19 June 2017

Finsbury Park

Four attacks in four months; this one by the 'other side' in this hateful conflict. Yet again, someone takes their anger out on a group who have done them wrong by attacking someone completely different.

I sadly fear more attacks.

17 June 2017

Doctor Who: The Eaters of Light

Rona Munro, who wrote the final story of the original run back in 1989 has been away from this show for far too long – her return is a triumph with a great story, a brilliantly realised creature and lots of great gags.

 

This is also the first story of the 12th Doctor's era to be set in Peter Capaldi's native Scotland and it works really well.

 

9/10

 

16 June 2017

Grenfell Tower

We are almost certainly looking at a disaster as bad as Hillsborough here. My thoughts and prayers are with the many caught up in this.

It is clear that this fire ended up as awful as it has been due to someone failing to follow fire safety procedures somewhere, almost certainly to a criminal level.

A public inquiry is the right thing to do and in the meantime, these tower blocks need to be made as safe as possible. 

In the future, they need to be replaced by buildings fit for purpose. 

10 June 2017

2017 General Election results

A fuller post on this will follow, pending post-poll studies of the actual demographics that turned out. However, some quick thoughts:

  • The Conservatives remain in power to all intents and purposes. May got the highest vote share for them since Margaret Thatcher, despite leading a highly inept campaign. It is clear, however, she is not suited to the role of PM and should probably step aside for someone more competent at the top job.
  • Labour did much better than expected, but whether this was down to Corbyn or despite him remains to be studied. He has taken Labour a good deal of the way there, but he may not be the person to take them back into power.
  • The Lib Dems are irrelevant now. Nick Clegg's decision to go for full coalition instead of confidence and supply has cost his party dear; he has now paid with his own seat.
  • The SNP are badly battered but still there – the next Scottish Parliament elections will be very interesting.
  • The DUP... well, we're all going to be paying a lot more attention to Northern Ireland now, that's for sure.

 

Doctor Who: Empress of Mars

Got to say that I didn't enjoy that one at all. Looked great, but the guest characters were all very broad stereotypes, the plot twists were silly (dropping one big one without warning suggested something important got lost in the edit) and the new Ice Warriors weapon seems like an excuse for the effects people to show off..

 

Also, that was one of the most out of left field reappearances by a character I've ever seen. I didn't even know that voice actor was still alive...

 

3/10

 

09 June 2017

General Election Result 3: Or maybe not...

The current projection is for the Conservatives to have 318 seats, eight short of a majority. I thought that a Conservative minority government was the worst realistic scenario for them at the election and it looks like coming true.

Labour have done much, much better than a lot of people thought, although they haven't managed to break through the Ulster Firewall and will likely end up as second place in the popular vote. 43-40 sounds a realistic result to me.

Close, but no cigar.

08 June 2017

General Election Result 2: I think the exit poll is off

2 swings to the Tories and one less than expected Labour swing... I think we might get a Tory majority...

UK General Election 2017 Results 1: Exit Poll

Exit poll has Conservatives at 314, 12 short of a majority. However, with the SNP down to 34, then with Labour at 266, that only makes 300. Even with 14 Lib Dems, that's no way to form a majority either.

Of course this poll could be wrong. It was in 2015; it predicted a Tory minority government and the Tories got an overall majority.

Or it could go the other way. At the moment, May is likely to remain PM.

04 June 2017

London Bridge/Borough terrorist attack

I am afraid, yes, but I am not cowed. With the third terrorist attack on the UK in the space of two months and with my current job requiring me to use the busiest railway station in the country on a daily basis, the possibilty of me getting caught up in one of these incidents is not zero.

I find myself thinking about what I would do in such an incident. It would depend on the circumstances and what I could viably do. At any rate, we all have to mentally prepare ourselves for such an eventuality. Learning first aid is a good idea as well - I have done an online CPR course and I may look into getting something more formal in future.

(I have been involved in two situations where I have had to call 999, both at the same railway station, although in those cases, I was the one making the call while others were attending the victim).

In addition, businesses need to add an 'Active Shooter' plan to their list of company policies.

