Friday, May 24, 2013

New Fred Fixler site

Former students have created a site to memorialise the quintessential American illustrator Fred Fixler, who died in 2010.  Well worth a visit.  To go there, click here.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Murder on the Home Front

ITV's latest wartime crime drama (a kind of mash-up Foyle's War, Bletchley Circle, CSI) is a two-parter by David Kane based on the memoirs of Molly Lefebure, wartime assistant to legendary Home Office Pathologist Keith Simpson.

OK, it was yet another serial killer yarn from a time before serial killers proliferated, and the names of the principals had been changed to protect the actual, but despite a fairly perfunctory script the show rattled along.  The direction was strong, the performances good from a cast of emerging stars rather than the usual old hacks who would have featured had this been a BBC drama.  The settings were, for me, a pleasure in themselves - but the special effects in terms of the Blitz were truly awful, the worst I have seen since the amateurish Titanic, a flaw made all the more glaring by the brilliant title sequence of actual bombs being dropped on London.

Another solid contribution from ITV Drama, which is enjoying something of a golden period.  It certainly offered some relief in what has to be have been the worst week's TV since Christmas.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Crimson Horror

Last night's episode of Doctor Who was the best of the series by some distance.  Unfortunately it may have been because Matt Smith was in it less.

The Crimson Horror was by Mark Gatiss, the best of the series regular writers.  Only Gatiss can combine Victorian Gothic with off-the-wall science fiction and - the key factor - a thoroughly cultivated sense of the dramatic.  Here were no silly time tricks - even the flashback of how the Doctor got to be 'the monster' were handled by period photography.  Returning characters were there because they were exciting - the Silurian lady detective Vastra, her kiss-ass lesbian lover Jenny, and simple-minded Silurian butler Strax.  Best of all, though - and a sure sign of how prestigious the re-born Who has become - was the appearance of Dame Diana Rigg, no less, and her daughter Rachael Stirling.  Not only were they magnificent, but they seemed to inspire the rest of the cast to up their acting game.

Next week, sadly, the Cybermen return yet again.  What is it with the rebooted Doctor Who and the least frightening monsters since Dusty Bin?