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Monty Python Live (Mostly): Let the mind games begin

May 17, 2014

Even though original Python member, Terry Gilliam, calls the troupe’s forthcoming get-together “depressing”, most of the planet is looking forward to their reunion gigs beginning 1 July at London’s O2 arena. Monty Python Live (Mostly) launches on the 1st July, with 10 dates scheduled. The comedians have ruled out getting the band back together for an extended tour again so their final performance will be on Sunday 20th July.

Even though the initial night (1 July) sold out in 43.5 seconds, Gilliam’s comments in a recent interview with the Evening Standard promoting the English National Opera he has directed, might leave you wondering whether or not you might be wanting those 43.5 seconds of your life back if you’ll be at the O2 arena in July or if youll be at one of the 1500+ cinemas streaming the show live around the globe. Either way, to get you ready, Annie French from Steel Monkey Engineering takes us on a tour as preliminary set construction begins.

My guess is that whether or not the cynical side of you thinks this is one last money grab by the brilliant comedy group or that this will be an unforgettable night of timeless comedy to remember, you will not be disappointed. While original Python member, Eric Idle, said that fans could “expect a little comedy, a lot of pathos, some music and a tiny bit of ancient sex” and the Pythons, in a press release, said they would take in some of their most famous routines, including the “Dead Parrot” sketch, in the show, John Cleese issued a warning to fans. Cleese ruled out a re–run of one of his best–loved moments, the Ministry of Silly Walks, saying: “I have an artificial knee and an artificial hip so there’s no chance of that.” Understandable. After all, collectively, there will be combined 357 years on stage.

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Monty Python infiltrates ‘Game of Thrones’

May 16, 2014

It’s been widely known over the years that film editors would periodically insert several frames of content like a personal photograph or some other subliminal reference into big screen efforts. Invisible to the naked eye, these mostly were considered inside jokes within the industry, or Easter eggs, left for fans with lots and lots of time on their hands to figure out.

The greatness of the Game of Thrones has ramped it up a notch with the ultimate fan tribute. In an episode of Game of Thrones that was broadcast last month, only the most astute viewers would have been able to spot a Monty Python’s Flying Circus quote translated into a fantastical invented language.

Game Of Thrones - 2013

In “Breaker of Chains”, which was broadcast in April, the show’s linguist David Peterson created the ultimate in-joke with series creator Dan Weiss, by translating Monty Python quotes into Low Valyrian, a language used by a clan on the show. More specifically, he took the insults hurled by a French soldier in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, such as “Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelled of elderberries.”

Monty Python and the Holy Grail French taunter

Peterson, in an interview on the behind-the-scenes production blog for the series, revealed the ultimate Easter Egg within the episode: “There’s a scene where the Meereenese rider is challenging Daenerys’ champion. He’s shouting and Nathalie Emmanuel [Missandei] is translating, but she’s not translating what he’s saying. He’s actually saying a Low Valyrian translation of the French guy’s insults in ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’ It was series creator Dan Weiss’s idea and it was so hilarious that I had to do it.” As series linguist, it fell to Peterson to create over 5000 words for the three languages on the show, Low Valyrian, High Valyrian and Dothraki.

I wonder how you say, “What… is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow? in High Valyrian?

Is this Heaven? No, it’s Humphry Slocombe!

May 15, 2014

While they didn’t say ‘are you being served?’ when I finally hit the front of the line yesterday at Humphry Slocombe in San Francisco’s Ferry Building, the evidence as to the influence on owner’s Jake Godby and Sean Vahey’s craft is clear. The vintage British sitcom Are You Being Served?, a shared favorite of both during their formative college years, Humphry Slocombe gets its namesake inspiration from two characters in the show, Wilberforce Claybourne Humphries and Mary Elizabeth Jennifer Rachel Abergavenny Slocombe. “The way I explain it is that Chez Panisse, Berkeley’s ode to simple food, is named after a highbrow French film, wouldn’t it be perfect to name a punk ice cream shop after a lowbrow, baudy British farce,” said Godby.
Humphry Slocombe storefront

Why heaven?

Well, aside from the fact that the folks at Humphry Solocombe make ALL of their own ice cream, sorbets and toppings, they just plain give good ice cream. Only 12 flavors are available every day, all carefully selected from the roster of 80 versions. “There’s a whole world beyond chocolate, strawberry, vanilla. Why can’t you make peanut butter–curry ice cream?“, Godby said, adding that “…the last flavor I would ever make is cookies and cream.” While I did panic and go the safe route, combining Tahitian Vanilla and Ancho Chocolate, I suggest trying the Peanut Butter–Curry, Fluffernutter or the Here’s Your Damn Strawberry ice cream next time you want to experience a bit of heaven.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle next up for Martin Clunes

May 14, 2014

How does Martin Clunes pass the time between the end of one Doc Martin series and the beginning of another? Elementary, my dear Watson. He signs on to play Sherlock Holmes creator, Arthur Conan Doyle. The three-part adaptation of Julian Barnes’ novel Arthur & George, the ITV drama will tell the story of Conan Doyle’s real-life attempts to clear George Edalji, a half-Indian solicitor who was imprisoned for a series of attacks on livestock in the Staffordshire community of Great Wyrley.

