Cinepub


Review: The Twilight Saga: New Moon by Jamie

Spoilers ahead…

Some time last year I took a look at the first ‘Twilight’ film in a double header review with ‘Let The Right One In’. Now it seems as though I came away from that film fairly positively and, whilst I still don’t completely hate the last part of the film, it was written after the first watch and I guess I hadn’t completely taken the film in. On subsequent viewings I have to say that the films flaws stand out more and more and now I certainly wouldn’t recommend renting it like I had back then.

So when last year saw the release of the sequel ‘New Moon’ I pretty much ignored it. The film came and went as it’s defenders screamed at it’s detractors and I tried to just wash my hands of the whole thing. And so life went on New Moonless and I was relatively happy. That was until the Rifftrax crew released their new commentary track for the film. I knew I was fucked.

I love Rifftrax. I love the way they manage to make films like ‘Battlefield Earth’ and ‘Transformers 2’ a thousand times more watchable. They also manage to put me in an awkward situation because I generally like to watch the film sans-Rifftrax beforehand because otherwise you can find yourself drifting off into the admittedly generally shitty plot and missing some sweet jokes. So now I found myself in the position of having to watch ‘New Moon’. Thanks Rifftrax. Vengeance will be mine.

Now, I want to be clear that I’m not hating on Twilight just for the sake of hating on Twilight. I’ve never read the books and so I’m judging purely based on the films. The books might be fantastic, I may give them a look but the movies, in my honest and humble opinion, just aren’t very good. Now the first one still does have some redeemable features as previously stated. One of the things I did quite like was the relationship between a prey animal and predator animal and the problems that entailed. In ‘New Moon’ that’s dealt with again but to no where near the same degree. It’s just sort of there this time serving more as a plot point than contributing in any way to character development. What I’m getting at is the fact that ‘New Moon’ is essentially ‘Twilight’ with all of the redeemable features stripped from it.

There are no likeable characters in this film with the exception of Alice, the precognitive vampire, and Michael Sheen as the head of the Italian council of Vampires, the name of which escapes me. He’s just a great actor no matter what shit he appears in this and his campy, over the top performance is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the piece. The rest of the characters, on the other hand, are either unlikeable, annoying or set dressing.

The worst example of this is the main character Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart (Who by the way it was a total insult to have presenting the special tribute to horror at the Oscars)). There is absolutely nothing to like about Bella in this film. She’s a selfish, whiny bitch who spends the entire film with one expression. And then there’s the way she says her lines. For some bizarre reason she doesn’t seem capable of speaking in full sentences always leaving…… huge pauses before finishing what she was going to say. I mean for fucks sake! Am I meant to be so blown away by the sheer brilliance of the thoughts she is conveying that it takes a few seconds for me to truly think about what she said during the first part of the sentence or something? Seriously, the fact that this movie made me spend around two hours with a character so lacking in depth was like being stabbed repeatedly in the face for the same period of time.

So the other two main characters really ‘worth’ talking about are Edward and Jacob. Right so let’s just sum up Edward by saying he’s barely in this film at all and when he is he’s either a spectral image of himself warning Bella not to risk her life or he’s brooding\upset\sparkling. And that’s it. Not much else to say about him. Jacob, on the other hand, plays a much bigger role in this film and it turns out that he’s a werewolf. Well, kind of. He can just transform into something more akin to the prehistoric Dire Wolf at will. Good for him. I don’t know why these books are primarily named after phases of the night as none of the normal nocturnal rules of these monsters seem to apply in this series.

Still he’s a werewolf and he’s inexplicably attracted to Bella. Now let’s take a little moment to just talk about what werewolves traditionally represent. Now if vampires represent the suave yet dangerous and dark side of sex then werewolves are representative of the dangerous and dark side of mans own savage nature. They are monsters that are very similar in nature to Mr. Hyde or even the Incredible Hulk. They are the raw, base and animalistic side of human nature, instinct over intelligence. And this is touched upon ever so slightly in ‘New Moon’ in what seems more like a throw-away scene about what can happen to a werewolf’s loved one if a werewolf were to get angry and lose control. Meh. The werewolves really serve as nothing more than vampire hunters and I couldn’t really give a fuck about them. If you want a good werewolf film you can certainly do better. Start of with ‘An American Werewolf in London.’ Hell, if you want a good vampire versus werewolf film than the first ‘Underworld’ is better than this. Oh and the CGI werewolves look like shit. The practical werewolf in ‘An American Werewolf in London’ was far more convincing even with it’s weird shuffling method of locomotion.

