Everything You Always Wanted To Know About River Song * but were afraid to ask.

TV Let’s Kill Hitler or and I'll doubtless be the fluftiest person to make this joke or use it as a headline “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About River Song* but were afraid to ask” had a lot to live up to, years worth of speculation and jokes and mythology and questions, oh so many questions to be answered. Actually, it would have been classic Steven Moffat to leave us all waiting for another six episode or even years before revealing any of this but with the revelation (or “revelation” depending on your level of smugness) at the close of A Good Man Goes To War (or Love & Death) it was entirely unlikely that this episode would actually be about killing Hitler. Well not in actually. Metaphorically perhaps …

What it was about, apart from you know the plot and everything else which we’ll talk about in the next paragraph, was Moffat demonstrating why Doctor Who is the greatest drama show on British television right now. There is nothing like it. Even when it fails, or at least loses its way a bit, and I glance wearily at my review of Curse of the Black Spot as I type this (or at least my memory of writing it) it’s still like nothing else on television. It’s sci-fi, it’s fantasy, it’s (in this case) historical dramedy, it’s a romance, it’s a philosophical meditation on the nature of being and that ignores the fact that most comedy series would kill to be as funny as this. And it’s published on a Saturday night for a family audience. Magnificent.

The intricacy with which River’s story has been set up and executed has been extraordinary. As we know from various sources, Moffat was scripting The Forest of the Dead at the same time as putting his version of the series but just imagine the deviousness of having her die at the close of that story then revealing she’s a timelord and then explaining why she couldn't then regenerate later and as I suspect knowing that we’d all sit around offering our intricate explanations of same. That Amy and Rory have known her far longer than their first meeting, that she’s been with them all their lives albeit in a different frame apparently knowingly stimulating the former’s memory of the mad man in a box and the latter’s libido.

Like some of the great children’s writers Moffat understands that kids aren’t stupid, they only turn out stupid if their brains aren’t stimulated and one of the hallmarks of his version is that he doesn’t just want them shouting Exterminate! in school yards, but also huddled together unknowingly going over quantum mechanics, falsidical and veridical paradoxes (and whatever other illustrative terms I could hoover up from the wikipedia because I not with the science) as they try to rationalise and untangle the lives of River Song and the Doctor. At a time when, if Eric Schmidt’s correct, art and science are being separated in school teaching (which isn’t anything new, it’s the reason I’m not with the science), Doctor Who is atomically slamming them back together again.

It’s also astonishingly rich, as I’ve said before burning through story and ideas that would have sustained whole seasons, indeed whole runs of other shows. Just as in A Good Man Goes To War we were introduced to characters we were desperate to see for longer than these forty-five minutes, Mels, the unearthly child, introduced in a sequence apparently styled on the work of  Waris Hussein and Wes Anderson ('Lil Rory!), went far too quickly. Nina Toussaint-White burns brightly in this tiny role, succeeding in being totally alien to us but utterly familiar, Moffat’s writing too allowing us one of those rare moments when we’re allowed to be ahead of the characters, so as to create the sense of anticipation in the upcoming "revelation".  Plus I could really relate to Rory in these flashbacks.  Various reasons.

Alex Kingston’s performance as the still cooking Melody is nothing short of magnificent, River already running through her but polluted by her programming, capturing the fiery brilliance of the post regenerative fervour, of everything being different but the same and wanting to know what her new body is capable of, all the while in a battle of ways with the other Time Lord in the room. Then, slowly, the Doctor’s presence cleanses her soul, as the person we know from our earlier encounter washes across Kingston face, the potential darkness still bubbling underneath but the ultimate expression of the his capacity to make people better themselves, in this case so she can’t disappoint him when they next meet.

