darkness, death and drashigs

TV Lovely’s not really a word that’s often used to describe Doctor Who, largely because there’s rarely anything to describe as lovely what with all the darkness, death and drashigs, but it suits Gareth Roberts’s Closing Time perfectly so I’m going to use it. That was lovely. A love letter to the Russell T Davies era and the kind of welcome alternative that only Doctor Who could offer from the surrealist trilogy of the past few weeks, it seems designed for those viewers who’ve found themselves a bit alienated recently and much prefer the Doctor teaming up with his old friends to fight Cybermen. Lovely.

The problem with lovely things, of course, is that they can become dulled by too much analysis of the kind which usually clogs up this weekly column. At university I had to write an essay about whether Amelie “conformed to the standard conventions of femininity in film” with reference to “the psychoanalytical theories contained in Freud’s Oedipal complex” and “elements of Lacan’s theory of the mirror phase in the development of human sexuality” and I’ve not been able to watch it since because I discovered that far from offering a brew of female empowerment, she’ll still ended up only being fulfilled at the end by the love of a man. Now I’ve spoiled it for you too.

Let’s tread carefully then and try not to refer to anyone who does their best work when sitting next to someone lying on a couch. Pre-publicity including Gareth Roberts’s interviews have suggested this is the first stand-alone episode. It depends upon your definition. It fundamentally has a different plot to next week, but the reason for it's existence, the Doctor making a final domestic stop before confronting his demise in an unseen gap somewhere in the teaser for The Impossible Astronaut places it firmly in the main story arc for these two seasons. We’re at episode twenty-five of a twenty-six part story (give or take some specials). Plus there’s the final scene. Stand alone episodes aren’t what they used to be.

As though to echo his first adventure in this new iteration at the end of his life, the Davies episode Closing Time most resembles is Rose. Except when the shop worker enters the shadows to be menaced by an old monster this time, the Doctor’s not there to hold her hand and whisk her away, too busy reacquainting with Craig. Like Rose, the threat is secondary, a way of bringing the Doctor and his companion, sorry, partner, closer, then romance, now bromance, and like Rose, it’s up to the partner to save the day as the Doctor stands on hopelessly trapped within the arms of his adversary.

Which also means that like Rose, the highlight is the screwball, and as with its antecedent, The Lodger, that zinged. Much of the episode is about Craig’s Mindy dealing the Doctor’s Morkishness, the alien qualities which he now finds rather charming if a bit frustrating with all the baby talk (lovely) and the shadows which have crept into his deep-set eyes. With two hundred more years on him since they last met, this Doctor even seems to have a clearly understanding of humanity than his old friend and the best scenes are when the Time Lord is instructing the human on looking after his son or aiding in the investigation.

Like the Davies era, this is also an episode which freely embraces pop culture.  Does mentioning Star Trek rule out a crossover now?  Best not tell IDW who now have the rights to both and were probably planning a crossover comic as we watch, the crossover Davies himself dreamed of back in the days before Enterprise was cancelled and Trekkers didn't have to wait years for a new instalment.  The shoe is firmly placed on the other foot.  Enjoy too the gentle satire on the show's main ratings rivals on ITV back when the show was a summer series, the Doctor slightly more pleasant in his approach to the karaoke Sauron and his hoards than Marina Hyde.

Parenthood has been a strong running theme through this past couple of years, people without them, people becoming them, and once again it’s parental love which wins through just as it did a couple of weeks ago in Night Terrors. Not having been a parent, this will be one of those moments in which my experience will be different to others, not having heard the sound of my own child in distress. But I know from my own experience what your parents are capable of and how they’ve always been there for me. That’s not a conversation we’ve ever had. When did they learn how to be such good parents? When I first cried? I cried a lot when I was a baby apparently. Still do.