Anyway Jacob. Well, now that I think about there isn’t really that much to say about him either. All he really does is walk around being brooding\upset\shirtless. Seriously, there’s more brooding in this film than on a poultry farm. HAHAHA… You see because when domesticated fowl sit on their eggs to incubate them it’s called brooding… Oh, fuck off.

So yeah, that’s the characters, if you can really call them that, so what about the plot? Well, just like the first one the plot drags along during the beginning and the middle of the film but then it kinda picks up again during the end. This time though it’s not because action starts to happen it’s purely because of the introduction of Michael Sheen. What can I say? The guy could be playing a man in a coma and I’d probably still find him entertaining.

Now I’d like to, if I may, take a personal moment here to say a massive fuck you to this film. There’s a point in the film where Bella and her friend come out of a zombie film and her stupid cunting bitch of a friend starts basically calling zombie movies shit. She bitches about the social commentary within zombie films regarding consumerism which I can only take as a slam against George A. Romero’s ‘Dawn of the Dead’. Excuse me, movie? Did you just take a shot at not only one of the greatest zombie movies of all time but one of the greatest horror films of all time? The unmitigated gall. Zombie movies have an infinite amount of depth, importance and meaning in one rotted corpse than this shite could ever hope to have. She also claims that zombies are a metaphor for leprosy. Well fuck you, you moronic bitch. Zombies are not a metaphor for leprosy, they are a metaphor for the inevitability of death. You can try and outrun them, you can try and hold up in a store against them but eventually they will get you. Just like death. If I may quote my face book status immediately after seeing this scene “So ‘New Moon’ takes a swing at zombie movies? Well, fuck you New Moon. Fuck you in your stupid, emo, mumbley, incoherent, stupid, barely emotive, pale, sparkly, whiny, bitchy, miserable, annoying, pointless, inexplicably pausey, shitty CGI werewolfy, staccato speech, unlikeable and selfish lead chacatery ass.” I realise I said stupid twice but I was pretty pissed off.

Then they took the piss out of action films and I was left pretty pissed off from there on out.

So yeah, that’s all I care to say about this stupid, stupid film. 1 pint out of 5 and that’s for Michael Sheen.

Now please enjoy this ‘New Moon’ parody and this parody of the trailer for ‘Eclipse’ that I found on YouTube. They’re by JacksFilms