Which isn’t to say you can’t criticise this genesis of the character. When the last episode aired, I was introduced to the concept of “fridging” in drama, of a character’s pregnancy as plot device. Amy did have her baby snatched from her and although she unknowingly still watched her child grow and mature, she has still suffered the kind of loss most women couldn’t get over. There are plenty of ways of rationalising the psychology of that within this format and indeed, in the moment when the Doctor begged his emergency system for comfort he acknowledges that he’s broken Amy, just as he has Rose, Martha and Donna (and wasn’t that great?). Perhaps cutting her off from the normal flow of maternal emotions. I don’t have an answer.

It is interesting that in that moment as the Doctor lay on the floor Moffat chose to recall that guilt and it's a mark of Matt's performance at this point that he was able to play this emotional holdover from before he was born (almost).  In the past few days BBC America have published a clip of the actor answer the question of whether he considers how the actors who'll come after him will play the role and it's interesting that presumably none of the actors have, as he says, they've all gone with the spirit of whatever's been put in front of them, even Eccleston who apparently didn't even know who he would be regenerating in too.  But it's worth saying that you couldn't imagine any of the previous actors playing the slapstick tragedy of the Eleventh Doctor in his top-hatted final moments,  knowing that his only hope is to convince Melody to make a supreme sacrifice.

All of this against the backdrop of 1938 Germany, with the ironic justice of Cardiff’s Temple of Peace being employed as the Reich Chancellery and backdrop for the epicentre of the story (a venue so familiar it's rapidly becoming the nu-Who equivalent of a quarry, albeit with the Portland stone at the end of its manufacturing process rather than the start). Amazingly, Moffat and co manage to keep this visit light, more Indiana Jones or Allo Allo than Downfall (for want of another touchstone), though it’s impossible not to pull out the new cliché when it comes to talking about Who that it looks like a feature film because it does, Richard Senior in directing his first whole episode taking full visual advantage of the large spaces on offer.

The closeting of the Fuhrer is a brilliant bait and switch and let’s face it he deserves nothing more (certainly not playing the Doctor, Mr Davies) which hasn’t stopped him from bestriding the spin-off fiction becoming a key player in the Seventh Doctor and Ace’s fight against the Timewyrm early in the New Adventures, with the Sixth Doctor becoming embroiled in the circumstances of his real death not to mention all the messing about with the timelines in a Big Finish series. Albert Welling didn’t have to do too much behind the moustache but his timing on seeing the TARDIS was impeccable. How long did he spend in the cupboard? Did it just serve to increase his anger making Silver Nemesis too all the more inevitable?

Then there’s the manic genius of the Teselecta, whose anagrammatic name has to be a reference to the car scene in the aforepunned one of the Woody Allen’s early funny ones (“I'm not getting shot out of that thing. What if he's masturbating? I'm liable to end up on the ceiling”). True, the clearer reference is Meet Dave, a film I’m still yet to brave because of the post-Norbit presence of Eddie Murphy with its human shaped space machine but the idea that Moffat could be going anywhere near that gives me the wiggins. So I’ll prefer to assume that he had Burt Reynolds preparing an erection in his head. Oh dear. Now I have a completely different image in my head. Now you do too. Sorry about that.

Um, where was I up to?  Where are we up to? With the source of River just about mapped out, we still don’t know precisely who the Silence are, other than that they’re not just the skull men in suits, but a larger collective. We now know that someone will ask a question and that “silence will fall” and that the question is a mystery that will require deep thought, though hopefully not that Deep Thought otherwise it’s a good job the Doctor has a time machine ("How long?"). We know that the Doctor has downloaded the Testicle’s records and knows when he’s going to die, but he's keeping his knowledge from his travelling companions and thanks to the Radio Times we know the title of the final episode of the series. I can’t wait to get there.

Bea Arthur and all.