Roberts etc are quite ambiguous as to the nature of these Cybermen. The design suggests some more marooned Cybus industry models ala The Next Doctor but with breast plates largely blown out they could just as well be renovated Mondasians. But it’s the nature of the story that, like the Autons who weren’t even named in Rose, such exposition isn’t included. Apart from all the cybermat fun (who’s attack run was also similar to the severed hand of the shop dummy) they might as well have been any number of other monsters. Their final end is almost perfunctory, the Doctor recalling his methodology from The Age of Steel, a feedback of emotions, the new gold to the chest.

Now do you see what analysis does to an episode like this? Enough! What next? Right, the actors. Hate James Cordon as much as you like when he’s not acting, but he’s simply marvellous as Craig, the sort of character who’s quite rare in television Who, of the kind which seems to have wandered in from a Cold Feet-style comedy drama and probably has given the actor’s previous work in Fat Friends and Gavin & Stacey.  Even in the "pervert" scene (for want of a better description) he doesn't overplay the moment, caricature it.  For a brief moment we were back in one of Donna's misunderstandings and that's high praise indeed.

Linda Baron was in Fat Friends briefly too, but this franchise knows her best as Captain Wrack in that last couple of episodes of Enlightenment and the singer of The Last Chance Saloon in The Gunfighters. Glancing across her CV, she’s bestrode British television with appearances in most popular drama series, sometimes as a regular which accounts for why she fits so well in here. A woman who offered one of the campest performances of the eighties, doesn’t exactly dial it down here since hers is, if we must continue the Rose analogy, the Jackie Tyler role of cluelessly introducing a vital piece of information without quite realising it.

Matt carries his weariness well. How do you play a character who’s physically the same but a couple of centuries older than in his previous appearance. You sag your shoulders slightly, perhaps droop your eyelids a bit, offer a bit of forced jollity. This is the bedside confession to Amelia from The Big Bang stretched out across a whole episode and you can see the thought processes of a man who’s already resigned himself to his fate linking in seamlessly to the opening of this season, helped by the explanation of where the Doctor’s now iconic stetson came from. Older Eleventh Doctor has feet of clay but he retains his smile.

Clearly his best moment was when seeing Amy and Rory. Hiding back, trying to remain unseen, he somehow manages to make the character suddenly become very small, not least because not for the first time Pond is towering over him. Given her previous employment, it's just right that Amy should have become a cosmetics model with a brightly metafictional advertising slogan. There’s a running theme this series of episode titles turning up in the actual scripts, and here it is again in a knowingly modified form. But I’m analysing rather than reviewing again.  Is there a difference?  I'm beginning to wonder.  Sorry. I’ll stop.  Steve Hughes’s direction was proficient wasn’t it?

Oh sod, I can’t hold it in any longer. That final scene. THAT FINAL SCENE. Even if its surprise existence was rather ruined by the cast list in the Radio Times. The fact of River Song’s appearance in the astronaut suit is a shock to no one other than that it is actually River Song and that her confession that she killed “a good man” wasn’t a clever misdirect but for once actually the truth. As far as we can tell. Unless there’s another astronaut in the drink with her. You have to love Doctor Who’s ability to leap from a fairly straightforward domestic romp (stop it) straight back in the mythology with what amounts to a teaser for next week.

Stand alone or not, Closing Time is a brave choice for a penultimate episode, especially considering the sheer weight of mythology which is currently in a holding pattern. Funny when it needs to be, heartbreaking too, it’s a demonstration of just how carefully though through even the pacing of the season has been. The forums are already filling up with people criticising it for not being the epic lead in to the finale but sometimes drama needs to be unexpected, needs to try something weird just to stay fresh and Doctor Who’s no different and if you don’t realise that by now … well … you’re just not paying attention.

Next week: Two years plus worth of mythology tied up in forty-five minutes. No, this is where it gets complicated.

How will nuTrek deal with Harry Mudd?