Interestingly, it was the Sherlock creator’s expert evaluation of the evidence in the case that not only cleared Edalji of any wrongdoing, but it helped establish the Court of Criminal Appeal in 1907. At that time, there was no concept as of yet for the procedure of a retrial. It was Conan Doyle’s analysis of the facts in a series of articles published in the Daily Telegraph that caught both the public’s attention and that of the British government also. The committee decided that Edalji was innocent of the livestock mutilations and The Law Society readmitted him allowing him to return to practice as a solicitor.

Filming is set to begin this Autumn with a targeted transmission of 2015 on ITV.

David Tennant returns for Broadchurch 2 as Gracepoint premieres this Fall on Fox

May 13, 2014

It will be all David Tennant on both sides of the pond beginning this Fall when Gracepoint, Fox’s American remake of Broadchurch, premieres Thursdays at 9/8c. On the west side of the Atlantic, Tennant, sans Olivia Colman, will play Detective Emmett Carver opposite Breaking Bad‘s Anna Gunn as Detective Ellie Miller. Written by Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall, the American series also stars Michael Peña, Nick Nolte and Jackie Weaver.

Broadchurch fans on the east side of the Atlantic woke up this week to the brilliant news that Tennant will return to the original British crime drama joining partner Olivia Colman for series 2. Filming begins soon in Dorset with Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan and Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who also returning. ITV’s director of drama, Steve November, remains understandably secretive about any storyline for series 2 but did offer up something for fans of the series left hanging following last seasons finale and the words Broadchurch will return. “Suffice to say Chris Chibnall has delivered as always and the scripts are just as exciting as the first series, said November. This exclusive online clip followed the broadcast series finale, which aired on ITV last April.


Could Rowan Atkinson be in line for Inspector Maigret reboot?

May 12, 2014

Given the skyrocketing popularity of the current careers of both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, we may have to be satisfied for the foreseeable future with an upcoming ITV revival of Inspector Maigret, who is frequently referred to as the Sherlock Holmes of France given his trademark pipe, fondness of fine alcohol and reliance on godlike intuition in solving cases. Furthering the comparison, both Holmes and Maigret had sidekicks and nemeses, but while it was Holmes that was known for his wit and charm, Maigret was more famous for his serious devotion to each case.
Rupert Davies as Inspector Jules Maigret

Unconfirmed reports cite an ‘unnamed ITV executive’ telling the Daily Mail that: “…The Maigret stories feel perfectly suited to television’s continuing obsession with atmospheric foreign crime“. Based on Belgian writer Georges Simenon’s novels centered around the Parisian detective, the Inspector Maigret stories are not new to television audiences. As early as 1959, Jules Maigret hit the small screen in a major way with Rupert Davies starring as the fictional detective. The most recent and, perhaps, the more famous adaptation was the 1992-93 ITV series starring Michael Gambon which lasted 12 episodes and ran on PBS as part of the Mystery! series.
Michael Gambon as Inspector Jules Maigret

Also unconfirmed but well worth mentioning has Rowan Atkinson, the star of Blackadder and Mr. Bean, linked to the possible ITV reboot. As much as I love Atkinson’s work, this will definitely be his biggest challenge. I hope we get a chance to see how it plays out.

Happy Mother’s Day to Hyacinth Bucket – from your son, Sheridan

May 11, 2014

Hyacinth Bucket, played brilliantly by Patricia Routledge, has spent a lifetime in our collective homes over the years insisting her surname is pronounced Bouquet. She is pretty much a pompous social-climbing snob. Unbeknownst to most neighbor residents of Blossom Lane, Hyacinth originally came from a very poor working-class background. Her main mission in life is to impress others with her lifestyle and perceived affluence and refinement. Hyacinth likes to spend her days visiting stately homes convinced she will meet and strike up a friendship with the owners, especially if they are nobility and hosting candlelight suppers with her Royal Worcester double-glazed Avignon china and Royal Doulton china with ‘the hand-painted periwinkles’. She is also the proud owner of a white slimline telephone with automatic redial whose main callers include either Hyacinth and Richard’s son, Sheridan, or those trying to find the nearby Chinese take-away.
Hyacinth Bucket talking to Sheridan on her white slimline with automatic redial

Sheridan Bucket, who goes totally unseen for the entire series, is Hyacinth and Richard’s spoiled son. He is away at college a poly which Hyacinth insists is ‘university standard’, and is known to audiences primarily through Hyacinth’s phone conversations with him. Most of the time, instead of ‘talking to his mummy’, Sheridan needs money for some crazy things that his ‘friend’ Tarquin has or has suggested, including a walking holiday in Iceland.

Whether it’s to just ‘talk to his mummy’ or ‘ask for money’, let’s hope Hyacinth hears from Sheridan today. Happy Mother’s Day, Hyacinth.