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Top Ten TV Characters: Part 1 by Jamie
Top 10 Television Characters
Yes it’s time once again to delve into the world of cinema’s little brother, the greatest tool of communication know to mankind, until their youngest brother the internet was born, television. TV, as the kids call it, has been there for our species for some time now. It’s helped us to view man walking on the moon, the fall of the Berlin wall and an endless stream of outrageous acts carried out by morons on thousands upon thousands of reality TV shows.
TV has also delivered some of the greatest characters from fiction in modern times. The very nature of television means that we can become incredibly attached to those heroes and villains that inhabit  the flickering box, more so than movie characters simply because we spend so much time and, in some cases, so much of our lives with them.
Now for a rule that I decided to impose on myself. I’ve decided that I’m only allowed to choose one character from each series. If I didn’t then this list would probably be made up by far few shows than I should and that would be stupid. Also no animated characters. They’ll get their own list. So with that out of the way, let’s get onto the list.
10: Mike Nelson – Mystery Science Theater 3000
Mystery Science Theater 3000 is still a very little know show in the UK which I think is a damn shame. Too often in this country we accuse the Americans of having no sense of wit, that their comedies are often boorish and low brow, though the tide has definitely been changing. Still this could all have been avoided if we’d only had MST3K since it’s beginning. The story is a classic one: A working class guy gets blasted into space on the Satellite of Love as part of an experiment by an evil genius to force him to watch bad movies. He builds a few robot companions in order to stave off space insanity and help him endure the cinematic shit fest that he is forced to watch.
The role of the human aboard the Satellite of Love was originally played by Joel Hodgson who managed to escape about halfway through the shows run. His place was taken by Mike Nelson, a hapless temp who the evil Dr. Forrester and his assistant TV’s Frank decide to send to the satellite as a replacement.
Now, my choice of Mike as my favourite character may be controversial among some long time MST3K fans but there seems to be a general consensus that your favourite host is generally the first one that you see and we in the UK only got the shows after Joel’s departure. Now I’ve seen many Joel episodes since thanks to the DVDs but Mike was my first host and will always be my favourite.
There’s something undeniably likeable about Mike. He’s a likeable, if sometimes dim-witted and naive fellow, without the technical expertise of Joel. There’s no doubt that he certainly wouldn’t have been able to build the ‘bots had he been the first one sent up. He’s just more of a regular Joe who suddenly finds himself in this ridiculous situation and he just tries to go along with it. And that’s great.
9: Dave Lister – Red Dwarf
From one working class schmuck stuck in space to another. Curry and lager loving Liverpudlian Dave Lister finds himself as the universes sole surviving human being after a radiation leak on the mining ship Red Dwarf causes him to be kept in stasis for 3 million years. His companions are a hologram of his former bunkmate, the insufferable Arnold Judas Rimmer, an evolved cat known simply as The Cat, a mildly senile super computer named Holly and, eventually, a neurotic service droid by the name of Kryten. (And eventually Kristine Kochanski as well but for the purpose of this piece I’m gonna kinda overlook those episodes.)
Lister is interesting as a character mainly because he’s lazy, slobby and a bit of a dick but in general eminently likeable. You can’t help but feel sorry for him because he finds himself in a universe where all of his best friends are dead, the love of his life is dead and the only company he has are a cast of misfits who all have as deeply flawed personalities as himself. Despite this Lister tries to make the best of a bad situation, possibly the worst situation one can find themselves in, and he seems to remain cheerful and optimistic even when things look there worse. And I can’t finish this section without mentioning that Lister was part of one of the funniest conversations ever committed to film:
8: Victor Meldrew – One Foot In The Grave
Victor Meldrew was the voice of anyone who ever got annoyed at anything. The grumpiest man in Britain, Victor’s annoyance at the smallest of inconveniences only seemed to worsen the situation to such a degree that it would often spiral off into the superbly surreal which would, of course, merely make Victor angrier and angrier much to the chagrin of his long suffering wife Margaret.
Victor’s lot in life wasn’t helped by the people who surrounded him such as Margaret’s friend, the mildly insane Jean Warboys and the insufferably cheerful neighbour Nick Swainey. And so it was that Victor Meldrew could have been just another nasty, old bitter git.
But he wasn’t. What made Victor a truly great character was that people could emphasise with him. He generally tried to do the right thing only to have the situation rapidly decline on him. He genuinely cared for his wife Margaret and would seem quite upset whenever she lost her temper with him. In fact I think it says something about the two characters that Victor would always become frustrated with the situation but rarely his wife whereas Margaret would often become frustrated with her husband when she couldn’t take anymore of his complaining. And I think people did feel sorry for Victor whenever Margaret got pissed off with him. After all, it wasn’t his fault that he was that way, it just seemed as though the world transpired against him. Besides it’s not many TV characters that had flowers left for them at the location of the scene where they were killed. That certainly says something about the impact Victor had on the British public.
7:

Yes it’s time once again to delve into the world of cinema’s little brother, the greatest tool of communication known to mankind, until their youngest brother the internet was born, television. TV, as the kids call it, has been there for our species for some time now. It’s helped us to view man walking on the moon, the fall of the Berlin wall and an endless stream of outrageous acts carried out by morons on thousands upon thousands of reality TV shows.

TV has also delivered some of the greatest characters from fiction in modern times. The very nature of television means that we can become incredibly attached to those heroes and villains that inhabit  the flickering box, more so than movie characters simply because we spend so much time and, in some cases, so much of our lives with them.

Now for a rule that I decided to impose on myself. I’ve decided that I’m only allowed to choose one character from each series. If I didn’t then this list would probably be made up by far few shows than I should and that would be stupid. Also no animated characters. They’ll get their own list. So with that out of the way, let’s get onto the list.

10: Mike Nelson – Mystery Science Theater 3000

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is still a very little know show in the UK which I think is a damn shame. Too often in this country we accuse the Americans of having no sense of wit, that their comedies are often boorish and low brow, though the tide has definitely been changing. Still this could all have been avoided if we’d only had MST3K since it’s beginning. The story is a classic one: A working class guy gets blasted into space on the Satellite of Love as part of an experiment by an evil genius to force him to watch bad movies. He builds a few robot companions in order to stave off space insanity and help him endure the cinematic shit fest that he is forced to watch.

The role of the human aboard the Satellite of Love was originally played by Joel Hodgson who managed to escape about halfway through the shows run. His place was taken by Mike Nelson, a hapless temp who the evil Dr. Forrester and his assistant TV’s Frank decide to send to the satellite as a replacement.