The police killed the three terrorists in eight minutes from the first 999 call, but that was eight minutes in which they managed to kill seven people (so far) and injure 50. If this had been in somewhere like Rugby or Hull, they wouldn't have been there in eight minutes.

It is now time for a serious discusion on routine armament of the police. If not handguns, most certainly Taser. Because these people could strike anywhere with no warning and they need to be stopped quickly.

These people think they are doing God's will when in fact they are doing Satan's. Mr. Horner is a wily old fox and he knows that few people indeed are your classic cat-stroking villains, doing evil for the LOLs. If people believe they are doing something good or righteous, then they are willing to engage in some real atrocities.

Going forward, we will need to get seriously tough on those who radicalise vulnerable men (and it is nearly always men) with long prison sentences and putting them in special wings where they cannot turn others to their cause. We need an off-shore Alcatraz for these people.

We must also address real and valid grievances in the Islamic world - not because it causes terrorism, but because it is the right thing to do and it will eliminate some of the excuses. We must also recognise and make clear that most victims of terrorism, along with most of those doing the fighting are Muslims.

There is no talking with Daesh except to ask them what they would like for dinner as they serve their whole life terms - the death penalty is what these people want. The IRA never wanted the destruction of the United Kingdom, Daesh do.

I hope I don't have to write another post like this. I sadly fear I will.

03 June 2017

Doctor Who: The Lie of the Land

A strong episode, with Capaldi at his cold best... also, a very different episode for Missy... There were certain elements I wasn't overly keen on though, with the resolution being a bit too 'Power of Love' for my taste.

 

Great central idea, could have been executed (no pun intended) a bit better.

 

8/10

 

 

 

01 June 2017

General Election prediction

I think that the Conservatives will win an overall majority of between 25 and 50 seats with around an eight point popular vote lead, say 44-36. A lot of marginal seats will change hands in both directions and there will be much variation in swing levels. 

May will remain Prime Minister, Corbyn will remain Labour leader but neither will fight the 2022 election. 

I could of course be very wrong on this. 

31 May 2017

US 2016/17 upfronts thoughts

Renewals
  • CBS did their usual bulk early renewal.
  • Designated Survivor, a superb show, was a natural candidate (no pun intended) for renewal. Agents of SHIELD less so, but it must have its fans in the upper management.
  • Timeless getting axed was sad, but no surprise as it had middling ratings. Getting reprieved three days later was a huge surprise. The show will almost certainly be a summer one and hopefully it will get two or three more runs - it's a fun show, even if a bit silly at times. Hey, so is Doctor Who.
  • The CW's DC based shows continue to do well - Legends of Tomorrow is great and the episodes of the other shows that I've watched relating to crossovers are fun as well.

Cancellations

  • Conviction failed and failed big time. Hayley Atwell will probably be moving back to the UK soon; you don't really get a third chance to crack the US. I think the 10pm slot on Mondays for ABC may become a "cursed one", but we shall see.
  • Powerless didn't even get to conclude its run before being yanked, which is a huge failure for a DC based show.

New shows
  • A major drop in the number of new shows this year; the pilots may have been really bad...
  • Star Trek: Discovery looks visually epic and I definitely plan to watch it, but the proof of the pudding remains in the eating.
  • The Orville, Seth MacFarlane's spoof space drama looks like it could be a lot of silly fun and I definitely plan to do that.
  • Think I'll pass on The Gifted. Amy Acker is a brilliant actor, but she alone does not a series make and I prefer my comic book shows with some good jokes.
  • Also Valor looks too 'angsty' for my taste. 
  • NBC have again geo-blocked their trailers... Sarah Shahi has got her own show with Dennis Haysbert, but it remains to be clear whether it will be a Shaw-fire hit or if it will be time to Palmer off in May... with that awful pun, I'm done.

27 May 2017

Doctor Who: The Pyramid at the End of the World

An episode with an epic scope and yet still relatively small-scale, this features one of the best plots we've seen in a good while with a great cliff-hanger. The special effects are also great and it's really good to see an actor with dwarfism playing a human instead of an alien.

