By Matt Fricker
Last night saw the launch of Channel 4’s new satire show, 10 O’Clock Live, a programme which saw one of the best stand up comedian’s in the UK (Jimmy Carr) two of the best respected satirical writers (David Mitchell and Charlie Brooker) and a pretty radio DJ (Lauren Laverne) talk about what’s going on in the world for an hour.
10 O’Clock Live is trying to emulate the success of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. (So it’s got quite a mountain to climb when you consider that The Daily Show is arguably the most successful news satire programme of recent times.)
The show has a live, hour long format, and while the first episode is always likely to have some teething problems, many, including myself will find themselves judging the show on the basis of its first appearance.
At a time when the UK is crying out for decent satire, 10 O’Clock live makes for a fantastic concept, unfortunately it also tried to do too much, mainly because it had four hosts.
What this format showed was actually very interesting, as the two presenters who haven’t made their name as live performers were in fact the strongest parts of the show (well done Charlie Brooker and David Mitchell)
As the programme ended, I couldn’t help but think it would have been much, much stronger if the entire show was David Mitchell hosting and debating with a 5 – 10 minute cameo from Charlie Brooker with a newswipe-esque insert.
That said, The Daily Show has that very format, with Jon Stewart in the main seat, so maybe I’m just not keen on the UK’s slightly different approach to the satire programme.
By Stephen Bain
The Expendables was never going to be an artistic masterpiece (except possibly in the ironic sense) and inevitably some will have a field day tearing its metaphorical limbs apart. As someone who spent his youth watching the likes of Schwarzenegger, Stallone et al, its safe to say this was one of the most anticipated films of the summer for me. Feelings of excitement were high as this real life A-Team (A for Action) appeared all under one roof.
The Expendables can certainly be compared to the recent update of The A-Team in terms of its sheer noisiness and spectacle. Unlike that film it does have a fairly comprehendible plot (not that plots matter hugely in films like this).
However, this nostalgia vehicle is something of a hit and miss affair rather than a consistently fun action adventure. Whilst the main cast of action stars (this excluding Arnie and Bruce Willis) are impressive few are given ample screen time or sufficient character development for us to really care for them. The best example of this is Dolph Longren who seems to wonder randomly from good to bad before disappearing for long sections.
Likewise, whilst the best action films of the past have had antagonists that have almost stole the show from right under the hero’s nose (Die Hard had Alan Rickman, Terminator 2 had Robert Patrick, Demolition Man had Wesley Snipes and Cliffhanger had Jonathan Lithgow), this time the bad guys are relatively bland and forgettable; the best of the bunch perhaps being wrestler Steve Austin who gets to look tough but is strictly confined to a henchman.
Technically, The Expendables falls victim to modern action editing techniques (shakey shakey shots that last no longer than five seconds). Whilst this has proved effective in some contemporary films (the Bourne franchise), here it is (once again) somewhat distracting and some otherwise excellent action sequences are undermined.
Whilst it may sound like I am overly slating a film that makes no pretentions about what it is, I might quickly add that there are moments of strong charm and amusement. “That” short but sweet scene featuring Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger is a joy to watch, particularly as Big Arnie makes his entrance into the church against a background of white light, this almost giving him a god like presence. This sequence is topped off with a brilliantly painful one liner which certainly got the crowd laughing in the screening I attended.
The final showdown however is where fan boys will undoubtedly get the most satisfaction, and it is this sequence that redeems the film significantly. The gloriously over-the-top, tongue in cheek violence (complete with very big guns) being an obvious throwback to the especially cheesy Commando. You certainly get what you pay for in the final, crowd pleasing final twenty minutes.
Is The Expendables as good as the films made during the heyday of the Stallone/Schwarzenegger genre? No, certainly not. However whilst it is deeply flawed and perhaps not quite the rollercoaster ride we were hoping for, The Expendables is still an oddly entertaining trip down memory lane for those who grew up in the 80s and 90s.
By Stephen Bain
The ending has come; Jack will no longer be frantically running around, defying hunger or the calls of nature. We have watched Mr Bauer experience pleasure and pain (usually the latter) yet save the day, all in the space of 24 hours. In Jack we have found a figure of masculinity for the modern age, someone who presents old fashioned toughness yet comes complete with an all too important touch of vulnerability and humanity, something very important in today’s screen heroes.
What about season 8 as a whole? Well the first half I have to say seemed a relatively pedestrian affair. Granted the twists and turns were present and people were not who they appeared, but it seemed that they were re-cycling old ideas. The introduction of Cole, an admittedly likeable young agent, seemed too much of a throwback to the days of Chase from season 3… And don’t get me started on Dana Walsh. Mid way during the season came the announcement that this was to be the final run of the show. Although I found myself thinking that, after a nine year stint, this was the right move by the writers as the show was certainly past its peak, I knew I simply had to follow it through to the bitter end.