Comics Did anyone else wonder as they left the rebooted Star Trek how this new version of the familiar crew would be coping with the stories from the original tv series? Yes, me too, and that urge  has led IDW, current licensees, to turn the first official comic into a spin on that idea with a whole series of adaptations of the existing episodes, beginning with Where No Man Has Gone Before, the second pilot, and the episode that led to the rest of the series being commissioned. We’re in production rather than transmission order, people (good thing too since the original network choice, The Man Trap, was never a representative place to start).

Turn the cover and we’re straight back into this strange new world, with a first page featuring a Scotty that looks like Simon Pegg, artist Stephen Molnar neatly capturing his essence without being slavish, and his alien helper, and a joke about whether anyone really listens back to Chief Engineer’s logs. From there everything is as you might expect, the story plays out as it did on screen with various changes reflecting the characterisations from the new film, with Kirk and Spock on slightly less chummy terms with Bones and Chekhov in attendance.

It’s relatively early but already there are a couple of fault lines.  Barring one major omission that would be unfair of me to give away because the reason’s funny, the story still roughly plays out much as it did on-screen with plenty of dialogue carried over. Which is logical of course since these are (roughly) the same characters. But that means the main interest is noting what the actual changes are rather than the story itself, in other words not that much different to reading a more typical movie adaptation comic of the kind tending to be developed from a shooting script and so always had slightly different dialogue and lost scenes.

Which is weird of course since that's what we wanted and expected the experience to be, but perhaps it's that the action isn't different enough from Samuel A Peeble's original script. Writer Mike Johnson does at least have a good sense of the movie even if the ensemble element isn’t quite as clear yet, another bi-product of IDW (or CBS/Paramount) choosing to adapt rather than going into original stories. This is Kirk’s story about one of his old classmates so difficult to pull of from Sulu’s perspective. Plus this isn’t the most thrilling story anyway, the first rumblings of Roddenbury’s God complex.

The really interesting stuff comes later. How will nuTrek deal with Harry Mudd? The time travel stories? The “no beach to walk on speech” from The Naked Time now that Spock’s in a relationship? How about Amok Time, how does Pon Farr work when there’s no Vulcan to retreat to? There are also episodes somewhat busted by the film’s desperation to get everything in, not least Dagger of the Mind who’s entire plot essentially exists to introduce Spock’s mind meld ability, and as this issue demonstrates, Spock's already less secretive about that.  It’s for all these curious reasons alone my order is in at the comic shop for future issues.

Funny, thrilling, hilarious, gripping, Torchwood is ...

TV Now that Torchwood's Miracle Day is finally over I sense a void so I've decided to run some of my old Behind The Sofa reviews of the first series. As you'll see I began in positive mood then too. Oh well ...

It's Wednesday 18th October at 9:40 pm and I've just returned from Manchester and a High Def preview of Torchwood. Although I'm sure in the next four days the web will be awash with spoilers I've decided to write this review now and blast it through the time rift into the future. Because really after the ending of Everything Changes it would be like telling a four year old that there isn't a Father Christmas and there's a seventy percent chance they'll spend most of their life working in an office. It wouldn't be fair or right. The screening was (I think) a success -- everyone laughed in the right places and gasped in others although I can't tell who were fans, I suspect a fair amount where from the Torchwood.tv blog.

But really, again I say, that climax. Not since Lisa Faulkner found the wrong end of a deep fat fryer in Spooks has something been so unexpected. 24? Yes, stock in trade, it'd be wrong if someone didn't die horrifically at the close of an hour. But here? Suzie even enjoyed gallery pictures at the official website and appeared on the cover of Radio Times, and warranting a profile which on reflection looks somewhat threadbare in comparison to the others but which I originally put down to the overall veil of secrecy which has hung over the project (until tonight).

I wonder how many people in the audience, like me, wondered when it would be revealed as an initiation trick to test Gwen's mettle, even the bullet to Jack's head. Which cleverly provided a second twist - so when Rose brought him back to life she also (inadvertently?) made him unkillable (Can he still age? Is he actually immortal? How old is he now?). Does this by implication mean the Rose too cannot die since she too was exposed to the time vortex? Does this mean that Indira Varma's IMDb page is wrong - or will there be some great resurrection later in the series?