Now, my choice of Mike as my favourite character may be controversial among some long time MST3K fans but there seems to be a general consensus that your favourite host is generally the first one that you see and we in the UK only got the shows after Joel’s departure. Now I’ve seen many Joel episodes since thanks to the DVDs but Mike was my first host and will always be my favourite.

There’s something undeniably likeable about Mike. He’s a likeable, if sometimes dim-witted and naive fellow, without the technical expertise of Joel. There’s no doubt that he certainly wouldn’t have been able to build the ‘bots had he been the first one sent up. He’s just more of a regular Joe who suddenly finds himself in this ridiculous situation and he just tries to go along with it. And that’s great.

9: Dave Lister – Red Dwarf

From one working class schmuck stuck in space to another. Curry and lager loving Liverpudlian Dave Lister finds himself as the universes sole surviving human being after a radiation leak on the mining ship Red Dwarf causes him to be kept in stasis for 3 million years. His companions are a hologram of his former bunkmate, the insufferable Arnold Judas Rimmer, an evolved cat known simply as The Cat, a mildly senile super computer named Holly and, eventually, a neurotic service droid by the name of Kryten. (And eventually Kristine Kochanski as well but for the purpose of this piece I’m gonna kinda overlook those episodes.)

Lister is interesting as a character mainly because he’s lazy, slobby and a bit of a dick but in general eminently likeable. You can’t help but feel sorry for him because he finds himself in a universe where all of his best friends are dead, the love of his life is dead and the only company he has are a cast of misfits who all have as deeply flawed personalities as himself. Despite this Lister tries to make the best of a bad situation, possibly the worst situation one can find themselves in, and he seems to remain cheerful and optimistic even when things look there worse. And I can’t finish this section without mentioning that Lister was part of one of the funniest conversations ever committed to film:

8: Victor Meldrew – One Foot In The Grave

Victor Meldrew was the voice of anyone who ever got annoyed at anything. The grumpiest man in Britain, Victor’s annoyance at the smallest of inconveniences only seemed to worsen the situation to such a degree that it would often spiral off into the superbly surreal which would, of course, merely make Victor angrier and angrier much to the chagrin of his long suffering wife Margaret.

Victor’s lot in life wasn’t helped by the people who surrounded him such as Margaret’s friend, the mildly insane Jean Warboys and the insufferably cheerful neighbour Nick Swainey. And so it was that Victor Meldrew could have been just another nasty, old bitter git.

But he wasn’t. What made Victor a truly great character was that people could emphasise with him. He generally tried to do the right thing only to have the situation rapidly decline on him. He genuinely cared for his wife Margaret and would seem quite upset whenever she lost her temper with him. In fact I think it says something about the two characters that Victor would always become frustrated with the situation but rarely his wife whereas Margaret would often become frustrated with her husband when she couldn’t take anymore of his complaining. And I think people did feel sorry for Victor whenever Margaret got pissed off with him. After all, it wasn’t his fault that he was that way, it just seemed as though the world transpired against him. Besides it’s not many TV characters that had flowers left for them at the location of the scene where they were killed. That certainly says something about the impact Victor had on the British public.

7: Father Ted Crilly – Father Ted

On the remote wasteland known as Craggy Island there live three Catholic priests and a tea obsessed housemaid. The oldest priest is Father Jack Hackett, a foul mouthed, violent alcoholic who rarely leaves his fetid chair. The youngest priest is Father Dougal McGuire, a man-child who professes to having no belief in the afterlife and claims to believe in Darth Vader more than he does in God. The third is Father Ted Crilly. Ted is a man who’s plans for fame and fortune are ruined by those around him and ultimately by himself.

Ted came to live on Craggy Island as punishment for some event in the past, something about some charity money that was ‘just resting in his account.’ Ted’s ultimate goal is to leave Craggy Island the troglodytes who inhabit far behind him and set up a parish somewhere like Las Vegas or Los Angeles. This never comes to pass, however, in part due to the immense disdain his immediate superior, Bishop Brennan has for him. Also, much like Victor Meldrew, Ted’s problems often start as something small and mundane but as the episode progresses these things tend to spin out of control until it all comes to an crescendo, generally leaving Ted worse of than he was when the episode started.

Like many on this list, Ted is likeable despite having a seriously flawed personality. He’s greedy, cynical, pessimistic and sometimes takes just a little too much delight in getting back at others, particularly when he wins a Golden Cleric resulting in a speech which last for hours and is full of distain for all those who have ‘fecked him over’ in the past. Ted’s likeability is probably increased by the fact that in the strange and surreal world of Craggy Island, he’s probably the most normal person there is, making him something of a reality anchor for the viewers.

