Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Thumbcast and Theme Tunes

I’ve been remiss. I’ve made a mistake. I’ve assumed you all follow my twitter account. Not all of you do because you’re backwards or something. So let me tell you about my work with The Thumbcast...

I’m currently posting a bi-weekly feature on The Thumbcast called One Season Wonders. I watch (hopefully good) shows that lasted for only one series/season and praise them. I'm enjoying meandering through the wasteland of cancelled television and miniseries so take a look at something that isn't me moaning about Torchwood or Doctor Who games that bore me to tears.

Obviously you should also listen to the podcast itself and read the other posts on there too. Such as failed pilot series, The Pilots That Crashed and other entertaining bits and pieces. You should also pop along and vote for your favourite things of 2011 in The Thumbcast Awards.

There’s one other thing you can do there, you can vote for theme tunes to be placed on The Thumbcast Album. It will be an album containing the greatest theme tunes known to man from all decades. In order to get the ball rolling I’ve come up with a list of a few tunes I’d like to see on it:











Just a few suggestions, I'm sure you'll be eager to head over to The Thumbcast and add your thoughts. GO GO GO.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Doctor Who - The Gunpowder Plot

The Doctor and some Guy.

Hello again, today I would like to tell you all about the latest Doctor Who Adventure Game, The Gunpowder Plot. I have covered all the other games in this series so now it’s time for me to produce my usual report on both game and story. I’ll split the review into two halves so first up is a review of the game itself...

The Game

Oh dear. It’s been almost a whole year since the last Adventure Game (the Vashta Nerada based Christmas episode) and surely the time has been spent evaluating the series so far and devising ways to make the game more fun? Less... crap? No it has not.

You may not remember my previous grumbles about this series and the inherent problems I’ve had with the game mechanics, and the general competency of the design. Let me remind you of the ways in which previous Doctor Who Adventure Games have offended me:

1. Stealth sections. Bloody stealth. Doctor Who is not Solid Snake or Rikimaru, he’s the Doctor, a stumbling, loud, talky man. The Adventure Games love to include stealth sections that are usually too tough for kids and too frustrating/boring for manchildren like me.

2. Time limit finishes where precision and timed button presses are essential, neither of which are possible given that controlling the characters feels like driving a hovercraft full of eels through a pool of extra slippy custard.

3. Mini games that are boring and frustrating. The previous games decided to recreate the Doctor’s habit of bashing gadgets together out of bits of junk by forcing you to play tiresome min games, the worst being the steady hand game. The game that can be found at the fair where if you touch the wire with your metal loop there’s a loud buzzing noise and you lose. It is the worst game.

4. Lots of running down corridors. Okay, this is a Doctor Who tradition but it doesn’t mean that I want to spend my time up and down the same bloody sets like poor old Colin Baker in Mindwarp.

So after almost a year to clear up the mistakes in past games I was expecting an improvement, what I got instead was a neutered version of the same frustrating mess. The good news is that the mini games are infrequent and largely painless, the hateful wire game has gone and is replaced with a simple connect the shapes puzzle. It’s pretty easy and not frustrating – great for kids and good for someone who just wants to get through the story. So although the mini games are still there, they’re largely painless and irrelevant. Hurray. Still, it would be nice not to have them at all.

And that’s the only positive.

The stealth section is present again, only this time the setting appears to be the traditional computer game staple of a bloody sewer. Not only do you have to play through a risible stealth section (now with added stealth ‘kills’) but you have to do it in a series of brown corridors. Fun. The stealth section is also overlong and repeated twice. Plodding slowly behind dim-witted aliens does not make for excitement or tension, it fosters boredom.

The traditional adventure game puzzles are incredibly easy and come across as half hearted. The good news is that it’s almost impossible to get stuck as almost all the puzzles can be solved with the sonic screwdriver or the psychic paper. The bad news is that it removes any thought or challenge to the puzzles. You'll often find an item but then realise that it’s the solution to the puzzle you’re about to encounter in the same area. Again, good for young children, bad for anyone who wants to put their brain to use. Still, I did find it funny that over the course of the game Amy manages to make use of the various remnants of a Chinese meal she keeps in her pocket.

The animation is appalling, everyone runs like the T-1000 in Terminator 2 and the water effects are awful. The game looks like it was developed 10 years ago, if you play the game at the default Medium graphics quality then Rory is a nightmare creature - a being spawned from beyond with fronds for hair and black liquid eyes. If you want to change any of the graphics settings you have to close down the game. There is no option to restart, you have to close down and restart the game manually - the game does not prompt you to do this either. I would also like to mention the incredibly bizarre bug I encountered during installation where for some reason the installer would hang for 20 minutes and then commence installation. I wasn’t the only one to have this problem and it took a trip to the official site to figure out why the installer wasn’t working.

Rory would like you to join him... IN HELL.


The game itself is terrible, the novelty of playing as the Doctor, Amy, and Rory soon wears off and you find yourself wondering how much time you’ve wasted watching poorly implemented cutscenes and listening to poor voice acting. Again it seems that there is little direction for the actors as even the normally excellent series regulars sound flat and unconvincing.

These complaints are nothing I haven’t already mentioned in previous reviews and it seems these problems will never be resolved. This is a tragedy, there was a chance here to create something truly special for the Doctor Who audience but the ball was dropped, rolled down a hill, and landed in an open sewer.

The Story

Enough moaning about the game, what’s the story like?

