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What I’ve Been Watching in 2013

Following on from last years ‘What I’ve Been Watching in 2012‘ I give you the imaginatively titled ‘What I’ve Been Watching in 2013′. My hope is that some others might follow suit and post on their blogs a similar list. If you do just drop us a note and I’ll try to keep some index of them updated. Potentially if enough people post them I’d do a compiled list. As per last year the inspiration for this remains William Gallagher‘s Poll of the Year on his UK DVD Review podcast.

My criteria for my list is simple, anything I’ve watched in any format in 2013 is eligible. Things are ordered 10 – 1 based on how much I’ve enjoyed them in 2013.

10. Homeland (Series 3)

Had a slightly shaky start to its third series, but the last 6 episodes really motor. Damien Lewis and Clare Danes continue to put in spellbinding performances and Mandy Patinkin relishes an expanded role as Saul. Highly recommend  giving Homeland a watch if you’re yet to give it a try. Read more »

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12 Songs To Get You Hooked On Bob Dylan

A little while back me and a colleague went to a film festival screening of “I’m Not There”, I’m a minor Dylan obsessive, he didn’t know a lot more than the average person might about Dylan. The film piqued his interest in more detail, but in conversation afterwards it became clear that the sheer size of the back catalogue proved something of an obstacle. Just where do you start? The conversation concluded with me set a challenge, come up with a list of 12 tracks which would help him test the waters.

Now you can debate exactly what such a list should be, is it the “best of”, is it my personal favourites?, is it the most popular? Or perhaps the 12 best examples of each of Dylan’s various styles? I eventually boiled it down to this. For me Dylan is something of an addiction, so for me the list had to be Dylan in his “purest, most concentrated form”, the songs where I don’t want them to end. This by and large meant the songs which initially hooked me on Dylan.

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It’s A Teen Drama?

As drama addicts and box-set junkies I’m sure you’ve had the problem of trying to describe a great show to someone whose not quite convinced. It’s a problem with a lot of the best shows because often what makes them great is the part that can’t be covered in a standard synopsis or format and genre description. On top of that some of the best shows go ahead and call themselves ‘Battlestar Galactica’ (or ‘Stargate Universe’) so that as soon as you mention the title people tend to look at you like you’ve grown a second head.

Of course since they are great shows and you know friends and family would love them if only they’d give it a chance so you try various descriptions to see if any work. “Imagine a cross between Lost and Deep Space Nine!” was one such description I tried for Battlestar to no avail, possibly because everyone to who that description is appealing was already watching. “It’s really great drama that just happens to be set in space!” seemed to be the most effective one for BSG. “It’s similar to BSG” worked to get a certain audience to try Stargate Universe.

But as hard as its been to get people on board with ‘Drama that happens to be set in space’, another genre has proved monumentally harder to get people interested in. Teen Drama. “A teen drama?” people will say before you apparently vanish into thin air. There is a massive stigma. I am guilty of giving someone the odd sideways glance when they recommend a Teen Drama as worth a watch. That’s despite 3 of my favourite shows fitting squarely in the genre. Of those 3 shows I’ve never been able to get anyone to watch them, nada, not one single person. Read more »

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24: ‘Live Another Day’ – Hopes, Thoughts & Possibilities

It was recently announced that 24 will return next year with a 12 episode miniseries titled ’24: Live Another Day’, the below is an article first published on my other site 24fans.com which explores the possibilities for the new series.

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Hello 24 fans, long time no talk. Well i’ve posted the odd drip of movie non-news. But now, their is stuff to discuss! So I thought i’d bring my thoughts on the recently announced ’24: Live Another Day’. Read more »

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Second First Impressions

Before I start I want to explicitly state that this blog post should be read only by people who have seen ‘Skyfall‘. It has spoilers from throughout the film and would spoil your experience to read this before watching.

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Recent Articles

2
Mar
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Yes, Prime Minister

Momentum, thats what the key word for this blog, so i’m going to try and cut a lot of my usual waffling pre-amble. This blog is about the New Yes, Prime Minister Series which has just finished showing on Gold. I’ll cut to the end and say overall I was disappointed.

To understand what was wrong with the new show you have to look back at why the original worked so (seemingly) effortlessly well. The original was about machinery, the machinery of whitehall, of government. Jim Hacker, first the Minister and then the Prime Minister tries to put the machinery to good use (to secure his position in cabinet, win votes and to make peoples lives better, in that order). Read more »

7
Feb
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Somebody Has Already Said It Better*

I don’t know which way i’m going, i don’t know which way i’ve come

and all the roads we have to walk are winding, and all the lights that lead us are blinding

no direction home, a complete unknown like a rolling stone

everyone seems to know the score, they’ve seen it all before

i came in from the wilderness a creature void of form

how can I know that and not know who i am?

so let us not talk falsely now the hour is getting late

but all my words come back to me in shades of mediocrity

i offered up my innocence and got repaid with scorn

look at what they make you give

well I know what i’ve been told, gotta break free to break the hold

i wanna know if all you need is love

try imagining a place where it’s always safe and warm

put your hands in your pockets looked away and smiled

 

Slightly different from my usual posts, the above is a poem that I ‘composed’ during a university module on identity. Thought I’d post it up here because it speaks to how much TV, Film & Music can shape the language we use to discuss ourselves and the things around us.

*even that
5
Feb
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House of Cards

I’ve just finished watching all 13 episodes of the new ‘House of Cards’ on Netflix. It’s taken me 4 days. I’m surprised it took me that long. Thats my recommendation in short form but allow me to go into a bit more depth.