Film Remember how we've joked for years about George Lucas's Stalinist attitude to the Star Wars Christmas Special? Well, back in the HD Room ...
Speaking of new bonus features, I asked LucasFilm's Senior Director of Marketing Kayleen Walters about the Star Wars Holiday Special making its way onto the set after Fox Home Entertainment's James Finn tweeted the following image back on August 2, 2011. [...] Boba Fett riding a creature from one of the Blu-ray discs inner sleeves, clearly from the Holiday Special. In response to my question, Kayleen answered "You'll have to wait and see! The Holiday Special is a challenge, but look for some Easter Eggs. What's a Star Wars release without a couple of Easter Eggs?" I read into that as something pertaining to, if not the entire Holiday Special is hidden on these discs."
The quite good Fett animation's the more likely candidate but the whole thing? Bea Arthur and all. As they say on the internet, heh.

"the channel's Army Season in September"

TV Further to our one-sided discussion about the future of BBC Four, controller Richard Klein has written about that future, about new drama commissions and its clearer role as a gateway into the BBC's programme archive:
"BBC Four's collections will be curated around seasons/themes, something I think we are very good at, and will take the viewer on a deeper journey through the subject via the BBC's extensive archive, with content from all genres and channels. Today I announced our first 'collection', which will be around the channel's Army Season in September. We've managed to find some amazing gems from the archive which chart the British Army from the 1950s to 90s, brought bang up-to-date with our programmes that form part of the season on BBC Four."
There's loads more on this at the BBC Press Office.  Rumours of the channel's decline are greatly exaggerated.

Did Moffat know this ... ?

TV Seven-hundred years? Jack is more than seven-hundred years old in 1927? On his first walk through the twentieth century? Did Moffat know this when scripting The Empty Child? Did Russell T Davies have that in his head when he was writing Jack’s first death in The Parting of the Ways? When he planning the first series of Torchwood and Chris Chibnall when he was executing it in every sense of the word? At what point did he gain these years? Before he first met the Doctor? Between Satellite 5 and 1869? Was this how long it took to find the time bracelet? This is huge! It’s the Torchwood equivalent of discovering the TARDIS has a benevolent streak all of its own. It’s Davies in a few words rewriting the history of his character. Either that or like the Gwen joined Torchwood in 2006 debarkle of six weeks ago, a weird mistake. Or he's joking.

As you might imagine on hearing's Jack confession, Jane Espenson’s Immortal Sins was pretty much derailed for this knotty chronology hound for a good ten minutes in the middle while my braincells worked through the implications, just surfacing in time for the episode to enter a total squee meltdown with mention of the Doctor and his “companion” (Ninth and Rose since this “younger version” last saw them on the aforementioned big orbital broadcasting station) and the Trickster's lot (a Sarah Jane Adventures reference for goodness sake) and the first appearance of an non-Boeshanian alien which must have all come as a surprise to anyone who’d thought the last six episodes of Flash Forward-lite were a representative sample of what this franchise is about. Anyone one else of the opinion this is the only non-humanoid we’ll be seeing this series and it’ll just be a homosapien with some advanced tech also explaining Jack's missing two years while they're at it?

That said, judging by the ratings, this thing’s being sustained by the core audience anyway so they might as well have a Nimon cameo in the next episode since the need for accessibility’s gone out of the window. If the whole thing wasn’t already in the can before transmission you’d almost think the production team had sensed this since, predictable as clockwork, with Rex and Esther sidelined, the introduction of a flashback structure revealing an important bit of history relevant to the main plot and Jack and Gwen shouting about how much they hate each other and want their friend to suffer the agony of a thousand deaths, Immortal Sins is the most Torchwood episode of the series. The mythology is just icing on the Brittanicus Base and a reminder about why that core audience are still coming back.

Probably the most interesting aspect of the episode is that structure. After seeing the trailer, I’d expected a kind of Young Jack Harkness Chronicles with the older mortal relating to Gwen that really important moment in his life which we’d never heard of before. Instead, until the final revelation, apart from a couple of thematic character crossovers between Angelo and Gwen, this was more akin to an episode of Lost with the viewer as an omniscient observer. I mention this because it’s the first time in the series such things look like they’ve been properly thought through, rather than simply throwing a bunch of characters and scenes together and hoping that they'll stuck. This was paced like proper drama with a literally a killer twist that was all the more shocking because we understand that Jack feels every death. Ick.