It’s actually not bad once you get past the crappy game mechanics and the tedious running through dull corridors and city streets. The Doctor crashes his TARDIS into another ship after escaping a horde of angry medieval Chinese warriors that Amy and Rory had managed to annoy. 'Dimensional lesions' begin to appear in the TARDIS itself and the Doctor tracks more lesions to Earth. The TARDIS crash lands in 17th Century London on the 5th November 1605 and the Doctor and crew stumble across Guy Fawkes and his co conspirators, who are led by a strange woman with glowing green eyes...

It transpires that the Doctor crashed into a Rutan ship (Horror of Fang Rock) and stranded a crew of Rutans under the streets of 17th Century London. The Rutans want to blow up Parliament so that the explosion can propel their ship off Earth (yeah... what?). It’s not long before the Sontarans arrive to stop the Rutans and take the Rutan’s genocide device. It seems the Rutans were travelling to Sontar to destroy the Sontaran race with a viral bomb. The Sontarans want to get their hands on this bomb so they can reverse engineer it and use it to destroy the Rutan race.

After a lot of running up and down corridors and avoiding Rutan and Sontaran patrols, the Doctor saves Parliament by transporting it into space and recreating his anti-Dalek weapon from Remembrance of the Daleks and modifies it to fight off the Rutans.

Eventually the Doctor reverse engineers the bomb to destroy the Rutans and gives a spare bomb to the Sontarans so that both races have the power to wipe each other out. The aliens, having reached a stalemate, decide to leave Earth alone and continue their war elsewhere (or later on one side will probably steal the other side's bomb and then detonate the genocide device). The Doctor then returns Parliament to Earth and leaves Guy Fawkes to be captured by the authorities.

The problem with the story is that it is constantly interrupted by the game itself and by heavy handed educational dialogue. “Hello, my name is Guy Fawkes, my favourite colour is green and I had liver and onions for dinner. I hope to blow up Parliament with my barrels of gunpowder. I hope I don’t get caught because the punishment of the time is to be pecked to death by a duck.” This pretty much happens every time you speak to one of the conspirators. I love history and I’m always interested in the stories of historical figures but the presentation in this game is sorely lacking, it's like having a textbook read aloud to you.

I remember an old collectible series called Discovery that had a Guy Fawkes special, it had wonderful posters and educational facts and stories behind the Gunpowder Plot. Hanging those posters on my wall was more fun than playing this game.

The BBC has released some educational material for schools to go hand in hand with the game. I hope the kids have fun with the PDFs 'cos the game will bore them to tears.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Halloween-O-Thon Part The Third

Hello there, I hope you are having fun tonight. I am busy constructing an elaborate bucket-of-fish-heads trap for the local trick or treaters. They love it when they ring the doorbell and 10 pounds of mackerel rains down on their heads. Their cries and squeals of delight can be heard for miles.

Now let me tell you about one of my favourite scary films.

The Thing

The Thing is magnificent, possibly John Carpenter's greatest film - sod Halloween, The Fog, Escape From New York, and In The Mouth of Madness because The Thing is better than all of them. In fact, The Thing combines the best parts of the other films to make a fantastic whole. The stalking suspense of Halloween, the implacable weather conditions of The Fog, the coolness of having Kurt Russell acting all anti-heroic, and the paranoia and creeping fear of In The Mouth of Madness.

Look, watch this and you'll see that even the trailer is great.



"Man is the warmest place to hide."

*Shudder*

Much like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the real horror of The Thing, is the loss of self. The thought that a creature could take your body, your personality, your being, your form and parade around in your skin, living your life. The victims of The Thing are perfect duplicates, the facsimiles retain memories and personality, nothing gives them away until it's too late.

Of course for those who don't consider identity theft a horrific idea, there's always the fact that The Thing can shapeshift into millions of hideous forms and kill you with pseudopods, teeth and alien ejaculate.

The film is set in a remote outpost, cut off from civilization and surrounded by harsh weather conditions. There is no escape from the alien terror, no safe haven to hide within, no outside help to call in to remove the problem. The desolate surroundings add to the air of encroaching hopelessness, of a land howling in pain and wanting to scrub itself of this alien infection.

Plus Kurt Russell is fantastic in this film. Snake Plissken and Jack Burton are cartoon (anti)heroes, RJ MacReady is a more rounded, everyman character. MacReady is clearly someone who has seen horror before, his matter of fact demeanour with each new crisis suggests someone who has seen horror and conflict. He's also a man with little remorse or love for his fellow cabin mates. I have a theory about MacReady, it's not a clever one but I think he was a Vietnam veteran. He's a helicopter pilot, he's sullen to the point of being anti-social (hell, he lives in a shack away from the rest of the men), he's a drinker, and he knows how to handle a weapon and explosives. For MacReady the paranoia in the research base is probably very similar to the constant fear of time spent in the jungles of Vietnam. That's just my theory anyway. Not ground breaking or particularly insightful but I think Russell's performance does give some depth to the character that isn't in the script.

I was fortunate enough to see The Thing in the cinema last year. There were two showings over one evening, both sold out. It was amazing to view the film on the big screen with a packed audience cringing and shifting uncomfortably during the quiet periods and reacting with yelps and cries of horror during the gory action sequences.

The Thing is a film that should live on your shelf, slowly absorbing the other DVDs into its collective and making them dance for its own amusement.