 

Next week looks really interesting, even if a bit of a remake of "The Last of the Time Lords", which was nearly a decade ago now!

 

8/10

 

26 May 2017

Remember a little thing called margin of error

The opinion polls show Labour closing the gap on the Conservatives.

However, there is a statistical margin of error in any poll of three points either way and any poll is built on assumptions about voting that may be off.

My current prediction is a Tory majority of 50 to 100, but my on the day prediction for 2015 was Labour as largest party in a Hung Parliament...

23 May 2017

Sir Roger Moore 1927-2017

It was a matter of time, with three of them as old as they were, before we lost a Bond actor. The 007 fan community knew this and it is likely that many of the obituaries posted today were written in advance. 

While not my favourite Bond, Sir Roger Moore's seven films in the role contain some of my favourites, most notably 'For Your Eyes Only' - a major influence on 'Covert-81'. His 'Jimmy' Bond could handle terrifying and ridiculous situations alike with aplomb - defusing a nuke dressed as a clown is a hard job to play seriously but he did it - while his raised eyebrow will go down in legend.

Getting a knighthood without being a Shakespearean actor is a huge achievement but he was a man of them.

Rest in Peace, Sir Roger. May many a vodka martini be raised in your honour tonight. 

Manchester

Only the vilest of people engage in deliberate attacks on children at a pop concert. 

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this outrage. 

21 May 2017

Doctor Who: Extremis

Explaining just what the Doctor has in that vault, this is a very dark episode, literally and metaphorically. The pay-off when it arrives makes the journey worthwhile, but if we're being honest, it's a bit of a slog at times.

 

There's some good humour (although it's rather limited) and the performances are again stellar, but there have been much better Steven Moffat episodes over the years.

 

What this does do is set up the next episode and kick things up a gear... what happens next will be very interesting.

 

7/10

18 May 2017

Chris Connell 1964-2017

A tragic loss, especially as he killed himself. "You Know My Name", the theme to Casino Royale, is one of my favourite songs and a superb Bond theme.

Rest in Peace.

17 May 2017

All The President's Men 2: Electric Trumpaloo

With the latest reports from the New York Times, it seems we are getting ever closer to Donald Trump getting impeached. 

I don't know if it will happen but the idea of him doing the perp walk makes me rather happy inside.

14 May 2017

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Land That Time Forgot

This 1974 fantasy movie based on the 1924 novel is not a bad film, but it is definitely cheesy and the imperialist overtones of the original work are pretty clear to see. The most memorable character for me is Dietz, played with relish by Anthony Ainley, who later played the Master in Doctor Who against Doctors Four through Seven.

 

I have to say that while this episode (which I watched in two parts separated by over a week) was enjoyable, it doesn't stick in the memory like some of the others have. Not bad at all, but certainly not a classic.

 

7/10

13 May 2017

Doctor Who: Oxygen

A strong episode throughout with a strong horror quotient and some very dark humour – especially Velma, the AI voice of the suits. What is basically a lot of corridor action is done very well, although it does get a bit preachy at times.

 

Great ending though... There's a spoilery joke that I won't make.

 

9/10

 

08 May 2017

A limited nuclear attack on the UK - how much damage could it do?

Some of the detonations
 Out of curiosity, I have decided to model using NUKEMAP a 'limited' nuclear strike on my home country, aiming at key military facilities (air and naval) and avoiding cities just for the sake of it, but I will hit Central London for command and control purposes.

For ease of calculation, I will be limiting this to Topol/SS-25 ICBMs at 800kt each, going off 1000 metres above their targets - this does more damage, but produces less fallout. This will just cover the initial attack - not fallout, which is very much weather dependent.

The targets are: 

Aldermaston (nuclear bomb construction)

RAF Boulmer (Air Defence control)
RAF Brize Norton
RAF Coningsby

Faslane (Naval base)
RAF Fylingdales (Early warning radar)
RAF Lakenheath (USAF)

London (10 Downing Street to be precise)
RAF Lossiemouth
RAF Marham
RAF Menwith Hill (US/UK intelligence and communications facility) 
Plymouth (Naval base)
Porton Down (Chemical Weapons)
Portsmouth (Naval base)
RAF Waddington


That is 15 ICBMs... Unfortunately, the system keeps resetting itself, but I end up with well over a million dead, mostly those in London, Plymouth and Portsmouth, but other areas will produce thousands of dead. I did not cover army bases, but it is entirely possible that the Russians could eliminate the UK militarily with 30 or so ICBMs.

