Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Episode 13 A Very Nerdy Christmas

Mark and Peter Webber talk about Doctor Who Christmas specials and some of the movies and TV shows they enjoyed in 2012, and an audio feature from listener Suky Khakh on childhood Christmas TV favourites and his picks of the year in TV shows and movies.

Twitter: @nerdologyuk



Mark: @markcockram

Peter: @peterjwebber

Check out this episode!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Episode 12 Comic Books And Gallifrey

Mark is joined by Eric Escamilla from Doctor Who: Mostly Harmless Cutaway and Doctor Who: Prognosis Negative.

Topics up for discussion include comic books, Doctor Who, conventions, Arrow and more!

Podcast Home Page
Twitter: @nerdologyuk


Eric on Twitter: @BullittWHO

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Episode 11 Skyfall/James Bond

Mark and Bill talk about one of 2012's most eagerly anticipated films, Daniel Craig's return as James Bond in Skyfall, and with this year also marking 50 years since Dr. No the first film being released, there are plenty of other Bond based topics covered. Also mentioned are Cockneys Vs Zombies and American Horror Story.
Twitter: @nerdologyuk

Check out this episode!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Christmas Recommendations

Episode 12 of the podcast is due in December, we would love to hear about your Christmas favourites. Are there movies, TV shows or books that have become part of your Christmas tradition?

You can leave feedback here or at or at the facebook page, or you can tweet us @nerdologyuk 

We would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Episode 10 Nerdism

Mark is joined by Peter Webber, up for discussion are The Walking Dead, Survivors, Doctor Who, recons, Big Finish, Just A Minute, collecting and obsessiveness.

There's also some great feedback from Sean, Erik, Declan, John, J.R. and Lee.

Twitter: @nerdologyuk

Check out this episode!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Listener Feedback

Tomorrow (Tuesday 23rd October) we will be recording a podcast about our nerdy obsessions, it would great to here from our listeners, so here's your chance to get your thoughts read out on the show!

What TV shows/Movies/Books/Music are you obsessed with and why?

You can comment on this page or if you prefer to tweet you can find us at @nerdologyuk or on the Facebook page, or you can email us at

If you get your comments to us before 2.30pm UK time tomorrow, there's a good chance of you getting your views read out on the show.

And if you're in the mood to share some more of your thoughts, Mother Who from Talking Who, a live Doctor Who show on YouTube, will be reviewing the Blue Box Podcast soon, and she would like the listeners to describe the show in three words, and again, if you get in touch, you could get a mention during her review. You can leave your feedback at the Blue Box Facebook page (using the link above) or you can email your three word reviews to

Thank you in advance.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Episode 9 Star Wars

Mark, Simon and Lee get together to watch the 1977 sci-fi classic from George Lucas.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Monday, 23 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Review

When Christopher Nolan took on the job of retelling the Batman story the franchise was in tatters.

The last film before Nolan took the reigns, Batman And Robin (1997) took a critical beating, with the then lead actor, George Clooney quoted in The Boston Globe as saying "I think we might have killed the franchise". Although the film still took decent money at the box office Warner Bros. didn't bring back Gotham's protector for another big screen outing until 2005 with Batman Begins.

The critical and commercial success of Batman Begins led to the inevitable sequel in the form of The Dark Knight (2008) which wowed audiences with it's fantastic set pieces and a barnstorming performance from Heath Ledger as Batman's arch nemesis The Joker.

This year sees the release of the last of Nolan's Batman trilogy The Dark Knight Rises, which has a very tough act to follow, not only from its much admired predecessors, but also from the super impressive Avengers Assemble from Marvel Studios.

Christopher Nolan's vision of the Batman universe is one that reflects the concerns of the real world (terrorism, corrupt bankers, the 99% etc.) rather than venturing in to the more fantastical territory preferred by Joel Schumacher. Detractors have criticised this trilogy for being bleak, and I must confess that prior to seeing this latest installment, I had found Avengers Assemble to be a fun and entertaining breath of fresh air in its take on how superheroes can be transferred to the big screen.

With no Joker to antagonise Bats this time around, the villain duties fall to Bane, played by an almost unrecognisable Tom Hardy, and believe me, this guy is no pushover.

It's been eight years since the events of the previous film, and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a recluse, the Batman having taken the blame for the misdemeanours of former district attorney Harvey Dent, in order to create a period of calm and peace in the city of Gotham.

It's been a good eight years for the citizens of the city, due to Dent's legislation being passed the prisons are now full of the scum who had previously thought themselves untouchable. However the arrival of Bane on the scene means Batman must consider coming out of his self imposed exile.

The new additions to the cast work well, and compliment the quality brought to the series by its established ensemble. Anne Hathaway is likeable as Selina Kyle (I don't recall her being referred to as Cat Woman during the film) and you are under no illusion that she could change her allegiance at any point as the balance of power shifts throughout the course of the film.