Former Doctor Who companion to head ABC comedy this Fall

May 10, 2014

If anyone still questions whether or not British situation comedy is better than its’ American counterpart, one only has to look to the list of pilot comedies coming from American broadcast networks this Fall for verification. In a pitch that must have sounded like it came directly from the lips of Buck Henry in The Player, ABC has picked up Selfie for full series starring former Doctor Who companion, Karen Gillan.
Karen Gillan in ABC comedy, Selfie

Described as a modern take on My Fair Lady with Gillan playing Eliza Dooley, Selfie sounds more like a documentary than a comedy as it tells the story of a 20-something somewhat narcissistic social media obsessive. Co-starring John Cho (Star Trek) and Homeland‘s David Harewood, the pilot sees Eliza (Gillan) “suffering a very public and humiliating breakup” before becoming the subject of a viral video that lands her more social media followers than she could ever have imagined, albeit for all the wrong reasons. Enter Henry (Cho), an arrogant marketing expert, who is tasked with overhauling Eliza’s tarnished image.

Gillan has had a string of big screen efforts since leaving her role as Amy Pond and will be seen this summer in Guardians of the Galaxy, the Marvel Comics blockbuster superhero film from Disney Studios. I know the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for many British actors seems to be to make it in American television, but Selfie just doesn’t scream ‘hit’ to me. It is titled “Selfie”, after all, which after several months is already the most overused word in the English language. But, I’ve been wrong before…

Peter Capaldi on course to be ‘one of the best ever’…

May 9, 2014

With recent word out of London that the BBC is “thrilled” and “delighted” with their initial looks at the early completed episodes with Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor, let’s all put the Downton Abbey countdown calendar on the back burner for the moment, resign ourselves to the fact that Sherlock probably isn’t happening in the near future and start the Doctor Who countdown to Autumn 2014.

According to RadioTimes.com, the storylines have started from “the bottom up” with Capaldi’s Doctor having a clean slate with little reference to his predecessors. In addition, the chemistry between Capaldi and Coleman is said to be ‘sizzling’. The source said: “He is the oldest Doctor and there is a sense he is more distanced from his assistant, more of a mystery. He is perhaps less a mate, and someone she looks up to. She has to try and gauge him – but dramatically it’s very satisfying and onscreen they work very well together.”
Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman on the set of Doctor Who 8

While a lot of the buzz has been centering around the monsters and the on-screen chemistry between Capaldi and Coleman, there seems to be a great deal of attention being paid, as usual, to the incoming Doctor’s attire. As we’ve seen from earlier postings, Capaldi will don a dark blue Crombie coat with red lining, dark blue trousers, a white shirt as well as stylish black Dr Marten shoes. No bow tie, no Chuck Taylor’s, no long scarf. Capaldi’s take on the costume? He loves it. “He’s woven the future from the cloth of the past. Simple, stark, and back to basics. No frills, no scarf, no messing, just 100 per cent Rebel Time Lord.
Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor

For those that can’t get enough and are willing to risk spoilers, here’s some video we found trolling around on the Internets from the early series 8 filming on the set of Doctor Who. The sucker that I am for any kind of ‘making-of’ video was more than I could deal with so I just had to watch, spoilers or no spoilers. I know…I’m weak. How long until Fall?

Spooks/MI-5 vs 24 revisited….again.

May 8, 2014

Unfortunately, I thought we had closed the book on this debate but given the fact that Jack is back and 24 is again part of the television landscape, it bears repeating…again. And, since there will be a Spooks feature film in the not-too-distant future, why not be ahead of the curve and end the debate before it begins.

24 Live Another Dayspooks and harry pearceInstead of creating yet another troubling argument that goes on only in my head, I have to open this debate to everyone since it’s that time again when 24 fans are putting the show on a pedestal while describing MI5 (Spooks in the UK) as the British 24. Must I verbalize the laundry list of reasons as to why there is no comparison between the two? MI5 was, IMHO, one of the best shows on television, if not the best. MI5 out-distances 24 in writing, acting, storyline, believability, editing, use of music and more. AND, it has Harry Pearce.

Jack Bauer won’t (or can’t) die

The fact that you watch every episode of 24 knowing full well that Jack Bauer won’t die no matter what happens is enough to place it well below the realistic nature of MI5. 24‘s only “bit” is that each season takes place in 24 hours. Having seen all 10 seasons of MI5, I’ve often wondered why the writers have never shied away from killing off characters or banishing them to Siberia, both major and minor, during a season. I finally came to the conclusion that as frustrating and as mind-numbing as it is to invest emotional effort into the characters only to have them “disappear” or actually die by an assassin’s bullet or explosion adds the realism that is lacking in 24.

It’s tough enough for any series to last a decade in today’s television landscape as both 24 and MI5 have. With MI5, it has to be a brain rush to write a series of this nature that gives you the freedom to be real, to be fresh and also keep the audience as tense as humanly possible with every explosion or every bullet leaving the chamber because we truly don’t know who is coming back each week. On 24, Jack Bauer always heals by the next week (or next hour since it all takes place in 24 hours).

Someone, talk me down from the ledge

Tell me there are others out there that can’t wait to binge watch MI5 again. Or, if you’re a 24 fan, it’s your turn. I know the newest incarnation of 24: Live Another Day is shot in London so that helps me a bit. But, I’m willing to listen. Well, sort of. You have 23:59:45.

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