But I'm getting ahead of myself, more speculation later. Really this is the most enjoyable fifty minutes I've spent in a cinema this year. Blown up to the size of a house, the episode looked amazing, better than some films in fact. Funny, thrilling, hilarious, gripping, Torchwood is probably everything I wished some episodes of Season Two of Doctor Who had been. This looks like the work of a group of people who are finally getting to make the kind of show they've wanted to make. Nothing is misjudged, with even the sex, violence and swearing fitting within context.

I don't think Cardiff has looked this good and as promised, the city is presented in all of its potential glory - and yet with Weevils, the dark underbelly, the sewers. Did I mention it was funny? Lines that got a laugh in the screening 'Just a pterodactyl', 'Well if this'll make it easier.' 'That's harassment.' 'Walked here. I bloody walked' 'All that CSI bollocks. I'd like to see CSI Cardiff - they'd be measuring the velocity of a kebab.' 'You Welsh. Someone shows you something extraordinary and you criticize it.'

As an opening episode, this was perfectly structured. The drawing of a newby into a fantastic realm, has quite rightly been described as nothing new, but here it worked beautifully because Gwen's natural curiosity drew into the 'inner circle' rather than through some kidnapping or mistake. Also, unlike Rose, the 'real world' seemed perfectly realistic, well realistic in a television sense in that it looked like an expensive episode of The Bill, which meant the fantasy she was being diving into really was different. Her initial interaction with the Weevil was natural - no such thing as aliens so it has to be a guy in a mask, right? One of the lovely threads which ran through the episode which perfectly retconned why almost everyone seems to forget big spaceships and robot troops is the creation of something even more unlikely but which somehow fits within our realistic expectations.

Perhaps most impressively, Russell T decided to take time to carefully set up the world of the series rather than running half-cocked through some forgettable plotline of the week hoping that the viewer will keep up. Here, the story was Torchwood, or rather Gwen's discovery of it and that was more than enough for the running time. Some might criticize the seemingly endless shots of items in the hub, they were obviously fascinating, particular the hand which was revealed in Radio Times to be the one that The Doctor lost in The Christmas Invasion (wonder where it landed). The other character introductions were perfectly pitched too, each receiving a moment that defined their character - the highlight obviously being Owen's experimentation with the love potion. Do Toshiko and Jack both know that the other has met the Doctor - I do hope they have that scene together, although given that Jack's reluctant to talk about the time lord I'm not sure it'll happen soon.

And what of Captain Jack? As befits the mood of the piece, John Barrowman has tuned down his performance slightly and whereas during his brief spell on Doctor Who he didn't seem like someone who could fit in any reality, he works very well here. Anyone else notice that he's now given to Doctorish speeches? But he's still funny. Pregnant? Really? As I left the screening I heard two guys talking about what they'd seen and one said to the other 'It was alright I suppose, but they should have shown Captain Jack arriving through the rift…' NO. NO. NO. Don't waste the mystery, don't reveal everything straight away, and if you do reveal anything, make sure that it simply creates other questions.

For example, does Jack know all about the Sycorax and Cybermen because he was in the country then? Did he know The Doctor was around? Why didn't he contact him? Is he still pissed about being left behind in the future? How much does he know about the setting up of Torchwood? Does any of this actually matter? Contrast this with Robin Hood, in which we already know everything we need to know about the lead character. The series isn't rejecting established mythology but it is having fun with it - like the cloaking effect left behind by the appearance of the TARDIS in Cardiff bay during Boomtown. I do hope that is a cyber lady in the trailers.