No I don't know what I meant by that last part either.

Halloween-O-Thon Part The Second

Hope you're enjoying the evening so far, please avoid the apples, I hear they have raisins in them.

Sorry, razors.

Here is Limmy off that Limmy's Show with his own scary story.

Halloween-O-Thon Part The First

Hello, it's Halloween night so I thought I'd share some of the scariest videos and posts with you. First up is this bone chilling tale from a very young Stephen Fry.

Brace yourself for the horror that is, The Letter.

Friday, 28 October 2011

THE COSMIC TERROR DOWN AT FRAGGLE ROCK by HP Lovecraft

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Web Snark - Torchwood: Web of Lies



Today I was reminded by Rob Buckley that Starz commissioned a Torchwood webseries starring Eliza Dushku. At the time the news was too terrible to contemplate so I blanked it from my mind, but now I have been reminded of it, I must see it. You can watch it too. JOIN ME. Go on, watch it and then come back for some of my thoughts.



That was terrible wasn't it? I mean, really bad. The animation is awful, like something from a flash video from ten years ago. The artwork varies wildly in quality from frame to frame, it seems that whoever is responsible is trying to ape Bryan Hitch without actually being any good. Gwen in particular varies in appearance from frame to frame, just watch how her nose changes shape.

Speaking of Gwen, Eve Myles destroys Eliza Dushku. Eliza's performance is the usual comatose, emotionless reading that she usually delivers. A particular highlight being when she can't muster any kind of strong emotion at the news of the 'death' of her brother. She sounds like she's burnt the toast rather than suffered the loss of a loved one. Eve, to her credit, gives her usual full on Gwen performance.

There's supposed to be an intriguing mystery behind it all as Gwen's scenes are set in 2007 whereas Eliza's character is living through the Miracle Day. Jack is kidnapped but there's no suspense as we all know that he's fine when Miracle Day begins. Plus, who really believes that anything of any real consequence will happen to the main characters in a webseries that only managed 30,000+ views since its release (as of today)?

The blessing is that the episode is only four minutes long so at least it doesn't take up too much of your time. The frightening thing is that the rest of the series is only available on iTunes but someone who was dedicated/insane filmed their PC and put the videos up on YouTube. I believe there are ten episodes in total, you would have to send me real cash money to make me watch more than the first episode. I'm talking upwards of an English pound.

Friday, 14 October 2011

The Mosquito Song - An Interview About A Book With ML Kennedy


Hello, sometimes I read books, you know those paper things with all the pages and writing in them. I usually don't review them because between my gaming, watching TV, and posting stupid recaps, it takes me weeks to read a novel. I love books though, I'm just neglectful in my affections. Why am I waffling on about books? Well, someone has knocked on the door of Snark and Fury Towers, book in hand, asking to be let in and take up a moment of your time.

Let's see what he has to say for himself...

Who are you and what are you doing here?

I'm ML Kennedy. I'm here to shill my book, The Mosquito Song.  I mean, I’m here to talk about my work of literature in a dignified manner. Really, though, you should all buy it. It’s easy to read and it comes with a free short story!

What is your book about?

The Mosquito Song is about what it means to be human when we are given the ability to push the boundaries of what one might consider human. Or, less pretentiously, it is about a vampire who travels to Chicago to solve a mystery after being accosted at a grocery store near Buffalo, New York. 

What makes your vampire story unique within the genre? 


The Mosquito Song is different from other vampire stories in that it is completely bereft of supernatural elements. Other vampire stories try this thing, but usually give some half assed exposition about viruses without really understanding how these things work. They say their vampires aren't magical, but the vampires still explode quite easily. 

I think that The Mosquito Song is more aware of the genre, as well. The character has seen depictions of vampires in various media and will react to them.

Does the book contain any life lessons? Or practical advice? Like how to cook the perfect bolognese or change a lightbulb?

The book contains a few life lessons and quite a bit of practical advice. In fact, it gives one useful hints on home invasion, stealing cars, and attacking strangers.
For culinary questions I would advocate Irma Rombauer's indispensable Joy of Cooking which offers handy recipes for everything from pancakes to squirrels.
To change a light bulb, I was once informed by a college professor to get seven youth Spartacists:  one to turn the light bulb and six more to yell "Smash darkness!"

Did you listen to any music while writing your novel? Is there a track or album that you consider to be the soundtrack to the book?

In college, I used to play the Ramones to write papers more quickly. I once wrote fourteen pages in 45 minutes while listening to Ramones Mania. Nowadays, though, I tend to get distracted if things are going on during the actual typing.
For the second part: I think the Talking Heads "Life During Wartime" is probably representative of the manic bit of the book, whereas the depressive parts can be summed up by the Flaming Lips "Feeling Yourself Disintegrate".

As an American, do you find yourself living in morbid fear that one day Great Britain will return to reclaim its former colonies?

My grandmother is Canadian, so I think I'd be able to adjust. This is providing, of course, that a large percentage of the conquering forces were wearing fascinators and/or spoke like Gumbys.

If you could have a celebrity endorsement of your book, who would you choose?

Carl Weathers, star of Action Jackson. It would have to be either Carl Weathers or Kim Jong-Il.

How about a fictional character to endorse the book? Who then?

Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation. I try to live my life by his teachings.

Name a hairy dog.

