How to spot a Cylon

Adam Levermore-Rich, the guy who designed the really cool Serenity Blue Sun Travel Posters (which used some neat retro styling to make adverts for tourist destinations in the universe of Joss Whedon’s Firefly/Serenity – unusual and very cool) has produced what I think is the first in a new line of ‘propaganda’ posters from the universe of another cult science fiction show, this time the brilliant Battlestar Galactica with the How To Spot A Cylon Poster. Since there are now human-looking Cylons as well as the old toasters this guide could save your life!

Simpsons

Since we were going to see the Simpsons movie on Saturday I thought I’d swing by and get the tickets in the afternoon in case it was busy later, although in the event the auditorium was half full. I think I got the ticket clerk who is either the stupidest or, being kind, perhaps just having one of those days. I tell her I want the 8.45 showing and she says, right, 4.15. No, 8.45, please. She looks a bit confused and then goes, oh, okay (not sure where she got 4.15 from at all, but hey); I tell her I need two tickets, putting one on my cinema pass card, paying for the other on my debit card, handing her both as I do. She takes them and looks at them like she has never seen a plastic card before (bear in mind this cinema has its own card which I use regularly).

I have to explain to her again that I want two tickets for that performance and am paying for one, the other is on my own pass, again waving the cards in front of her so it is pretty obvious visually if she can’t grasp spoken words. She takes them slowly, looks at them uncertainly then picks at her keyboard. So, that would be one ticket and one other ticket – so you really want two tickets? Er, yes, one and one would be two, which is what I’ve asked you for several times now… She did finally get there, although she forgot to ask me which seats we wanted. Jeez, we all have off days, but this girl was slower than a tortoise on Prozac.

And was it worth it after that? Well, no. My friend pointed out one of the biggest problems with the Simpsons movie is that it isn’t really a movie. As with the X-Files movie it is really just a longer than usual episode with a bigger budget, which doesn’t carry a movie. And as with the X-Files movie I have a general dislike of TV shows making a movie version while the series is still running. After the end of the run, as with Firefely or Star Trek, sure, but generally doing a movie when the show is still continuing seems to be to be just a flagrant cash cow. South Park is an exception here as it offered something unusual and different from the series as well as providing a story that worked as a movie. The Simpsons didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, parts of it are funny, there are some scenes that made me laugh, but it doesn’t hold together and overall seemed weak and somewhat futile.

Mind you, I’ve not thought much of the TV episodes either in recent years. I really loved the Simpsons for many years, but the last two or three seasons have been poor; as with the movie they have some scenes which are brilliant but I can’t recall an entire episode which worked for me in the last few seasons, only some scenes, but never an entire episode; magnify that problem by the length of the movie and you have a very poor offering which dilutes the genius of the earlier show. Heresy perhaps to suggest the Simps is past its sell-by date, but it hasn’t worked for me for a while now and the announcement that there would be several seasons more after the weak movie depresses me because it tarnishes the reputation it had during its high water mark. As with the X-Files, good shows need to know when and how to bow out, not just keep milking a tired series for money and so ruining the memories of the earlier, better years (of which there were many). Meantime they are talking about another X-Files movie…

Lily joins Herman

Sad this week to hear about Yvonne De Carlo passing away; she was an extremely attractive starlet in 40s and 50s Hollywood, perfectly matched to the high glamour of that period with her stunning hourglass figure and sultry looks (do a Google image search on her and see what I mean. This was the era of curvy women, no stick figure actresses here!). She played a number of roles as femme fatales and even appeared in Cecil B DeMille’s Ten Commandments epic as Mrs Moses. But it is a Lily Munster, the loving vampiric wife and mother of the Munsters that most of us will know her; Fred Gwynne who played the loveable goof Herman Munster, her screen husband died a number of years back, ironically just as his career was reviving, so in a way I supposed Lily has gone to join Herman.

I love the Munsters; along with the Addams Family they really showed that you could have humour out of traditional horror types without resorting to the frankly cheap and laughable (in the bad, non comedic way) that had been tried by Abbot and Costello, while also satirising bigotry about the way even ‘good’ people react to those different to them and pastiching the traditional family while also championing it. From the Addams and Munsters I picked up Edward Gorey‘s Gothic wonders; they prepped me for the comedy horror of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead and the delights of a number of humorous Gothic comics like Richard Moore’s Boneyard and the works of Tim Burton.

Would we have these works without the Munsters and Addams? I don’t know, but it seems less likely, or at least not the way we did have them. Mostly though I just found them wonderfully funny and indeed I still do; I still watch both shows when they are repeated and never really get tired of them. And Lily Munster and Morticia Addams are still up there with Neil Gaiman’s Death as my favourite Gothic ladies.

The new TV season

January is one of the regular times for British broadcasters to start tantalising us with their new wares, but what new shows can we look forward to for the winter quarter? The Gazette‘s media correspondent has a look:

Who Wants to be Tony Blair? Chris Tarrant hosts a new quiz show where people compete to try and replace our lovely war criminal Prime Minister when he finally succumbs to the inevitable. Questions will be asked and contestants can phone a friend, ask the audience or bribe a businessman with a peerage. Questions will be along the lines of “what will be your policy on Iraq? Is it A) To pull out completely and blame Tony Blair; B) Stay and blame Tony Blair; C) Do whatever the American government tells you and blame Tony Blair or D) Say everything is fine apart from some minor problems which are all the fault of the BBC. Is that your final answer, Gordon?”

Big Bugger. Channel 4 continues to champion the cutting edge of quality reality television as Davina McCall hosts a new live show where a bunch of ‘ordinary’ people live together in a house and indulge in endless anal sex for the cameras while morons text in at £10 a time to vote for who gets the trick exploding dildo. Still more amusing than Big Brother. Sponsored by the British Council For Butter. (yes, that is a cheap Last Tango reference). The Celebrity version will give some Z-list nonentities the chance to do something with their arses other than talking out of them.

Doctor Flu. A new science fiction adventure show in which a group of travellers in time and space destroy entire alien civilisations by travelling to them and introducing germs they have no defence against.

Jane Air. A major new drama from the BBC where a plucky heroine scientist in a man’s world must fight to protect the atmosphere from destruction by pollution from budget airlines while still trying to land the perfect husband but not look to easy in the process.

Easy Money. Jonathan Ross sits and counts the massive fees he gets from the BBC for the cameras while flopping his fringe around in a manner which would be endearingly boyish if he weren’t middle-aged.