still horrendously miscast, a Jason Priestly lookalike delivering the lines with all the venom of a mild-mustard. This part would have been improved immeasurably by someone who could show those years of hurt and desperation; it needed, with the best will in the world a name probably, someone from the Brit pack or that bloke from Skins. More than anything else he needed to be at least slightly menacing and imply threat in his movement. Sadly, though I wish him well in the future, Nieboer was unmemorable here.

Thankfully, at least for me, he wasn't enough to overshadow a finale that like The Last of the Timelords it also managed to call back some of the best moments of the series and the mythology that’s been layered in. I actually found myself cheering when Owen reminded us that he was king of the Weevils and it was great to have the Weevils actually doing something, even if the budget could only stretch to having them stand around in the streets looking ominous. True overall it was an unusual beast, slightly diffuse if you looked too closely at it, but it still managed enjoy a proper conclusion, unfettered by the mother series. Anyone else expect the perfect closing seconds to be spoilt by Donna Noble turning up at the Hub at the end asking Jack and co for their help?

Chris Chibnall in what might be his last script for the series gave us his very best and entirely gave us leave to forgive him for the travesty that was End of Days. He’s buggering off to be show runner on the London remake of Law & Order, but on the strength of Exit Wounds, it's clear that instead of simply reconfiguring old scripts for our version of English in that series, he should be brave enough to write something new. Here he remembered that the point of the best drama, is that despite the pyrotechnics, it should be about how characters deal with horror, rather than horror literally overshadowing the characters. If Torchwood has an arc which spans the two series, it’s about Chibnall maturing as a writer.

We’re at the end, then, of what has felt like a very long series. Despite my initial optimism and enthusiasm, it’s again been far from perfect in places, but it’s always been entertaining, and often for the right reasons. I think I’d probably have thought this a classic series if there’d simply been less episodes, if there’d been ten instead of the usual thirteen. With some tweaking and dialogue looping you could easily lose Dead Man Walking, From Out of the Rain and even Something Borrowed, with Gwen turning up at the hub after the honeymoon wondering what she’d missed. Perhaps, like the fantasy single disc version The White Album, fans will be debating for years about how their perfect Torchwood Season Two would be shaped if you lost a few episodes. Then again, perhaps not.

The general problem was knowing when to stop. Two whole episodes of Owen coming to terms with his own death were excessive, especially since he was going to be bumped off further down the line anyway. Perhaps Martha’s appearance would have had more impact if it had been for a single episode, for Reset in which she actually had something to do; she was generally wasted in Dead Man Walking and A Day In The Death because by then she’d become part of the furniture and mostly hung around the Hub, which didn’t seem fair to Freema, having left the TARDIS, I still think prematurely. That said, there is a proper vacancy at Torchwood Cardiff now for a doctor …

Next: It’s back and it’s on at the wrong time…
Elsewhere Bastards. Utter, utter, utter bastards.
DVD Incidentally, the Region One dvd release of Spaced includes all of the extras from the UK three disc set plus new commentaries from Edgar, Simon, Jessica and Quentin Tarantino, Matt Stone, Kevin Smith, Patton Oswalt, Bill Hader and Diablo Cody. Um ... I think I'll be buying them again....

"Your allergies are rare and inexplicable"

TV io9 offers a Top 10 Signs You Might Be An Alien Sleeper Agent: "You sometimes catch yourself referring to your projects at work as "conquest modules," and your boss as your "overlord leader."
Film Eight Films That Shouldn't Have Won Best Picture. Like Keith, about the only one I can wholeheartedly disgree with is The Return of the King. I found Mystic River to be worthy and dull and it would have been a great disservice if the academy hadn't acknowledged the achievement of The Lord of the Rings trilogy which somehow managed to have a very emotional, human even, story in the midst of all the usual special effects and fighting.

