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P. Rowe "wheathill" (UK)

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The Wicker Tree [DVD] [2010]
The Wicker Tree [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Christopher Lee
Price: £4.06

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where's Rowan Morrison when you need her?, 15 May 2012
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This review is from: The Wicker Tree [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
After an extended wait, Robin Hardy finally gets his chance to show that the Wicker Man was more than just a brilliant Anthony Shaffer script and that he is an overlooked auteur. However, and it pains me to say this, the Wicker Tree fails to show him as anything other than a commercials director with a flair for the odd visual and certainly no great story teller. So exactly what Shaffer said all along...

The movie starts well, it's well shot and there is a degree of unease but within 25 minutes it is rambling and struggling to maintain a coherent narrative. Part of its problem is in its characters who lack the power and basic oddness that the former film had in such abundance. The cast simply aren't strange enough and the situations are too mundane to really create a convincing new pagan community. At the heart of the film the Christian Conservative boy and gal are too annoying to care for and so you don't feel the same concern as you do for poor old Neil Howie once he realises that he has been fool for a day.

There are some good sequences, especially as you reach the point of the Riding of the Laddie but without a charismatic community leader at the core of the story and a rather bland setting it all falls far short of the original. The music too promises much but ultimately never recaptures the disquieting beauty of the original.

What may be interesting is the views of the audience who might see this before the 1973 film, they will be able to greet rather than groan at the ending and they may also find Honeysuckle Weeks a tad more interesting than those of us who preferred Britt Eckland cavorting around to a Paul Giovanni folk song.

Still far preferable to Neil LaBute's remake and at the very least a British Horror movie trying to tell a scary story with some style. That last point is at least a reason to cheer.

Doctor Who - Paradise Towers [DVD] [1987]
Doctor Who - Paradise Towers [DVD] [1987]
Dvd ~ Sylvester McCoy
Price: £7.73

10 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Better off jumping from the top of Paradise Towers than watching it!, 1 Aug 2011
Hailing from the disaster that was Season 24 Paradise Towers provides a nonsensical interlude in Sylvestor McCoy's debut season. As a story that serves to capture the limitations of script editor Andrew Cartmel or as a story that highlights that by this point no-one in the BBC still knew how to light video taped three camera dramas it is a five star experience otherwise avoid. By this point the wheels were off Who and it was sliding into 16 years of oblivion.

As another famous Doctor commented 'the pain the pain'. McCoy's second and third seasons do get marginally better than this, although it isn't until the Big Finish audios that he really flourishes.

In contrast the extras are quite nice although not as laugh out loud funny as the ones where the production team defend the quality of the narrative on the Silver Nemesis dvdDoctor Who - The Cybermen Box Set [DVD] (yes Kevin Clarke, I'm laughing at you!).
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 8, 2011 8:29 PM BST

Alan Moore: Storyteller
Alan Moore: Storyteller
by Gary Spencer Millidge
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars no hurm done, 1 Aug 2011
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As someone who encountered Moore at just the right age- I remember picking up Warrior issue 1 as a teenager and it being a revelation, I've inevitably followed his work for good (From Hell) and bad (his Image and Awesome work). In recent years I've often found the Moore interview as entertaining a read as any fiction he might have come up with. He is always worth listening to even if he is blathering on about magic (or should that have a y in it?) or the fact it is his principles that have led him to fall out with all of the major comics publishers. Moore is a terrific raconteur and Milledge gives him plenty of opportunity to do just that. The simple prose means you can hear that Northampton accent with extraordinary clarity as you gallop through his body of work.

It serves as a good companion to the Twomorrows book The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore: Indispensable Edition and Milledge's book celebrating Moore on his 50th birthday a few years back. As another reviewer comments, it isn't a full biography, but in many ways it is enough to draw a picture of the dope smoking hippy who has an innate ability to combine words and pictures so that they are as as powerful as some the finest works of fiction of the last century.

All it is perhaps missing is getting Moore to reflect that he may have, on occasion, overreacted to situations and that there are artists/ editors (Dez Skinn excepted - he really is a shark!) that he no longer considers friends that really, if everyone could be a little more grown up, might be collaborators with him again. However, Alan Moore is important because of his humanity and who said humans ever had to act rationally?