Similarly, when John Barrowman is given space to breath, be Jack rather than the shadow which has drifted his way through much of the rest of the series, what charisma he has bubbles up. Perhaps it’s true that some of the dialogue reminds us of past glories. Perhaps all the talk of sucking the air out of the room, or whatever Jack says to seduce Angelo, has all the ripe hallmarks of Owen’s more direct approach in Countrycide (“Have you ever cum so hard you can’t remember who you are…” S’not the “Homosapiens!” speech is it?) But there is a conviction to these scenes which we’ve not seen all series, helped in so small way by having Daniele Favilli's passionate performance to play opposite. As for the rest, didn’t that look more graphic than the stuff which was cut out of episode three? Or did the end get nibbled?

But for all the positives (in which we must also include Tom Price's beautifully appointed moment as Andy realising he’s just shot someone for the first time) Immortal Sins still betrays many of Miracle Day’s problems. This iteration’s need for a positive episode resolution means we don’t see Gwen actually hand over Jack to save her family and all of the emotional ramifications of that. As expected, at least five episodes of running around could have been spared if Jack had conveniently remembered the something important he would have done if this story was being told over forty-five minutes (cf, again, Walter Bishop in Fringe). The realisation that if Immortal Sinw is anything to go by, Davies et al would have been much happier working back within an anthology-like format.

"I won the official name of the Sugababes now!!!"

Music Well, this is a turn up. Astonishingly, Mutya has won her legal challenge and has appropriated the rights to the Sugababes name which apparently leaves Heidi, Amelle and Jade unable to carry on recording and touring using that name. In effect the "Sugababes" are no more and whatever their album cover looked like will have to be redesigned.

On her Facebook page, Mutya apparently gloated "I won the official name of the Sugababes now!!! I deserve this! I'm over the moon!" and sure enough a glance at the EU trade mark website reveals that Mutya Buena a "physical person" has the rights to the trade mark c/o a management company.  Unfortunately you'll have to search for yourself because the website uses dynamic pages.

I can't find the Facebook page containing that update even though it's plastered across the internet.  If it was on what looks like the most valid, its been taken down.  Hmm.

Oh hold on.  A different owner (Island Records?) seems to have everything tied up (nice classifications 3, 9, 15, 16, 18, 25, 26, 28, 32, 33, 35, 38, 41, 42, 44, 45), while her certificate simply says "Paper, cardboard and goods made from these materials, not included in other classes; stationery; paper gift wrap and paper gift wrapping ribbons." (or nice 16).

Which suggests she's just won the rights the stationary.  The band's management have put out a statement to that effect too.  Time to rewrite your stories everyone.  Oh you have.  Right then.  Still it'd be nice to have some New Year themed Christmas gift wrap wouldn't it?

And so, as is customary and well worth it for some early Konnie Huq action ...


"I'd take two baseball caps"

The Law Terry Turner in the Sioux City Journal remembers a childhood spent imagining himself as Sherlock Holmes:
"As a kid I would always try to imitate the heroes I saw up on the silver screen and Sherlock Holmes was no exception. After watching one of those movies I would grab one of my mother's dish towels and drape it around my shoulders in the style of a Victorian cape. That dish towel could also be used when I played Superman or Batman. But as Sherlock Holmes in addition to the cape I'd take two baseball caps and put one on with the bill facing forward and the other with the bill facing backward. It made the perfect deerstalker cap just like the great detective wore."
I can't decide if this story works best with Woody Allen or David Sedaris's voice in my head.

In time for the anniversary

That Day Deep breath. In time for the anniversary, The Internet Archive has posted an archive of news television coverage of 9/11 from the opening moments through to September 17th. Even glancing at the grid system for the day brings back the horrible memories, but as a historical social document this could prove to be very important.