Tom Hardy as Bane is an intimidating hulk of a man, although I felt his performance was possibly affected by the mask that his character wears, not only because it affects the clarity of his dialogue, which has been tweaked after some grumbling from those who had seen the prologue, but it also obscures his mouth which must make it very difficult for him to convey emotion.

The most impressive of the newcomers in my opinion was Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays police officer John Blake. His character is a minor figure who gets drawn in to the sequence of events unfolding in Gotham. Nothing flashy, but very well acted, and a character that I, as a viewer, could identify with.

As ever in this trilogy the action set pieces are spectacular, and because Batman doesn't possess super powers he must depend upon his intellect, his unarmed combat skills and of course an armoury of incredibly cool gadgets, including some new ones introduced in this final film.

The film is long, clocking in at 165 minutes, but every minute is used well, with no unnecessary padding. It serves as a solid bookend to the series, while it might not have the craziness of The Dark Knight, it succeeds in delivering an epic finale to a truly memorable trilogy.

If Nolan can work such wonders with Batman, just think what he could achieve were he ever given the opportunity to have a crack at James Bond!

One of my must see films of 2012.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Escot Park

My other half Amy and I are both suckers for cute animals, so with a little time on our hands we drove down to Escot Park near Honiton to see if we could get a glimpse of some great British wildlife.

We headed straight for the Red Squirrel enclosure to try and see those cute little critters up close, but after hanging around for quite a while, they were conspicuous by their absence.....

So, we decided to wander off and come back later.

When we returned there were two very cute, and surprisingly small, Red Squirrels.

If you live nearby, or are in the area on holiday, Escot is well worth the trip. As well as the squirrels there are birds of prey and falconry, seahorses, woodland walks, Letterboxing (a kind of treasure hunt) in the beautiful gardens including a maze, and a play area to keep kids amused.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Barrett: The Definitive Visual Guide

Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett was a founding member and singer/songwriter/lead guitarist of Pink Floyd, he even came up with the group's name, mixing together the names of two of his favourite blues artists Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.

Syd's rise to fame came quickly, and after the initial success of early singles Arnold Layne and See Emily Play and the Pink Floyd's debut album The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, his health began to decline. It has been argued that Syd had psychological issues prior to his brush with stardom, but the opinion of those closest to him at the time seems to point toward Syd's increasing use of psychedelic drugs as the cause of his breakdown, not helped by some of his many hangers on lacing his food and drinks with LSD.

After a period of trying to work around Syd's increasingly erratic behaviour, the others in the band decided that they had had enough, so one day en route to a performance they decided not to pick him up, and not long after, Barrett's departure from the band was officially announced.

After his time with Pink Floyd he made a couple of solo albums that offered glimpses of the musical genius he had to offer, but he found performing live increasingly stressful and decided to leave music behind and withdraw from the world of celebrity and stardom altogether.

Returning to his family home in Cambridge to live a quiet and peaceful life (apart from his occasional run ins with the tabloid press and well meaning but over zealous fans) Syd took up painting again which he had dreamed of making his career, before he became obsessed with being a pop star (he also wrote a book about the history of art for his own pleasure, which remains unpublished).

The coffee table book Barrett: The Definitive Visual Guide (published in March 2011) is the most comprehensive collection of Syd's artwork combined with a photographic history of Syd and Pink Floyd.

This large format limited edition book is available in two editions, the classic edition is presented in orange brilianta cloth binding with a green, foil embossed slip case.

The signature edition comes in an orange brilianta bound hinged box with two volumes contained within, volume 1 has over 250 images including more than 100 never seen before this collection was released, plus illustrated letters. Volume 2 is a tan leather bound collection of recently restored photographs taken during rehearsals with Pink Floyd in 1967. This set is signed by the authors and is also signed by one of Syd's siblings and is limited to only 500 copies.

Syd sadly passed away on 7th July 2006. If, like me, you ever felt a connection with Syd Barrett's work, this is a beautifully presented record of one of the 20th century's most iconic and unique artists, a wonderful celebration of a truly remarkable human being.

If you are interested in obtaining a copy the website can be found here

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Podcast Episode 7 Doctor Who Season 7

Mark is joined by Matt Barber to discuss Jon Pertwee's first series of Doctor Who, with a whole bunch of other Doctor Who related topics covered along the way.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Doctor Who Book Club Podcast: The Dying Days

I was thrilled to be asked to do a reading for The Doctor Who Book Club Podcast, which is in my opinion, one of the best podcasts around.

Erik and Sean read the books that were released during the period between the end of the classic series and the beginning of the revived series on television.

Their pick for this month is The Dying Days, by Lance Parkin featuring the Eighth Doctor as played on TV by Paul Mcgann and the character of Bernice Summerfield, who had her own range of books released after this novel was published.