However, the UK would still have a missile boat out in the North Atlantic with 8 Trident missiles and those could do a lot of damage in return... not to mention all the US boats.

06 May 2017

Doctor Who: Knock Knock

Now that was a nice 'base under siege', or rather 'house under siege' episode with a lot of creepiness throughout and an excellent villain in the form of David Suchet. Bill was again superb.

 

Not overly sure about the resolution, but you can't have everything.

 

9/10

 

 

 

03 May 2017

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Starcrash

Who wrote this dog's breakfast of a movie? It's like someone decided to let a 7 year old plot a science fiction movie... no a 7 year old could do a better job. Plot elements turn up with no notice whatsoever, the acting is atrocious, the effects are ridiculously cheap. There are better movies with Caroline Munro wearing a bikini for no good reason, that's for sure; namely The Spy Who Loved Me, which was not actually scored by John Barry (Marvin Hamlisch did that one), whose music is pretty much the only good thing about this. Also, who calls a character Stella Star? It's almost as bad as Luke Skywalker...

 

Bad movies often make for the best riffing and this is no exception. Servo and Crow – it's very odd seeing the latter standing up on his own legs in the theatre – throw some real zingers, as of course does Joel. I laughed a lot at this, although they did miss a couple of obvious riffs... and I have to say that the riffs do sag a bit in the middle of the film.

 

Also, "Live from New York, it's the torpedo sketch!" is a superb line.

 

9/10

29 April 2017

Doctor Who: Thin Ice

Can't say that this one overly struck me; well it certainly held my attention for the whole episode, it didn't exactly thrill me. Bill Potts is proving to be a superb companion and Twelve has got his character down pat. However, the rest of the episode left me cold (pun intended) – there were no real standout guest performances and the street urchins... well, this show has done them a lot better.

Just how many people of colour were there in London in 1814? That's what I'd like to know.

6/10

27 April 2017

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Beast of Hollow Mountain

Much of the movie here is actually a bit boring; the titular beast is not actually seen until the third act. When he does appear, things get massively cheesy. 

The riffing - in which Tom Servo and Crow are now easily distinguishable - starts slowly but is rolling along brilliantly by the end, even going meta.

Another great episode. 

9/10

24 April 2017

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Avalanche

Got to say that this one is the best of the new run so far and may well become a fan favourite. 1970s disaster movies are a rare subject for the show (it did two in the KTMA season) and they're very ripe for riffing, especially this 1978 turkey starring Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow.

The film itself is pretty terrible - Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow have no chemistry, the film takes far too long to get to the actual avalanche and much of it is just over the top.

The riffing however is top notch. I actually got hiccups at the end, where the bots and Jonah start giving the destroyed resort TripAdvisor reviews... Also, the skits were great.

10/10

22 April 2017

Doctor Who: Smile

Not exactly the most original story in the show's history  - the overall plot is one that has been told before, including one more than one occasion by this show itself.

 

That said, it's a highly enjoyable episode, helped particularly by Pearl Mackie who manages to steal scenes from Peter Capaldi on a regular basis – she says the really obvious things that a regular person would say... rather than a science fiction writer would have them say. Bill is taken us on an excellent adventure, If you know what I mean...

 

I'll get me coat...

 

8/10

19 April 2017

Mystery Science Theater 3000 11.3: "The Time Travellers"

The 200th episode of the show is an excellent one. The movie itself is suitably of its time (no people of colour at all!) to be a rich target for jokes and they're very good jokes indeed.

 

The skits in the breaks were just as good – in particular the bit involving Rocket Number Nine's welcome return...

 

Near perfect.

 

10/10

 

Mystery Science Theater 3000 11.2: Cry Wilderness

A very strange movie but (or rather and) the riffing is consistently solid throughout. A lot of laughs to be had.