6: Bernard Black – Black Books

Bernard Black is the epitome of characters who we like despite massive personal failings. He’s an alcoholic, pessimistic, argumentative misanthrope who isn’t happy unless he’s drinking wine or insulting someone. For some reason he owns a book shop despite his apparent loathing of everything to do with owning a shop. The only thing Bernard really likes about his shop is his books and the fact that, as his own boss, he can drink whenever he wants.

He’s abusive towards his assistant Manny Bianco, who’s biggest crime seems to be having  a cheery outlook on life, something Bernard apparently abhors. There’s also the fact that Manny tries to help Bernard around the shop, once selling every book which infuriated Bernard as it meant he had to deal with the distributor and order more books. Despite this it is shown that on the occasions Manny left Bernard to his own devices, either by quitting or running away, Bernard was reduced to even more of a mess than normal, barely able to function on a human level. The only other person in Bernard’s life is his best (and possibly only) friend, Fran Katzenjammer. The two share a number of similar characteristics which aids them in getting along, namely smoking and drinking.

Like all of the great arsehole characters in television, Bernard has a softer side which occasionally shines through. He has shown that he shy and awkward around women, he develops a certain jealousy and possessiveness whenever Manny finds other friends to hang out with, he’s certainly intelligent, though he generally seems to do nothing with his intelligence, and obviously loves reading and he genuinely seems to be scared or confused by the outside world, choosing instead to hide from it in a drunken haze inside his shop. It is also revealed that his general outlook on life may have been caused by an incident involving an old fiancée.

Well that’s it for now. Come back for more tomorrow. Laterz.



Last Year In Film: Milk by Jamie

As a straight, white male I don’t think I can claim that I have ever been oppressed. In fact in the entire history of my people you might have to go all the way back to the Roman invasion of Britain to even attempt to make a claim of oppression and a fairly flimsy claim it would be too. What hardships our people faced when the Romans brought us roads, sanitation and mosaics. To be fair though, they did call us wild savages and laughed when we painted our faces blue. That had to sting. Bastards.

So it’s with some trepidation that I come to Milk, the story of 70s gay rights activist and politician. It’s the same problem with films about black civil rights. I can empathise with the people in these films, be disgusted by the actions of the oppressors and I certainly believe that every one is entitled to the same rights as everyone else, regardless of race or sexual orientation but as a member of the group who’s never really had to deal with fighting for our rights, I find it kind of hard to relate to these films sometimes. Not the fault of the films of course, just a circumstance of birth.

With Milk it was even more challenging because, in general, the history of the gay civil rights movement isn’t as extensively covered as that of the black civil rights movement. I could probably name you quite an extensive list of films covering that topic but for films about the gay fight for equality, I could name two and they are both about the same person, this film and the documentary that preceded it, The Times of Harvey Milk, and I’ve only seen one of them.

Anyway, on with the film. It opens with archive footage showing the police raiding several gay bars during the 50s and 60s before going onto the story of Harvey Milk, a gay man living in New York during the early 70s on the day before his 40th birthday. A chance encounter with Scott (James Franco), a younger gay man, leads them both to move to San Francisco for a change of scene. It’s here that Harvey first develops an interest in politics and a hope for the improvement of the lives of gay people in America.

After several unsuccessful attempts to be elected to the position of city supervisor for his district, Harvey finally achieves his goal and becomes the first openly gay man elected to public office. It’s at this point that he meets Dan White (Josh Brolin) a man who he seems to get on fairly well with at first and the men come to an agreement to back each other during votes, in particular White asks Milk to support him on preventing a mental health institute from being built in his district. Harvey changes his mind after finding out more details about the proposition and White becomes determined to oppose him at every turn, leading to his own political downfall. Meanwhile Harvey goes on to greater and greater things, successfully leading the opposition to Prop 6 which would have banned gay people and those who support them from becoming teachers which further deepens Dan White’s feelings of failure. I won’t spoil the ending but if you know the true story at all, and chances are you probably do, then you know what’s coming anyway.

So what is there to say about this film? Well, the performances for one were all brilliant. From Sean Penn to Josh Brolin (who I think I’ve liked in everything I’ve seen him in since The Goonies) to every supporting character. Each actor brings something great to their role, no matter how small it is. The big question is, of course, should Sean Penn have won the Oscar for best actor? Well, I’m still not to sure about that. I’m kinda torn between him and Frank Langella as Nixon at the minute. Penn definitely deserved to be recognised for his portrayal of Harvey Milk but there’s just something that Langella brings to the former President that I feel would have been equally justified had he won the award.