I love their show, and even if you haven't read the books their conversation makes for very entertaining listening.

Erik has appeared twice on the Nerdology podcast discussing I, Claudius and Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist.

If you would like to hear their show follow this link for iTunes:   The Doctor Who Book Club Podcast

Or alternatively you can listen via their web page.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Podcast Episode 6 The Black Hole

Simon Brett and Lee Rawlings from Starburst Magazine's Blue Box Podcast return for another commentary, this time it's Disney's 1979 "space oddity" The Black Hole.

You can hear their Phonic Screwdriver show on and on

For more thoughts on The Black Hole, head on over to the rather fab Andrew Lewin's Taking The Short View.

And be sure to tune in to at 8pm UK time on Friday 29th June to hear the guys discussing this film and much much more......

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Radio Show Live!

Last night I attended the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Radio Show Live at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth.

The original radio cast were in attendance, except for the sadly departed Peter Jones who had provided the voice of the eponymous book.

There was a great atmosphere in the build up to the show, with plenty of Sci-Fi effects being played out from the speaker system in the theatre, and in a very moving moment, there is a distorted sound like an analogue radio being tuned, when the signal becomes clear the voice of Douglas Adams comes through loud and clear, telling anecdotes about the writing of the series and talking about his plans for the movie version.

As Douglas' voice fades away the sound of a vast storm brewing starts emanating from the speakers and the house band walk on to the stage and launch into a rip roaring version of Pink Floyd's One Of These Days, fitting as Douglas was a friend of David Gilmour from the Floyd and also because part of the song drifts off into the Doctor Who theme (which Douglas famously wrote for/script edited).

Once the final notes have died away the band play Journey Of The Sorcerer, the theme used for the show in all of it's many guises.

And when the cast walk on stage they receive warm applause, and although they have advanced in years (haven't we all!) they have aged with grace, their voices still sound as good as ever and the assembled crowd are soon lapping up all the memorable dialogue they know and love from this classic story.

Simon Jones is, in my opinion, the quintessential Arthur Dent, his voice manages just the perfect level of bewilderment and indignation to excellent comic effect. Mark Wing-Davey is as cocky as ever in the role of Zaphod Beeblebrox, his second head and third arm are skillfully provided by a colleague! Geoff McGivern and Susan Sheridan reprise their roles as Ford Prefect and Trillian as though they had never been away from their roles.

Two of my favourite characters are voiced from recordings, Marvin, the paranoid android (voiced by the marvelous Stephen Moore) who appears on stage with the help of a puppeteer. And the demented Agrajag voiced by the late lamented Douglas Adams himself.

The voice of the book is given to a guest actor in each performance, for last night's performance we were treated to the wonderful (and ever so slightly erratic) Rory McGrath. Other guests to provide the voice of the book include: Billy Boyd, Phill Jupitus, Roger McGough, Jon Culshaw, Christopher Timothy, Clive Anderson, Andrew Sachs, John Challis, Hugh Dennis, John Lloyd, Terry Jones and Neil Gaiman.

The supporting cast are fantastic, Toby Longworth doubles as Slartibartfast and Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz with great aplomb. And Andy Secombe and Philip Pope are wonderful in their numerous roles, including the doors of the Heart Of Gold space ship and our mousey overlords Frankie and Benjy.

There are singalong musical numbers, with some very impressive robotic dancing by Mr Longworth! I think this show really exudes the feelgood factor, and the audience are soon swept away by the sheer silliness of this wonderful story.

At the end of the show when the cast came back on stage for their much deserved applause, I thought it was a very neat touch to have a picture of Douglas Adams projected on to the stage, giving everyone there a chance to show their appreciation of him.

If you are a fan of Adams' writing and sense of humour you should really go to one of the dates on this tour, it's zarking amazing!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Podcast Episode 5 Oliver Twist

Mark welcomes back Erik Stadnik from The Doctor Who Book Club Podcast for a second appearance on Nerdology, this time the subject is Charles Dickens' second novel Oliver Twist.

Also up for discussion are the David Lean adaptation from 1948 and the 2003 version "Twist" starring Nick Stahl.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Everton FC Launch New Away Kit (2012-2013 Season)

Everton have revea;ed their new away kit for the upcoming season, this is the first kit from the new 3 year partnership formed with American sportswear giant Nike.

The new kit is Black with Gold detail, and will be available from 23rd June.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

AFI 100 Movies #61 Vertigo (1958)

This one is quite different to Rear Window (AFI #42) another suspense movie, but this time Hitchcock, goes for a more artistic approach compared to the realism employed in Rear Window.

Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak are very good in their leading roles, and Barbra Belle Geddes is also worthy of praise as the overlooked former girlfriend Midge.