But there wasn't a weak link in the cast, everyone fitting very well into their characters. Obviously Eve Myles had the most screen time here, and thankfully she was mesmerizing able to leap tall acting buildings in a single bound, presenting tragedy and comedy with equal measure, something that wasn't reflected in The Unquiet Dead (although I'd still love there to be some kind of connection between those two characters). Some of the biggest laughs in the screening came from Myles moments, including the way she lifted her head from the keyboard after the insomnia pill. That hair.

The bloke I ended up sitting next to in the screening, was very quick at the close of the episode to note that 'someone had been watching Angel' and its true that throughout elements of other genre series could be seen. The brooding moments on top of buildings taken from helicopters were similar to Wim Wender's Wings of Desire (and its blah US remake City of Angels) and the now unkillable Jack is very Angel-like (although it doesn't seem to be bothering him too much, but then he can see the sun). But none of this matters. Buffy looked like the work of someone who had absorbed years worth of horror films since it managed to be influenced by most of them during its seven years.

What's important here is whether it's entertaining, and oh good lord, yes it is.

PS I was perhaps over-giddy. The Owen phermone scene is morally ambiguous at best. But I think the reviews that followed more than made up for that ...

Tate Liverpool’s latest Magritte retrospective, The Pleasure Principle

Rene Magritte
Golconda 1953
The Menil Collection, Houston © Charly HERSCOVICI, Brussels – 2011

Art It’s 1992 and I’m at the Hayward Gallery on the South Bank during a school visit to London in which a class of us teenagers were dragged around the great art galleries of the capital by a very patient art teacher attempting awaken our appreciation of paint and canvas. I’m standing in front of Rene Magritte’s The Treachery of Images and as my brain explodes he’s clearly succeeded.

This is a painting of a pipe with writing underneath in French suggesting it isn’t a pipe. Well of course it isn’t a pipe. It’s a painting of a pipe. Yet it is still a picture of a pipe and if asked for an identification someone would be more likely to say “It’s a pipe” rather than “It’s a painting of a pipe” in much the same way that if asked we’d sat Mona Lisa was a woman rather than a painting of same.

For perhaps the first time, I think I properly understood the way that art hovers somewhere between truth, literal truth and lies and that one of the decisions most artists have to make is how to utilise these forces and the kind of connection they want to make with the viewer. Do they simply want to please them aesthetically or make them think or is it possible to do both?

A version of The Treachery of Images appears in Tate Liverpool’s latest Magritte retrospective, The Pleasure Principle, in the English translation accompanied by the connected works This is not an Apple and This is a Piece of Cheese which is all the more confusing because it’s still a painting of some Camembert on a small piece of canvas housed underneath a glass cheese dome.

Each time we think we understand Magritte's approach, his message, he does something contradicting any meaning the viewer might be trying to draw, confounding our expectations over and over again. But unlike Dali and other surrealists the images are so tantalisingly realistic, that we’re still constantly chasing that meaning like a transparent dangling carrot. Or in his case apple.

The Night Owl in the first room, a typical example. A coated figure, an embryonic version of his later suited man, stands in a restaurant like room with an empty table in the corner and in the middle, entirely unrelated to anything else is a lit steet lamp post. Immediately we begin to interpret, ask questions. Who is the man, why is the lamp there, why is the table empty?

A brain like mine filled with film narratives wonders if what we’re seeing is a man on his way home, separately shot footage of his memory superimposed on the scene as he remembers the restaurant. Was he stood up? Is that what the bare table symbolises or what that literally the scene? Or is he day dreaming about a restaurant he could soon be visiting. For that matter he could be a restaurant critic who’s endured a horrible meal?

Magritte has no answers and sometimes in paintings with titles like Clear Ideas and The Explanation, neither containing anything of the sort, he’s clearly teasing us. To an extent it’s his more surreal images denying any possible similar interpretation are “easier” to appreciate because we can simply enjoy the shapes and colours without attempting to apply conventional standards to the work.

Tate have displayed the work thematically rather than chronologically. The artist returned to the same graphics throughout his career and only in seeing all of these bowler hat men together can we really gauge how his attitude to the work changed across his life even if, much of the time, those are almost imperceptible and mostly to do with the quality of his painting.

