Friday, July 31, 2009

To Boldly Go To A Movie I've Seen Before

I am about to make a confession: I have seen every Star Trek movie.

I've seen them all, but not recently. When I was in elementary school, I went through a massive Star Trek obsession and rented the first eight movies. I liked them, but at the time I would have liked anything with the name Star Trek on it. Star Trek: Insurrection came out while I was at the height of this obsession, so naturally I saw it in theaters. I wanted to see Star Trek: Nemesis in theaters as well, but missed my chance and ended up renting it also. As I said, I liked all these movies, but I was flat out obsessed. Looking back, most of them were pretty bad, something perhaps epitomized by the horrific moment in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier where Kirk, Spock and McCoy are on a camping trip, sitting in a canyon and singing Kumbaya...yeah.

Nonetheless, I like the franchise enough to go see this new movie on the day it came out...and then go see it again today, at one of only two theaters in my area that is still showing it: the IMAX theater at my local aquarium. The fact that an aquarium needs an IMAX theater is bad enough.

What do I think? I saw it again for a reason. This is the best Star Trek in years.

When I first heard that it was happening, I was horrified. The idea of a movie featuring new actors portraying Kirk and Spock at Starfleet Academy is one that Paramount has mooted several times, and I was always dead set against it - yet I ended up loving it. That's not to say it was perfect. The plot, when you actually break it down, makes no sense, and the violence was endless (the famous Enterprise crew basically wouldn't have been such if everyone else hadn't died.) Yet it doesn't really matter, because for the first time in ages, Star Trek was actually exciting, and I wasn't the only one who thought so - my local newspaper gave the movie a four-star review. I believe Paramount is working on another movie with this cast, and I for one can't wait.

On the other hand, I never saw an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise. I tried once - and turned it off instantly when the opening sequence started and I realized the theme was a pop song. I don't care what happens, that's just wrong.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Finishing What I Started

I just bought a copy of the Slumdog Millionaire script book (at a completely different bookstore, if you must know.) I hope, at some point, to have a lengthy blog post comparing and contrasting the three versions:

  • Novel by Vikas Swarup
  • Radio show written by Ayeesha Menon and directed and produced by John Dryden
  • Movie written by Simon Beaufoy and directed by Danny Boyle

Hopefully eventually...


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Too. Much. Information.

The bookstore gave me a full refund. Yay!


And Another Thing...

Just following up on some of my posts from yesterday...

  • I ended up going on Audible and buying the unabridged Q And A audiobook, as well as the radio show (which was the first dramatized version of the book, even if I can't figure out exactly when it aired - my guess would be 2007). Here's hoping that bookstore lets me return the CDs.
  • The big news in the world of Douglas Adams, of course, is that Eoin Colfer (creator of Artemis Fowl) has written the official sixth Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy book, and it comes out October 12. This is probably not a good thing already, and it would get even worse if the book is adapted into a sixth season of the radio show. I have a hard time imagining John Marsh saying "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy was created by Douglas Adams, written by Eoin Colfer, adapted by Kim Fuller, directed and produced by Dawn Ellis, and was an Above The Title production for BBC Radio 4."

You can tell I listen to too much British radio, can't you?


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sexton Blake Has Been Found

I just listened to The Hunt For Sexton Blake, and really, there's not much to say about it - it's a straightforward documentary about a fictional character (Sexton Blake being a British detective whose first adventure was published in 1893), designed to lead up to a new radio show starring the character that premieres on Friday. So why is it important? It is one of the first shows from Perfectly Normal Productions, a new radio production company founded by Dirk Maggs.

Dirk Maggs, if you don't know, was the writer, director, and producer of seasons 3-5 of the radio show The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. After season five wrapped, he moved on to radio versions of the first two books in Douglas Adams' other series, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. Then, after season two of Dirk Gently, he left to start Perfectly Normal Productions. Soon after, it was announced that season three of Dirk Gently would be directed and produced by Dawn Ellis and written by Kim Fuller - who, along with Jamie Curtis, wrote the script for the movie Spice World.

You read that right. The writer of Spice World is going to adapt Douglas Adams, and all so Dirk Maggs can direct Sexton Blake. I hope fans of 1800s detective stories are happy.


Just A Little Longer...

I'm still waiting for The Hunt For Sexton Blake to become available online. Like I said, I'll explain why it's important after I've heard it.

In other news, I spent $27.95 today at a bookstore on a CD audiobook of Q And A by Vikas Swarup (the book adapted into the movie Slumdog Millionaire), only to realize too late that it's heavily abridged (under seven hours, whereas the unabridged audiobook is more than ten hours.) I don't know, maybe I'll just go ahead and put it on my iPod anyway...I paid for it...



OK, it's still July, but the September 2009 start dates for syndicated game shows have been revealed. Take a deep breath:

September 7: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
Family Feud (apparently bringing back the Bullseye round)
Deal Or No Deal (now taped on the East Coast)

September 14: Wheel Of Fortune

September 21: Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? (long awaited five-day-a-week version)

The real question, of course, is not syndication but CBS. The long-running (it started in 1937!) soap opera Guiding Light is set to air its last episode on September 18, and it's likely that on September 21, we'll have some new game shows in its place...but we don't know for sure yet. Shows being considering include Let's Make A Deal, Pyramid, and The Dating Game. We'll have to wait and see.