Perhaps the most important thing about the film is the impact it had on me. Well, it certainly made me appreciate the struggle of the American gay community during those tumultuous times and provided me with enough history to help me understand just why the world is the way it is today and the part Harvey Milk played in that. And the ending is incredibly touching, particularly when mixed in with the archive footage. Which brings me to another good point. Throughout the film the action is interspersed with archive footage from the time and it’s far, far less jarring than the faux documentary interviews in Frost/Nixon. That being said I still think Frost/Nixon just beats Milk by a tiny margin as a slightly more enjoyable film. All in all, I certainly recommend Milk and I’ll give it four pints out of five.



Six TV Shows That Are More Than Worth A Watch Before You Die. by Jamie
09/05/2009, 6:06 am
Filed under: Lists | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The summer blockbuster season is upon us and before long we shall all be sick and tired of movies. Well, probably not but I’ve spent so long now worrying about things such as Deadpool and just how ridiculously big Devastator will be that I needed to back off from it all for a moment. So I decided to visit with that other great visual medium of our age, Television.

Before Television there were only the dark times and man was a brutish, violent creature I assume, without the flickering glow of the screen to keep him from going on extreme rampages of rape and pillage. Finally, TV was invented by the baby Jesus and finally the world was saved from it’s self. Who wanted to slaughter their neighbours when you could watch 14 different TV shows involving celebrity chefs in cook off contests? Who could be bothered to set fire to cows when home makeover shows could be watched literally anytime during the day or night? That’s right, no one. No one in their right mind.

With that in mind, let us take a look then at some of the greatest TV shows that have graced that flickering screen in recent years. The rules are simple. The show must have completely run it’s course, so there will be no appearances by Dexter, Heroes or Ramsay‘s Kitchen Nightmares, and the series must be available to purchase on DVD. With that in mind, let us begin.

6) The X-Files

There was a time when I was not the Sceptic I now consider myself to be. In fact, I was quite the opposite ready to believe any paranormal nonsense that I heard about without stopping to consider the evidence. Some of that, in part at least, probably had to do with the X-Files. It turned a generation of kids and adults into crazy conspiracy nuts, at least until the show started to go downhill.

You simply couldn’t escape the paranormal when this show was at it’s height. Every other week there was a new documentary exposing the “truth” behind the 1947 Roswell incident with real actual footage of an alien autopsy or a startling exposé about how man never went to the moon. In other words, we had become uncritical, unreasoned believers in practically everything and only now is the tide beginning to turn again with scepticism becoming more and more acceptable, though admittedly as long as the internet remains a paradise for the paranormal believers to gather and spread misinformation, we shall have a long way to go.

So you’d think, considering all the damage it is partially responsible for, that I would hate this show. In truth, however, I love this show. Ok, so the later seasons where David Duchovny and even Gillian Anderson leave are weak but you have to remember the good old days. Episodes such as Home, a truly chilling episode in which Mulder and Scully have to investigate a rural inbred family regarding the murder of a baby. Or Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose, a humorous episode which sees the two agents consulting psychic Clyde Bruckman regarding a serial killer. The X-files often managed to achieve a good mixture of terror and humour.

In general, I always preferred the so-called Monster of the Week episodes to the mythology episodes in which Mulder and Scully would have to deal with an unexplained case that would begin and end within one episode. The monsters they had to investigate included such creatures as the sewer dwelling, parasitic Flukeman, the elastic limbed, liver-eating Toombs and the death fetishist, serial killer, Donald Pfaster . These episodes tended to be more fun, almost Scooby Doo-esque, compared to the long, complicated and often confusing aspects of the alien conspiracy storyline.

Overall if you’ve never seen the X-Files or just haven’t seen them for a while, I’d definetly recommend giving them a re-watch, in particular the earlier seasons.

5) Spaced/Black Books

When it came to deciding between these two shows, I decided I couldn’t. Now it’s possibly breaking one of the rules as there’s always rumours that there will be a new series of Spaced or a special or some such thing but it’s been long enough for me to just say fuck it.

So what makes these series so great? Well, Spaced is the definitive comedy series for those of us obsessed with what has been dubbed pop culture and Black Books is fantastically surreal and manages to do great things with a cast of essentially three characters.