The effect is repetitive. Apple after apple, egg after egg, sky after sky, the many bowler-hatted gentlemen. The bedposts with eyes skewered into the top. Alone, they’re very effective.  Together the experience is quite overwhelming. That’s a by-product of the academic need for comprehensiveness probably. I have much the same problem with Monet displays with their endless lily-pads.

It’s those canvases not containing these familiar elements that stick in my addled mind. The Delights of Landscape with its empty canvas labelled “paysage” (French for landscape) next to a shotgun. The Eye, a circular painting of an human’s ocular feature resembling a close-up of a peephole in a silent film. The Uncertainly Principle, a nude woman whose shadow is a bird of prey.

Which could suggest he didn’t have much time for women but famously as we're reminded by the Paul Simon song,  he had a long marriage with his wife Georgette and if the biography in the accompanying exhibition leaflet is anything to go by the artist was loved and his was not the life of a tortured soul and a man who was never out of work, as the film posters and other ephemera included here demonstrate.

The other surprise is the collection of photographs, a mix of candids of the Magrittes and friends in his studios and some attempts to replicate the ideas of his paintings. Watch out for The Feast of Stones (a perfect Doctor Who episode title) were he and his brother Paul and their friend Marcel pose in what looks like a building site pretending to chew on bricks.  Perhaps if he'd not been the painter he could have been a film comedian.

There are a couple of disappointments. Perhaps his most iconic image, Le Fils De L’Homme, the man with the apple for a face only appears on postcards and merchandise in the gift shop (the wikipedia says it’s privately owned) and I’ve always looked forward to the Tate’s audio guides.  For presumably good reasons that’s absent this time.  But that's more than made up for by the carpeted floor making the exhibition far cosier than usual.

For me the highlight of the show is, The Dominion of Light series, with its a cloudy blue sky over an atmospheric moonlit street scene which remind me of Rachel Louise Brown’s photographs at the Wolstenholme Creative Space during the Biennial this time last year.  She said she was attempting to “absorb, abstract and portray the psychology of artificiality”.

That's also perfectly describe Magritte work in general and these paintings in particular.  As anyone who’s tottered home at dusk in the moments when night turns to day and looked towards the sky and notice the stars have been replaced by clouds, it is, for want of a better phrase, a surreal experience. Which is propably why I like these. Out of all of the paintings in the exhibition, it’s one of the few occasions when Magritte's world and our own finally touch.

Until 16th October 2011.  Visitor details available here.  Press ticket supplied.

Shakespeare's Poems (Arden Shakespeare: Third Edition). Edited by Katherine Duncan-Jones & H.R. Woudhuysen.

As the editors of this third Arden edition of his poems explain in their introduction although Shakespeare is generally thought of a playwright first, poet second, during his lifetime, the situation was very much reversed. Venus and Adonis was his first authorised edition to go into print and it was that, along with the follow up The Rape of Lucrece which made is fortune, both entering multiple editions.  Only later with the publication of the First Folio and the start-stop Bardolitary which followed did the plays become the more prominent expression of his genius, largely because they were omitted from that collection of plays because at the time those perfectly useful editions were already in circulation.

Katherine Duncan Jones and H.R. Woudhuysen say they're fighting against a situation in which the poems are now so frequently overlooked or regarded as a footnote that they're added only apologetically to lists of topics under consideration at conferences. Their method is to produce about as comprehensive collection of the works as possible and with my amateur eyes, I’d say they’ve succeeded. Along with Venus and Lucrece, the whole of The Passionate Pilgrim is reproduced, The Phoenix and the Turtle portion of Love’s Martyr (along with a photographic facsimile of the rest) as well as a range of attributed short verses, mainly from tombs of aristocrats and nobles connected with the family and friends of friends.