Even a quick look at the BBC World feed reveals the newscaster repeating reports (before the towers fell) that someone thought that they'd heard an explosion from inside, a detail which has been jumped on by conspiracy theorists ever since and dismissed as showing how we as human always try to make reconstruct the information our senses give us especially in alien situations.

My experience of the events were via BBC News 24.  I seem to remember Carrie Gracie happened to be on alone that shift and I always remember how calmly she worked to piece together the incoming news wires no matter how shocking the images which were appearing on monitors in the studio.  We'll talk some more about this on the day I suspect, but needless to say only visit if you really think you can handle the onrush [via].

The Liverpool Shakespeare Festival begins ...

Since I fear other things could conspire against me attending the Liverpool Shakespeare Festival, I at least promised to run some publicity on here so find below the relevant information in the form of press releases.

Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare’s most famous love story, Romeo and Juliet will be retold in stunning fashion as the centrepiece to the Liverpool Shakespeare Festival. The festival which runs from the 25th August to 11th September is back and will take place in one of Liverpool most iconic venues, St George’s Hall.

Romeo and Juliet, Sunday 25th August 2011 – Saturday 10th September 2011, St. George’s Hall.

The festival is the brainchild of Lodestar Theatre Company and was launched 2006. After a short hiatus in 2010 the Liverpool Shakespeare festival has returned for 2011 bigger and better than ever.

The festival’s central performance of Romeo and Juliet takes on the tagline of ‘Have you ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn't have fallen in love with?’ It is a story for everyone about sex and death and falling in love. LIPA graduate Rachel Rae, best known for her television performances in C4’s Misfits and BBC 3’s Lunch Monkeys, takes on the role of Juliet in what is sure to be a truly magical performance from the very start.

Max Rubin, Director and founder of Lodestar Theatre Company said;

“Romeo & Juliet is the world’s greatest love story, told against the amazing backdrop of St George’s Hall. You can be assured that we will use every secret corner of this unique performance space to create a truly unforgettable production. Expect stunning performances, breathtaking design and a haunting original score from award-winning composer David Ben Shannon.”

Simon Hedger, Producer added, “Romeo & Juliet is the central production and is meant to celebrate the extraordinary talent in Liverpool and the North West by producing truly beautiful classical theatre of the highest quality, whilst recruiting strictly from within the region.”

Tickets are from £10. Tickets are available from the Echo Arena Box office. Call them on 0844 800 0400 or book securely online at https://www.ticketing.accliverpool.com/

Richard III

On the last night of the festival, Lodestar will present a unique Shakespearian experiment.

25 theatre companies will each prepare a randomly selected scene from Richard III in the style of their choice. They will then be all brought together for a single performance of Richard III unlike any other. One hundred performers, three judges and not a single rehearsal!

Richard III, 11th September 2011 7.30pm, St. Georges Hall

Richard III will follow suit with the rest of the Liverpool Shakespeare Festival and take place in the beautiful St George’s Hall. The performance goes by the tagline of ‘Come and have a go if you think you’re BARD enough’ working fittingly with the type of performance that will take place –this is Shakespeare with ‘No Holds Bard.’

This unique performance will bring a variety of different styles and techniques together; giving each of the theatre companies involved a chance to celebrate Shakespeare’s work in an entirely new way.

Max Rubin, Director and founder of Lodestar Theatre Company said, ‘Through this world-first event, we want to show how Shakespeare can sit comfortably at the heart of risky, contemporary performance practice, and to celebrate the diversity of approach both here in the North-west, and nationally. Although nothing like it has ever been attempted before, we hope to make it a regular feature of the festival’.

Simon Hedger, Producer also said, ‘What we like most about ‘Come and have a go . . .’ is that it will only happen once, and no-one – ourselves included – has any idea what will happen. Our audience will have exclusive access to a truly original theatrical experiment. It embodies everything that we at Lodestar aspire to provide: ‘Shakespeare for the 21st century’.

