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Dark Lord: 1: The Teenage Years
Dark Lord: 1: The Teenage Years
by Jamie Thomson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bring Back Derek The Troll, 20 Dec 2011
Very few books manage to successfully transcend the gulf between generations, to be enjoyed by young and old alike. However the sharp humour that underpins this story, most of it centred around the main character trying to cope without his magical abilities whilst dealing with newly forming emotions, makes this a cut above most of its ilk. Dirk dismissively formulating cricket stratagems in particular had me sniggering to myself. The book deserves to reach a wide audience and I look forward to reading the sequel. They will make excellent presents indeed for the goblin spawn of my comrades and cronies.

I only stumbled across The Dark Lord book on a nostalgic internet browse. The more wizened amongst you may remember the Way Of The Tiger and Falcon Gamebook series that the author co-wrote in the mid 80's. They still have pride of place in my book collection, being more tightly written and interestingly themed than the better known Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf series of the time. Whilst they were a different writing style to the Dark Lord book, aimed more at young adults than older children, I cannot recommend these enough to anyone wanting to explore the authors older works.


Richard Herring - Hitler Moustache [DVD] [2010]
Richard Herring - Hitler Moustache [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Richard Herring
Price: £12.99

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take Off Your Pants, Thanks, 31 Oct 2010
I went to see Stewart Lee and Richard Herring in Derby in the late 90's. This was on the back of their television programme This Morning With Richard Not Judy. The only real memory I have of the gig was that Richard had somehow acquired free tickets for a film called The Castle at the local cinema, for anyone in the crowd that wanted one. The show was hilarious and I thought they'd both go on to pack out stadiums. I forget about them for about 10 years. Following Stewart's TV programme, I was pleased to discover a back catalogue of his material existed on DVD (which are all excellent). Richard seemingly hadn't had anything committed to DVD, however with a bit of searching I found he had in fact done plenty independently released, all of which I purchased. Hitler Moustache is his first mainstream release.

There aren't enough superlatives that I can throw at this, and his previous releases, Someone Likes Yoghurt, Menage A Un, The Headmaster's Son and Oh **** I'm 40. Richard's lack of commercial releases and therefore mainstream success is perhaps epitomised by Hitler Moustache. The subject matter is obviously going to court contraversy and although it is quite clear what all of the points are he is conveying, I still wouldn't take it to my local Ethnicity and Diversity Board and say, Hey everyone, take this home and watch it, it's hilarious! Just for fear that someone wouldn't get it. Stewart Lee hit the nail on the head in his book, saying Richard has mad impulses to say the worst possible thing in any situation, and from somehow lacking the self-censorship facility that prevents most of us from acting on them.

As in his other DVD's, some of the 'Cut Out/Second Version' ad libbing stuff is equally as funny as the main material and well worth watching. I look forward to Richard's tour of his new material next year. I'll definately be in attendance. I might even heckle for the first time ever, just to see the consequences... erm, you idiot, Herring.


Eddie Izzard: The Ultimate Eddie Izzard Collection [DVD]
Eddie Izzard: The Ultimate Eddie Izzard Collection [DVD]

82 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Head In A Box At The End, 6 Dec 2009
Eddie Izzard is without doubt one of the finest and most original comedians in history. Collected here are seven of his stand up shows. Unfortunately, his first and breakthrough show Live At The Ambassadors is not on here and is currently still unavailable on DVD. Whether there is a copyright issue or Mr Izzard doesn't want it to see the light of day for his own reasons, perhaps someone can enlighten me? It is a pity, as it was a defining moment.

The first time I encountered Eddie Izzard was whilst watching an edited version of his second show, Unrepeatable, one night on Channel 4 in the mid 90's. I had prior to this had a conception that his transvestism was a gimmick and his act would be poor, so I had narrow mindedly taken a dislike to him. I think I tuned into the show to prove myself correct. An hour and several dollops of humble pie later, I searched out his other material.