One final word of warning, whilst a handsome coffee table volume, remember to put it on the top shelf when the in-laws visit, otherwise they may get slightly confused by the pages on his Lost Girls books!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 28, 2011 9:45 PM GMT

Monkee Business: The Revolutionary Made-For-TV Band
Monkee Business: The Revolutionary Made-For-TV Band
by Eric Lefcowitz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.69

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can you dig it?, 30 May 2011
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Whilst their albums have enjoyed frequent releases since their back catalogue was bought up by Rhino in the late 1980s there continues to remain a dearth of biographies for the biggest manufactured band of all time. Since the publication of Monkeemania The Monkees : Monkeemania in 1986 there has been just the excellent Sandoval book The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the 60s TV Pop Sensation, a couple of editions of Micky Dolenz's autobiography and the odd execrable solo Monkee book (Total Recall anyone?). Therefore this newly revised book from Eric Lefcowitz is to be welcomed. It delivers a well researched and brutally honest account of the band's origins right through to their truculent and seemingly endless reunion tours sans Nesmith. There are new anecdotes aplenty and insights into the fault lines that existed between the four actors almost before the series went on air.

Refreshingly and as might be expected, all these years later, the heart throb turns out to be a diva, the Texan is the arch manipulator, the dumb one is ultimately most damaged by the instant stardom and only Dolenz comes out the other side with anything resembling a normal life intact. The book pulls few punches and so the other players in it who get a less than impressive description are the band creators - rich kids Rafelson and Schneider and the Simon Cowell of his day Don Kirshner. Kirshner knew what would make the charts but as the Monkees demonstrated their music was far more interesting when he had been pushed to the sidelines.

Whilst later years for each of the Monkees is covered it does feel a little cursory and in light of the regular fallings out its a shame that Lefcowitz couldn't have extended this part of the book. (I'd pay money to read more about Davy Jones and his difficulties to retain an audience or his composure when drunk on stage!)

Still it is an excellent read and should be for anyone interested in music from the sixties or those who having read Peter Biskind's book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-drugs-and Rock 'n' Roll Generation Changed Hollywoodnow realise that modern Hollywood started in the fall of 1966 with a comedy show on NBC.

The Man Who Invented the Daleks: The Strange Worlds of Terry Nation
The Man Who Invented the Daleks: The Strange Worlds of Terry Nation
by Alwyn W. Turner
Edition: Hardcover

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Radiation levels are high but we should be safe for a few hours, 7 May 2011
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As you might expect with any book about Terry Nation, this first ever biography is a little prone to repetition. Throughout its almost 300 pages we are regularly reminded of what inspired Terry Nation and how his work paralleled or (and I hope Roger Hancock - Nation's rottweiler agent isn't looking,) copied ideas from pulps and movies of the 1930s so that you feel like screaming when a point is made about that Saint episode with the ants for what seems like the umpteenth time. However what the author is trying, and in fact, for the most part achieves remarkably well, is to put Terry Nation and his work into context. He may also be subtly reminding us that Nation was one of the most ecofriendly writers you could find - recycling old cliches was his forte!

This is no cut and past account of him. Admittedly there are old interviews and quotes liberally sprinkled in (it's not as if Nation is still around to answer Turner's questions after all) but alongside these there are interesting and previously unknown details about his work. These seem to come most frequently from the ever candid Brian Clemens and Steven Moffat's mother in law - Beryl Vertue. These and other sources provide the kind of insight that hasn't (thanks possibly to the aforementioned Hancock, yes he was Tony's brother) previously been available. Significantly Terry Nation comes out as a well liked professional who could be relied upon to meet a deadline but who was notoriously prone to churning a script out rather than refine, hone or polish a story until it really gleamed. Where there was someone sitting by ready to do that his work could sparkle however those hits could just as easily become misses in the wrong hands and this book is quite prepared to remind us of that.

Purchasing this is a no brainer if you are a Doctor Who or ITC fan. It's also well worth a look if you followed the less remembered Survivors series which Alwyn Turner quite rightly suggests might be Nation's best work. What you're getting is a well researched account of one of the writers who helped shape television in the sixties and seventies and a lot of mostly skillfully expressed background detail. It really is well worth a look.

Now where is that biography of Brian Clemens?

Patrick McGoohan: Danger Man or Prisoner?
Patrick McGoohan: Danger Man or Prisoner?
by Peter Falk
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Information we want information... you wont get it!, 26 April 2011
This is a slightly odd book from a slightly odd writer. Langley has for many years exerted a vice like grip on the Prisoner fan club and whilst deifying the lead actor has also been a keen proponent of a high degree of 'news management'. In many ways this book resembles the oddity that the fan club has become. It's a bitty, rambling affair that occasionally provides insight into McGoohan the enigma. However it only does half the job and so much of the man's career is skated over in preference of rehashing past commentaries on those 17 tv episodes. There are now better books out there on Patrick McGoohan. Equally, almost all books from small publisher Tomahawk are better - so check out Whatshisname: The Life and Death of Charles Hawtrey and Hammer Films - The Unsung Heroes: The Team Behind the Legend as well as The Battle for Bond: Second Edition all are far better researched, more skilfully written and much more fun to read!