Tickets are £10. Tickets are available from the Echo Arena Box office. Call them on 0844 800 0400 or book securely online at https://www.ticketing.accliverpool.com/

Breathe, Wake and Belong

The Liverpool Shakespeare Festival 2011 will include three heritage-inspired youth projects called Breathe, Wake and Belong. Young people from all over the City have come together to tell this incredible story through three exciting new performance projects which have been created in partnership with Widening Participation and St George's Hall.

Breathe, 26th August 2011 2pm, 27th 10am & 2pm, St. George’s Hall
Wake, 2nd September 2011 10am, 3rd 12pm & 2pm, St. George’s Hall

Belong, 2nd September 2011 12pm, 3rd 10am & 4pm, St. George’s Hall

The High Rip, The Cornermen and The Dead Rabbits (which were immortalised in the film of The Gangs of New York), were just a few of the criminal gangs who terrorised Victorian Liverpool. Hundreds of poor young people, many who were no more than children, were sentenced at St George's Hall.

Some endured years of back-breaking labour; others faced the dreaded 'Cat o' Nine Tails' or paid for their crimes with their lives. This story will be brought to life in three original pieces of performance art which have threaded within the tales original court transcripts and newspaper reporting of the cases heard in St George’s Hall.

Breathe is a music and song performance inspired by life, love and Liverpool. Wake is an original contemporary dance piece whilst Belong is a play based on the gangs of ‘Savage Liverpool’. Each performance takes place in St. George’s Hall where many of the young people characterised stood trial for their part in gang culture.

Max Rubin, Director and founder of Lodestar Theatre Company said, “We wanted a play that could tie several elements of the festival together and when we researched the history of gang culture in Liverpool, and realised the role that St George’s Hall had played when it operated as a courtroom it seemed like an opportunity to make some multi-layered stories with real resonance to the venue and the audience. This is when Breathe, Wake and Belong were born.”

Simon Hedger, Producer said about working with young people from around the city,“The ‘Breathe Wake Belong’ project will dramatically increase the number of young people we work with which is great for our cause in finding and showcasing the best talent the North West has to offer.”

Tickets to Breathe, Wake, Belong are free so please do go along and show some support and witness one of Liverpool’s most fascinating stories brought to life! Tickets are available from the ECHO Arena Box Office.

Call them on 0844 800 0400 to book or online at https://www.ticketing.accliverpool.com/

"Even if most of us haven't been married to Penn"

Music The Guardian's Hadley Freeman on Madonna's Like a Prayer:
"But being a nosey sort and someone who likes songs to have stories, it's the confessional stuff I love most: Oh Father, Promise to Try and, most of all, 'Till Death Do Us Part, about the end of her marriage to Sean Penn, with whom, she has said since, she was deeply in love. The bitterly evocative lyrics ("The bruises they will fade away/ You hit so hard with the things you say/ I will not stay to watch your hate as it grows/ You're not in love with someone else/ You don't even love yourself/ But still, I wish you'd ask me not to go") disprove those who describe her as a cold and blank performer. Even if most of us haven't been married to Penn (thank God), that sentiment – deciding firmly to leave the jerk but wishing dearly he'd ask you not to – is all too universal, and it feels even more extraordinary now to hear Madonna, now untouchably self-controlled, admit to such pain and weakness."
Hadley's first album was Tiffany. My first was Five Star's Silk and Steel.  Oh well.  Someone in the comments mentions that their copy was scented with patchouli oil which explains the fragrance which comes from my second hand vinyl, which I've thought for years was some kind of cleaning fluid.

programmes of any sufficient quality

TV For all my views on BBC Four's future, I do understand people's fear about the future of the channel should it lose the "blockbuster" programmes like Enid which generally attract more viewers called Enid. If the ratings dwindle, the BBC would have difficulty justifying whatever the expense is. But still I do have faith that if BBC Four continues to put out programmes of any sufficient quality, viewers will continue to watch no matter the genre.