My own dog is quite hairy. He’s part mountain dog and has this ridiculous double coat that sheds clumps of white fur. They come out in handfuls like giants balls of cotton. He has the common dog name of the General Douglas MacArthur. We almost went with the General DOGlas MacArthur, but my wife has a strong distaste for puns.

If you could guest star on a TV show, which show would it be and what would your guest role be?

I'd kind of like to be thrown from Graham Norton's big red chair. I think it would also like to be stabbed by Ian McShane on Deadwood.

Either way.

Finally, where can we buy your book? 

Right now, paper copies of the book are being hand-pressed in Austin, Texas and are set to be released on Halloween through Tiny Toe Press. Americans can find the paperback or the eBook at Theopenend.com/bookstore . British folk can go to Amazon and buy a Kindle version for the pre-sale price of £2.23.  So that’s about two pounds and whatever it is you people call a quarter. 

***********************************************************************************************************************************

Right, I think we've heard enough from this fellow now. I think if you were to purchase his novel it would prevent him having to aimlessly wander the streets, waving his book around and harassing the locals. Of course it may only encourage the fellow to produce more of his penny dreadfuls...

If you would like to return the favour and harass Mr Kennedy in his own home then why not visit http://themosquitosong.tumblr.com/

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Web Snark - Dragon Age: Redemption

Hello, today sees the release of multi media tie-in webseries, Dragon Age: Redemption. I enjoyed Dragon Age: The First Game and found it to be a deep, complex, and very well written fantasy world. A webseries set in the same universe would surely be an instant hit. Redemption stars Felicia Day out of that webseries about MMORPGs that the kids all like, and she was in that Joss Whedon show, and that other one, oh and that singing supervillain webseries that everyone loved. It also stars Doug Jones who was Abe Sapien in that film where Ron Perlman wears red paint.

So the pedigree is there, let's have a watch and I'll jot down my thoughts as we go along.



0:25 - This is taking forever, we've only just got to the title card. You know what's good about games? You can usually skip the endless title cards at the beginning.

0:30 - And so we begin with a massive chunk of expository text. This is always a bad sign. If you have to write down the entire background to your film and force the audience to read it before they can start watching, there's something wrong with your plot/script.

0:42 - More text and, as Mr Richard Cobbett pointed out, someone keeps splashing blood all over the background. Although splashing blood on everything (and using the accompanying blood splatter sound effect) is a fine Dragon Age tradition as you will soon realise.

SUPER NERDY OBSERVATION ALERT

0:45 - This bit about "The Qun" is very simplistic and slightly misleading. What I gleaned from the playing Dragon Age 2 is that it's basically communism with a caste system. Peasants from a feudal system encounter The Qun system and sometimes decide that they're better off working for/with the Qunari so up sticks and leave their noble masters. I don't think there's any evidence in the game lore of anyone being 'forcibly' converted (other than in unreliable accounts from the nobles who have lost subjects to The Qun or from Qunari occupied villages that mass converted to it). That's what I like about Dragon Age though, it's complex and you can never really know if you're being told the correct version of events. Seriously, you should give the game a try. A five minute webseries is always going to struggle to convey the complexity of an 80+ hour game.

NERDY OBSERVATION OVER

0:55 - More text. Mages, power struggle, blah, blah.

1:10 - Finally, a set and some actors!

1:13 - "This will make you talk." Not if you put a knife in his throat, it won't.

1:26 - The guy on your right, look at his armour - it's paper! Look at it! That's papercraft armour!

1:44 - Hey look, it's Doug Jones! Hi Doug! I hope Del Toro makes another monster movie soon so you don't have to keep appearing in stuff like this.

1:45 - Sorry, I should say that Doug is playing a Qunari. There supposed to muscle bound giants. It looks like they only managed 'taller than average'.

2:22 - Magic Fingernails of Choking? I don't remember this spell from the game.

2:35 - Well, that's the opening sequence over with. Didn't it remind you of a live action intro to a terrible 90s game when live action in games was all the rage - ON CD-ROM?

2:48 - Those pig carcasses look very plastic. Maybe fantasy pigs are made of plastic in Kirkwall?

2:53 - Why is she chopping the same bit of pork over and over? Is it because it's not really meat and therefore an illusion of butchery, carefully constructed for our entertainment?

3:19 - "Knife-ears" is the crappest fantasy racial slur I have heard. "Hey you, yeah you! Your ears look like knives! Hahahaha!" "Uh okay, see ya." The world of Dragon Age is supposed to be a horribly racist place, the least they could do is come up with an insult that would actually cause offence rather than mild annoyance.

3:25 - So this fight doesn't make a lot of sense, she seems to parry his knife with a bone and outmuscle a man who's got several pounds in weight on her. I know this is supposed to establish Felicia Day's badassery but they could have at least coreographed the fight to make it look credible.

4:00 - This Qunari's wig is... incredible.

4:24 - Hey look it's the low cut suit of armour that provides no protection to the chest! Hooray for Armour of Fan Service +1!

4:48 - She jumps out of a tree so hard that her hood magically removes itself from her head rather than dropping forward and covering her face.

5:03 - "I'll carve it out of you - but my battle axe is made of rubber, so can I borrow a knife?"

5:15 - Look, it's the man who wears paper armour! And in bright daylight the armour looks as flat, thin, and two-dimensional as paper!

5:25 - So the choreography for this fight is, "wave your weapons in circles in the air and then Felicia does a backflip to redraw her knives which she had already drawn in the previous shot."