If you would like to know more about what I made of this movie and Rear Window, have a listen to episode 4 of the Nerdology podcast.

AFI 100 Movies #42 Rear Window (1954)

I have only seen a few of Alfred Hitchcock's movies, but this has to rate as my favourite of the ones I've seen.

I'm a huge fan of James Stewart, who made quite a number of movies with Hitch, and Grace Kelly along with Thelma Ritter provide wonderful support in their roles. There are some great moments featuring the neighbours who live across from "Jeff's" apartment.

If you would like to know more about what I made of Rear Window, you could always check out episode 4 of the Nerdology podcast, which also covers Vertigo, also directed by Hitchcock.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Podcast Episode 4 Rear Window & Vertigo

Mark is joined by Sam Hemming to discuss two films by legendary English director Alfred Hitchcock.

The Oldham Coliseum Theatre company mentioned in this episode are coming to the end of their tour, but if you're quick you might still be able to catch a performance.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Podcast Episode 3 Shaun Of The Dead

I'm joined by Lee Rawlings and Simon Brett from Starburst Magazine's Blue Box Podcast for a commentary of Edgar Wright's Zom/Rom/Com Shaun Of The Dead.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Starburst Magazine's Blue Box Podcast

It would seem I've been truly bitten by the podcasting bug, within a day of Nerdology Episode 2 finally making it's way online, the first episode of Starburst Magazine's Blue Box Podcast was made available.

The show is a bit more casual than some out there that focus on Doctor Who, it's essentially three (soon to be four) chaps having a chat about the classic series and new Who, with plenty of banter and laughs along the way.

The host of the show is JR Southall, who has been a friend for many years. He writes the Watching Doctor Who segment of the eponymous Blue Box section of the magazine, and has edited a book due out soon from Hirst Publishing called You And Who.

His co-host is Lee Rawlings, Lee has worked in radio for four years and has a way of approaching a subject from a quirky angle, which can lead to some fun conversations.

I think my role on the show is rather different from that of the Nerdology podcast, I'm quite happy to let the other two chat, and will chip in when required with my thoughts on the subject, think Karl Pilkington (but nowhere near as funny!).

From episode four onwards, Simon Brett will be the fourth member of the team. He's an artist and a DJ, and a thoroughly decent chap.

We've recorded four episodes so far with more to follow, the first three were recorded in one sitting, and the sound levels on those initial episodes are a little quiet in places, but thanks to some sparkly new equipment the new episodes are sounding just great! I have made no secret in the past that I'm a huge fan of Radio Free Skaro, if you've listened right through from episode one (yes me too!) you'll know that the early episodes suffered from the odd technical glitch, whereas these days it's very slick, if this show gets anywhere near the wonderous glory that is RFS, I think all concerned would be delighted.

Friday, 13 April 2012

The Damned United (2009)

The Damned United is a semi fictional biopic about English football manager Brian Clough, based on the novel by David Peace, probably best known for his Red Riding quartet of novels.

Michael Sheen, who makes a habit of being cast as real people (Frost Nixon, The Queen, Fantabulosa) does a very convincing job of portraying "old big 'ead".

For those unaware of who Brian Clough was, he was a very talented striker with an incredible scoring record, whose playing career came to a premature end after picking up a bad injury. He went on to be one of English football's most successful managers. He was a very outspoken and eccentric character who was always good for an insightful/controversial/amusing quote.

The film covers the period of Clough's career between 1968 and 1974, the story is told in flashback, starting with Clough's appointment as manager of league champions Leeds United. Going back in time we see Clough's early days in charge of Derby County, then languishing in the second division, they get drawn against Leeds in the cup, and so begins a bitter rivalry between Clough and manager of Leeds at the time Don Revie.

Brian Clough was a man of principal and firmly believed that the game should be played in an entertaining way, whereas Revie, a dour man, didn't care if his team were universally hated for their strong arm tactics and down right cheating as long as they continued to win.

After what Clough perceives as a personal slight against him by Revie, he becomes obsessed with making his team the most successful in England, and so begins a sequence of events which sees some incredible highs and devastating lows.

When Revie is offered the job of England national team manager, Clough risks jeopardising the friendship of his coach Peter Taylor, and his own career, when he accepts the vacancy at Leeds, inheriting a team of players whom he offends from day one, when he tells them they might as well throw their medals in the bin, because they won them by cheating.

The assembled cast are very good, aside from Sheen, there are good performances from Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney and Jim Broadbent. And director Tom Hooper (The King's Speech, Longford) does a great job of capturing the authentic look and feel of England in the 1970s.

I remember seeing Brian on numerous occasions on TV as a kid, and he always stood out from his contemporaries as a supremely eloquent speaker and a unique personality who invariably left his interviewer lost for words.