Nevertheless, I can't but applaud BrokenTV's stupendous blogpost on the subject with its novel solution for aiding the BBC's funding gap. Certainly a version of it works for some US cable stations and I for one would applaud similar telethons with the likes of Charlie Brooker offering a turn in the hopes of funding a new series of Newswipe or the cast of Forbrydelsen appearing to give interviews or perhaps a song so that viewers are enticed into opening their wallets so that BBC Four can afford the third series.

"the rabbit is glorping the duck"

Science Turn out two year old can understand complex language even if they can't speak it:
"We tested this theory by showing 2-year-old children pictures of a cartoon rabbit and duck," researcher Caroline Rowland said. "One picture was the rabbit acting on the duck, lifting the duck's leg for example, and the other was an image of the animals acting independently, such as swinging a leg.

"We then played sentences with made-up verbs -- 'the rabbit is glorping the duck' -- over a loudspeaker and asked them to point to the correct picture.

"They picked out the correct image more often than we would expect them to by chance"
Steven Moffat's storylining is probably a cinch too.

"working pro bono"

The Law Never mind Mrs Sherlock, the tenacious Mrs. Grace Humiston who helped to convict the murderer of a high school girl has something of the Sarah Lund about her:
"Humiston spent 15 hours a day on the case, working pro bono, interviewing Harlem residents who might have noticed suspicious activity around Cocchi’s shop. One man recalled seeing Cocchi emerge from his basement around midnight on February 13, covered with dirt and appearing “nervous.” Another spotted Cocchi the following night, again “dirty and nervous.” On this evidence, Humiston went to Cocchi’s shop, determined to get into the cellar."
Indeed this historic case demonstrates that for all the obfuscation, Forbrydelsen's story is disappointingly realistic.

"an issue with the Prequel Trilogy that you may or may not have realized existed"

Film Well, yes, big things happening in the world, extended episodes of Newsnight, Today programmes all about Libya (as the always nervy Evan Davies put it this morning), but let's face it, people of a certain age and social background are really interested in the seismic shift happening in mid-September when a somewhat different dictatorship makes its latest communication. The HD Room has seen bits of a copy and the banner headline is that we're getting to see more picture:
For the (Star Wars) Prequel Trilogy, LucasFilm went back and struck new Blu-ray masters from the original digital master files. This evolved process will not only solve those pesky color timing and enhancement issues from the DVD releases, but also solve an issue with the Prequel Trilogy that you may or may not have realized existed (I did not).

As it was explained to us, the process used for mastering the Prequel Trilogy DVD versions from the original masters resulted in roughly 8 percent image being cropped from all sides of the frame due to magnification. It was a technological constraint of the time that modern processes and a meticulous frame-by-frame restoration have thankfully corrected.
Essentially, as the illustrative screen shots demonstrate, the dvds we've been watching for years (well the couple of occasions when we've endured The Phantom Menace) have been cropped.  I've always noticed something being wrong, for example when the battle droid points in the Naboo hangar bay ("You're under arrest...") and the end of his finger disappeared.  Now I know why.


Film Andrew Collins discovers a whole new level of studio paranoia when it comes to preview screenings of films:
"Boring detail: the embargo form was emailed to me with my e-ticket, but, oddly, I couldn’t open the document. The film company, Universal, assured me that I would be able to sign the form on the day. In the queue at the Vue cinema, Leicester Square, I was indeed handed a form, which I cursorily read and signed while standing there, using my bag to lean on. I handed it in: usual drill. We must assume that everyone else in the screening signed the same piece of paper. However, I only found out after the event that this embargo was a super-embargo – as well as agreeing not to talk, write or Tweet about One Day, I had also agreed not to mention on social networking sites that I had even attended the screening!"
Freud would have a lot to say about Universal's attitude I suspect.  I'm also a bit browned off because this has reminded me that I won't able to hire One Day through Lovefilm because Universal's embargoed them from carrying any of their films too.  Looks like I might have to visit an actual cinema to hear Anne Hathaway's attempt at a Yorkshire accent.