6:08 - Look out! A slight incline! Someone might fall down that and graze a knee!

6:28 - Nooooo! They fell down the slope! The grazing! The terrible grazing!

6:34 - It's okay, Felicia did a cool action pose after rolling down the incline so she's fine. The other guy probably has a nasty cut on his knee, maybe even a bruise on his arm.

6:38 - And just for the fans, here's a Nicola Bryant style cleavage shot of Felicia while on top of a man.

6:51 - She puts her knives against his throat.

6:54 - Cut to his face and there are no knives against his throat, in fact, nowhere near.

7:00 - Blood!

7:02 - Which then splatters all over the credits.

Okay, that was bad. Felicia does not convince as a cool, deadly assassin and everyone else in it is clearly from the local amateur dramatic society (apart from Doug Jones of course). I don't understand why EA/Bioware would give the go ahead on this series without providing some help with the budget. This is not a good introduction to the Dragon Age world and it will surely struggle to pull in the casual fan based on the production values on screen. If I didn't know anything about Dragon Age, this would not convince me to investigate further. However, this series will probably get a healthy number of views due to the power of Felicia (in fact it's already at 40,000 within a couple of hours of release) so I'm sure there's some kind of plan behind it. I'm just not sure what the aim of this webseries is.

NEXT EPISODE - Lots more rubber ears as Felicia visits the elves.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Fades - An Introduction

Hello, I have been watching BBC Three's The Fades and it's quite good. I understand some of you may not have watched it so I have prepared this quick character guide to prepare you. After this you can quite happily tune into the show, already clued in!






So now you know everything, there's no excuse not to check it out. It's on the iPlayer or on BBC 3 Wednesdays at 9.00pm.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

TV Snark - Torchwood Miracle Day Episode Nine


The penultimate episode, the one before the last one, finale-eve. What happened? How will everything tie together? Will anyone die? Will Jack die from his gunshot wound? That was a good cliffhanger wasn't it? I hope they come up with a good way out of that. Let's find out...

2 MONTHS LATER

Oh bloody hell.

Yes two months later and Gwen is ram-raiding a chemist's shop (which looks a lot like an American pharmacy rather than a British chemist, looks like the American crew did the set design for a scene set in Wales). She wears a balaclava until she shoots the shop camera and then takes it off. This is despite there being a witness stood right outside the shop. Clearly the balaclava removal is so that the audience know it's Gwen but it's such a 'TV' thing to do, it shatters the moment. Gwen threatens the old man witness but he politely asks her to steal some painkillers for him so she obliges. Gwen then drives home with her ill-gotten gains where she distributes them to the locals.

Over in Scotland, Jack and Esther are hiding out. Jack's still got a poorly treated gunshot wound but is in no danger of immediate death. So there's the cliffhanger from last episode, neatly dumped in favour of moving the plot along. It's like one of those cliffhangers from an old Republic serial from the 1940s where you know the hero will survive the cliffhanger.


Although in this case I couldn't find the resolution to this cliffhanger so maybe Spy Smasher died. I haven't really proved my point here, have I? Still, that clip was fun wasn't it?

Back in Washington DC, Rex is back with the CIA and running an investigation into The Families. Seems that the null field has been forgotten about in the last two months along with Rex's suspicious behaviour when Jack escaped the CIA's clutches. The CIA can't find The Families on Google so they have no idea where they are, but Rex has found a short story published in 1935 that seems to be based on Jack's adventures in the butcher shop. While Jack was being repeatedly killed, someone was selling tickets to see the undying man and one of the people who saw Jack's repeated resurrections eventually wrote a fictional account. The author's family suspiciously disappeared a few years after the story was published and Rex thinks they may have joined The Families (it's a bit of a leap). The author had a brother who was stabbed to death and the knife is still held in evidence with DNA all over it. Rex thinks that the CIA can obtain the DNA of one of The Families. Traitor Lady recommends a team to perform the DNA test while she does her best not to look incredibly shifty.

Jilly meets up with the agent of The Families where she is told to fly to Shanghai. The agent then says that they will not meet again. That love affair is dead before it starts. Awww.

Back in Wales, Gwen's house is searched by the local Witch Finder. He stalks through Gwen's home in search of her dying father. He's unsuccessful in his attempt to find Gwen's dad because he's hidden behind a wall. He must be having the time of his (un)life living in a damp cellar while constantly suffering from a heart attack. The Witch Finder hisses and creeps off, vowing to find Gwen's dad.

Back in Washington, rather unsurprisingly the DNA search hasn't found anything. Rex decides he wants to read the short story now (I thought he'd already read it so he could find the link in the first place). Traitor Lady manages to act extremely suspiciously during the act of forwarding on a PDF.

Over to Wales again, and Oswald Danes infiltrates the Cooper household. The paedophile goes straight for the Cooper baby so we get the sensationalist money shot of Danes holding a baby. Gwen beats him with a saucepan until Rhys stops her and then Danes can finally explain what he's doing. Seems Danes knows who is behind The Miracle...

Rex has decided to use magic writing analysis software to spot patterns in the short story and now he's going to travel the world visiting authors who wrote structurally similar stories during the 1930s. I think there's a flaw there...