Even if you don't really know anything about football, it makes for entertaining viewing.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Podcast Episode 2: I, Claudius

In this episode Mark is joined by Erik Stadnik from The Doctor Who Book Club Podcast.

Up for discussion are Robert Graves' seminal books I, Claudius and Claudius The God, and the subsequent award winning BBC television series. 

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Fright Night (2011)

If you have seen the original Fright Night, which was very well received back in 1985, you might look upon this modern remake differently, I hadn't seen it prior to watching this new version so I didn't go in to it with any preconceptions.

Anton Yelchin (Chekov in the Star Trek reboot & soon to be seen in Odd Thomas) plays Charley Brewster, a teenager who is a bit of a nerd and has recently been accepted into a group of "cool" kids. Ed played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse used to be good friends with Charley, but they have drifted apart as Charley has been distancing himself from his former geekery.

Weird stuff begins to happen in their neighbourhood, the boys' schoolmates start disappearing, and someone has moved into the previously vacant house next door to Charley and his mother, there are plenty of signs of someone taking residence, but no one in the street has met the mysterious neighbour.

Ed is convinced that a vampire is hunting down the kids in the neighbourhood and killing them off, which Charley initially laughs off, but he starts to take this theory more seriously when Ed goes missing.
David Tennant as Peter Vincent

Fearing the worst, Charley and his girlfriend attempt to enlist the help of Peter Vincent played by David Tennant, who has a magic show in nearby Las Vegas in which he theatrically dispatches sexy lady vampires. And as it turns out, Charley's problems are closer to home than he first realised....

After the trend for gross out "torture porn" horror movies such as the Saw series, I'm glad to see a return to what I would call "shock horror" (see also The Woman In Black) with plenty of moments that make you jump out of your seat, that's not to say there isn't a fair amount of blood flying around, but not so much that it makes you feel physically ill.

Anton Yelchin is very good, even though he acts like a bit of a dick to Ed (who in fairness is sometimes a bit obnoxious himself), you end up rooting for him. I didn't have a strong opinion either way about Colin Farrell before watching the film, but he was very charming, and suitably creepy as Jerry Dandridge, the neighbour from hell.

For me, the stand out performance was that of David Tennant as potty mouthed Peter Vincent, for those of you acquainted with his portayal of Giacomo Cassanova, it's not a million miles away from that, and he certainly gets the best of the one liners.

There's a good deal of humour in the film, which in my opinion, makes it all the more enjoyable, a real modern day gothic treat.

Monday, 26 March 2012

First Trailer For Doctor Who Series 7 Unveiled

The BBC have released the first trailer for series seven of Doctor Who, which will again feature Matt Smith returning as the eleventh Doctor, and will see the departure of Amy and Rory.

Doctor Who will return to BBC One and BBC One HD in the autumn.


Saturday, 10 March 2012

AFI 100 Movies #26 Dr. Strangelove (1964)

Peter Sellers stars in director Stanley Kubrick's black comedy about nuclear war.

U.S. airforce General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) goes a bit loopy and decides to launch a nuclear assault on the Soviet Union. Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers in one of many roles) is on an exchange programme from the Royal Air Force, and is convinced that the air strike has not been authorised, and sets about trying to halt it.

The aircraft given the mission, goes into attack protocols and blocks off all communication with the outside world, in case the soviets should try to intercept them and try to dissuade them from their mission. There is, however, a secret three digit code which would allow the bomber to receive radio transmissions, a code only known to General Ripper.

What follows is a classic farce with a cold war twist. Sellers also gets to play the president of the United States and the eponymous Doctor Strangelove, a former Nazi scientist, and now scientific advisor to the U.S., with a right arm which involuntarily does a Nazi salute!

Much of the movie is spent showing how completely blinkered and idiotic both sides are. A scene where Mandrake is desperately trying to make a phone call to the president of the United States from a pay phone, but is twenty cents short, and his American colleague, even with the fate of the world at stake, baulks at having to break into a Coca Cola vending machine to get some change, is a perfect example.

There are some movie greats amongst the assembled cast, apart from Mr Sellers, there's George C Scott as General Buck Turgidson, James Earl Jones (yes, the voice of Darth Vader) as the Bombardier on board the B52 bomber and a memorable performance from Slim Pickens as Major T. J. (King) Kong.

One tends to think of Stanley Kubrick as a very serious film maker, and of course the subject matter of this film is deadly serious, the humour is handled very deftly, here below, is probably my favourite scene in the film:

As for the finale, it is probably one of the most iconic images of 20th century cinema.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The Woman In Black (2012)

I'm not going to go into too much detail about the plot of this movie as I think it deserves to be seen without knowing too much before hand.

Daniel Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a widower with a young child, who is struggling to come to terms with his bereavement and jeopardising his career as a consequence.