F.T. Prince’s second series edition from 1960 was two hundred pages. This edition is nearly six hundred and the kind of baroque volume whose maze like text leaves you staggered once again by Shakespeare’s flexibility and the variety of his thought. There’s no conclusive proof that he wrote the epigram which accompanied a set of gloves to one Alexander Aspinall, but if as a working poet we have to believe that he wasn’t simply hoarding his talent for limited application but like many contemporary writers spreading it across a range of disciplines turning his words even to gift cards when necessary.

Both of the epic poems, written during a period when the theatres of London were closed due to plague, are entirely accessible and steeped in emotion. Venus and Adonis (in which the latter fights off the predatory advances of the former) is positively pornographic, surprisingly so considering it was signed off for publication by the then Archbishop of Canterbury. For reasons inherent in the title, The Rape of Lucrece is more ambiguous but no less absorbing in its ability to draw the reader into the pain of the protagonist. On stage, Shakespeare was constrained by the ability of the boys to communicate the emotional complexity of his female characters. No such constraints exist for him on the page.

There are perhaps a couple of unusual choices in relation to the presentation of the text. As with Prince's earlier edition, The Passionate Pilgrim is printed across the pages so that sometimes the flow of the verse is broken up with the first line of a poem marooned on one side of a sheet from the others. Perhaps a clearer approach would have been to dedicate a single page to each with the “footnotes” printed on the opposite page, as happens with the attributed poems at the back and in the separate edition of sonnets. Also, teasingly, although explanations against authorship are included for poems of modern attribution, the texts themselves are not, unlike the complete Pilgrim section.

With such a diverse range of material, the introduction and appendices are surprisingly comprehensive, covering everything from production history, authorship to thematic resonance. The key word, as is so often the case with Shakespeare is “perhaps”. Most of the poems only exist in unique copies and the available contextual material is of the kind which sends most academics down a rabbit hole, especially in relation to The Phoenix and the Turtle, which is as enigmatic as a clue from old gameshow 321. That section does offer some way into understanding at least a couple of the passages though as the editors freely admit there are others for which we will never have a satisfactory explanation.

Shakespeare's Poems (Arden Shakespeare: Third Edition) edited by Katherine Duncan-Jones & H.R. Woudhuysen. Methuen Drama. 2007. RRP: £9.99. ISBN: 978-1903436875. Review copy supplied.

"I didn't look hard enough"

Film The much heralded "easter eggs" on the Star Wars blu-rays seem to be confined to changes in the films themselves. Except, oh except ... from Digital Bits ...
"[Editor's Note: Apparently I didn't look hard enough. Thanks to Bits readers Dave F. and "Darth" M., if you insert Disc 8 and go to: Episode V - Pursued by the Imperial Fleet - The Collection - Boba Fett Prototype Costume - First Look... you'll get the chance to watch the Boba Fett cartoon from the Star Wars Holiday Special IN FULL.]
C'mon George, you know you'd make an even bigger mint if you released the whole thing.  We want Bea, we want Bea.

"Save yourself!"

Food I know it's lazy linking to yet another evisceration of a restaurant from Jay Raynor but this one's particularly poetic. If only my Torchwood reviews could be as creative as:
"People don't go to the Lyttelton Restaurant of the Stafford Hotel in London's St James's for dinner. They go there to be interred. It is a deathly place of over-stuffed cushions and over-varnished woodwork – the sort of joint that would feature in a Le CarrĂ© novel as the meeting point for dodgy oligarchs and London's investment bankers looking to asset-strip a small nation. As we were led through the restaurant space, little more than a gussied-up lounge, I imagined the glassy-eyed diners muttering "Save yourself!" under their breath. Our table was located up a flight of steps in a small wood-lined box of a side room. Hurrah. Our very own coffin. Quite so, for the Stafford is also where bank accounts go to die."
The tussling over the wine menu is particularly special. Personally, this is my method for selecting a fine wine and its never let me down. Not that I drink wine. But the present recipients have always been more than happy.