Spaced tells the story of Tim and Daisy, two people in their early thirties who suddenly find themselves in need of a place to stay. They manage to get one by lying to the alcoholic landlady, Marsha, and pretending that they’re a professional couple. The building is also occupied by Brian, an artist with a penchant for the quirky, who paints the entire emotional range as exhibited in a brilliantly shot sequence. The rest of the cast is filled out by Mike, Tim’s best friend who’s more than a little obsessed with the military, and Twist, Daisy’s best friend who’s more than a little obsessed with fashion.

Every episode of Spaced is filled with constant film references, be it Tim’s nemesis, Dwayne quoting Darth Maul (Incidentally Dwayne is played by Peter Serafinowicz, who voiced Maul in Episode 1) or a practically shot for shot re-enactment of the death of Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction. Seriously if you love film and you’ve never seen Spaced, what the fuck is wrong with you, you fucking fucktard. Fuck. Especially if you love Star Wars.

I could go on and on about Spaced for the remainder of this article so I’d better stop myself now and talk about Black Books. This series is centred around a bookshop called, coincidentally enough, Black Books. The shop is run by the eternally pissed Bernard Black, a man who loves wine and despises people. He’s helped in this commercial endeavour by his enthusiastic employee Manny Bianco, who is genuinely outgoing and helpful. The cast is rounded out by Fran Katzenjammer, Bernard’s oldest and possibly only friend, who runs a shop next door which seems to sell nothing but pointless crap.

The series is wonderfully surreal yet not obtusely so allowing pretty much anyone to find something to love about it. The storylines are generally grounded in reality but it’s the quirkiness that these storylines are dealt that make it awesome. For example, in one episode Bernard finds himself locked out of his shop/home for a cold, rainy night. He spends all of his money on a film ticket and some popcorn. Fran is unable to help him and so he wanders the streets, ending up in a porn shop just to stand by the radiator for a while before being kicked out and eventually taking a job in a fast food restaurant until the rain has passed. Meanwhile Manny finds himself locked in side the shop with only some absinthe and dead bees for sustenance. Awesome.

4) Planet Earth

Earth. It’s where we all live, for the time being at least, and apparently we share this planet with other living things called animals. Planet Earth is a series which deals with these things. Now, in my mind this is the definitive general nature documentary. What I mean by this is that this is the best documentary to give an overview of the natural world. Others may dig in and focus on a more central topic, such as Life in Cold Blood, Attenborough’s documentary specifically dealing with reptiles and amphibians.

Speaking of David Attenborough, he narrates this documentary and really, who else would you want other than the legend himself? Well, apparently in America, his narration was replaced with Sigourney Weaver. Really? Hell, I like Sigourney Weaver as an actress but you’re going to replace David Attenborough with her? I wouldn’t put David as Ripley in Aliens and I wouldn’t let Sigourney narrate a nature documentary when you could have Attenborough.

Anyway, the series is notable for a number of things never before seen on television. Like humpback whales being shown to blow bubbles out of their blow holes in order to corral fish into a manageable ball in order to devour them and chimps killing and eating one of there own in one of those disturbing scene which chills you to the bone just because of the freaky similarity between us and them. Perhaps one of the most fascinating scenes involves a pride of desperately hungry lions who hunt and kill an elephant at the dead of night. The whole thing is shot on a night vision camera which just makes the whole thing seem incredibly eerie.

Seriously, the series is an amazing achievement in documented the creatures that inhabit this planet with us, showing us behaviours that sometimes shock and amaze. The whole thing is filmed beautifully and, though I already own it on DVD, since getting a Blu-Ray player and an HD-TV I’m seriously considering getting the series on Blu-Ray. Watch it!

3) Father Ted

Ah, what can you say about Father Ted? The eccentric Irish comedy has gone down in history as one the greatest fecking comedies known to mankind. The series concerns the misadventures of three catholic priests living in a parochial house on the desolate wasteland that is Craggy Island. Ted is a man who dreams of fame and fortune and getting off of the godforsaken island and never seems to achieve any of these things. He’s accompanied in most of his exploits by Dougal, a man with the intelligence of something of very little intelligence, and Father Jack, an alcoholic who’s vocabulary is limited, for the most part, to drink, feck and girls.

The show lasted for three seasons and seemed to get funny with each and every episode. Such highlights include meeting Richard Wilson of One Foot in the Grave fame and tormenting him endlessly with his catchphrase of “I don’t believe it.”, Ted being mistaken for a racist by the local Chinese community, an incredible parody of Night of the Living Dead and of course, the Christmas episode involving a fantastic parody of war films. Speaking of which, one of the actors from the next series in the list makes a cameo appearance in that very episode. Also, it’s incredibly difficult to talk about Father Ted. It really just needs to be watched.