Not as good as the previous episode (no memorable song) but still great fun.

8/10

18 April 2017

General Election called for Thursday 8 June

Well, that was a surprise. Although it is clear from the polls why Theresa May has decided to call one.

 

I'm probably going to end up voting for the Lib Dems – I live in a safe Tory seat anyway. I can't vote for Labour, not now. I hope that the likely mullering it faces saves the party in the long term as they'll have tried the same thing three times (running on a hard-left platform) and failed every time.

 

But Hope is a place in Arkansas...

 

Anyway, it's on like Donkey Kong. Prepare yourself for seven weeks of British election campaigning...

 

15 April 2017

Doctor Who: The Pilot

I am going to be doing mini-reviews of the current run of this show – as well as the new Star Trek series and Mystery Science Theater 3000 from the second episode on. I will try to do them shortly after I've watched them so impressions are fresh in my minds and I'm not too swayed by others.

 

Took a little while to get going this – 50 minutes was arguably too long for the episode. However, once it did get going, it was very good. Bill is a different sort of companion in that she asks the obvious questions that others haven't always asked in the past. Also, they're very upfront about her being a lesbian, aren't they?

 

A lot of good humour and the Doctor-Bill-Nardole team works well. Also, the trailers for next week and onwards look very interesting.

 

7/10

 

12 April 2017

Kumar Chameleon, a Star Citizen story, Episode 4: Rendezvous





Sunita woke up and after dressing, she made her way down to the hotel’s dining room to eat breakfast, where some of the breakfast options gave a whole new meaning to ‘hash brown’, due to the presence of cannabis in them...

After choosing something not laced with unusual mushrooms, Sunita made her way to a meeting with Mary and Daniel, who were getting their entertainment in early at one of the fighting pits. Daniel was dressed in a set of overalls with the name ‘Dharma Mining’ on them and Mary was dressed in a white suit.

“So, where’s this dealer?” Sunita asked. “Donald Hood?”

“Hook”, Mary corrected, “At this time of day, I’d imagine he’d be sleeping. Or playing with his model trains”.

Below them, two Xi’an chained together were trying to avoid becoming dinner for a very large brown bear. This wasn't exactly legal, but legality didn't get very near Spider station.

“Model trains?”

“The guy is well and truly an oddball. Model trains is the least weird thing about him. We’re going to need to figure out which of us will distract him and which of us is going to go through his stuff…”

“Well”, Daniel said, “This is going to sound clichéd and sexist, but as Sunita is the younger one, she’d probably serve as the better distraction”.

“To think Emily Davison threw herself…” Sunita muttered than turned back to Daniel speaking more clearly, “Er… How am I going to distract him? I’m not very good at being all sultry and that”.

“You could talk to him about trains…”

“Do you get many female rail nerds?”

“Well…” Mary said, “I’m sure there are some out there… and I’m sure he’ll be pleased to meet one”.

Donald Hood could be found in a key cutting and general repairs shop located on Deck 3. Quite why he wasn’t more obvious about his actual business on somewhere like Spider was a mystery. Especially as most firearms shops were far more open about it.

Sunita Kumar opened the door to the shop, which rang a bell at the back of the office. She was dressed to distract with a low-cut tight top over a pair of jeans as her apparel and wearing enough make-up for three beauty product ads.  She hadn’t felt this awkward since senior prom and that was before she’d vomited all over her date’s dinner jacket after too much punch. There’s nothing like a spot of reverse peristalsis to kill your chances of romance.

Looking around ‘Hood’s Ironmongery’, she saw an array of trophies, household items and garden gnomes for sale. She’d known this system was depraved, but garden gnomes was a whole new low. 

Running around the business area, at about 3 metres off the ground was a model railway track, on which a blue locomotive was pulling four blue and white carriages, making occasional horn noises.

The screen door to the rear of the shop opened and Donald Hood emerged, with a tall grey-scaled Tevarin standing just behind him, the latter looking inquisitively at her. Or her cleavage. She wasn’t sure which.