At about the same time Unrepeatable was being shown, Definite Article became available on video. By this time, Izzard (whether self deliberate or just through the quality if his material) was reaching a wider audience. I remember laughing hard at the bird in plane sequence on a TV chat show when he was plugging this release. Definite Arcticle sits nicely alongside Unrepeatable as the finest work in Izzard's ouevre.

Now firmly emplaced as my favourite comedian, I was first in the que to see his next show Glorious in the flesh. I remember being a bit disgruntled at the time that the Video was released before the tour was finished. However, both myself and then girlfriend loved the show itself. Watching it back on DVD, there really was sufficiently different material to evidence the fact his shows evolve as the tour progresses and he does genuinally improvise.

A year later brought Dress To Kill. However, on this show there was a noticeable dip in the quality of the material. At the time I assumed it was due to the frequency of his tours/shows. After all, this was his fifth in the space of 6/7 years. I did laugh like a drain however when he informed the audience about the status of Englebert Humperdinck, subsequently changing his mind for comic effect about 15 times.

If Dress To Kill was the show where I suspected that Izzard's work was on the downslide, Circle was the show that confirmed it. By no means bad, against most other comedians the show can still be considered superior, but it was still disappointing by the standards that he had set himself. Featuring the much talked about (if slightly overrated) Death Star canteen sequence (are you Jeff Vader?!).

A few years after came Sexie, which was not only Izzard's worst material, but also his delivery has become increasingly rambling. Although he had been predisposed to ramble and improvise in all his previous shows, the source material was very tight, a product of continually honing it in front of smaller audiences. This show seemed like he had performed it in front of a few audiences full of Eddieophiles and then released into the wider domain.

After a six year hiatus largely furthering his film career, with much fanfare came Stripped. I had hoped the intervening years since Sexie would have given Eddie the chance to recharge his comedy batteries. Unfortunately Stripped just seemed like an extension of Sexie. A very bloated feel, with several of his previous subject matters being revisited. The material is different enough, but it still feels like tipping the hat a little too much.

In summary, three classics, two good, two not so good, one absentee. I can only hope that Eddie Izzard rethinks his delivery and gets back to basics with his material before thinking of embarking on another show. Although it could be time for Eddie to hang up his boots, this package is testiment to his brilliance. Anyone of the first three shows is worthy of the entrance fee only.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 20, 2010 3:04 AM GMT


The Death of Grass (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Death of Grass (Penguin Modern Classics)
by John Christopher
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'd Not Believe How Good This Author Is, 19 Nov 2009
John Christopher (Samuel Youd) ranks as one of my favourite authors. I read The Death Of Grass after realising I hadn't read any of his works other than The Tripods Trilogy (It was whilst watching The Tripods DVD I had a feeling of guilt). I can't really add much to the plot and reviews that have gone before me about The Death Of Grass, other than I agree that the book is predictive, relevant and above all else the story just flows. As I subsequently discovered with other Christopher books, you don't have to concentrate too much to pick up the thread. Some Science Fiction fans may find this style uninvolving and simplistic. I find it well paced, descriptive and balanced.

I apologise to the browsers that were looking for a bespoke review about The Death Of Grass, however I felt sufficiently motivated to write that I read all of the John Christoper's books over the summer and it is borderline criminal that most are not in print. The fact that a lot are written for "young adults" is neither here nor there! Other than the aformentioned, I can strongly recommend; The Guardians, A Wrinkle In The Skin, Dom and Va, Empty World and The Sword Of The Spirits Trilogy. Slightly lesser but nevertheless engaging works are; The Possessors, When The Tripods Came, Cloud On Silver, A Dusk Of Demons, The Long Voyage and The Twenty-Second Century.

In summary, The Death Of Grass is a classic and most of John Christopher's works are worthy of re examination and publication.


