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October 25, 2014

British TV

Finally, a Simon Cowell vote we can all (cough) get behind

by Danny Gallagher, posted Oct 27th 2009 8:35PM
American Idol and Britain's Got Talent judge Simon Cowell might have shown some unfair misgivings about Susan Boyle before she proved her musical worth to the universe, but here's a preconception that even Paula Abdul would support.

Mr. Methane, a familiar guest to fans of The Howard Stern Show, is the world's only (thank Holy Christ) performing flatulist and he took a turn at the mic on Britain's Got Talent. Anyone want to guess if he made it through to the final round? If you guessed wrong, please get out of the gene pool and take a shower immediately.

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What does James May and three million Legos have in common?

by Danny Gallagher, posted Oct 24th 2009 8:25PM
As I scoured Google Images for a picture to accompany my Lego reality show post, pictures of James May's mop-topped mug kept popping up in my browser. What possibly could the Top Gear presenter have in common with the classic kids' toy that has caused a million foot fatalities? If you've ever stepped on one barefoot, especially the one peg bricks, you know how close to death it actually feels.

It turns out he lived in a whole house made out of them for our amusement. The Lego house was one of many projects for James May's Toy Stories, a series of projects designed to show kids that the classic toys of yesteryear can be just as cool as their newfangled video games and iPods.



This particular story does have an unhappy ending. The producers tried to sell the house to the Lego company for one of their theme parks, but the cost of transporting the house was too much. So they had to tear it down.

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Review: Black Adder Remastered, Fawlty Towers Remastered

by Nick Zaino, posted Oct 21st 2009 3:03PM
Black Adder Remastered box setWhen I was a kid, I remember seeing episodes of a couple of strange British shows on my local PBS affiliate in Rochester, NY. I never caught them regularly, not even sure when they aired, but I remember one of them was a peculiar little period piece with some funny gags, and a storyline I never completely grasped.

I learned later this first show was the classic Blackadder series with Rowan Atkinson, and the reason the storylines never made sense from show to show is that there are four seasons of the show, all taking place in a different historical period. I saw them out of order, and mostly caught the first season.

Watching the new Black Adder Remastered - The Ultimate Edition DVD set from BBC America (video and audio both remastered), it's clear the best way to watch Blackadder is to at least watch each series in order. And if you can watch the whole run in order, so much the better. From the first series set in the Dark Ages to the last set in World War I (Blackadder Goes Forth), Atkinson's character, Blackadder, remains a scheming coward. But he changes, too.

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A totally irrelevant list of (somewhat) obscure Monty Python sketches I like

by Nick Zaino, posted Oct 16th 2009 1:31PM
John Cleese of Monty Python, Live at the Hollywood BowlGiven the level of Python geekery out there, I'm not sure any Monty Python sketch is truly obscure. But there are plenty of gems past the more celebrated Fish-Slapping, Dead Parrot, and Argument Clinic sketches you see most often.

Since the Python reunion was broadcast yesterday, IFC starts "Monty Python Midnights" tonight with The Holy Grail, and starts airing the six-part documentary Monty Python: Almost the Truth: The Lawyer's Cut on Sunday, I thought it would be a good time to toss my own bit of nostalgia on the building heap this week.

I'm sure any list could be nitpicked to death with so much to choose from, but these are a few of my favorite less talked about Python sketches, starting with one from the troupe's great concert film, Live at the Hollywood Bowl.

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Original anime TV series Astro Boy evolves into movie, game

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Oct 14th 2009 8:04AM
Astro Boy posterBefore Speed Racer offered an anime slant to Saturday morning cartoons in the 1970s, and before G-Force or Voltron made kids rush home from school in the 1980s, there was Astro Boy.

Widely considered the original manga comic, Astro Boy was conceived and written by the recognized pioneer of the genre, Osamu Tezuka in 1952.

From the franchise's diminutive launch pad, the endless chain TV anime franchises took flight. Without Tezuka's creation, there's no Lupin III, no Golgo 13, no Ghost in the Machine, no Cowboy Bebop, etc. The strange thing is, some of those TV shows from different eras pack more U.S. pop culture recognition than the franchise that set the table.

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Monty Python reuniting this week

by Danny Gallagher, posted Oct 13th 2009 7:34PM
Monty Python's 40th anniversaryThe founding members of one of the most groundbreaking comedy troupes and TV shows of all time are reuniting this week. And you're invited.

Monty Python's 40th anniversary reunion at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City will be broadcast at IFC.com and Pythonline.com. Both sites will host the event at 9 p.m. Eastern.

This latest reunion marks their first appearance together in public since their memorable reunion show at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colo. Watch it or you're no fun anymore.

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Last Chance to See: When a man loves a parrot on TV

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Oct 13th 2009 7:02PM
The Kakapo is an endangered parrot featured on BBC2's Last Chance to See.That's a Kakapo over there. It's an endangered species of flightless parrot. We'll get to him in a second. But I wanted to point out that this is, in fact, the first time a Kakapo has appeared at TV Squad.

This year is the 30th anniversary of Douglas Adams' classic TV, radio and book series, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. As part of the celebration, BBC2 TV sent Stephen Fry and zoologist Mark Carwardine off to visit the endangered species Adams searched for in another of his books, Last Chance to See.

Adams documented his growing passion for preserving fading species in the book. And BBC2 sent Fry and Carwardine out into the world to document how those species (like the Kakapo) were fairing.

You'll be able to discover the results when the show crosses the Atlantic in the coming weeks after its U.K. run. But, for now, the TV series spawned one of the web's hottest viral videos.

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Hitchhiker's Guide turns 30 today

by Danny Gallagher, posted Oct 12th 2009 8:02PM
One of the Earth's most beloved books and mini-series celebrated a big birthday today.

Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was first published 30 years ago today. The wildly imaginative and funny science-fiction novel spawned four more books, a radio series, a text based video game and a cult classic British mini-series. It also spawned a big budget Hollywood remake that shall not been mentioned again in this post, so there.

In honor of this momentous day for sci-fi humor geekdom, here is the iconic opening of the original BBC mini-series originally aired in 1981. Pour yourself a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster and enjoy.

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Top Gear's Richard Hammond insists those rednecks were the real McCoys

by Danny Gallagher, posted Oct 7th 2009 8:05PM
Richard Hammond's infamous pickup truck on the American Road Trip episode of Top GearEvery Top Gear fan remembers the little excursion that Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond took through the southeastern corridor and the very warm reception they received in rural Alabama.

For those of you who haven't seen that episode or still can't grasp the concept of sarcasm, you can watch the whole thing here. The long and the short of it is the challenge ended at a backwoods gas station where a group of nearby hillbillies attacked their cars and the crew's vans with rocks, sticks and just about anything their beer stained hands could grab without the need of an opposable thumb.

Hammond wrote in his new memoir Or Is That Just Me? that fans constantly ask him if those rednecks were the genuine article or "just made up for the telly." Hammond not only insisted in an excerpt from the book printed in The Times that they were real people, but they also gave him one of the biggest scares of his life.

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Want to smell like Simon Cowell?

by Danny Gallagher, posted Oct 7th 2009 11:02AM
Simon CowellIf you've ever wanted to smell exactly like America's most hated man (please get some kind of psychiatric help immediately), now's your chance.

Simon Cowell
, the American Idol and X-Factor judge, will have his own brand of cologne along with the rest of the X-Factor judges, Louis Walsh, Dannii Minogue and Cheryl Cole.

A specific release date hasn't been picked, although it's said they will hit the stores by Christmas. It also looks as though they will only be released in the United Kingdom. And America wept.

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Have some Spam in honor of Monty Python's 40th anniversary

by Danny Gallagher, posted Oct 5th 2009 8:09PM
Monty Python's 40th anniversaryOne of the world' most quotable and iconic comedy shows made its television debut 40 years ago today.

Monty Python's Flying Circus first appeared on British television on Oct. 5, 1969, a show that branched into four feature length films, launched the careers of six very funny dudes and inspired millions of countless nerds to quote their most famous lines to death (myself included).

I'm sure everyone with a working set of eyes and a television set remembers the first time they saw Monty Python. What's your earliest memory of the show and more importantly, did it include any images of nude ladies?

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Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson: 1950-1988

by Danny Gallagher, posted Sep 30th 2009 7:28PM
Top Gear's Jeremy ClarksonSome tragic news has been discovered in the winding and weaving tunnels of the YouTube archives: Jeremy Clarkson died in 1988.

A British TV program (or is that programme?) about TV called TV Offal (pronounced "awful") broke the sad news that the Top Gear car curmudgeon and TV presenter passed away while filming one of his infamous car reviews. The show reported that Clarkson died in a car accident due to driver inattention. Just think, if the accident had happened now, his blimp-like ego could have acted as an impromptu airbag and saved his life.

The show's faux-obituary paid a not-so-loving tribute to the car show star by remembering his extremely mixed metaphors, teenage testosterone fueled attitude and inability to let the 1970's go. TV Squad would like to offer our deepest condolences to his family members who existed more than 20 years ago.

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British game show The Cube is far from square

by Danny Gallagher, posted Sep 15th 2009 11:02AM
ITV's The Cube
Normally I wouldn't do a post about a show that's hard for us Yanks to see, but this game show addition to the Brit's ITV Network merits special attention because it shows just how far ahead of the curve they are when it comes to kicking our asses on television.

The Cube sounds like an ordinary, run-of-the-mill challenge game show, designed to humiliate people on national television by making them look stupid for not being able to complete menial tasks for cash and/or prizes. That's because on the surface, it looks like every single game show you've ever seen since executives realized that crushing the human spirit on live television would score them lets of cash and/or prizes.

But when you watch an entire episode, its stylish look and dark feeling matched with the complexity of the game's concept make for an hour of television that sucks you in and never lets you go for a second. Compare that to just about every recent American game show that pushes you away and makes you run as far as you can from your TV set.

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NBC to adapt UK's Prime Suspect

by Allison Waldman, posted Sep 3rd 2009 2:08PM
Helen_Mirren_Prime_SuspectIs it cynical of me to question the wisdom of NBC trying to adapt the British detective series Prime Suspect for American TV? It probably is, but after the disappointment of Life on Mars (I know, some of you liked the ABC version, but I was not in that camp), I have worries about the way American writers and producers rework excellent British TV shows and suck the life out of them in the process.

What makes Prime Suspect particularly of concern is that the British show had a great actress starring in it. Helen Mirren has deserved every award -- Oscar, Tony, Golden Globe -- that she's received. As the tough-as-nails detective chief inspector Jane Tennison, she was simply amazing.

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Robin Hood tucks back into BBC America with third season

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Aug 28th 2009 8:42AM
Robin Hood returns to BBC America for its third season without Maid Marion.The third and final (and darker) season of Robin Hood is set to hit BBC America Saturday, Sept 12 at 9pm E.T./P.T.

The original BBC production kept the classic character in the correct period and location, but it "Buffy'd" the show up a little with younger actors and occasional soapy plot elements intermixed with the required (and satisfying) action.

Series regulars Jonas Armstrong, Richard Armitage and Keith Allen remain and are joined by Toby Stephens (Die Another Day) and David Harewood.

The show gets a little darker in its final run. That's not surprising as Robin Hood legend's usually end with the hero sacrificing himself and picking his burial spot with a final random arrow shot.

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