31 May 2017

US 2016/17 upfronts thoughts

  • 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.


  • 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!




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. 


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.



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.



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.




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.






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.