The Avengers: A Celebration: 50 Years of a Television Classic
The Avengers: A Celebration: 50 Years of a Television Classic
by Marcus Hearn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mrs Peel - I'm not sure we're needed!, 31 Oct 2010
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Lot of nice pictures, very little text. Not much else... Hardly the in-depth analysis of the show I was expecting. I was expecting more from a writer like Marcus Hearn. So, if you like to see photos of Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee it's a must have otherwise you could easily miss this.

Wiped! Doctor Who's Missing Episodes
Wiped! Doctor Who's Missing Episodes
by Richard Molesworth
Edition: Paperback

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Out-Pixleys Pixley!!!, 31 Oct 2010
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That a book about the systematic wiping and subsequent rediscovery of episodes from a popular tv show like Who could run to 480 pages is remarkable. That it presents a gripping account of the BBC's slipshod marketing and archiving of one of it's most popular creations is even more so.

Richard Molesworth has written what must be the definitive story the 'missing' episodes. It's all here, in painstaking, but rarely dull, detail. So that by the end we know which countries made purchases of the Hartnell and Troughton episodes, we know when the tapes or film cans were returned, stored or junked and many popular myths (such as the Blue Peter/ Tenth Planet part 4 story) are revealed to be just that - myths. The fact that so many episodes 'junked' by the BBC have subsequently come to light is amazing when you realise that in the case of the Troughton Whos few countries actually bought them. Equally tantalising are the near misses where episodes were a breathe away from preservation but lost and those that almost didn't get anywhere near a video release let alone a DVD one did thanks to someone on secondment who noticed a pile of cans abandoned on a loading bay!

This book joins the rich history of Doctor Who and continues to ensure that when historians return to analyse television in the late 20th Century they will invariably look at the show about the time traveller and a blue box. No other show attracts such passion and such erudite writing. And, bearing this in mind this means that Wiped is a massive achievement since it gets my vote as the best book about Who published in the last 5 years.

It's brilliant and no doubt makes the fantastic Who researchers like Andrew Pixley who showed just how interesting the minutiae of TV could be justly proud. Get it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 31, 2012 12:00 PM BST

A Horseman Riding By [DVD] [1978]
A Horseman Riding By [DVD] [1978]
Dvd ~ Glyn Houston
Price: £22.60

60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gallop through drama in the 70s, 19 Sep 2010
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Whilst by no means as compelling as Andrew Davies's adaptation of To serve them all my days, the reviews that surround this release seem to be by viewers unfamiliar with TV drama of the 70s. So let me be upfront about this. A horseman riding by is as well paced as other period sagas from the time and as such should appeal to those that enjoyed Upstairs Downstairs, the Duchess of Duke Street, Wings and myriad other productions from the time.

The story of the innocent and principled Paul Craddock (Nigel Havers) as he buys a thinly disguised estate around Mothercombe on the South Hams in Devon is a compelling one. The early episodes recount his attempts to rebuild the estate with the support of Glyn Houston (a stalwart character actor who you remember for his performances but rarely his name). Whilst in the second half of the series the First World War looms large providing a view of its impact on rural communities as opposed to those in the cities. As with To serve them all my days there are extraordinary shocks in the series as characters depart in dramatic fashion and as with that other series, R F Delderfield's liberal, perhaps even socialist view of the past is painted well. The episodes are written by former Doctor Who producer John Wiles along with the Wings writer Arden Winch and compare favourably with their contemporaries. In fact in one area it does beat To serve them since exteriors are shot on film here rather than OB VT that was increasingly favoured as a budget saver in the early eighties. Thus some of the scenes in the last few episodes shot around 'Combe bay' look fabulous.

This series is not slow, so don't let the other reviews put you off. It is simply a product of its time. So, if, as a viewer, you are familiar with other 70s series and the three camera studio based style that they had then you will enjoy this too!

Brotherhood Season 1 [DVD]
Brotherhood Season 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jason Isaacs
Offered by MediaMerchants
Price: £10.60

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sibling rivalry, 27 Aug 2010
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This review is from: Brotherhood Season 1 [DVD] (DVD)
Now ended after three relatively successful seasons in the US (airing alongside Dexter on Showtime) Brotherhood provides a drama as intriguing and as violent as the Sopranos. Setting it's narrative between the corrupt lives of two brothers it shows how at City Hall there are as many crooks as on skid row. Season one works well at establishing the lead characters and builds towards a startling series of revelations that run from the end of season 1 into season 2 and culminating in a satisfying fashion ins season 3. Totaling 29 episodes in all Brotherhood is small and impressively formed and well worth a punt.

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