Sunita saw Hood and got the measure of him. He was a man of moderate with fairly short dark blonde hair, pale skin with some red patches by the sides of his nose (apparently some recurrent skin complaint) and small silver glasses on his nose. That was probably his MobiGlas; very few people did not have laser vision correction these days, but there were always exceptions.

“Hello”, he said, “Can I help you at all?”

“Yes”, Sunita said, effecting a low stern voice that she remembered from a villain from a kids’ show when she was younger, “I am looking for a trophy to be engraved for a competition that I am running”.

“Ah, right”, Hood said moving over to the checkout and tapping some items on a screen, “Have you picked the trophy yet?”

“No I was looking for some suggestions”.

“Well, that would depend on what sort of competition that you are running. Some designs are more suitable than others for this sort of thing”.

Sunita paused and managed to suppress her laughter – just – as she told him.

“It’s a tiddlywinks competition”.

Hood didn’t say anything here.

“Is that unusual at all?”

“No, not at all”, Hood said, “I’ve done considerably stranger in my time. Let me go and look at my catalogue… I’ll be right back”.

Sunita considered this… and figured that having him go in the back was not a good idea. Especially if Mary was in there.

“There’s no rush…” she said flirtingly and looked up at the ceiling, “What’s that model train going around the track? It looks very nice”.

Hood was beaming at this. He didn’t often get the chance to talk about it; especially to a pretty lady…

“That is a train all the way back from pre-space Earth… it’s called a British Rail Class 31…”

Mary had considered wiring Sunita for sound and speaking to her directly, but the risk of the equipment getting detected coupled, with the possible consequences of that, had led to a decision not to.

She had made her way to the service corridor at the rear of Hood’s Ironmongery and three minutes after Sunita had entered the shop, she began to pick the lock at the rear door.

“So, while it wasn’t exactly the most glamorous locomotive about, it was very much a workhorse for its railway at the time. I think it’s like me. Not exactly glamorous, but a hard working horse”, Hood said, “I can order a copy of your own if you want…”

She looked at him.

“I’ll think about that… now about that tiddlywinks trophy…”

She heard a faint rattling and out of the corner of her eye she could see Mary starting to work the door handle… she needed a major distraction.

Sorry to all the feminists…

She leaned in and suddenly kissed Hood full on the lips. No tongues of course. After five seconds they separated, Hood’s eyes bulging in shock.

“Wow…” he said as Mary passed through the door and snuck into his office. It would take a minute or so for her to copy the information from his computer… so she needed to distract him for that long, at least…

“Has anyone told you that you’re really sexy”, Sunita said, laying it on with a trowel, “I’d really like to take you on a date and then have wild, wild sex with you…”

She then began to slowly and sensually describe what she intended to do with the shop keeper. Safe to say that it wasn’t the sort of thing that she’d ever say anywhere near her mother and she felt dirty just saying it.

It seemed to have the desired effect; Hood didn’t know whether to be confused or excited.

Mary moved towards the rear door having retrieved the information with a data stick inserted into an access port. She had also had to listen to Sunita’s potty mouthed description. 

That woman is either seriously experienced or possesses a seriously filthy imagination.

She opened the door and stepped out into the alleyway… then saw the Tevarin bodyguard standing barely two metres from her.

“Two words”, he said in English, “Silent alarm”.

Mary gulped slightly. The Tevarin had pulled out a large nasty looking sword and was holding it in one hand.

“Now, you have two options”, he hissed, “You can give me whatever you took from in there or you can discover what it’s like to be decapitated”.

Mary smiled at him.

“Is there a third option?” she said.

“No…”

Well, here goes nothing…

“Look behind you. It’s a three-headed sata-ball player!”

The Tevarin turned and had a look towards his rear… which gave Mary time to turn and run. About five paces. Then the scaled beaky creature tackled her to the ground, turned her over and punched her in the face with his free hand. He pressed the tip of his sword to her throat, drawing a small bit of blood…

“Any last requests, human?” he snarled.

“Er… fish and chips?” Mary said.

“Sorry, not available…”, the Tevarin said and raised his sword ready to strike…

TO BE CONTINUED