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November 28, 2014

British TV

Some say The Stig has a face and that he'll reveal it on the next season of Top Gear

by Danny Gallagher, posted Dec 23rd 2009 9:02PM
The new season of Top Gear hasn't hit the US airwaves yet, but it seems the most recent has ended, as Jeremy Clarkson might put it, on quite a bombshell.

The Stig
, the show's mysterious test driver, actually revealed his identity during the last season, probably the new one headed stateside next month. So if you're a fan of the show and hate spoilers, don't watch it. Also, some say his eyes can emit laser beams that can cook potatoes from the inside and that people have mistaken the mole on his face for an image of the Virgin Mary. All we know is we won't be held responsible for the consequences.

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BBC sci-fi classics show up for free on on YouTube

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Dec 21st 2009 4:05PM
BBC is offering classic sci-fi shows like The Quatermass Experiment.The BBC's official YouTube channel is offering free Christmas gifts to sci-fi fans in the form of a classic hero and a field full of deadly plants. The move gives American viewers a great (legal) chance to catch up on quality productions that didn't (yet?) make their way over to BBC America.

Among the many full episodes of BBC programming now awaiting your computer's perusal is the creepy 1981 production of Day of the Triffids. Most pop culture and horror buffs know the title from the 1962 monster movie of the same title. But this BBC production was a much more faithful and in-depth production of John Wyndham's book.

The online series serves as a great lead-in to the new BBC production of Triffids -- set to premiere Dec. 28.

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BBC America brings back Van Helsing in Demons

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Dec 20th 2009 1:29PM
The descendants of Van Helsing do battle with the supernatural in Demons.Though I still haven't forgiven the great Dr. Abraham Van Helsing for allowing that awful movie with Hugh Jackman to be made about him -- or for not showing up and killing the entire cast of the Twilight -- I'm excited to catch his descendants on the new British import, Demons.

A new horror series from the writers of past British hits Hex and Merlin, Demons features Philip Glenister (Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes) as cold, stern American Rupert Galvin. The yank must recruit the last descendant of Van Helsing to join forces with him commit to life battling monsters -- before those monsters kill him.

Demons unveils a world just out of humans' sight -- full of vampires and other inhumans. (Insert joke about politicians here.) Luke Rutherford (Christian Cooke) is the "everykid" teenager forced to come to terms with the harsh reality that he's the direct descendant of the vampire-hunting Van Helsing.

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Susan Boyle's Britain's Got Talent appearance most watched thing on YouTube in '09

by Danny Gallagher, posted Dec 16th 2009 8:01PM
This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who doesn't live in a cave or still have dial-up Internet... or both. Although given the economy these days, I'm sure I can forgive people who still live in caves.

Susan Boyle's breakthrough performance on Britain's Got Talent garnered the most eyeballs on YouTube in 2009 with a whopping 120 million views.

Sorry, dog that's stuck in a toilet as cruel owner films you. Maybe next year.

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Remember the great Edward Woodward with Callan

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Dec 14th 2009 1:02PM
Edward Woodard kicked backside as Callan before he was The Equalizer.Most American TV viewers know Edward Woodward from his run as Robert McCall as The Equalizer. But, British TV aficionados know he trained in backside-kicking on the dark, gritty British spy series, Callan.

Written by James Mitchell, the show featured David Callan -- a spy working for an ultra-secret arm of the British Intelligence service specializing in assassinations. Unfortunately, the former soldier and convict was cursed with a conscience that led him to hate his job, his superiors and himself.

Woodward was perfect in the role -- blending haunted humor with genuine menace to create an intelligent, tortured man who you believed could kill anyone without having to look like Rambo while he did it.

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Gruffalo stars as centerpiece of BBC's Christmas

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Dec 9th 2009 1:02PM
The Gruffalo is becoming a BBC star this Christmas.When Christmas time rolls around, you can enjoy visits from Santa Claus, St. Nick, the Ghost of Christmas Past and, if you're watching the BBC, the Gruffalo.

