Wonderful news about Wonderfalls.

TV After Dead Like Me but before Pushing Daisies, Hannibal and the good episodes of Heroes, , Bryan Fuller produced the hopelessly cancelled Wonderfalls, about as the Wikipedia helpfully synopsises: "Jaye Tyler (Caroline Dhavernas), a recent Brown University graduate with a philosophy degree, who holds a dead-end job as a sales clerk at a Niagara Falls gift shop. Jaye is the reluctant participant in conversations with various animal figurines — a wax lion, brass monkey, stuffed bear, and mounted fish, among others — which direct her via oblique instructions to help people in need".

Released on dvd in the US in 2005 and soon deleted and as far as I know never shown in the UK, it's a surprising pleasure to discover that someone's seen fit, presumably on the back of the Hannibal interest, to released it on R2 finally at the end of next month. Here's the cover. Possibly:

Doctor Who's s7 means my pennies are spoken for that month (not to mention the suspiciously moved The Tenth Planet), but Lovefilm will have Wonderfalls available for rental.

The Hub.

the long haul

Music The release of MKS's Flatline was strange. Promoted for what felt like months beforehand, knocked out on a Friday and only available through iTunes when dozens of "tribute" versions are on sale and streamable through other venues, its lack of chart success isn't unsurprising but nevertheless disappointing. The astonishingly average promo video didn't help either.  I don't know about airplay though to be honest, so permanently does my radio dial oscillate between Radios 3 & 4 neither of which were like to playlist it.

Such inconsistencies are somewhat explained by Digital Spy's interview with the band, the team, the three, published on Tuesday in which Keisha says something (relatively) interesting:
"I don't think our song got lost on the radio. I think there were certain things that happened behind the scenes that couldn't be helped. Our goal was to put a song out that people liked and we think we've done that. If we wanted to record an easy throwaway hit then we would have put something out back in 2010 after we first met up. We didn't because we won't compromise our music and we're here for the long haul. Also, it's all about the album really and not just the singles for us."
Shenanigans, again, then.

WHO 50: 2006:
Everything Changes.

TV It’s 3:45 in the afternoon on October 18th 2006 and I’m clock watching.

I need to be in Manchester, by 6:15 and I can't be late.

I'm in Liverpool.

Work, which isn't exactly in the centre of town, ends and I dash out onto the road and start walking.

A taxi comes.

And we get stuck in traffic on Renshaw Street.

I'm clock watching.

A train is leaving in five minutes.

Get to Lime Street Station and make the rookie mistake of paying for my taxi with a ten pound note.

Wait seemingly ages for driver to find change.

Dash across the concourse.

The train is still there.

Reach the ticket booth.

Order the ticket.

The card machine splutters through the pin acceptance.

Get ticket.

Run through ticket checkers, just as the conductor blows his whistle.

I roar, out loud, for the first time in my life.

Stroll back onto the concourse.

New plan, new train, in five minutes.

Buy pasta meal deal to tide me over.

Dash through and get on train.

Driver tells me it'll be at Manchester Oxford Road for 5:33.

Plenty of time to dash across town.

Eat dinner as we pass through Warrington Central.

Then at 5:26 the train stalls.

We sit in the carriage, all glancing at each other.

A girl reading a book smiles at me.

Then she smiles at everyone else and I realise I'm not being singled out.


The driver announces that a train in front of us has broken down and he's waiting for instructions for them to push it into the station.

Collective groan.


I'm getting worried.


Train moves again.






In the station.

Run across the bridge between platforms, dash out of the station and the free bus I was expecting that would have taken me to the station near the cinema is missing.

Or not there.

Dash out onto Oxford Road, and jump into a taxi, amid the rain.

Give my destination, and I'm travelling again.

Stuck in traffic.

I'm watch watching.

It's 6:10.

I'm there.

The Filmworks.

It starts at 6:15.

I dash through the foyer and stop someone to ask them where I need to go.

He tells me.

I dash up the escalator, through three floors.

Notice someone else going in the same direction to the same place.

After some tooing and frowing with security ('Half of the names aren't on my list and I'm just a temp', she says) I dash through into the place where I'm doing the thing.

