November 2008

The British Mars Exploration Programme

Marsipan is a stop motion series created and produced totally independently by Nikolay Moustakov and Liz Rosenthal with the help of a great team of collaborators, Nathaniel Tapley, Brian Kelly, Tom Russell, Nils Kloth and Lynne Pritchard, just to mention a few.

Their latest mission, Mission Striker is online now at aniboom and it manages to be both cute and funny. Go check it out.

Found at the StarWreck blog.

Another Remake: Day of the Triffids

Having decided already that the Survivors remake is a huge success, the BBC has announced plans to remake The Day of the Triffids.

My immediate reaction to this was less that enthusiastic, not least because I have been quite disappointed with Survivors so far. The first episode was over-long, too glossy and badly let down at the end by a potentially very hackneyed coda. The second episode felt like an hours worth of filler.

On reflection, I still think this is a bad idea:

Updating the sci-fi tale for modern audiences, the two-part drama revolves around a hunt for alternative sources of energy after the worlds fossil fuel supply runs out.

First of all, Im not convinced that the story needs updating. Its a classic tale of civilisation collapsing and a look at how the survivors might start to rebuild their society. Granted, if the BBC were planning to make a grittier adaptation that stuck closer to the novel than the 1981 series, then this might be a good idea.


Bringing a further terrifying dimension to the drama, the Triffids will also be recreated in high definition for viewers with HD televisions.

I have a nasty feeling that the producers are planning something glossy and mainstream that will look a bit dated almost as soon as the filming ends.

Lloyd Kaufman Defines Media Consolidation

Lloyd Kaufman, Chairman of the IFTA, delivers a speech on media consolidation and the dangers it poses to independent art.

Ironically, I found this YouTube video by way of Kaufmans MySpace blog.


The first episode of the BBCs remake of their 30 year old SF series aired last night and – for the first time in a long time – I sat down to watch it. It wasn’t a bad start to the series but nor was it a great one.

There is a tendency these days to respond to any news of a remake to ask why bother. It’s a bit of a kneejerk response to assert that anything that was worth seeing the first time around should just be screened again and to assume that anything being remade was worth seeing the first time around. While it’s true that many remakes are dire, the approach does have value if the remakers have something new to say with the existing story.

The idea of a virus wiping out most of the population is certainly still resonant and it’s a theme that has been returned to many times in TV, film, novels and elsewhere. So I’m not sure why they felt the need to spend so long setting it all up.

The first half hour of this 90 minute episode is spent introducing the characters and explaining the background. The problem is that we already know the background and, with post apocalyptic fiction such as this, it’s the characters’ actions after the event that is interesting, not the constant reminders of their otherwise normality.

That said, once Abby Grant (Julie Graham) wakes up in her nice suburban home to discover that everyone else is dead things do start to pick up quite nicely. We are introduced to the major characters – again – as they encounter each other in the remarkably tidy wasteland in which everyone drove home and parked properly before suddenly dropping dead.

The programmes did manage a few moments of real tension, but on the whole it all felt a bit too glossy. We’re told about how horrific a city full of dead bodies might be, but what we see is a small group of people driving around on completely deserted roads. But the real clanger was a remarkably silly coda that hints at a very hackneyed (sub-)plot revolving around evil government conspiracies and all the attendant stereotypes.

Although this first episode had its moments it did feel a lot more like an extended prologue than anything else. I am intending to catch episode 2 but I really do hope that things improve from here on in.

Tex Avery meets National Geographic

Minuscule is a fusion between the documentary style of National Geographic and the universe of Tex Avery in which animated insects experience their adventures against a background of real-world sets. The films are short, dialogue-free and very, very funny.

Inevitably enough, plenty of these films have turned up online and you can also subscribe to the sites RSS feed and download the much prettier MP4 clips. And dont forget to check out the DVD for over four hours of comedy genius.

Via BoingBoing

William Shatner responds to the new Star Trek trailer

(Found @james_gunn)

Monty Python looks on the bright side of YouTube

Tired of being ripped off over the past three years on YouTube, the Monty Python team has finally taken action by setting up their own channel on YouTube (via Slashdot).

No more of those crap quality videos youve been posting. Were giving you the real thing - HQ videos delivered straight from our vault.

Whats more, were taking our most viewed clips and uploading brand new HQ versions. And whats even more, were letting you see absolutely everything for free. So there!

And in return, all they are asking is that you click on the links and buy the films and TV shows. And you cant say fairer than that.

John Williams is the man

Born February 8, 1932, John Williams is an American composer, conductor and pianist. In a career that spans six decades, Williams has composed many of the most famous film scores in history, including all but one of Steven Spielbergs feature films, Star Wars, Superman, Jaws, E.T., Born on the Fourth of July, Harry Potter, and more. In short, if youve watched any films at all over the past thirty years, then you will have heard a John Williams score. Even if you havent seen the films, the music is so iconic that you will probably recognise it anyway.

Now go and check out this tribute from Moosebutter.

Steer a course for a brave new world

According to the description on Amazon, Chumbawumbas The Boy Bands Have Won is gentle and warm in tone but caustic in intent. After having heard Charlie (via Pharyngula), I can well believe it.

How stuff works: The lightsabre

Have you ever wondered how lightsabres worked? Probably not, but this article (via Slashdot) is worth taking a look at if you want a quick smile at a bit of 2005 era japery.

Alternatively, you can catch up with the YouTube generation and follow the Everyday Dark Lords household uses for a lightsabre.