The popular children's book is now an animated special for the BBC (soon to visit the U.S.) and is now the centerpiece of the network's holiday season.

Written by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler and published in 1999, The Gruffalo is a 700-word story that's been translated into multiple languages and adapted into a stage play. It tells the story of a mouse outwitting several deadly animals as he walks through the forest until he meets the title beast.

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Doctor Who Advent(ure) Calendar counts down End of Time

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Dec 7th 2009 9:08AM
It's the 25 Days of Christmas in the Tardis.In what's becoming a U.K. holiday tradition, the BBC is serving up a Doctor Who Advent Calendar counting down the days to the year end (and David Tennant-ending) special, The End of Time.

For the uninitiated, an Advent calendar counts down the days from December 1 to Christmas Day. Kids unveil the dates one day at a time, sometimes revealing little presents to enjoy along the way. In Doctor Who's case, fans receive goodies each day until Tennant's final episodes as The Doctor.

But, since an advent calendar is a Christmas tradition, and three people in Oxfordshire objected to showing any preference to a particular holiday, the BBC quit using the term and changed it to "Adventure Calendar."

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New Year brings Inbetweeners sitcom to BBC America

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Dec 5th 2009 1:01PM
The award-winning Inbetweeners is coming to BBC America in 2010.One of the best British comedies you've never heard of is headed to BBC America in early 2010.

The Inbetweeners features a handful of awkward young men constantly stuck, well, "in between" childhood and adulthood, loneliness and popularity, romance and dignity, etc. The electric wit of the show's dialogue helped it knock down "Best New Sitcom of 2008" at the British Comedy Awards.

Written and created by Damon Beesley and Iain Morris (Peep Show, Flight of the Conchords). the show stars Simon Bird, Joe Thomas, James Buckley and Blake Harrison as the hopelessly awhward teens struggling through a new school in suburban Britain.

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Is Canadian Doctor Who house bigger on the inside?

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Nov 18th 2009 4:08PM
A house in Canada ia perfect for Doctor Who fans.If you happen to be house shopping in the Brantford, Ontario area of Canada -- and if you're a British sci-fi fan -- I've found the perfect ivy-covered drive-by cutie for you.

A house listed on Point2Homes.com features some indoor improvement found previously only on the planet Gallifrey. If you take some time to watch the photo montage of the house's interior, you see a Tardis (left) in the living room and a Dalek patrolling the hallways.

Obviously, the current residents are huge Doctor Who fans -- unless most Canadians keep evil robotic killers in their home. I have no idea what the cuddly snow creatures to the north do with their free time -- besides crowding up against the U.S. border for warmth.

A closer inspection of the housing listing doesn't make it clear if the alien artifacts come with the jacuzzi, but I doubt you get the whole package with your down payment. But, if the Tardis is part of the deal, you can travel 30 years into the future when the mortgage is paid already off and move in for free.

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New Doctor Who DVD features new CG-enhanced episode

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Nov 18th 2009 3:02PM
Doctor Who: Enlightenment features a feature length version of the episode with new effects.Many sci-fi fans wonder what classic Doctor Who might look like if the BBC bosses of the '70s and '80s could have budgeted more than £6 per episode for visual effects.

A new Who DVD set from BBC Video features a specially remastered episode that offers you just that experience.

Doctor Who: "The Black Guardian Trilogy" serves up a trio of 1983 Who episodes featuring Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor in a life and death struggle against a supernatural evil force.

A team of restoration and digital effects artists took the final episode of that trilogy ("Enlightenment" -- a well-written, high-concept adventure featuring a simulated sailing race in deep space) and laid in 21st Century CG visuals.