Tripods - The Complete Series 1 & 2 [DVD]
Tripods - The Complete Series 1 & 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Shackley
Price: £11.00

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars i'll leave my seas and islands, 29 Mar 2009
The Tripods Trilogy by John Christopher (real name Samuel Youd) were probably my favourite books from childhood. Every other year I still read them. Very brief plot summary; humanity is enslaved and under the rule of The Tripods, metallic monsters that walk the earth and rule by capping, the fitting of devices to the heads of humans upon them reaching adulthood. This device suppresses mans aggression and initiative, making him subserviant and without free will. Two boys not far from capping age have serious doubts about the whole capping/tripod business, and so begins the quest to try and rid the world of the Tripods, whatever they may be. Needless to say I was as happy as a Tripod in a fifth form classroom when the television series was originally announced then aired. I've long awaited the DVD release of both series that were made, now finally here they are at last. Has it been worth the wait? Largely yes, although there are negatives.

Several other reviews refer to the fact the series would have been far better served as maybe 6 rather than 12/13 episodes, and I completely agree. Both series suffer from the same fault. The first 4/5 episodes of each are engaging and well made, where as the middle to latter episodes do not progress the storyline and are therefore largely pointless. In series 1 this relates to the chateau and vineyard episodes, which are quite dull. In series 2 this relates to the introduction of higher forms of life that are not in the book (completely undermining the story) and episodes where characters run around The City of Gold (and lead) for very little apparant purpose. Both series (especially series 1) do pick up again for the last episode or two.

The narrative of the second series, maybe deliberately due to the timeslot and target audience, doesn't convey very well the fundamental points which made the book a classic, that the alien city takes a horrible toll on the humans that enter due to the gravity, atmosphere and working conditions. Also, that The Masters are hideously cruel. So as not to sound overly negative about series 2, I won't be too critical of the inadvertant campness, Fritz on occasion sounding nearer Welsh than German and Will's brain seemingly being bypassed for most if his time in the city (maybe it's the false cap that does it).

The positives are the special effects, especially The Tripods and The City Of Gold, which for their time were state of the art. So they've dated a bit, but I can only attribute the indelible mark the series left in my memory to them, the excellent atmospheric musical score during the opening sequence and end credits, and maybe the chilling noises made by the Tripods themselves. The Masters could easily have been laughable, however they are passable, without managing to convey the repulsion imagined from the books. The acting and script has received criticism in other reviews, however I thought all three leads played their part well, and the script only really suffers due to the longevity of each series.

In summary, a worthy addition to my DVD collection. Really enjoyable despite (or maybe because of) all the aforementioned flaws. Alas, they never made the third and final series. Only due to this release have I realised I haven't read any of John Christopher's other works, which over the forthcoming months I'll seek to redress. Judged purely on the Tripods, he must be one of the most underrated and overlooked science fiction authors around. All hail the Tripods!


Steve Coogan - The Complete Coogan Box Set [DVD]
Steve Coogan - The Complete Coogan Box Set [DVD]
Dvd ~ Steve Coogan
Price: £37.62

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is It True Mr Coogan, You're a Complete.....Genius?, 7 Dec 2008
Having ordered and now received this box set, I assume it has been taken off general release for the moment due to the content of the DVD's not always being that described on the front of each disk. However, everything that should be within the box set, is (somewhere). For those that can't be bothered to return the box set to Amazon and await the replacement, the disk order should read as follows, with a brief review of each;

1. Knowing Me, Knowing You
The series that really raised Coogan's profile into national prominence. Received complaints at the time of original broadcast as some viewers failed to recognise it was a spoof. Very funny and painfully close to reality in terms of Partridge's TV personality character traits.

2. Knowing Me, Knowing Yule
Christmas follow on from the original series. More of the same, but that's no bad thing. "Do you want some, I'm handy?!"

3. I'm Alan Partridge Series 1. 4. Series extras
Arguably Coogans finest hour(s). Solitary stays in travel taverns have never quite been the same since. The Partridge character is fleshed out, with all his flaws coming to the fore. Still, there's been worse television programmes commissioned than "Monkey Tennis".

