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Media stuff - John C. Kirk

Feb. 11th, 2006

10:28 pm - Media stuff

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I went off to watch MirrorMask at the NFT this afternoon, which I thought was very good. It's getting a limited cinema release in March, so I'd recommend watching it if you get the chance. It's a film by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, which should give you a reasonable idea of what to expect. McKean's artwork is certainly distinctive, and I think it actually works better here than it normally does (at least from my point of view). When I've seen his "Sandman" covers in the past, I've only glanced at them for a second or two, thought "Hmm, weird" and then gone on with the actual story. I'm sure he's put a lot of time/effort into them, but they've never really interested me. But as I say, the world of MirrorMask works better. There are similarities between this film and "Labyrinth" (also with "The Neverending Story" and "Sandman: A Game of You" for that matter), but less so than I'd expected, so this film stands alone on its own merits. It's well cast, and the CGI is impressive. As for the story, it has a nice quirky humour to it, but there are also a few bits which are rather creepy, so it strikes a good balance. When Gaiman gave a reading of "The Wolves in the Walls" a year or so ago, he did refer to one line in the film which wasn't actually there today - I'm not sure whether it just got edited out of the script, or whether the DVD will come with deleted scenes.

Meanwhile, I've been watching a bit of TV lately. "Charmed" is going well in season 8; when it got to the end of season 7, I got the same feeling that I did towards the end of "Buffy" season 5, i.e. "Wow, I guess they're cancelling this series", but they've surprised me. I'm particularly impressed by Holly Marie Combs (who plays "Piper") - she's clearly the best actor in the show, and can do a lot with just one line or a simple gesture, particularly when it comes to the comedy.

Meanwhile, "Enterprise" season 4 is also going well; I don't think it's really a spoiler if I say that I've got to the first episode in the Mirror Universe. Changing the credits for that story was a nice touch, and I do wonder how many more people would have watched the series if it had all been like that (i.e. "let's blow stuff up!").

I've seen the first few episodes of "The IT Crowd" on Channel 4. The first one wasn't very good - it made me smile in a couple of places, and the tech stuff is pretty accurate, but it didn't meet my "laughter" rule for comedy. Also, Channel 4 lose points by putting a trailer for that program in its own ad break, and for pronouncing the title as "it crowd" (to rhyme with "bit crowd") rather than "eye-tee crowd". However, I'd already recorded the second episode, so I figured that I might as well watch that too, and it was an improvement (i.e. it did make me laugh). Since that's 2 episodes out of 6, and they're only half an hour long each (minus adverts), I figured that I might as well stick with the rest of them, and episode 3 was better again. These episodes are available on their website, although it has a bit of a bad layout, and in fact they preview each episode on the web a week before it's shown on TV (so I'm downloading episode 4 now). This page (behind the link "WATCH EPISODE FOUR ONLINE NOW!") gives you episodes 1 and 2, while this page (behind every other video-ish link from the main page) actually gives you episode 4. I assume that episode 3 should be around there somewhere, so maybe it will turn up later.

As for American TV, Peter David recently posted a blog entry on the Superbowl adverts. Obviously I didn't see them on TV, but it turns out that they're available on the internet. This page has most of them, but you can also go directly to the source for others. billyabbott beat me to it by posting his own comments, but I think that the Budweiser Light adverts were the best, particularly "Magic Fridge" and the one with the bear ("not cool!"). You can watch the Addicted to Lost video here, although you have to click through a few links (and sit through a 30 second channel advert) before you get to it; it's entertaining, but the title basically tells you the whole joke, so you can pretty much imagine the video without needing to watch/hear it. The Hummer advert does seem to fall into the "sick and wrong (TM)" category; mind you, giant monsters vs robots are cool, and so I've reserved a copy of "Essential Godzilla" at the comic shop (due out next month). And on that subject, this is a great review of a Godzilla special from a few years ago; I love the bit about half-way down the page, where Godzilla stamps on someone repeatedly (with sound effects).

On a vaguely related note, the "Nova" comic idea that I've had on the back-burner for quite a while has suddenly morphed into a "Turbo" story instead, which caught me slightly by surprise. I can still do the original story (or at least, this doesn't preclude it), but this new story ("Flying lesson") has more or less turned up in my head fully-formed. So, echoing something that pozorvlak said recently, I've been typing up the outline, just to get it out of my head so that I can get other things done. I've got a pretty good idea of the visuals involved - I can see lots of the individual panels in my mind's eye, but unfortunately my current drawing skills are nowhere near good enough to actually mimic that. Well, not yet anyway - I've got a couple of Eisner books on sequential art to read through, and I picked up a DC book about colouring/lettering earlier, so hopefully I can get there eventually. In the meantime, what I'll try to do is work out a rough "storyboard", e.g. with stick figures, just so that I've got a starting point.

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