I was quite happy with the Titanic win at the time, but now I see that LA Confidential was robbed. I'm happy to say that I liked Crash too and thought it as good as the other films listed -- but that was a great year. Once I've seen No Country For Old Men though, I wonder if I'd be adding another year to the list. I still can't imagine its as entertaining as There Will Be Blood ('I've abandoned my son!' etc).
Currency I can't quite believe how experimental and exciting the new designs for the back of our coinage is. Matthew Dent's literally linking the base metals in our pocket together symbolically evoking the union of the United Kingdom. It's a pity though, that by using the royal coat of arms, Wales loses its specific symbolism. From the inspiration* page:
"The Royal Arms is divided into four parts: England being represented by the three lions passant guardant in the first and fourth quarters, the Scottish lion rampant in the second and the harp of Ireland in the third, with all four quarters spread over the six coins from the 1p to the 50p. Completing the new range of coins is the £1 coin featuring the shield of the Royal Arms in its entirety, uniting the six fragmented elements into one design."
I suppose they'll have to make do with one set of the three lions, since redesigning the shield would be missing the point. At least it means every parent will also have a jigsaw in their pocket ready for those long train journeys. Which should keep the nippers busy for a couple of minutes...
*or 'inpiration' as the page title currently says. See -- if the Mint can have typos on their pages ...
Toys "Zaphod, great to see you, you're looking well, the extra arm suits you."
Film Intelligent interview with Anna Paquin which doesn't just touch on her film work but also her political leanings:
"I can't speak for everyone. And obviously, it's not all actors that are liberal. But a lot of creative people are very liberal. It's a lot of people who have been raised to think that it's even conceivable to pursue a career in a ridiculously unattainable industry like entertainment. [Laughs.] We're often raised by pretty open-minded people. Obviously, that's a generalization, and I can really only speak for my own family, but no one in my family ever told me what I did or didn't have to believe, or what I did or didn't have to do with my life. I was kind of just left to do what I wanted, and this came my way. I was raised in a very open-minded household. I don't know. I can't speak for everyone, but maybe there's some connection between creativity and liberal open-mindedness.
It does seem to be the case that when the BBC (for want of an example) is at its most creative it gets accused of liberal bias. I'm a liberal, and I'm proud of that. The word seems to have less a negative connotation over here than in the US and there's nowt more liberal than my party leader Nick Clegg. I don't know where it came from -- my liberalism -- certainly partly my upbringing but also the entertainment and arts I've consumed across these years probably.

I find some of the comments in this Jezebel post truly horrifying and I can't believe that if you were to interview six attractive liberals with the same questions (the full interviews are here) that the outcome would be the same (any volunteers?). We're more liberal, more open I would hope. Perhaps its just that the quotes need to be translated into uk liberal language to make them understandable. At the risk of alienating another reader (the Bloglines subscribers are in freefall already) If you tweak the opening quote from Cassy Fiano, just a bit (I'll italicize the changes) it suddenly makes far better sense, at least to me:
"I tend not to date conservatives, for a reason. Politics is so important to what I do and I follow it so much. I can't respect a guy who's conservative all that much because it makes me question his intelligence. So, that's a big minus because I'm thinking how smart can this guy be if he thinks Boris Johnson is a great politician? If he thinks David Cameron would be a great Prime Minister, I think, gee, how bright could this guy be?"
Not that we're that polarised about these things in the UK, you understand.
About Just to let everyone know that feeling listless's 'Mystery Music March' will begin again on the 14th April, making it 'Mystery Music March in April'. I haven't quietly forgotten about it in the hiatus, just wanted a good run up.

Many hopefully still exciting things to come (including a rather big revelation for long time readers -- and no it isn't that I'm really a Skrull -- like half of the characters in the Marvel Comics Universe apparently).

Still plenty of time if you'd like to send in your own contribution. It'll be running right through to the 1st of May. Which will make it 'Mystery Music March which was in April and is now briefly in May' or something.

"Conformity is the only freedom."

TV Despite the return of the series on Saturday (how excited am I? Very excited) the dvd releases of the classic series continues apace and in case you missed it, the BBFC have passed a future extra which gives the game away as to a future shiny disc which should turn up just after the new series reaches it climax. More after the jump.

Four to Doomsday?
Four to bloody Doomsday? Yes, folks, it's this year's Timelash, a stultifying pickle of a story featuring contemporary dance and a bunch of villains who in human form look like refugees from Abigail's Party. Here you go kids. You'll love this.

Still, if the commentary features Janet, Susan, Matthew and Pete it should be a treat.
"Look at my hair."
"I think this is really rather good."
"Now, come on people, it was of its time."
"Shut up Matthew."
TV Mark Lawson filled a few pages in The Guardian today with a rather good piece about Play For Today and whether, as Kevin Spacey suggested, it should return:
"But this historical stereotype, that the slot was a weekly broadcast for the Socialist Workers Party, is questionable. It's true that the production team and several of the writers, including Trevor Griffiths and Jim Allen, had strong Marxist sympathies. Allen's United Kingdom (1982) - a two-hour epic about a riot on a housing estate - is probably the most directly leftwing British TV drama ever made, challenged only by another script of the same vintage: Alan Bleasdale's The Black Stuff (1980), which began as a Play for Today before spawning the award-winning series, The Boys from the Blackstuff."
What's forgotten though is that since PFT ended, production methods have changed drastically. The reason that slots such as this and The Wednesday Play could exist was because much of the work was very wordy and largely studio based, more often than not shot on videotape. In many ways it was television radio.
These days we're far less inclined to watch something in primetime that looks like a soap opera but isn't a soap opera. Abigail's Party would be shot on location or a set created to look very much like it, and the verbal comedy and pathos would be reduced to be make way for visual comedy and ethos.