He is given one last chance by his employer, and if he messes up, he's fired. He is sent to a remote village in the north of England to clear up the paperwork pertaining to the estate of the recently deceased Alice Drablow, whose former home is situated on an island off the coast, which is only accessible at low tide.

The locals aren't exactly friendly, and young Mr Kipps ends up spending a lot of time alone in a very creepy deserted house.......

So, how does Daniel Radcliffe fare in his first film since the end of the Harry Potter franchise?

I have to say, I really liked it. As horror films go, it sits in the "Boo! made you jump" category, which makes a pleasant change from the recent trend for "torture porn" flicks. Radcliffe puts in a good performance, my only minor criticism is that he seems a fraction too young to play a widower, although as my wife pointed out, in that period people didn't live as long as they do now, and a great many women died in childbirth that may have survived had modern medical technology been available.

The supporting cast are weird and wonderful, Ciaran Hinds as Sam and Janet McTeer as his unstable wife Elizabeth are very entertaining, I loved the scene at dinner, with the twins. I was also pleasantly surprised to see Jessica Raine, who plays Jenny in the BBC's Call The Midwife, in the role of Joseph Kipps' nanny.

The eponymous woman in black is used sparingly, and used well, by director James Watkins, in the first high profile release from the newly resurrected Hammer films, after the fairly low profile releases of Let Me In (eloquently reviewed by Andrew Lewin over at Taking The Short View), The Resident and Wake Wood. The visual style harks back to the classic Hammer films, given a modern twist by today's special effects. Hammer is back, and in some style!

If you are after chills and thrills, this could be just the thing you're looking for.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Doctor Who: U.N.I.T. Files Box Set

This box set has a slightly less tenuous connection when compared to, say, the Earth Story box set from 2011.

The set consists of two classic series stories: Invasion Of The Dinosaurs from 1974 with Jon Pertwee and Lis Sladen, and The Android Invasion from 1975 with Tom Baker as the Doctor with Lis Sladen again.

Invasion Of The Dinosaurs is quite a fun story, the effects are a little bit wobbly in places, but the plot has some neat twists.

This is Elisabeth Sladen's second story, and she seems very assured in the role of Sarah Jane Smith.

It also features our first glimpse of the third Doctor's new car, the Whomobile. He has obviously decided that Bessie was a little incongruous while driving around the streets of London, and therefore decided to drive something a little more low key!

Mike Yates and Sergeant Benton get their opportunity to be a little more centre stage in this story compared to most U.N.I.T. episodes, this being Richard Franklin's almost swan song, before returning one last time in Jon Pertwee's final adventure Planet Of The Spiders.

This DVD release features a version of episode 1 with the option to view it with colour restoration, this however, isn't quite up to the very high standards set by the restoration team on Planet Of The Daleks, but if you really can't stand black and white programmes this option is for you.

In terms of extras, it's pretty well served: There is a commentary with Richard Franklin, Peter Miles, Richard Morris, Terrance Dicks and Paddy Russell, moderated by Toby Hadoke. And John Levene does a 10 minute mini commentary on his own.

There is a very entertaining making of documentary, an interview with Elisabeth Sladen, a clip from Billy Smart's Circus featuring Jon Pertwee and the Whomobile, deleted scenes, Now And Then revisiting the locations used during filming, Radio Times listings, info text, a photo gallery and an Easter egg.

Although I much prefer Tom Baker's take on the role of the Doctor, The Android Invasion is, in my opinion, the weaker of the two stories, that's not to say there is nothing to enjoy about it.

There are plenty of twists and turns in the plot to keep you guessing, for me what lets it down a little, are the Kraals, who I don't think were particularly well realised, coupled with one or two notable plot holes. But Tom and Lis are on good form which helps to bring the viewer back on side.

In terms of VAM (value added material) this DVD has a commentary featuring Milton Johns, Martin Friend, Marion McDougal and Philip Hinchcliffe, again moderated by the erstwhile Toby Hadoke.

The Village That Came To Life is a very interesting making of documentary presented by the voice of the Daleks from the new series, Nicholas Briggs. Life After Who is a look back at the career of producer Philip Hinchcliffe, featuring clips from many classic British television programmes.

There is a TV advert for Weetabix breakfast cereal, featuring collectable Doctor Who games, which I have vague childhood memories of. There are Radio Times listings, info text, a photo gallery and an Easter egg.

Both stories have their issues, but dedicated Doctor Who fans will be able to see past them and enjoy these two memorable tales from the U.N.I.T. Files.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

AFI 100 Movies #10 Singin' In The Rain (1952)

I must confess, I have been putting off watching the musicals in the AFI 100 list, as I'm not really a fan of the genre.

In this film's favour, there's a lot of humour, and the dance routines are nothing short of spectacular.

Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor & Debbie Reynolds are all very likeable in their roles, and Jean Hagen is very good as the squeaky voiced drama queen Lina.