I sit at the front.

I'm inevitable chatting with the person sitting next to me.

I'm about to describe how I got here, because I can't believe what I went through to get here, and I ask them how they got here, expecting a bus, perhaps some walking.

'Coventry', they say simply.

Always remember that someone else has probably had a greater trial in life than you.

Lights down. Audience hush.

Then Everything Changes.

Not that I was ready for it.

Danes gains.

TV Another link from The New Yorker I'm afraid, but it's another addition to the My So-Called Life clippings project which has spanned the length of the blog.

  In his profile of Claire Danes, John Lahr talks to casting director Linda Lowy who describes the whole process in more detail including which actress Danes was ultimately chosen over and what it was like to be in the room during her audition:
“From the minute she walked in the room, Claire was chilling, astounding, and silent,” Lowy said. “There was so much power coming out of her without her doing much.” One of the scenes that Danes read—which involved a nervy bathroom breakup with Angela’s best friend, Sharon—required her to cry. “Tell me what I did, Angela. I mean, I would really like to know,” Sharon says. “We get to that line and Claire’s face turns entirely red,” Herskovitz said. “Her body starts to vibrate and tears come into her eyes. You realize that she’s having a physical experience that is beyond acting.” Even then, Danes’s defining quality as an actress—a combination of thoughtfulness and impulsiveness—was on display. “She seemed to have been born fully grown, you know, out of a seashell,” Herskovitz said. Zwick claimed that Danes was his first sighting of a “wise child,” a rare species that show business occasionally tosses up. As he put it later, “What she knows cannot be taught.” Danes also satisfied another quality that Holzman’s script called for: her face could transform in an instant from beautiful to ordinary."
The cancellation's glossed over a bit but then rest? My goodness.

That's pretty dark for CBBC show isn't it?

TV As #whowatch wanders onwards, I've reached the moment when chronologically Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures intermingle which on the one hand demonstrates that tonally they're not that different, especially in relation to the kinds of dialogue which appears. Here's a line of dialogue:

"I doubt men like you fair too well in prison."

It's a convincer. The main character uses it to convince the bad guy to do the thing they need to get to the next bit of plot or episode resolution and it looks for all the word like something Captain Jack might say.

Except, it's Sarah Jane Smith.

It's from Warriors of Kudlak, the first series riff on The Last Starfighter, as the human who's being addressed has been collaborating with an alien, utilising a version of Laser Tag to find adolescents talented enough to go to war on some far off world. When Sarah-Jane threatens him initially, the human suggests that the police aren't likely to believe the whole alien thing, which is when she points out that there's enough evidence of his child abduction leading to the line ...

"I doubt men like you fair too well in prison."

That's pretty dark for CBBC show isn't it? You're probably thinking the same things I am and there's not really a clear way of explaining what she means in a not adult way other than, bad men don't do well in prison which is true because they're prisons. Or something. I'm trying to think like a child, which is usually pretty easy for me as you know.

The writer, Phil Gladwin, didn't write another one. His other screen credit that year was an episode of ITV's grim police procedural Trial & Retribution which is a really quite strange juxtaposition. I'd ask him about it via Twitter but he's not updated since this fairly telling Tweet:

Either way, it just goes to show how difficult it must be deciding what should and shouldn't be in a television script for children.

"By the way, did I mention it also travels in time?"

Travel The New Yorker meets William Helmreich, a sixty-seven-year-old professor of sociology at CUNY, who has walked every street in New York:
"Helmreich is extraordinarily energetic and voluble. “The New York Nobody Knows” is his fourteenth book (he’s also written about ethnic stereotypes, Holocaust survivors, and black militants). “I love the city,” he said as we began walking. “I love to read about the city, to live the city, to walk the city.” During his four years of research, he walked almost every day. “I did it in the morning. I did it in the evening. I did it on the weekends. I did it in the rain, in the snow, in the summer. It came to about thirty-five, forty miles a week, a hundred twenty a month, fifteen hundred a year.”

The inevitable Netflix post.

