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P. Rowe "wheathill" (UK)
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The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years
The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years
Price: £10.44

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating..., 21 July 2016
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As a companion to Marc Cushman's These Are the Voyages volumes this book from two longstanding 'Treksperts' Ed Gross and Mark Altman is second to none. After years documenting the series in magazines such as Cinefantastique, Cinescape and Sci-Fi Universe and myriad small press retread volumes I suspected this would be another cut and paste of previous articles but instead this seems much much fresher. Admittedly some of the quotes here are familiar- if, like me, you still have those yellowing magazine articles, however more often than not the format of just using the voices to retell the series history brings new insight to the show, it's cast and producers. The sections on the animated series, as well as the long wilderness years between cancellation and a troubled first film provide lots of new details not least the feet of clay belonging to Gene Roddenberry - and in some ways the least effective parts cover the movies since they were so well covered by Gross and Altman in the past. One note caution for readers - the book really pulls no punches when it comes to Roddenberry and to a lesser degree Shatner, I really don't have a problem with that, however I suspect some diehard fans will. As the series promoted (even if it was a marketing ploy for Lincoln Enterprises to earn some cash...) we should all adhere to the Vulcan philosophy of IDIC - and appreciate infinite diversity in infinite combination. Roll on volume 2...


FinBurst Running Belt - Fits EVERY iPhone and Cell Phone - The Best Waist Pack for Athletes Around the World
FinBurst Running Belt - Fits EVERY iPhone and Cell Phone - The Best Waist Pack for Athletes Around the World
Offered by FinBurst UK
Price: £17.95


Studies in the Horror Film: Stanley Kubrick's the Shining
Studies in the Horror Film: Stanley Kubrick's the Shining
by Tony Magistrale
Edition: Paperback
Price: £34.83

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You were always the caretaker Mr Torrance!, 29 July 2015
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Across the 750 pages there is a level of detail, of forensic analysis, that one would hope the old perfectionist himself would approve of. Starting with a welcome reprint from his biography of Kubrick, John Baxter provides a terrific overview (or should that be 'overlook') of the making of this seminal horror film. It portrays the mania of Jack Nicholson's character as being more widespread and that the maze was as much a metaphor for the making of the film as the film itself. After that there comes a slightly, on occasions, turgid set of analyses from various Film Studies experts where the ripeness of the writing means that crisp analysis is often submerged beneath various terms used only in lecture theatres and which really, would have been best left there. However even within them are occasional nuggets and the chapter on Shining conspiracy theorists is a laugh out loud joy - it's quite clear had Kubrick included all the references consciously that these experts attribute to him then the Shining would still be in the editing suite now! Finally the books provides a rich tapestry of interviews with cast and crew. Some such as those with Scatman Crothers are welcome reprints whilst others are new additions that add further detail to the Overlook and room 237. The only omission seems to be Phillip Stone, the immortal Mr Grady and it's a shame in light his of his work with Kubrick on other films that an interview isn't included here. However that is a minor criticism for a book that provides a comprehensive, immersive view of one of the finest horror films ever made.


TASCHEN's favorite TV shows. The top shows of the last 25 years
TASCHEN's favorite TV shows. The top shows of the last 25 years
by Jurgen Muller
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £29.24

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Taschen does better books than this!, 28 July 2015
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The cover of this terribly disappointing book from Taschen gives a clue to the problems inside. In selecting an image from a 1990s TV show (Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks) we should all have taken the warning. This is a book that wouldn't have looked out of place being printed 30 years ago, since it believes that there is still a readership out there for potted summaries of TV shows. Unfortunately today, with DVD, online streaming, ITunes, Netflix et al we don't need to read about the narratives of shows, programmes are no longer ephemeral or quickly forgotten. Instead like the programmes themselves, readers too are sophisticated enough to want to learn more, in terms of how a programme is written, created, made. As recent publications such as Marc Cushman's These Are the Voyages volumes on Star Trek or Mike Richardsons Unauthorised Guide to the Avengers or Andy Priestner's Making of Tenko book showed the summaries of episodes are either kept to a minimum or dispensed with altogether in order to focus on what we're really interested in - the challenges of making memorable television.

Instead here the recounting of each series set-up and the stories told is pretty much all you get which is what makes this such a let down. In addition, written by a selection of media lecturers from across Europe you get statements of the bleeding obvious for example that Orange is the New Black no longer needs episode recaps because it's a streamed series (who knew?) or that torture became an increasing feature of later series of 24 (something any viewer would have twigged unless they had slept through it!) And that's about as far as any insight goes, the initial introduction offers a lot more promise but without any interviews with creators and often defaulting to stock images this is way below what one normally expects from Taschen. Stick with their excellent books on Stanley Kubrick edited by Allison Castle or James Bond compiled by Paul Duncan.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 29, 2015 12:34 PM BST


These Are the Voyages - TOS: Season Three: Volume 3
These Are the Voyages - TOS: Season Three: Volume 3
by Marc Cushman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.30

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Out there .... thataway!, 8 Mar. 2015
After two enthralling volumes Marc Cushman draws his analysis of Classic Star Trek to a close. As before, using copies of memos and a forensic level of detail we learn what really happened in that final fateful year. It appears that ultimately the villain was comedian Jerry Lewis and a deal with NBC that meant that Star Trek was always going have to beg for any kind of decent broadcast slot no matter what executives at the Peacock might promise Roddenberry. In addition to that somewhat unexpected villain - the one more commonly associated with the third season, Freddy Freiberger appears more a man happy to compromise in order to keep his masters off his back. Thus Roddenberry convinced him to remove the comic interplay between the series leads and the network convinced him that keeping on budget was more important than making good shows.

Cushman is also brave enough to challenge accepted wisdom by revealing that the great bird made a number of other dreadful missteps as Star Trek entered its third year. Firstly, before the show recommenced production, we learn of his complete disinterest in retaining any of the successful writers on board after the departure of Gene Coon and secondly we learn of his failure to reward perhaps his staunchest ally, Robert Justman by not making him a full producer on the show.

And then we get to each episode's production again filled with more information than would seem imaginable for a TV show that is almost 50 years old. The only weakness here lies towards the back end of the series run (somewhat appropriately considering a number of the episodes...) since with the departure of Bob Justman and Stan Robertson (the NBC thorn in the show's side) the memos dry up. Whilst not having to plough through 20 odd pages on This Way to Eden is no disappointment it would have been nice to learn more about the development of All Our Yesterdays since it provides such a bittersweet coda to the series.

Coming a few weeks after the death of Leonard Nimoy this provides a perfect reminder of the year when, having caught lightning in a bottle, Star Trek soared no more. So those were the voyages, let us hope that more voyages await covering the wilderness years of Phase 2 and the aborted Kaufman movie. As that much missed Vulcan would say, there are always possibilities...
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 24, 2015 9:54 PM GMT


The Wicker Tree [DVD] [2010]
The Wicker Tree [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Christopher Lee
Price: £3.99

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: £6.99

11 of 20 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: £25.00

17 of 17 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: £24.99

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 Control 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

13 of 14 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?


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