That's enough for now. Coming up tonight on BBC Radio 2 - The Hunt For Sexton Blake! You'll see why that's important later.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Speaking Of BBC Radio 4...

Today marked the beginning of a new season of Just A Minute, another legendary BBC Radio panel game. Unlike I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, Just A Minute is easy to describe. Panelists are given a topic and must talk about it for sixty seconds without "hesitation, repetition, or deviation." This is much, much harder than it might sound.

For the record, the panelists on today's show were Sue Perkins, Pam Ayres, Tony Hawks (that's Hawks, not Hawk) and Tim Rice (yes, the lyricist). The host, of course, was Nicholas Parsons. Nicholas is 85 years old and has been doing this show since 1967. He's done many other game shows as well, but his only other real hit is the British version of Sale Of The Century, which he hosted from 1972 to 1983 - and really, can you imagine an odder combination? I can't find an episode of Sale Of The Century with Nicholas hosting. I would LOVE to see him doing a quiz game.

Of course, the most famous panelist from this show, Clement Freud (Sigmund's grandson), died on April 15 at age 84. Thankfully, the show payed proper tribute to him with a clip at the end. I have heard that he taped a few episodes before his death that haven't aired yet...assuming this is true, come on, air them!

Just thought I'd promote another great show that is unknown in America,


Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Antidote To Blog Posts

On June 15, 2009, a year after the death of its legendary host, one of the funniest radio shows of all time started a new era - the unforgettable, and unforgettably titled, I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue (ISIHAC).

If you're reading this in America, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. This is a bad thing, not only because ISIHAC is a great show, but because ISIHAC is close to impossible to describe. It's an improvisational comedy game show, but that's like saying baseball is a team sport - it doesn't even scratch the surface. I can't explore the show in detail in one blog post, but suffice to say it features such games as One Song To The Tune Of Another and Sound Charades, and that the host's introduction to these games is as funny as the game itself.

From the first episode in 1972, the show was hosted by jazz trumpeter Humphrey Lyttelton, who may have been an unlikely choice but turned out to be fantastic in the role. Unfortunately, Humphrey died on April 25, 2008 at age 86, just as tapings were about to resume. The inevitable year of reruns and tributes followed, but the people behind the show did want to continue, and eventually it was decided that the show would enter an interim period of guest hosts. So at 6:30PM GMT on June 15 on BBC Radio 4, the show returned at last. For the next six weeks, Stephen Fry, Jack Dee and Rob Brydon each hosted two episodes.

What had changed? Everything...and nothing. Certainly the game hadn't changed a bit, and longtime panelists Barry Cryer, Graeme Garden and Tim Brooke-Taylor were all present and accounted for. In fact, it could be argued that not enough had changed. It's hard to judge the performances of Stephen, Jack and Rob because they weren't allowed to inject their own styles into the show - virtually everything they said sounded like what Humphrey would have said. I don't know how much of this show actually is written in advance, but this sure sounded like it was.

Nonetheless, I agree with most that Jack did the best job. Stephen is a funny guy, but seemed to be laughing too hard at his own jokes; as for Rob, his performance is best summed up by the moment where he burst out laughing in the middle of explaining Sound Charades, then continued "I'm sorry, I know what's coming." Jack at least had some idea what he was doing.

Jack did the best job, but that doesn't mean I believe he should get the job. Stephen, Jack and Rob had all appeared as panelists on the show countless times - which is exactly why they shouldn't get the job. I don't want a past panelist hosting the show; I want "new blood." Remember, one of the reasons Humphrey was originally chosen was that he wasn't a comedian and could provide a contrast to the panelists. Hire someone we didn't expect, and whoever that person is, allow him or her to say something Humphrey wouldn't have said. That doesn't mean I think everything should change - the game certainly shouldn't, and I don't want to lose all of the catchphrases and running jokes. Still, a new host should mean a breath of fresh air, not recycled script copy.

Am I wrong? I guess we'll have to wait and see. The latest season ended with an announcer promising that the show will be back later in the year, and producer Jon Naismith has said that he wants to use the next season as a chance to try some more unusual ideas for hosts. Still, Jack is hosting the 2009 ISIHAC touring stage show, so I probably shouldn't get my hopes too high up. Wait and see. Like I said, the show is supposed to be back later in the year...but on the other hand, so are The Unbelievable Truth and The Museum Of Curiosity...


I Have A Blog!

Well, I resisted it for years, but at long last, I have set up a web presence. Probably nobody who doesn't already know me will read it, but anyway...

My name is Aaron. I'm going to use this blog to talk about...well, about whatever's on my mind. As you no doubt guessed, my major interest is game shows, and I'll be spending plenty of posts on that topic, but this won't be exclusively a game show blog. There are enough of those already, and I have my fair share of other interests.

I hope people read this, but whatever, I like to write. Look at it this way - it's either start a blog or bug my parents about the latest game show news. I think Mom and Dad have better things to do.

Thanks for reading,