TV So, I signed up to Netflix, just for fun. Just 'cause it seemed like if I didn't, I would die, or something ... even though My So-Called Life isn't on there. Yet. I had originally promised myself that it would be my treat for completing the big anniversary Who watch, but because of this and that I decided that time was too precious and began a free trial. As seems to be the way of things, here's a list of thoughts with numbers because I can't really think of way of putting them into anything that could in all honestly be called an essay, review or piece of writing which flows properly.

(1)  My main experience has been through the app on my Sony BD player, which is probably the reason I signed up too. Since we subscribed to home broadband, I've been using the Lovefilm app just above it and everytime I've passed by as I clicked through the menu items, something inside of me as been saying come on, come on. So I reduced by Lovefilm package to £9.99 so that I'd be paying the same anyway.  Netflix is £5.99 a month.

(2)  Initial reaction is very good.  Spent that evening watching Shane Carruth's film Primer and marvelling, just as I have with the Lovefilm streaming thingy at the ability to press and button and watch a  film on a television without having to put a shiny disc or large plastic box into something first.  Perhaps it's my age but this still seems like magic to me.  The internet in general still seems like magic to me.

(3)  What I hadn't expected was the amount of duplication there is between the two services, though it is true as I'd heard beforehand, that Lovefilm has vastly more films, and Netflix has a mass of television.  The former has loads more back catalogue film wise though it's also fair to say the quality of the transfers is variable.

(4)  One oddity.  I have a connection with a top speed of about 6mb which on Lovefilm translates to something which looks like dvd quality.  On Netflix, after a bit, the image storms up to HD quality, in 1080p or i, which in the case of something like Torchwood is blu-ray quality which means...

(4)  I can see even more clearly now why hard formats and broadcast television are in decline.  Despite having all of Torchwood on dvd, I watched them through the Netflix app instead.  In the latter stages of (as I've been calling it on Twitter) #whowatchorbust, I've barely had to use a dvd.  Hmm.

(5)  It's worth noting that actually most of it is back catalogue and the selection isn't massive, around three thousand titles, so the experience is rather like visiting a Blockbuster about six months to a year in the past, so it's still worth keeping the dvds-by-post option.  I'm patient but ...

(6)  Yes, I know there's some kind of IP shenanigans which would let me look at the Netflix database in the US, but its against the T&Cs, it's early days and I don't want to get banned off just yet, if such a thing is possible.  Plus its not like I'm desperate for things to watch anyway.

(7)  Keeping track of new uploads and what's on Netflix is easier than Lovefilm thanks to their much more open API.  I've found this site which updates several times a day with new additions to the database and puts everything on there in alphabetical order and by date, neither of which are available on the Netflix site proper.

(8)  There's quite a lot of Bollywood and stand-up comedy.

(9)  The preferences and genre interest sections are frankly bizarre and not very useful if you're someone who's not that fussed about genres and the like.  There's a taste section which has a page about "cultures" which simply lists "Gay & Lesbian" and "Jewish" which makes me uncomfortable and must clearly being using taste in the ironic sense.

(10)  The classic Doctor Who pages are poorly curated, with the last three Dalek stories included and listed as being entire seasons and untitled with Genesis also added but put in season 26.  The TV movie is there too though with a big picture of McGann, so I'll forgive them anything else.


Music Worth it for Susanna Reid's reaction to public transport, but not for the Sofababes bit. That's embarrassing.

powering the transmission

Music Radio 4's website now has a massive archive of streamable documentaries about music and musicians which will also be released as downloads on a weekly basis here. I'm putting a few of them below so I can find them later.

You Probably Think This Song Is About You: The Wind Cries Mary
Jimi Hendrix's former girlfriend Kathy Mary Etchingham recalls how an argument with Jimi Hendrix about lumpy mashed potatoes sparked the creation of a classic psychedelic ballad.

Conjuring Halie
"Cerys Matthews celebrates the life of one of her musical heroines, the great gospel singer Mahalia ("Halie") Jackson, who died in 1972. Jackson became one of the most influential gospel singers in the world at the height of her popularity, inspiring singers like Aretha Franklin and Mavis Staples. But she was also one of the unsung heroes of the civil rights movement in America, described by the legendary historian and broadcaster Studs Terkel as one of the bravest people he'd ever met."