First just a bit of background. ‘House of Cards’ was first a book, then a BBC TV Series and now a Netflix original drama starring Kevin Spacey. I saw the original BBC TV show about 2 years ago and loved it, in a ‘how haven’t I heard of this before’ kind of way. It follows the almost Shakespearian anti-hero Francis Urquhart (Underwood in the remake) as he devises a plan to take revenge after the newly elected Prime Minister/President goes back on a promise to make him Secretary of State (citing his influence as Chief Whip being too important to lose with a tight majority) and he sets his sights much higher than the cabinet post he feels was rightfully his. Read more »

29
Dec
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What Films I’ve Been Watching In 2012

After writing up my top ten of 2012, I looked back at it and realised it didn’t include any films. I thought I would correct that, so here is my top ten films of 2012. Thats right, I’m really bending the rules.

10. That film you can’t believe I’ve forgotten/left out.

Released earlier this year, starring thingy from that other thing. Some people didn’t like it but what do they know?

Read more »

15
Dec
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What I’ve Been Watching In 2012

One of the best things about the sadly departed UK DVD Review podcast was the poll William did every year where he encouraged people to email in and rant at him about their favourite DVD of the year. He’d then tally the votes (giving extra points for the better the rant and the more creatively you bent the rules) and then put them into a nice top 10 countdown. Alongside that he’d also give you his top 10 of the year.

It was patently unfair, you got 1 choice, he got 10. I tell you what though, I thought picking just 1 was hard, picking 10 it turns out is 10 times harder. You see i’ve decided that I want to let you know about a load of things in one go, instead of the 1 every 6 months pace i’ve previously being keeping. So i’m doing my version of the end of year top 10. My rules are slightly different to William’s, this is quite simply the top 10 things i’ve been watching on DVD/iTunes/Tivo this year. So lets get started.

Read more »

12
Oct
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First Impressions

Build up to Skyfall has reminded me of my memories of sitting in the cinema watching Casino Royale. Die Another Day had been a bitterly mediocre disappointment, but we were promised a clean break with Daniel Craig, expectations were high. MGM logo, no gun barrel, black and white scene, all very calm, considered. Some clever dialogue intercut with a flash back to earlier tense action. Wasn’t sure what I was seeing, certainly didn’t look and sound like Bond, but it was definitely intriguing. Suddenly the dialogue stops, a double agent neatly dispatched and the earlier action isn’t over. Bond has too put a bullet in his first victim to finish him off, as we cut to a new angle the end of the scene doubles as Craig’s first Bond gun-barrel. Cue the music and a massive smile from me, I’m in I think to myself. The first two or so minutes of Casino Royale show off everything which was great about the film, this was Bond the character and the franchise boiled now to its bare essentials, they’d use what was useful, what had a place. This all continued into the title sequence itself, the silhouetted dancing-girls had gone, the theme tune had a hard self-assured edge to it. A truly terrific first impression. Read more »

28
Jul
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The Dark Knight Rises: Good Film, Great Final Act

Before I start I’m really keen I don’t spoil anything about Rises for anybody who hasn’t seen it (or even colour anyones expectations). So to summarise, i’d highly recommend seeing The Dark Knight Rises in the cinema, but i’d also suggest watching or rewatching both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight before you do.

If you have seen Rises read on for why it’s a much better final act than it is a film, and it’s a pretty damn good film.

Read more »

24
Jul
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Veronica Mars : Thoughts

Previously on Can’t Shut Up About:-

Veronica Mars, I can’t shut up about Veronica Mars, and it’s all Williams fault. But I have to admit that at first I didn’t take to it, and that’s Williams fault as well, he as well cant shut up about it and gave it a lot of praise which it frankly deserved but had be thinking “go on, impress me”, when I sat down to watch the first episode…

If I have convinced you … your homework is to watch as much Veronica Mars as possible so next weeks follow up post makes sense to you.

~ “Veronica Mars – An Introduction”

Last week I waffled on at you about Veronica Mars, telling you to go on, watch, it’s great. I also promised a follow up piece this week. So hopefully you’ve gone away, become a hermit and watched all 3 seasons in a week and you can now read this follow up piece with some understanding of what i’m talking about and without me spoiling anything for you. Yes, for the first time on Can’t Shut Up About i’m going beyond the basic introduction to tell you what I didn’t like and things the reasons I didn’t get into it when I first watched. Read more »

17
Jul
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Veronica Mars : An Introduction

Veronica Mars, I can’t shut up about Veronica Mars, and it’s all Williams fault. But I have to admit that at first I didn’t take to it, and that’s Williams fault as well, he as well cant shut up about it and gave it a lot of praise which it frankly deserved but had be thinking “go on, impress me”, when I sat down to watch the first episode.

It’s my belief that the show is best watched cold, without any preconceived ideas, because so much of the core of the show is best discovered slowly, by yourself as the layers slowly unwrap in front of you.

So if you have heard about Veronica Mars and thought it intriguing, don’t read further, go watch, its great. Read more »

10
Jul
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Mad Men : An Introduction

Mad Men:

A term coined in the late 1950s to describe the advertising executives of Madison Avenue.

They coined it.

If you only watch one fictionalised American 1960s period piece make it Mad Men, no other TV show i’ve seen gets under the skin of the period and the American Dream quite like. From a distance the American Dream has always seemed like some of a enigma, a contradiction. It’s roots in the desire to be free, independent and (financially) self sustaining are hard to argue with, but from the outside looking in it can also look like greed, naked ambition and consumerism wrapped up in patriotism to mask its true meaning.

Is the American Dream achievable? Or is it a mirage? Does achieving it bring happiness or is it all a front, a cover to sell soap flakes? These are all the questions you’ll likely be contemplating whilst watching Mad Men. That Mad Men is able to have all of these questions bubbly just below the surface without it being obvious, or preachy or sounding like a history lecture it what makes the show so remarkable. Read more »