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Review: The Prisoner - Part One: Arrival

by Jason Hughes, posted Nov 15th 2009 10:00PM
The Prisoner
(E01) I can't help but feel tempted to compare this to the Patrick McGoohan classic from the '60s, but that wouldn't be fair. Attitudes, technologies and even our expectations of TV programming have changed so much in the intervening time. And yet, as an homage to the original, there are many elements to this new AMC mini-series that nod back to the classic paranoia suspense saga.

While The Village has been updated to be a much larger and more vibrant desert oasis (think kitschy Las Vegas) than the original's sleepy seaside villas, it's still as much an enigma, even in this first hour. And while Jim Caviezel doesn't command the role of Number 6 as powerfully as McGoohan, really who could? So I give him a pass, and enjoy him for what he brings, and try not to hear McGoohan's booming defiance when Caviezel shouts: "I am not a number! I am a free man!"

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British comic claims TV ad ripped him off

by Danny Gallagher, posted Nov 12th 2009 7:02PM
If Mad Men is any indication of what its like to work in the real advertising world, then the writing process alone must cause more migraines than swimming in radioactive sewage.

That's still no excuse for stealing material, if that is in fact the case with this British ad. UK comic Micky Flanagan claims an ad agency stole a joke from his act for a phone service commercial and is a stone's throw away from filing a lawsuit. Punchline Magazine posted videos of the joke and the ad. Is this just a coincidence or is the ad pulling a Carlos Mencia?

First, listen to Flanagan's joke...



And now, watch the ad, which is after the jump.

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Underground Toys materializes TV sci-fi swag for the holidays

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Nov 11th 2009 10:03AM
The radio controlled Davros toy is out to conquer Christmas.Do Daleks wear jingle bells? Probably not. But the creator of Doctor Who's deadliest enemies is in stateside toy stores to celebrate the holiday season with the human species he's tried to kill off more than once.

His arrival is very timely when you consider it's November and time for pundits like me to start sending some gift ideas your way.

Since I'm more than comfortable shilling for the geek contingent, the good folks at Underground Toys sent the evil scientist (right) over for a visit. Though he's a bit of a grump -- the 12" high, radio controlled Davros should keep any Who fan entertained. The only question I have is whether he'll end up in the fans of kids or their sci-fi fan parents.

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The voice of Oprah rules over all 'Life' on Earth

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Nov 9th 2009 3:01PM
Oprah Winfrey (not the lizard) is narrating BBC's Life.Oprah Winfrey is all over the news these days as she fires up her new network and considers moving her talk show from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Now, we get to listen to her narrate the epic BBC nature series, Life. Subtitled by the BBC with, "The Definitive Exploration of the Adaptability and Diversity of Life on Earth," the eleven-part series examines evolution and the behaviors that animals devised to live, thrive and survive. Discovery Channel is bringing it your way in March after Oprah vocalizes a bit.

I know the BBC has done this sort of thing before. In fact, no one does it better. But this time around, they're using state-of-the-art high-definition filming techniques.

But why is Oprah necessary? I have nothing particularly against the woman. Despite her massive media pull, I manage to more or less steer clear of her estrogen fest. But, the BBC production comes pre-narrated with world-famous naturalist, Sir David Attenborough. Is over-dubbing necessary?

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BBC's legendary EastEnders soap goes online

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Nov 8th 2009 10:30AM
Eastenders is going online with a new web soap opera.Think of the most popular American daytime soap. Then, multiply that by a factor of 10. That's the ongoing craze known as the BBC's immortal EastEnders. Premiering in 1985, the working-class melodrama remains one of the U.K.'s highest-rated series.

Now, EastEnders is set to kick off its own web spinoff series next year. According to a Beeb press release, the online BBC Vision Multiplatform commissioned EastEnders: E20 to go live in January, 2010.

In addition to taking advantage of TV's online evolution, the web series will help to celebrated the EastEnders 25th anniversary.

Now, the question is if anyone in Hollywood can catch on to moves like these and adapt more successful U.S. shows into big name web series. Shows like 24 tried brief web dalliances, but nothing this ambitious has yet to take flight from American networks.

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