But there are still single dramas throughout the schedules but the difference is that they're produced by television writers for television rather than by theatre writers who can also do television. I still think there's room for both and as I've said before that there's a massive hole in the schedule were theatre adaptations and broadcasts of live theatre could and should be.
Wildlife Did you see the flying penguins? It's a wonderful paradox that while the BBC were messing up one part of their website they were broadcasting something rather majestic elsewhere. Here, Paul Almond talks about the video as part of a viral marketing campaign, and includes a clip of David Attenborough on BBC Breakfast pretending that said fake fowl are the real thing. Miracles of Evolution with Terry Jones still sounds like it could be a majestic series using similar fictional animals alongside the real as an eye-catching way of describing The Origin of the Species. Vegetarian cheetahs?
Science Gala Darling suggests ways to increase your energy levels:
"It’s very hard to operate if you haven’t had enough sleep. We need good, uninterrupted sleep in order for our bodies to repair themselves. If you suffer from insomnia, use EFT to banish it for good. One thing I have always found useful in terms of getting restful sleep is wearing an eye-mask to block out any light. I’m not sure why it works, it just does — every time. You can make sleeping into a glamorous affair, too, by having an assortment of eye-masks for every mood! (I have a blue silk one, a Hello Kitty one, a plain black one, etc.)"
Cute photo too.

"Looks like it was tested as much as BA's T5 project.." -- BBC News website commentor.

Journalism Martin Belam offers an analysis of the comments left that the BBC's blog related to the redesign of their news page, finding that 60% of people hate it. Having used it a bit more over the past few days, I am slowly growing to dislike the design. It's not that different to the earlier version, but the white space seems unnecessary and you do seem to have to click rather more here and there to find what you want.

The comment highlighted by Martin crystallizes the problem perfectly: "A silly waste of licence-payer's money and another example of the relentless advance towards turning the Web into a Fisher-Price wonderland for simpletons." The same push to make television and the arts accessible has now infected the web and I'm not sure we're going to be the better for it. The web should be wordy. It's the web.

It is worrying though that people, a couple of thousand by Martin's count can become so cross about the redesign of a website considering what else is happening in the world -- or as I found out yesterday what could be happen to you tomorrow. I do have a bruise now by the way, on my calf just above my knee. It twinges now and then. It's not really news, but I know that some you would be concerned if I didn't leave an update.
TV Larry Miles is back, this time giving the new series of Doctor Who a good kicking before its even been broadcast. Spoilers for anyone who hasn't read this week's Radio Times. This bit did make me snort -- "Now Lance Parkin knows how I felt after the Time War" -- which is I know a joke only about two people reading here will get.
Film Well, this is good news -- composer Howard Shore is returning for The Hobbit films which means aurally at least there should be continuity with Lord of the Rings. With Del Torro just on the point of inking a contract, Peter Jackson producing (and I'd be very surprised if he didn't direct some of the second unit at least) and Ian McKellan back as Gandalf this continues to veer away from Mount Doom.
Communication Rachael has a mixed-up conversation with her friend: "Anna: Listen. I wrote and recored new songs that could be viewed as about a specific person who has yet to do anything wrong. The songs, as all my songs are, are bit snarky and harsh. One Song by itself isn't so hurtful but if you listen to them one right after the other, well... I'm an asshole--sorry douche bag, wait no...a bitch...no, a jerk. And not all the songs were about this situation though the theme and topic were similar. Oh god!"
Life Apologies if the following isn't entirely coherent. I was in a road traffic accident today. Actually, no, more accurately I was almost the witness to a hit and run with part of the debris, the motorcycle in fact, knocking me over. I'd been to Lark Lane to buy a paper and some fish & chips. The shop was closed to we decided I'd jump a taxi to The New Chippery on Smithdown Road. So I waited and waited on the little car park at the back entrance to Sefton Park, keeping my eye towards a roundabout in case any were coming in my direction.