In Wales, Jack triumphantly returns from Scotland and removes the policemen who were spying on the Cooper family by making them drink a bottle of Retcon. Danes then reveals the name of the man behind The Miracle - Harry Bosco. Unfortunately Harry Bosco is an American goverment term used to control the message broadcast by the media. It seems that Jilly was part of the Harry Bosco process but she has now disappeared. They find a Chinese news video on Jilly's stolen laptop but they don't have anyone who speaks Mandarin. For some reason they think it's a good idea to contact Rex in the CIA and ask him for a translation, rather than go to a local college or similar place with Chinese language tutors.

Eventually the video is translated and they find that the person in it says, "The Blessing saved my life." They also discover that the man in the video burned down a blood bank, there is another video on the laptop from Buenos Aires that reports about a blood bank. The police then smash down the door as the team start to figure things out.

The Witch Finder appears and reveals that instead of using a sniffer dog, he has a thermal imaging app on his iPhone. WHY DIDN'T HE USE A SNIFFER DOG OR HIS IPHONE THE FIRST TIME HE SEARCHED THE HOUSE THEN? The iPhone does the job and he finds Gwen's father hidden in the cellar. Gwen's dad is taken away in an ambulance to be burnt. Cue sad music.

Rhys points out (using an inflatable globe) that Shanghai and Buenos Aires are on exact opposite sides of the Earth. SCIENCE. Torchwood then decide to split between the two locations to investigate both sites. Jack, Danes, and Gwen go to Shanghai and Esther and Rex go to Buenos Aires. Danes gets to ride along because Rhys can't be trusted not to kill him while they're away.

Jilly wanders around Shanghai until she meets a mysterious woman with 80s shoulder pads. Jilly is taken into a facility that leads to well... a giant fanny. Seriously.

I think this show just hit... rock bottom.
The crack goes all the way through to the other side of the Earth, so I guess the Earth is hollow now?

In Shanghai, Jack's wound reopens and his blood crawls across the floor as if drawn by something...

NEXT EPISODE: It all ends. Blessed release!

Monday, 5 September 2011

What If... Gareth David-Lloyd Was In A 19th Century Torchwood?

Yes what if SyFy had spun off this bit of awfulness from Warehouse 13 into a full show?


THE WORLD WOULD HAVE ENDED, DROWNED IN A SEA OF FANGIRL/GUY SQUEE.

Also, it would have been shite.

(But GDL himself was alright in it, maybe one day he'll get to appear in a good show)

Sunday, 4 September 2011

TV Snark - Torchwood Miracle Day Episode Eight


Torchwood episode eight continues to pad things out to their inevitably underwhelming conclusion. Here's what happened...

Jack and the team are taken by Nana Visitor to Angelo's stately home, Angelo is alive but not really living as he's incredibly ancient. Angelo is in some kind of convenient being-really-old coma. Nana Visitor tries to explains the pointlessness of last episode's kidnap plot but even Gwen says, "bollocks" to it. Episode seven didn't need to happen because really it could have been as simple as Nana calling Jack up and saying, "Hi Jack, remember Angelo your Italian lover from the 1920s? Well, I'm his granddaughter and he'd like to see you. Is Wednesday good for you?"

Nana goes on to explain that the real enemies are The Families. Three names are given:
If you look really closely you can see a transcript of Gwen saying, "bollocks".
Those names are Abelmarch, Casterdane, and Frines and they don't exist as names anywhere (probably according to a quick google search that Rusty made during production). The Families had samples of Jack's blood which could have been used to create the Miracle but that's quickly dismissed as Jack's blood isn't special. Nana Visitor finally mentions that The Families have found The Blessing, presumably behind The Sofa or in The Shed.

Friedkin (or Newman from Seinfeld) arrives with the CIA to interrupt the exposition fest. Friedkin takes Rex into a room for a light beating, he's working for The Families not the CIA. In fact the CIA are on the way so Friedkin has to shoot Rex before they arrive. Friedkin traced Rex's location via his phone when Rex decided to call Dr Juarez's brother to offer his condolences. Rex is wearing the magic contact lenses which means that Friedkin's confession is filmed and broadcast live to his boss, Shapiro.

Alan Shapiro is played by Q (or John De Lancie if you prefer). Shapiro wants to deport Gwen because she's stroppy with him, it's a good decision. He has Friedkin arrested along with Nana Visitor, they're conveniently placed in the same car so that when Friedkin activates his suicide bomb he can take out both guest stars and none of the regular cast. Seems Friedkin had to blow himself up for failing The Families. Or something. I'm not sure how The Families benefit from Friedkin blowing himself up away from everyone else.

Jack then sits with the comatose Angelo and I begin to think that Starz are going to push the sex scene envelope a little too far. Luckily Jack keeps his trousers on and just talks to the elderly Angelo instead. It's a tender scene until there's some comedy pratfalling as Angelo dies and his life support equipment starts to bleep and Jack doesn't know what to do. Jack does his best Frank Spencer routine until he figures out that he can unplug the machine.

Of course the big revelation is that Angelo died and no-one can die. How did this happen? Well let's sit around for the rest of the episode and have a think. Yes, in another cynical move we are forced to sit through another episode padded out with scenes of characters sitting and having a think while spouting unconvincing dialogue. There is no way this story should have been approved to run for ten episodes.

The tertiary CIA characters from the first couple of episodes make a return to stare into screens and basically do the same job that Esther does but with less crying. The female puts Esther in touch with her sister who is still crazy. Esther's sister has now decided to get herself and her children classed as Category Zero which means she can voluntarily sit in an oven. I'm pretty sure that even in the midst of a crisis they wouldn't allow someone mentally ill to volunteer themselves and their family for the ovens. This makes no sense.