My personal highlights are the routine for the title song, and the drop dead gorgeous Cyd Charisse in the  Broadway Melody section.

I'm still not sold on musical films, but this is one of the better ones that I've seen.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Muppets (2012)

In a break from the theme of the latter muppet movies, The Muppets is an original story, rather than an adaptation of a classic novel, which, as much as I love The Muppets Christmas Carol, was a wise move in introducing these wonderful characters to a whole new generation of movie goers.

Thankfully the creative team decided not to go for a basic reboot, choosing instead to acknowledge that the old gang hasn't been around for a long time, getting close to fading into obscurity.

Gary (Jason Segel) and Walter (Peter Linz) are brothers who grow up watching the muppet show on TV, fast forward several years, and they're still living together in Small Town, Gary has planned a vacation in Los Angeles with his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams), to celebrate their 10th anniversary, and Walter is invited too, as he has always wanted to visit the muppet studios.

This would all seem a bit odd, if it weren't for the fact that Walter is himself a muppet. Now, I don't want to put images in your head, but was one of their parents human & the other a muppet? and if so, was it Mum or Dad? either way I suppose felt is a soft material!

The long and short of the plot is that an evil oil magnate, Tex Richman, plans to knock down the old muppet theatre in order to drill for oil, and the only hope the muppets have in stopping him is to get the old gang back together and perform one last muppet show in order to raise the $10 million needed to stop his evil plans.

The film really goes back to their roots, allowing them to do what they do best, they bring all the usual muppety goodness to the fore, they're funny and not averse to a bit of lampooning, there are some great songs, which as someone who doesn't really appreciate musicals, is really saying something. There are also some very emotional points in the film, which play out really well, I must be getting soft in my middle age!

The humans in the cast are very good, Jason Segel, who I've seen in the occasional episode of How I Met Your Mother, is a very good lead actor (he also co-wrote the script, and in various reports nagged the studio into making the film). Amy Adams is perfectly cast as Mary, she gets a chance to do her own song and dance number, and does it very well (great legs!). Chris Cooper, who I've only seen in one other movie (American Beauty) is fantastic as Tex Richman *maniacal laugh*.

A muppet film wouldn't be a muppet film without an array of stars making cameos, and the film doesn't disappoint on that score, I won't reveal who they are, as I feel that there is a certain joy to be had from spotting them as you watch the movie.

I grew up watching the muppets as a kid, and this certainly brings it all back, and although it is a bit of a nostalgia-fest, there is enough here for kids of any age to enjoy without having to know anything about the muppets' previous exploits.

One final thought, if you're ever headed out towards Reno, don't get suckered into seeing the moopets by mistake.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Panasonic RRXS400 Digital Audio Recorder Review

As a fledgling podcaster, a lot of the recordings that I make will be at home, which my trusty Blue Snowball microphone can handle with ease. However when you need to go out and about in order to record, it's not always practical to be carrying laptops and microphones with you.

There are many digital audio recorders out there in the marketplace, I opted for this model, as I work at a Panasonic dealer, and have found the quality of their recorders over the years to be very good.

This recorder stands out from the entry level models in the range as it offers extra functionality and a higher standard of recording quality compared to the basic recorders.

The RRXS400 has numerous recording modes, giving MP3 quality ranging from 32kbps to 320kbps or the option to record in linear PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) for higher quality again, with 44.1kHz and 48kHz recording modes on offer.

Of course recording in higher quality takes up more recording memory, the internal 2GB memory can store up to 3 hours of recording in PCM 44.1kHz mode and up to 135 and a half hours in 32kbps mode. If you want to expand the memory there is a micro SD card slot that allows for up to 16GB of extra recording space to be added.

The recorder has a built in stereo microphone, and there are line in and headphone jacks for connecting to external devices. The RRXS400 also has a USB connector (which also acts as a charger) to enable copying to and from a Mac or PC, as the machine supports WMA and MP3 playback it also doubles up as a music player.

There are options to edit on the recorder itself, which might be handy, you can divide, join and erase segments, but I think I prefer editing on the Mac.

Having had a brief play with it, I am really impressed with recording quality, it's hard to judge the recording quality through the recorder's in built loudspeaker, but when played back on the computer the results are excellent.

This will be a very handy little gadget to take when I have to travel in order to get my footage, and at £49.99 I think it's a real bargain.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

The House Of Silk By Anthony Horowitz

I purchased the audiobook as I was intrigued by the idea of a new adventure for Holmes and Watson, endorsed by the Conan Doyle Estate, and I anticipated an entertaining reading by Sir Derek Jacobi. I was not to be disappointed.

A new client arrives at 221b Baker Street, art dealer Edmund Carstairs, who engages the services of Holmes and Watson to track down a sinister man who has been following him, whom he fears is out to kill him.