So the first thing I heard was the sound, a massive, loud boom of a noise which made me jump. Then a screech. Then I saw the remains of a motorbike, the chassis, crashing towards me on the road. I tried to step out of the way, but it was too fast and hit me in the bottom of my legs. I fell forward over it. I was shaking but looked up to see people dashing over the rider, flat out on the road opposite. I stood up and ran over too, reaching into my pocket to get out a mobile phone before being told by someone that they were already calling. The various people who'd seen it were the kind of cross section you see in disaster films, young and old.

A police car arrived and took details of those witnesses. We waited for the ambulance. As the victim lay on the floor, a medical student (missing a lecture on varicose vaines, stayed with the victim and chatted to him, keeping him awake. I was eventually checked out by the ambulance crew who said that since I was on my feet I could go home but that I should walk-in to a walk-in centre if I felt like I needed to later.

Watching the two officers, who'd stopped on their way to a more routine job, I admired how tolerant they were being as random people, who'd seen nothing and were just passing by kept stopping to ask what happen. People in cars wanting to get past driving over the debris and crime scene. A man wondering when it would all be cleared up so he could park his car. Idiot.

When I returned home having finally been to the chippery, I was phoned by the Traffic Police for a brief statement and they say they'll ask for something more formal in the next couple of weeks. All I could tell him is what I've already said here. Despite being in the middle of it all, literally and predictably, I didn't see a thing. Anything I do know about the vehicle that hit the bike is supposition and information I got after the fact from witnesses desperate to tell their story. All I really do know is that I was lucky, oh so very lucky. If the bike had been moving faster, if I'd been standing a few feet forward, if I'd not been wearing my toe-tectors, it could have been a lot more serious.

Looking at the rider lying on the road waiting for the ambulance complaining about his back aching, I know how serious it could have been.

"KAMELION was a jive-talking android."

TV Ian at Digi-Cream Times offers a primer on Doctor Who's history for those of us prone to forgetfulness: "Created by Terry Nation in 1963 when his boiler broke down, Dr Who is the long-running BBCtv children's serial about a grumpy inventor who travels through time and space. The series originally ran for 26 years on television, latterly being popularised by Ian Levine. Dr Who is both the name of the show and the man himself, a bit like Cannon, MacGyver, ALF and Pob."
Theatre or TV (depending which way you look at it) What seems to have been lost in all of this commentary is that Kevin Spacey didn't voluntarily make the outburst about the BBC's annoying talent shows. As shown on BBC Breakfast this morning, he was prompted by a question from the network's own arts presenter during a press junket for Spacey's new movie 21, designed to advertise said film. How is that different? It just is, I suppose.

But this random prompting, unrelated to the subject at hand could almost seem like the BBC determined to attract some free publicity of its own for, the latest iteration of the programmes, this time about Oliver! which will be running directly after Doctor Who having stolen its rightful slot (another bone of contention -- really there's been war on the message boards). I'm sure not but it was entertaining to see Spacey predictably rattled, borrowing the game face of Lester Burnham his character from American Beauty. Kevin's one of those actors who always seems to be channeling at least one of his previous roles.

Michael Billington agrees with him and for what its worth, so do I. Elsewhere this time last year I made the case for more proper theatre on television and the situation hasn't improved. Even my beloved The Culture Show features less theatre than musicians I've never heard of. Late Review seems to be only place to feature material about new productions and even then in an effort to criticise them. Spacey wants a return for Play For Today. Yes, please. But would it hurt for BBC Four to put on at least one live or recorded live production a month of something?

The BBC for their part says that they don't make any commercial gain from the subsequent shows which just makes the whole affair even more bizarre. Spacey's right -- if you're banging on about the same commercial product for thirteen odd weeks in prime time, talking about it a lot and making sure all of the viewers know when its on, it's advertising. It's made me very uncomfortable about some the BBC's other shows. What is The Great British Menu then, but a week long advert for the relevant chef's own restaurant, sure to be packed out by Friday?
People It must be nearly April Fool's Day, The Guardian have published an interview with the latest it girl. Unlike Harmony Cousins, this one's real. Say hello to the lovely Alexa Chung:
"In person, she wears, not surprisingly, the glow of someone who has recently been handed the keys to the city. And, of course, she is stupidly beautiful. But there is also something pleasantly sprawling about her - the long limbs, the mussed hair, the estuarine straggle of her voice and all of the "likes" that spring up in her conversation like a virulent weed.
I keep bumping into Freshly Squeezed early in the morning, but the uneasy banter between Chung and whoever the co-presenter is that day just tends to make me nostalgic for Popworld under Miquita and Simon. I don't think Alexa is a bad presenter -- it's just that she's yet found the right format.