2) Rome

Roman society is often regarded highly, as some sort of pinnacle of civilisation in an otherwise uncivilised ancient world and whilst it’s true that we owe much to the Romans, sometimes we need to reminded that the distance of history often puts a shine on things. Too often we see documentaries detailing the wonders of Rome, their great battles, glorious leaders and architectural accomplishments. The brutality of their world also comes up, generally when discussing the gladiatorial battles of the arena.

Thank the Gods below then for Rome, an historical drama set in the ancient world. Is it one hundred percent historically accurate? No of course not but it’s as damn fucking close as a fictionalised account of the events leading up to, during and after Caesar’s reign can possibly get. The series splits it’s focus between two sets of main characters who occasionally cross paths. There are the nobles as represented by Caesar, his friends, family and enemies and these provide most of the political intrigue and betrayal within the series. The second group are the commoners, the main characters being Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo and the various people they interact with. Vorenus and Pullo are actually based loosely on two soldiers of the same name who are mentioned in Caesar’s ‘The Conquest Of Gaul’, his account of the Gallic wars.

The series touches on a number of historical events, tweaking them occasionally for the sake of plot but always in a brilliant and interesting way. We see such things as Caesar marching on Rome with his army, the leader’s assassination and the love affair between Cleopatra and Mark Antony. Despite all of this massive moments in history, it’s the characters which really drive the plot forward. From the manipulative Atiia of the Julii to the tough but naïve Titus Pullo, it’s these greatly written and acted characters that really bring the ancient world of Rome to life.

A warning though, Rome is not for the squeamish or easily offended. It doesn’t hold back in it’s portrayal of ancient Rome as a violent and sexually charged place. There’s many a scene of horrific violence or a master fucking his slave. The language is a sound to behear as well, with many a proclamation of such wonderful phrases as “By Juno’s cunt!” or “I fuck Concord in the arse!” So if you’re a goddamn pussy who can’t handle violence, sex and swearing then I really can’t recommend this for you, otherwise you have no fucking excuse.

1) Battlestar Galactica

Anyone who’s had a conversation with me since I’ve watched this series shouldn’t be surprised at it’s placement at the top of this list. There is absolutely no way that I can even hope to describe the balls out awesome that is this television show. It contains everything I could possibly ask for in televisual entertainment. Political intrigue, realistic personal relationships, robots and kick ass space battles.

In the pilot mini-series shit is kicked up a notch right from the beginning. The humans, who inhabit the twelve colonies all named for our star signs, is reduced to a fraction of it’s population during a devastating attack by the robotic Cylons and so from the outset we are presented with our heroes and villains. Or at least we would be if things in Battlestar Galactica were as simple as that. In actual fact there are several times throughout the entirety of the series where your perception of what is good and right is challenged. Not only that but it deals with a lot of really rather heavy subjects such as terrorism, religion and whether or not being alive is defined purely in biological terms,

Like Rome, these heady subjects are dealt with whilst focusing on the characters within the story. Even though the plot concerns itself mostly with the possible extinction of the human race, it is the people (and robots) who find themselves within this situation and how they deal with it that really pushes the story forward. There is the stoic, yet completely untrusting of anything mechanical, captain Adama, played by the fantastic Edward James Almos, the Cylon Number Six who’s fascinated by living things, Starbuck, a tough Viper pilot who also has incredible emotional depth, and my personal favourite character, Gaius Baltar, the scientist who bears at least some responsibility for his species predicament and is primarily concerned with his own personal survival. The cast is quite large yet every character seems to be incredibly well defined.

Damnit, there’s so much to say about this damn series and yet not enough time for me to sit here and write it all. Also my wrists are beginning to hurt a little bit, Stupid wrists, so let’s just cram in a few other things that make this series awesome. The shots in space are filmed as if they were being shot by a cameraman with a handy cam and all of the sound is provided from within the ships themselves not ignoring space by actually living up to the fact that there’s no damn sound in space. The special effects are awesome, from people being sucked into space to the non-human looking Cylons, though sometimes they do seem a little too CGI-ish. Also the last episode made me cry, not so much because the ending was sad, though it was, but more because that was it, I would no longer get to spend anytime with these characters. It was truly moving.

So there you go. Six TV shows to entertain yourself with as you while away the hours waiting for the impending icy-cold grip of the reaper around your heart. Enjoy!




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