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2010.06.25

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Considering how amazing and perfect the movie "In The Loop" was, I really should start looking for "The Thick of It." (You don't mention that the movie "...Loop" was an extension of the TV series "...Thick...", which might perhaps give some useful context to readers who forgot or never knew the connection between the two. I myself first thought it was maybe some Alan Thicke vehicle that was somehow worthy of discussion, didn't remember/put it together until you mentioned Peter Capaldi.) Do they ever rerun episodes on BBC America?

Sidebar, one of my favorite movies is Bill Forsyth's "Local Hero," which features Peter Capaldi as a sweet and somewhat naive young oil conglomerate employee. It amazes me that the same actor could play, in Malcolm Tucker, possibly the most bilious and cynical character I have ever seen in any medium, even 25 years apart for the two roles. Big ups, Mr. Capaldi!

"Loop was an extension of the TV series"

Except set in a sort of alternate reality from the TV series-- In the Loop is a distillation of the TV series, but it's not a 1:1 conversion. It's out of "continuity."

News of the 4th season got by me. I was just googling last week to figure out if there had been any talk of what's planned, what with the elections turning out how they did. That is such excellent news-- the election's given them so much. Malcolm Tucker as the opposition! The conservatives are pretty fleshed out at this point, too-- it's hard to imagine them topping that third season, but should be fun to see them try...

"we need to learn to let shit go, nerds."

A-fucking-men.

My favourite thing about that episode of The Thick of It is how broad it gets at points.

I mean, it's an amazing bit of telly, for sure. It's got lots of great Malcolm bits, lots of elaborate swearing, lots of good drama (as good as the best bits of The Wire, yes!). But you expect all of that from The Thick of It, you know?

The I AM BENT gag? The weird Elvis bit? I didn't see that stuff coming, but somehow Iannucci and co manage to get away with these potentially crass sight gags -- they're just another part of the madness, neither hidden away nor over-emphasised. It's a good trick, nicely managed.

Also: Sean, fuck man, you nailed it!

I can't work up any enthusiasm for the fact that there's more Futurama, which... four years ago, that idea wouldn't have made any sense to me. I wanted Futurama back and now I wish it was dead again, so... this is all my fault, basically.

It's like when you're a kid and poor old Snowy stops moving one day so you start to prod the damn cat with your hand but still no movement so you start hitting her with a stick and your younger brother starts to look at you funny and your sister starts to cry but you're determined to make the cat get up so you keep jabbing her and you set off some sort of weird muscle spasm but looking at it you know it's not right and that makes you weirdly angry so you just keep on poking away until Snowy's eye pops out at the exact moments that your mum comes in and so she smacks the stick right out of your hand and scoops the poor cat up off the floor then goes back for the eyeball and to cut a long story short she gets the cat stuffed and you end up with a creepy door-stopper as a constant reminder of how some things should be left alone.

Wait, last time I checked, the nerds and fans weren't writing this season of Futurama. The guys who had already written Futurama had written it.

(checks)

Yep.

Ianucchi....

Day to Day-Brilliant
Alan Partridge-Briliant
His own show- spotty
In the Loop/The Thick of it-Briliant
Time Tunnel- Meh
The Gash- Worthless without Chris Morris

Anything missed?

Anyone seen the new Morris film (4 Lions)?

Also, agree across the board.

Oh so thats why Dan Coyle is such an angry fuck these days - trouble with reading comprehension.

nrh: Audacity of Hype, the book! I'd put that up there in the Brilliant category.

Time Tunnel is hit or miss, so I can see a "meh", and I haven't finished watching his show yet. Otherwise, I can agree with your round up. (Although the laugh track on Partridge drives me a bit crazy.)

Abhay/John: yeah, i should've brought up the movie. Some of these episodes don't have commentaries, so maybe I'll use that to pad these fuckers out.

Sean: What do you mean "these days"? He's ALWAYS like this, wherever he goes.

I wonder if this "continuity" and related jargon - "retcon" mostly, I guess - is starting to penetrate the broader culture. It should be because comics aren't just for kids anymore now, although I myself do breathe mostly through my mouth, so my credibility merits downward adjustment.

Anyway, I can never stay mad at you, Tucksie. I'll just assume I can call you that.

Holy Unseen Scottish Indie, blogrollers! I just realized that none of youse nibbled at the "Local Hero"-flavored chum I tossed in your waters. See it, if you would please! Stars Peter Riegert, Burt Lancaster, P. Capaldi, Dexter Fletcher, and a bunch of nobodies, about a guy who in sent to buy a coastal town for an oil company, to the townspeople's utter delight ('cuz they're gonna be rich!) Has mermaids, punkers, the Aurora Borealis (this machine sez I spelt it wrong; I feel sic), lotsa drunkenness, and the best abusive psychotherapist EVAH.

Also, Mr. Khosla, I liked your Dracula cartoon. It wasn't just for kids. Mr. Stone, I don't think you should tacitly encourage idiots to call you 'Tucksie.' All you other guys seem nice too, I guess.

Holy shit, that's the first I'd heard about a fourth season of The Thick of It. That's brilliant news. The first two series have just come out on DVD here so I'm catching up on that, but it's nice to know there is more to come.

(I was also quite chuffed to learn this morning that the IT Crowd is back for a fourth season. Its humour can can get a bit lowest-common-denominator sometimes, but it's got a beautiful sense of absurdity that still generates a laugh.)

