Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Sublime and the Ridiculous

The small screen currently has two offerings in the 'urban fantasy' slot for me to watch and obsess over and wow, they couldn't be more different. Well, thinking of their heritage, yes they could. ITV has the Saturday early evening offering of 'Demons' and BBC3 has the Sunday night offering of 'Being Human'.

Demons is a sort of British version of Buffy but far less coherent. You have Luke Van Helsing (in all of this, no I am not making it up), the last of the Van Helsing line and a fit young lad to boot. He is destined to fight 'half lives' (ie. demons) alongside Galvin, played by that Glennister guy from Life on Mars and assisted by his possible love piece, Ruby (cocky, arrogant young student, good for getting into scrapes) and Mina Harker. Yes, THAT Mina Harker. They have a massive library under London, guns which shoot mojo which 'smites' (ie. dusts) these half-lives (who come in teeth-grating 'Type 4' and 'Type 12' varieties. Glennister's American accent as Galvin is awful, the action is meh, the special effects are ... meh, the story is ... meh. It is a massive pile of meh actually. I'm waiting to see whether it comes to anything but I doubt it. It also suffers from the need to slip in modern music on occassion as a backdrop to some action - which made the adding of 'Ruby' by the Kaiser Chiefs alongside the first appearance of ... you've guessed it, Ruby, mind-slappingly bad. Somewhere, deep down under all of the unnecessary dross, there is a show struggling to get out. Unfortunately, that show has already been made. Luke=Buffy, Galvin=Giles, Mina=Willow, Ruby=Xander. Hell, Luke even has a mother who is totally oblivious as to what is going on. I bet she dies of a brain-whatsit!

On the other hand, Being Human was wonderful. This show started as one of a slew of try-out shows ran on BBC3 and it got such a following that it was commissioned. The basic concept is that a recovering Vampire, a reluctant Werewolf and an agrophobic ghost all share the same house in Bristol, trying to 'be human' despite their supernatural realities.

The first episode was packed with story. Just brimming with it. Sometimes it was even a little hard to keep up. The Vampires want to take over the world, people are dying and coming back to life, werewolves are changing, ghosts are having moments and relapses and ... it was great. What made it special was that it mixed horror, action, thriller and humour together in a well blended mix. Take the scene where the werewolf is trying to find somewhere to hide in the woods to change but discovers all manner of woodland activity (camping, snogging, dogging etc) getting in his way, so much so that it frightens HIM. Brilliant. And - take a note, ITV - even though they slipped in the modern music accompaniment, a bit of the Arctic Monkeys actually worked. This is quality stuff and had me and Christine glued to the TV for an hour with barely a word passing between us. Its on BBC iplayer and I highly recommend it.

Leave watching Demons to me. If it gets good, I'll let you know!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Competition! Euphemism-itis

There is a disease in our media - Euphemism-itis. No-one in the media can say the word 'recession' as it is a bad word and has a technical definition that the country has not reached ... yet. So we have now spawned 101 different terms that people are using instead. Lets see how many we can find! I'll go first:

...fiscal downturn
...testing economic times
...economic turmoil
...challenging economic circumstances

Your turn!


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

State Sponsored Highwaymen

Bloody schools!

Is there a week that can go by without us receiving some missive from that bloody place asking for money!?

Today it was swimming classes. Here is the letter:

" Due to changes in school financing, the school is now obliged to meet the cost of swimming transportation from its allocated budget. A lot of schools have abandoned their swimming programmes as too costly. At a Govenors meeting it was decided to continue to offer swimming but levy a charge to cover about half the cost of the coach hire, with the school meeting the other half. I must therefore request that swimmers bring £1.00 per week towards the cost of their swimming transport. Children should bring the money on a weekly basis...etc etc."

Hang on a second? The WHAT? A coach? Which is costing £2 per pupil? The swimming pool that the kids are going to is just too far away for them to walk, but the last time I looked the local bus company was not charging £1 each way for schoolkids to travel three stops. By this age (8-9) the kids should be able to travel on public transport and there are LOADS of buses passing the school. Get the little buggers on a bus and teach them how to act well in public. Then the school can pay the £1 and I won't be charged for the education I already get taxed to provide. And it might underline the schools supposed dedication to environmental issues as well!!

And you know what's worse? My daughter already swims perfectly fine, thank you. She swims better than I do!

I wonder what other financial obligations the school is going to threaten to abandon unless we cough up for the service? We already have to pay £3-8 per kid per school trip, or even if a theatre company is just coming to the school. At Christmas we have our contribution to the food is scheduled and timetabled (we were on sausage rolls - how healthy - this year. Bag of Kerry Katona Specials from Iceland!). There are an increasing number of ticketted 'discos' too.... and this is on top of the milk, the uniforms and all the other bollocks.

Bah humbug!