I think its safe to say, to use an old cliché, that the writers definitely pulled out all the stops for the final few hours. For me, the turning point was episode 16, in which events suddenly moved in a generally unexpected direction. From then on, what was a fairly average season suddenly became a lot more intriguing. Jack, a character who has always been somewhat on the edge, suddenly seemed more determined yet more unstable than ever. Would he emerge unscathed or would he go out in a blaze of glory and conclude 24’s long list of characters that have died in the line of duty?
The final itself was a fitting send off. I have to say that, as the final words were uttered followed by the 3,2,1,0 countdown I did find myself feeling a little nostalgic. As someone who was introduced to 24 fairly late on and caught up via the miracle of DVD, I nonetheless felt that this was the end of an era.
P.s. Rest in piece Dennis Hopper – one of the first onscreen adversaries for Mr Bauer.
By Jonathan Campbell
It’s that time of year again. The weather outside is most certainly frightful, advertisements sugary enough to induce diabetic coma’s plague our airwaves and Oxford Street is once again overrun with the damned, desperately on the prowl for precious trinkets to bestow upon their loved ones.
Can I hear an Hallelujah for Christmas? Read more »
By Jon Cooper
I don’t like using the word “Noughties”. There’s something I find deeply unsettling about it. Maybe it’s the vague yet deeply-ingrained snobbery I inevitably feel towards buzzwords (which is why I always put them in quotation marks, natch). They’re the mayflies of a linguistic Spring, fleeting and flashy, only as good as their short-life sell-by dates. But then again, some outstay their lives, living beyond their days burned into our collective conscience and, if they’re lucky, next year’s OED. Read more »
By Yvonne Lamunu
The birth of the music TV. Show can be dated as far back as Ready Steady Go, which famously featured an edition consisting entirely of Motown artists perhaps the first time black artists were welcomed to perform to enormous numbers during prime time slots. Changing and adapting to culture tastes as well as social progress it has seen various forms over the decades. Staying within the realms of British television it would be impossible to ignore the relevance of Top of the Pops. The first show aired on 1st January 1964 and featured Dusty Springfield, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. It set the benchmark for music on television and as well as other programmes in the U.S ultimately contributed for the need for what we now know as MTV. At it’s height an appearance on Top of the Pops cemented recognition by the national mass music media. Although often slated for its audience sensibilities this meant that artists who were fortunate enough to be given the chance to prove their three minutes worth were catapulted out of previous small boxes such as Manchester House, Midlands Industrial punk or perhaps South London Grime. However viewing figures began to plummet rapidly and by 11 July 2005 the iconic Led Zeppelin sound tracked opening credits ran for the last time episode 2,166. Read more »
By Jonathan Campbell
Finally, a pop star worthy of the name has come out and said what every sane person in this country has been thinking for years: X Factor sucks.
Ok, I may be horribly misquoting Sting there. So here’s a direct quote I’ve taken from Wednesday’s edition of London’s most respected evening newspaper. “The X Factor is a preposterous show and you have judges who have no recognisable talent apart from self-promotion, advising them [contestants] what to wear and how to look. It is appalling. In fact, it has put music back decades”.
I understand the wordsmith behind such lyrical classics as “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” may not be an absolute authority when it comes to judging what is or isn’t good music. Still, it’s hard to argue with his reasoning here. Read more »
By Matt Fricker
So a travesty apparently occurred on Sunday night, depending on who you’re talking to the incident in question is either Manchester United loosing to Chelsea or the entity known as “Jedward” surviving in the X – Factor. Personally, I thought the bigger anger inducing moment came with Charlton’s loss to non league Northwich Victoria in the FA Cup, but that’s just me. Read more »
By Stephen Bain
It seems that I am part of a very small group of people who share one opinion. This being that The Wire, despite its intense realism, is NOT “the best programme on TV”.
The Wire has, undeniably, become one of the most celebrated programmes to come out of the United States in recent years. Its graphic depiction of life in the rough ends of Baltimore is often harrowing, extremely brutal and immensely detailed; but addictive? I am less convinced. Read more »
The London MCM Expo is held at London’s Excel Centre twice a year, rounding up the best of cult entertainment, video games and comics. Hoards of fans descend upon the exhibition halls to collect autographs, buy merchandise and check out the latest cult releases.This year, the event is being held on the weekend of the 24th-25th of October. Read more »