The third series was the first I ever actually saw (after the movie), so there is a bit of weird audience identification with poor Nicola Murray on my part. I still find her one of the most sympathetic characters on the show, but compared to the other horrible people like Terri and Olly, that's not hard.

Looking forward to reading more about the series here, especially since I haven't seen any of the deleted scenes of heard any commentaries. It really does get dramatically meaty later on, and by the last few episodes it's remarkable how the narrative makes no effort whatsoever to babysit its audience, while still htting all the right marks.

Any chance of a Doctor Who review by you guys? I'd love to hear your take on that show....

And don't worry, John. Everybody loves Local Hero. It's so obviously brilliant, it doesn't need to be said out loud.

B.O.B.: I've tried with Dr. Who, I really have, but it just doesn't take. I did watch that Torchwood mini-series because I heard Peter Calpaldi was in it. I spent most of the time I watched it wondering whether or not it was supposed to be serious. Do they only hire bad actors on purpose?

John: I'm Tucksie enough to admit that went over my head, the Local Hero reference. That's getting remedied immediately, if only to reclaim my birth name from your oily grip.

Thanks for the random compliment, John. Also: couldn't get past the first Time Tunnel. I like Alan Partridge but... I think the most I liked it was when he had his own talk show, more than the later stuff. I don't know if I associate that with the laugh track, though, so much as the range of characters he got to interact with.

4 Lions is still playing film festivals in the US-- it somewhat predictably is having troubles finding a distributor. I'm going to try to see it this afternoon, but it's unlikely I'll be able to get tickets.

More importantly, Doctor Who-- oh god, that season finale! Moffat is so, so good at his job. His episodes, I'm constantly applauding-- literally, clapping my hands together. The teaser of that second part, I wanted to give a standing ovation to, in my apartment.

A key thing with Who: The show-runner for the first four seasons was UNEVEN-- he had a populist touch and a very good "wouldn't it be cool" sense, but a real weakness with basic nuts & bolts plotting. But the guy who replaced him, and wrote the best episodes of those first four seasons, Steven Moffat-- he doesn't have that weakness. He is SO, so good at his job. For me, he is to Doctor Who what Grant Morrison is for a lot of comic fans to Superman.

If you wanted to take another shot at it, I would skip the first two seasons of the new show for starters, watch the episode Blink from the Third season (Carey Mulligan stars; my favorite episode of all time), Silence in the Library, Forest of the Dead, and Midnight (I'm also very partial to Unicorn and the Wasp, but cause it's an Agatha Christie thing).

And then just skip to the 5th and most recent season, and see if that works for you any. I would NOT start with season one out of some sense of being obliged to start there. The show constantly reinvents itself, and it's a brand new show with this last season. There have been weak and uneven episodes-- I didn't care much for Vampires of Venice, and the Lodger & Victory of the Daleks were both so-so. I didn't like the Hungry Earth two-parter at all, actually, at all, but those were both important to the overall arc of the season. The rest, though...

The bad actors-- it's a children's show, and so it needs a particular kind of acting. And unlike with superhero comics, the people who make it, luckily, seem to know that it's a children's show. You know, no one talks about Doctor Who being a "modern mythology" because SHUT UP DOCTOR WHO'S FIGHTING THE DALEKS ON TOP OF THE EIFFEL TOWER. You know?

But the Doctor Who I watched as a kid had terrible actors AND no budget, so for me, over-the-top acting in a Doctor Who episode is comfort food, like macaroni and cheese. Like, if the new show had an episode with aliens made out of cardboard, I would be so thrilled.

Like, for me, there's something enormously comforting about how the Doctor's greatest enemies, the Daleks, aren't big fancy CGI nonsense, but these very simple goth-R2D2s from the 1960's. It's not sophisticated, but you know, I look at those things and I remember that it works, that they did spook me as a kid... There's something funny and corny about the Daleks, but they're also genocidal racists with just really creepy voices, you know? And I think that's sort of the thing about Who for me, the unexplainable appeal of it that... it's silly, it's inherently silly, the British version of Superman is an eccentric fop in a bowtie fighting a racist pepper shaker(!), but... it works anyways and not in spite of being that but because it is that to so much...?

I don't know-- I just woke up and wanted to write about Doctor Who because I'm still psyched by that finale, I guess. Sorry.

NOBODY LISTEN TO ABHAY. He is made of lies.

Listen: the only people for whom Doctor Who will ever be satisfying in any way are (1) children, (2) specifically British children, (3) people like me and Abhay and Tim O'Neill who watched Doctor Who as children and now cannot let go, even though they should let go, and run away from it like an abusive alcoholic parent. Doctor Who is a badly-done show. It is badly-written, badly-plotted, badly-acted, just plain bad. What can you say about a show whose most recent (and best) season was based entirely around an elaborate time paradox so full of plot holes it devolves into gibberish halfway through the finale? Or plotlines which repeatedly ask us to take as serious, terrifying monsters a group of early-60s toasterbots who wield rubber death-plungers because updating their look to make them actually intimidating would outrage its overgrown-manchild fanbase?

I have long ago come to accept that Doctor Who will always suck, and that I will always watch it because I am a mentally damaged person, but please, the rest of you can be spared this fate. Look away! Look away!

Four Lions is a lovely piece of comedy with real emotional depth. I look forward to watching it again.

I enjoyed Time Tunnel, it's not staggering but far less slight than other UK comedy. With its gloss it seems more mainstream but there's some great jokes in there.

I went to the premier of In The Loop in Ireland and he gave a great Q&A afterwards, I am waiting for Seaon 4 of the Thick of It far more than I did for any season of LOST.

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