When the Levee Breaks
"Mark Lamarr looks at the little-known story of Memphis Minnie, known for her guitar skills, her rowdy ways and the song 'When the Levee Breaks' a musical celebration of a key moment in Blues history."

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?
"Tracey McLeod recalls the girl groups of the 1960s, an infectious genre of pop music and a vinyl source of inspiration for teenage girls."

For One Night Only: Benjamin Britten's War Requiem
"Paul Gambaccini goes behind the scenes of the first performance of Britten's masterpiece, performed to mark the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral in 1962. He talks to performers and audience members about that momentous, emotionally charged evening."

The Film Programme: John Williams
"Francine Stock visits Hollywood for a special interview with composer John Williams, whose memorable scores for Stephen Spielberg include Jaws, Star Wars, ET and Schindler's List."

Good Vibrations: The Story of the Theremin
"Bill Bailey tells the story of the remarkable 'hands off' electronic instrument and its enigmatic inventor and charts its use from horror and sci-fi film soundtracks through to contemporary dance music and of course its use on the Beach Boys' iconic 'Good Vibrations'."

The Armstrong Tapes
"Jazz historian Helen Mayhew looks at the remarkable life of Louis Armstrong as told through his archive of tape recordings, covering his personal life as well as his music."

Follow-Up Albums
"Pete Paphides tells the story behind..."

Black Is a Country
"Exploring the underground music of the Black Power movement of the late 60s and early 70s."

the assembled hordes of Genghis Khan.

Travel Jonathan DeHart of The Diplomat reports of modern Mongolia:
"In Mongolia today there are reminders everywhere of the nation’s nomadic past. Upon arriving at Chinggis Khaan International Airport – the nation’s only international transit point – visitors are greeted by a statue of the fearless wandering conqueror of yore. Traditional portable homes – gers – dot the outskirts of the capital city of Ulan Bator and fill the landlocked country’s vast steppe, ready to be folded up and carried to better pastures at a moment’s notice. And if you head out beyond the yurts into the hinterlands, three million wild Mongol horses can be seen running free – that’s more than the nation’s human population."
The comments are almost as good as the article. Indeed some of them are longer than the article itself. Almost.

My old reviews of Doctor nuWho's season three.

TV This past couple of days, my rewatch of the whole of Doctor Who's reached the third season, I think it might be my favourite of the Russell T Davies years. Bits of season two are insufferably smug, season four has a serious wobble in the middle, but there's something rather brilliant about the Tenth Doctor & Martha mixture and the collection of quality scripts which makes the whole watchable and rewatchable. Plus, you know Blink. I mean Blink too for goodness sake.

The strange thing is, back in the day, back when I was posting my reviews to Behind The Sofa, I had a serious wobble in the middle. Glancing back at what I churned out each Saturday night, although I loved Smith & Jones, I had my own serious wobble in the middle. I'll get around to reposting these properly on here next year some time, but just for now, here's a brief survey of what happened.


Commerce You will have heard about England finally banning the plastic bag. Or rather England forcing supermarkets to charge people 5p per bag mirroring schemes in the other parts of the kingdom.


It's not much. It's tiny. A speck. It won't do that much to save the environment. The plastic bags are still going to be made, in less numbers perhaps, but they'll still be there in some numbers. It's symbolic if nothing else, the day to day equivalent of Earth Night when we all turn our house lights off despite still having our televisions on, burning through exponentially more power than a light bulb.

But it will make us think. Each time we forget to bring bags, or enough bags, in that moment when the shop clerk asks us if we want a bag and we have to pay, we'll think, we'll be reminded of why it's happening. We'll be reminded about the environment and perhaps, just suppose, we'll think about all of the other ways we can help not least in only turning on a light when we need to.

Incidentally, at this point I may be voting Green in the next election and it might just be for reasons other than "because they're not the Lib Dems".  I'm not sure yet.  I'll get back to you closer to the day.