5. I'm Alan Partride Series 2. 6. Series extras
The creators were alledgedly in retrospect not too pleased with this series, maybe due to some of the scenarios and acting becoming a little over the top. Alan has swapped his travel tavern for a caravan next to his new house. I personally loved it.

7. Paul Calf's video diaries
Contains the original video diary, and the follow on. I brought the box set mainly for this, as I don't think the BBC ever sold them as a seperate DVD release. Very good. RIP Fat Bob.

8. Paul and Pauline Calf's Cheese And Ham Sandwich
Live show contained the two characters mentioned in the title. I thought the character jokes were starting to get a bit stale by now.

9 & 10 Saxondale Series 1
Overlooked and underated. Coogan proved he had lost none of his comic timing and touch, with his portrayal of the ageing roadie who attends anger management classes and can't quite let go of the past. Some brilliant moments, and virtually on a par with Partridge.

11. Saxondale Series 2
Again, more of the same, but equally as good as Series 1.

12. Doctor Terrible's House of Horrible
I actually missed this first time around, so cannot comment.

13. The Tony Ferrino Phenomenon
The Portuguese singer character received far more hype than Saxondale ever did, however never quite hit the spot. Had it's moments though, and well worth a viewing.

14. Coogan's Run
A combination of old and new characters in 6 one off specials. Ranges from average to good. Again, more for the novelty factor than many true comedy classic moments.

I saw Coogan recently in his live show (having also seen his last one almost 10 years ago), and too be honest it was a bit disappointing, and I think some of the characters are reaching the end of their shelf life. However this box set is proof (if any was needed) of his comic genius.

Overall, this is brilliant value for money, even if the BBC do seem to have had immense difficulty in counting to fourteen.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 17, 2010 9:43 PM BST


Run 10
Run 10

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delta Was A Gold Medal, 25 April 2008
This review is from: Run 10 (Audio CD)
Do you remember the days when the Commodore 64 ruled? When computer games were rated on "playability" as opposed to, well, whatever it is they are rated on these days (can't be bothered to look). Zzap 64 was the bible, the internet a pipe dream. For those of you that yearn for the halycon 8-bit golden days, this CD could right up your street.

The Commodore 64 was the shape of things to come, not only in the joystick department, but also by virtue of the fact it had the most advanced (for its time) sound chip on a home computer, leading to a multitude of original, and not so original sound tracks for the computer games themselves.

A fair amount of the better earlier tunes on the Commodore 64 were written by a chap called Rob Hubbard, and a fair amount of the better latter tunes by a chap called Jeroen Tel, who operated at the time either with a group, or under the pseudonymn of "Maniacs Of Noise". At the time, the music within the computer games really did play a part in the overall "feel" and value of the product.

15-20 years on, here we seemingly are with a collaberation of Mr Hubbard, Mr Tel, and an orchestra full of (then) spotty cyber geeks, who probably all fainted when The Great Giana Sisters got removed from the shelves of their local games emporium in Amsterdam, circa 88'. So, how does the music stand up today?

There are two disks, one with the original tunes as they were back then on the C64, and one with remakes with full orchestra, arranged by non other than Rob Hubbard himself, and played by the C64 Orchestra (aka something else, the CD Box is in the car and it's raining). Results, well pretty good actually.

The best track by a long shot on the classical remakes CD is Cybernoid, the only track that has translated properly to what it aspires to, arguably classic, unarguably beautiful. Delta, is also very good. Commando is the stand out track from the original C64 compositions, if ever there was a case of dance remix in the making, this must be it. Can't get it out of my head. Delta again wins the silver medal.

All told, a very enjoyable trip down memory lane, with a classical twist. If Sanxion(Thalamusik) and Tetris soundtracks are on the sequel, I'll definately be purchasing. In conclusion, 89% overall. 94% when released by Mastertronic.


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