Oswald Danes makes his return in another deleted scene from Alan Partridge. He wants Jilly to fetch him a prostitute, a legal aged one. A perky intern appears and offers her services to Jilly. Jilly decides to hire her without checking her details, which is convenient as perky intern is an undercover CIA agent.

Eventually Jack lets on that there are panels underneath Angelo's deathbed that contain tech stolen from the old Torchwood hub (it was blown up in the last series, fact fans). These magic panels made Angelo immune to The Miracle, somehow. Shapiro deports Gwen when Jack won't give him any information on the panels. Great, this means that there'll be more ridiculous accent scenes in Cardiff in the next episode. Jack eventually explains that the magic panels have created a null field which stops The Miracle from working.

Meanwhile Danes decides to take his prostitute on a date but she refuses on moral grounds (seconds after offering to dress as a school girl and have sex with him). The prostitute laughs at Danes' attempt to be 'normal' and she informs him that he's been classed as Category Zero. Seems the government have now decided that they can re-arrest him and burn him, or something. It does not make sense. Surely he'd be in custody already if that was the case. Jilly confirms this and Danes flips out, punches her and then flees into the night.

Worst game of Twister ever.
Jack studies the panels and reconfigures them to create a zone of silence so that the CIA can't hear him talk to Esther and Rex while they unconvincingly fumble around the panels. Jack explains that he doesn't want the CIA to have the null field technology as it will be used for evil by the government. Esther even says, "it's the same thing as the ovens" so there's the moral debate settled then. Jack asks Rex to get him away from the CIA.

Jilly meets the mysterious EVIL CONSPIRACY man from a couple of episodes ago, he shoots the perky intern and offers Jilly a job with The Families. He then calls the female CIA agent from the earlier scenes, she's part of THE EVIL CONSPIRACY. This is just like 24 but with characters we don't care about. At all.

Rex helps Jack to escape by punching out his colleagues and getting Jack shot. Rex bundles Jack into a car with Esther and tells her to go. Esther has no idea where to go and Jack is bleeding to death. Gwen is on a plane and crying (the inflight movie was Old Yeller).

NEXT EPISODE: This scene but in Wales.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

TV Snark - Torchwood Miracle Day Episode Seven


Hello again, this episode of Torchwood is so flashback heavy it may as well have been filmed with a sepia tone filter. Let's go back in time and find out what Jack got up to the 1920s...

It's 1927 and a cheeky Italian immigrant tries to steal Captain Jack's work visa and sneak into America. Jack tackles the thief to the ground but not before sitting on him and exchanging a look. Oh yeah, they're totally going to get it on. Jack takes a shine to the thief, Angelo, and visits him in the holding cell. Angelo spotted that Jack's visa was forged and this impresses Jack. They begin discussing holiday destinations and Jack decides to use his magic wrist device to forge Angelo a visa.

Back in the present day, Gwen is still freaking out about the EVIL CONSPIRACY using her contact lenses to talk to her. They have Gwen's family under armed guard but won't answer the phone to confirm this, which is a bit odd. Surely the kidnappers would want to prove they have her family? Oh well, lucky for them Gwen believes them anyway.

In the Torchwood office flat, Esther is watching Rex's YouTube snuff video of Dr Juarez's death and Rex walks in. Awkward. We then find out that Rex didn't know much about Dr Juarez or her family, he thinks she may have had a mother or brother somewhere, or something. Whatever, she's dead now.

Gwen bursts into the Torchwood flat and demands to see Jack, she surreptiously grabs a tazer and offers to show Jack something in her car. Esther senses something is awry. When Esther notices your lies, it's time to make up some better ones. Jack falls for Gwen's obvious ploy and ends up tazed in the back of the car.

Back in 1927 Jack rents an apartment with Angelo and they then have BBC uncensored sex. This is probably because it's not as ridiculously gratuitous as the sex scenes in the earlier episode. You know, the episode where Jack decided to suddenly drop his investigation and have sex with a barman. Anyway, they have sex and there are fireworks. SYMBOLISM.

Gwen and Jack have the most awkward road trip ever as Jack wakes up tied and bound on the backseat of the car. Jack decides to talk to the people who live in Gwen's contact lenses, he offers to give himself up in return for the safety of Gwen's family. Gwen freaks out when Jack can't remember her mum's name. Gwen, I've watched and written about every episode in stupid detail and I can't remember your mum's name. I bet Gwen's mum doesn't remember her own name.

In 1927 Jack meets up with a priest who sells him communion wine to flog in a 1920s bootleg stylee. Some stereotypical 1920s thugs suddenly appear and drag Jack and Angelo away.

Just as the 1920s got interesting we're dragged into the present where Jack is trying to bargain with Gwen for his release. Jack hasn't figured out that he's better off staying in the car and meeting the bad guys he wants to find. If he escapes he'll still be none the wiser as to what's happening. Jack, why you so stupid?

Whiplashing back to 1927, Jack is being intimidated by a stereotypical mafioso. The mafia are upset at Jack intruding into their bootlegging turf but Jack manages to talk them round into helping deliver a mysterious box. Jack is told not to look inside the box. What's in the box?


Seriously, what's in the box?