The Guardian have got something of a tradition of interviewing IT girls at around this time of year and this interview with Chung only seeks to underline how accurate their own parody was. Last year it was Jennifer Lopez, and before that the still shadowy JT Leroy; in 2006 we find IT-boy David Tennant. Actually, that's less of a trend than I suspected ...
Technology Before iTunes, iPods and mp3s, hell, even before the proper Napster ...

That's from From BBC Music Magazine in April 1995.

This reminds me of the fanciful drawings in Da Vinci's sketch book. Machines will fly -- we just don't have the materials yet. People will download music on mass and pay for it. It's just that it would take a couple of hours to download a whole album. That's not a workable business model. In my experience the majority of people with domestic access in those days (surely the main audience) were still on dial-up, and 32 Kbps at that.

A quick search finds this Herald Tribune piece from 1996: "Will Internet Replace Record Shops?" and even more impressively, from Multimedia Success Stories (?) Case Study Project: Cerberus Digital Juke Box were we see (amongst a range of amusing in hindsight details) that Cerberus were already concerned about piracy and had cooked up some DRM:
"Each track costs 60 pence and is digitally compressed. The Web page gives the duration of the track and its size in kbytes – a six-minute track takes around two minutes to download. To prevent piracy , each individual transaction is encoded uniquely, using a proprietary disposable key technology (DKT), so that any fraud is limited to a single transaction."

"The user then downloads the Cerberus Player (a piece of encrypted software containing the track) from the company's Web site to his hard disk. Finally he can play the track back as many times as he wants, using his PC's sound system."
Basically it's a very similar model to that developed by Apple for iTunes. About the only item missing is that they don't conceive of the music being played digitally on some kind of portable audio player. But the kicker for me is that the artists involved submit their work on cassette.

Cerberus's domain name is now a link farm. Clearly these visionaries deserve better.
Wars Star Wars comes to Holyhead as Darth Vader strikes back in Jedi's back garden: "Jedi Master Jonba Hehol - known to family and friends as Barney Jones, 36, of Holyhead - was giving a TV interview in his back garden for a documentary when a man, dressed in a black bin-bag and wearing Darth Vader's trademark shiny black helmet, leapt over his garden fence."
Journalism BBC News has redesigned its website slightly, the main addition being more white space. It is less cramped and actually on my browser set-up each individual news page looks more like a blog post. Not sure about the ominous big black search box at the top -- that slot looks big enough to suck the world, or at the very least my monitor.

Steve Herrmann offers a rationale: "Elsewhere in the user feedback, people have told us they think the pictures we’ve been using on the site look a bit small and cramped. So the new design takes advantage of the wider pages to allow bigger photos - something our journalists also really welcome, recognising as they do the power of pictures in telling stories on the web."
Film The 10 Most Regrettably Missing Movie Scenes of All Time aren't even available on dvd. In the case of the Star Wars scene, though, you can see why it was omitted -- that would have slowed the pacing at the top end of the film down rather a lot:
"Woven into the movie’s opening shots of R2-D2 and C-3PO escaping the Empire’s forces and crashing on Tatooine, the Tosche scenes show Luke gazing at the space battle above and chatting with his friend Biggs Darklighter, who tells Luke just why teenagers on some pissant desert world should join an intergalactic rebellion."
See also: Scene Unseen, particularly.
Elsewhere At Ask Metafilter: What is your favourite blog? The answers are going to keep me busy for a while. These things are always tastier if they're recommended to you.
TV For various reasons, I daren't post this at the other place, but here's sometime Doctor Who novelist Lawrence Miles's season review of Torchwood. Best line: "What baffles me is that anyone might consider "forty-five minutes of a corpse complaining about being dead" to be a workable basis for a drama programme."
Life It's my parent's Ruby Wedding Anniversary. We're all still pretty ill around here (whatever it is has been dragging on for weeks) so we had a roast in. Having been around for thirty-three of those years, I don't know what they were like apart and although I hear odd stories, implications, I don't know if that's something I'd want to hear about. I'm curious, but I also know how important it is to have secrets sometimes, even from your only, sometimes lonely child. They'll have a weekend away instead, hopefully, when they're feeling better.

The Chinese State Circus is finally leaving tonight after providing ten days of noise from the park. Usually it's quite easy to get along with these temporary neighbours -- the music though loud is often tolerably nostalgic or in the realm of a guilty pleasure. This just seemed like a wall of noise twice a day (matinée and evening), loud enough even up here in the clouds to puncture my headphones. I of course failed to visit on ideological grounds, my version of a Tibet protest. Oh and the slightly critical review if got in the Liverpool Echo which said it was 'overblown'.