They agree to take on the case and are soon drawn into a series of events, involving the criminal underworld of London and the organised crime gangs of Boston.

As they try to uncover the mystery before them they hear mention of the house of silk, and when Holmes starts asking questions he risks becoming embroiled in a conspiracy of epic proportions.

I have to come clean and admit that I haven't read any of Arthur Conan Doyle's novels, so I can't comment on whether Mr Horowitz has captured the spirit of the original stories. I can however confirm that he can write a very compelling story which will keep you engrossed from start to finish.

Now I'm not sure if I can put myself up there with the genius of Mr Holmes, but I did manage to identify the evil doers very early on, but that did not lessen my enjoyment of the story.

Sir Derek Jacobi is a national treasure as far as I am concerned, and he does a wonderful job of reading this captivating tale, doing a great job with the various characters giving them their own unique personalities.

I sincerely hope that this will not be the only Sherlock Holmes book by Anthony Horowitz as it has been a revelation, and has encouraged me to seek out Arthur Conan Doyle's novels and short stories, and experience more of the adventures of the world's most famous consulting detective.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Whip It (2009)

Whip It is the directorial debut of Drew Barrymore, and centres around Bliss Cavendar, played by Ellen Page (Inception, Juno, Hard Candy) who is a bright seventeen year old, who is being smothered by her overbearing, if well meaning mother (Marcia Gay Harden).

Her mother wants her to take part in beauty pageants and other such girly pursuits like her younger sister, but she's just not interested. Bliss and her friend Pash (Alia Shawkat) are determined to get away from the small town in which they live.

Bliss picks up a flyer for a roller derby (an all girl team sport with racy outfits and larger than life nicknames) in Austin, and the girls decide to attend, telling Bliss' parents that they're going to a football game as they're sure that her mum and dad won't approve. Bliss is entranced by the action and decides to try out for the Hurl Scouts team, who have never won a match in all the time they have been in the league.

Needles to say she keeps her skating activities a secret from her parents, which leads to some entertaining drama.

Drew Barrymore's directorial debut is written by Shauna Cross, based on her novel Derby Girl. The ensemble cast is great with Page, Barrymore, Juliette Lewis, Alia Shawkat and Kristen Wiig particularly standing out.

Barrymore deftly manages to balance the dramatic and the comedic elements of the story, something she is she manages very easily in her acting too. The action sequences are shot in a very exciting and realistic way, and the women are portrayed as smart, tough and at times vulnerable, but never weak.

This had been sitting in our LOVEFiLM rental list for quite some time, and if this movie is anything to go by Drew Barrymore's next film will be going to the top of the list.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Tom Baker's Big Start For Big Finish

As an occasional purchaser of Big Finish audio CDs I was very excited when it was announced that Tom Baker had, after many years of cajoling, agreed to reprise the role of the fourth Doctor in a new series of audio plays.

The first release is Destination Nerva penned by Nick Briggs, which sees The Doctor and Leela travel to Space Dock Nerva, later to become Nerva Beacon as seen in several stories from season 12 of the classic series on TV.

It's a fun, pacey affair with plenty of spooky moments too, which fits in with the way the show was made during the Phillip Hinchcliffe era.

Among the guest stars is Raquel Cassidy (best known to British viewers as Susan in Teachers alongside Andrew Lincoln from The Walking Dead) seen recently in The Rebel Flesh and The Almost People from series 6 of Nu Who.

As if that wasn't enough Big Finish have also released a Lost Stories box set, featuring two stories originally intended to be made during the original classic series, which for one reason or another never made it to our screens.

I haven't listened to The Valley Of Death yet, but a review wil appear here as soon as I have! The other story in the set is The Foe From The Future (eventually replaced on TV by Robert Holmes' classic story The Talons Of Weng Chiang) originally written by Robert Banks Stewart, and adapted by John Dorney. This is my favourite story so far, with plenty of Tom's trademark wit, and a plot that drives along nicely.

Tom and Louise effortlessly step back into their roles, and the chemistry is fantastic between them. If you have a nostalgic longing for this era of Doctor Who, and you've never checked out a Big Finish audio play this could well be the one to get you on board.

The Fourth Doctor Adventures are available to order from

Saturday, 14 January 2012

New Adventures In Podcasting

Well, the blog feed has been a bit quiet of late, because I have been getting together a podcast which will focus on the kind of things I write about here.

The first episode focuses on Doctor Who, I have a chat with J.R. Southall from Starburst magazine about his new book You & Who available from Miwk Publishing here with 100% of author's royalties going to the BBC's Children In Need charity.

Also up for discussion are Moffat Vs RTD, Sherlock & fanzines. If you like what you hear there is an option to subscribe through the player, and the podcast feed is also available via iTunes.