Oh well, we'll find out soon enough. Jack wants to send away Angelo because shit just got real. Angelo makes an impassioned plea so Jack thinks that he can make Angelo his companion, just like the Doctor has companions. Part of the deal will now involve Angelo calling Jack, "Doctor" during sex.

So what is in the box? Puppets! Alien brain worms puppets.


Jack shoots the brain slugs which were going to be used by the Trickster's Brigade to destabilise time by controlling the president of the USA.


No, not that Trickster. THIS Trickster:

I say, I say, I say, my interdimensional creature has no eyes. How does he smell? Awful.
Yes it's a Sarah Jane Adventures/Doctor Who reference for the last remaining members of the US Starz audience. Now they should all  have gone.

Jack's shooting alerts the guards of the warehouse he's in so he and Angelo run away. Then in order to point out that JACK IS NOT THE DOCTOR SO EVERYTHING HE DOES WILL GO WRONG NO MATTER HOW LONG HE LIVES OR HOW COMPETENT HE COULD CONCEIVABLY BECOME, he gets shot in the head. Angelo is somewhat traumatised by this because he doesn't know Jack is indestructible. Angelo gets arrested and taken away by the cops. Oh well, Jack is still alive and I'm sure he'll rescue him...

Back in Gwen's car, Jack tries to get some sleep but Gwen starts banging on about the good old days of Torchwood. She proves that she's a horrible person by claiming she loved the early episodes. She's a monster. Gwen also cries because it's seemingly in the contract for all the female characters to cry at least once per episode. Still, it gives the Esther the episode off from the waterworks. Gwen goes on to say that she will see Jack killed like a dog if it means getting her family back. Jack counters this threat by offering to rip the skin from her skull to stay alive. So there's five years of bonding for you.

In 1928 (uh oh) Jack meets Angelo outside prison. Jack ran off to Los Angeles and left Angelo in prison, Jack spent the time buying a brown coat that's quite similar to the Doctor's. Glad to see he had his priorities straight. Jack takes Angelo back to their old apartment but Angelo isn't too keen on getting it on with Jack. Angelo is Catholic and thinks Jack is the Devil so he's stabs him to death. Then Angelo takes Jack downstairs to the butcher shop and lets the butcher kill him. Then Angelo gathers all the locals who chain Jack up in a basement and take turns killing him. This development is somewhat... silly.

Jack is killed over and over until he wakes and sees three men size him up for purchase. The three men make an agreement and give a funny handshake. Jack fades out of consciousness... He's awoken by Angelo who frees him and cleans him up. Angelo apologises for the whole repeated murder thing and offers to run away with him but Jack decides to leave without Angelo by throwing himself off a roof and then disappearing like Batman.

In the present, Jack and Gwen finally meet up with the EVIL CONSPIRACY. It's Nana Visitor from that there Star Trek Deep Space Nine. Just as the villains look to have the upperhand, Rex and Esther ambush the villains via sniper rifle. Esther and Rex have also arranged for PC Andy to arrive with a SWAT team to rescue Gwen's family.

Jack and Gwen quickly make up and then try to intimidate Nana Visitor. Visitor points out that Jack still needs to find out who is behind it all and namedrops Angelo. Wow, the guy we just learned all about is behind it all. That's surprising.

NEXT EPISODE: Oswald Danes decides to go into ULTRA PAEDO MODE. It's PAEDOGEDDON. Also, Newman from Seinfeld returns.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

TorchTat - The Torchwood Merchandise Cavalcade

Do you like buying stuff? Owning things? Do you like buying and owning things that are Torchwood branded/related? With the help of my loyal Twitter followers (using the #torchtat hashtag) I have located the best merchandise associated with Torchwood. BEHOLD.

Prove your appreciation of Torchwood with this certificate. Hang it in your office in place of any stupid qualifications you might have.



Are you still glum about the death of Ianto? Do you wish you could see his Welsh face on demand? Do you want a Ianto that fits in your pocket? A Ianto you could make a tiny wedding dress for? Well you're in luck!

 

Can't access Wikipedia from your Kindle? Need to know in which episode Owen melted into a radioactive puddle? Why not buy a Kindle version of the Torchwood Wikipedia entries?

Do you like Captain Jack? Do you like John Barrowman but not enough to buy something that looks like him? Then why not buy a bust that kind of looks like John Barrowman if you squint really hard and wish?



Are your business cards boring? Do they contain your name and boring occupation? Why not spice it up by pretending to work for two fictional characters? It's the Ianto and Jack business card! With subtle rainbow design!

Looking for that portrait that ties the room together? A conversation starter to hang above the fireplace? I have just the thing.



Are you into cross stitching? This is the perfect pattern for you. Make multiple cross stitcheries and hang them around your home.

Where are your keys? Do you know? DO YOU? You know what would help you keep track of your keys AND protect them from alien molestation? This handy keyring!

I like my cushions but they're missing something. A certain I don't know what. Whatever the French call it. Wait, I've found just the thing - my cushions will look AMAZING.

Do you have a baby? Would you like to make your baby cool? How about a pair of shades and this little number?



This has to be seen to be believed, Torchwood aromatic, magic oils. Yeah.

And finally, do you want a copy of the official Torchwood magazine with a special cover? It looks like Ianto is really creeped out by Jack's hugging.


Thanks to all who contributed, the Twitter names of the guilty are: @FunkJem @markclapham @otherpete @justwillow @welshtroll - they're all lovely and if you're on Twitter you should probably follow them.