I Remember The 1990’s – Part 4: Time To Play The Game Show

26 04 2012

Another time to look at a simpler time when Big Brother was just a member of the family.

One of the 1990’s main features for television was Game Shows. If you look at the rubbish shows on TV today they are nothing more than copy cats of each other, quiz broadcasts. In the 1990’s there was a diverse range of Game Shows where the contestants had to participate and be physical instead of just sitting/standing around, answering questions and being generally lazy. The constant talk of obesity in this country it is easy to see why, no more physical TV shows.

Even children were physically more fitter because they had shows like Fun House. It was one of the highlights of Fridays when coming home from school. 2 teams of children (one boy and one female) would participate in incredibly silly games in the hope of getting points and then win the chance of running around in the fun house to win an assortment of prizes, I wonder if anyone managed to collect all the prizes in the Fun House? This was presented as always by Pat Sharp and aided by his two cheerleaders Melanie and Martina. The Fun House was always the main attraction, it was the show you wanted to be on, I remember the bobsled being the most fun looking part.

Fun House was not the only form of physical entertainment for children; some people may remember Run The Risk. Another game show but this time presented on CBBC where as Fun House was presented on CITV. Run The risk involved 3 teams participating in silly games some of which involved Gunge which was more valuable than oil for TV executives as well as answering questions. It’s presentation style was similar to many game shows of the time which included studios with an audience and no natural sun light, it also included electro music which helped its overall style as being slightly rebellious. It’s one of those shows which was absolutely fantastic but only well-remembered by those who saw it and enjoyed it which is a real shame really because the games were similar to other shows of the time but it’s presentation style really stood out.

There was one other Major Show for kids and it was presented by a man who is possibly the greatest children’s TV show presenter in history, Dave Benson Phillips. The show was called Get Your Own Back in which children apply to have their parents or other adults subjected to a series of silly challenges before the possibility of having them dropped into a tank of Gunge. DBP was of course the star attraction with his wacky style and wacky voice. The show had many format changes in its history but the overall idea stayed the same. The show ended in 2003 after 190 episodes but I have just found out that there is a planned revival in the works.

These 3 shows were all brilliant in their own ways but as far as I know only one has had repeats on Challenge, that being Fun House, I would say that they are all equally brilliant with possibly Get Your Own Back being the better show. All 3 shows also had Fantastic soundtracks.

It was later on in the decade that the Greatest Game Show of all time arrived, Robot Wars. Robot Wars was an amazing show where teams of people who spend a lot of time in the shed make deadly robots that would attack each other. The show continued into the 2000’s but is sadly not on TV anymore and it is about time that it gets a revival. It was the show I wanted to appear on the most and I still want to compete in this sport. The show was eventually (STUPIDLY STUPIDLY STUPIDLY) sold to Channel 5 and that is where it died. So this is really a message for the BBC – BRING IT BACK YOU IDIOTS. I will keep this part short because I can probably get a much better look at Robot Wars if it was a whole post.

Whereas the children had their shows, some of the most well-remembered shows were on Saturdays. Big Break was one of the main events of a Saturday night along with Casualty and Noel’s House Party. It involved several people from the public teaming up with professional Snooker Players to try and win prizes. It was presented by Jim Davidson and John Virgo. What is most confusing about snooker as a whole is why does it take forever seeing as the professionals in Big Break could clear a table in less than 3 minutes? My favourite part as always was the Trick Shot round where Virgo would get the contestant to try and perform some amazing trick (and usually help them cheat). It was also the occasion when the show was most likely to appear on Auntie’s Bloomers. The show was potentially the first sighting of a formula which would eventually spawn Strictly Come Dancing.

Bullseye was more 80’s and so the only thing I will mention about it is that it is about time that we have a year off from watching it constantly on Challenge.

Gladiators was one of the biggest shows of the decade, John Fashanu and Ulrika Jonsson presented a show where many physically fit contestants have to complete many demanding challenges against the might of a group of athletes known as The Gladiators. Forget the recent remake (that was rubbish and not worth remembering), this is the true gladiators. The star attraction being Wolf who was a villain to the contestants and the public. He was an extremely entertaining character as well as a very dangerous athlete for the contestants. Another star attraction was John Anderson, the Scottish referee who had his own memorable style in which he overlooked the games, “You Will Go On My First Whistle”. Many of the challenges were something in their own rights. Games like duel which really caught the nation where a contestant and a Gladiator would fight up a height using big sticks. Other games like my favourite Slingshot involved contestants having to jump on a bungee cord to collect a ball and put into their box while avoiding the Gladiators. Eventually the contestants would have to face each other in the Eliminator which was this massive assault course which involved many challenges including the travellator which was a treadmill going up an incline (this was the subject of a comedy piece where someone managed to get a remote for it to go up, see the video below). The show had the combination of music from Queen and its own soundtrack which was an incredible combination.

We can’t talk about shows like these without mentioning The Crystal Maze. What is regarded by many (not including me) as the greatest Game Show of all time. A show where a team of people play through challenges to win crystals so they can have as much time as possible to compete for a big prize in a crystal shaped dome with floating tickets. The only format changes were when the Industrial Zone became a Ship Zone, The clothing worn by the contestants changed and when Richard O’Brien (who recently sang for a song on a certain Puppet TV Show) left and was replaced by Ed Tudor Pole. It was a show that is just asking for a revival and why shouldn’t it, as long as it is exactly the same show (no changes). It’s crazy style was accelerated even further by it’s wacky presenters. Not much can be said without making a whole post about it.

Technically all game shows from this period had fantastic soundtracks particularly in their intro music videos for the show. You have to look at shows that are not game shows to find anything equally as good on TV these days (Rescue: Special Ops). In more recent years the stupid Quiz format has dominated the schedules with only a few shows deserving a mention, shows like Total Wipeout, Globo Loco (look out for the bloke saying “EACH”, one of the best catchphrases in TV history) and Jungle Run (before it was ruined). It is time for the Game Shows to return and get people off their backsides. Stop pretending you can sing or have some strange ability and get off your bum and do something active that is also fun for people to watch without making a complete fool of yourself. The 1990’s was a golden period for Game Shows, a period which will be remembered and may not be seen again. Game Shows, another reason why the 90’s was Fantastic.


My Week: 09/04/2012 – 15/04/2012

20 04 2012

After being inspired by the Radio 4 series Ed Reardon’s Week I thought I would give a go at doing something similar but while that is fiction this is reality. I am not going to add links (at the moment, maybe one day) because it will take forever.

Hurray I have been looking forward to this day. I am having a day out with my best friend Esther. I even had an early night to make sure I would not be tired. Once again I have not had breakfast but seeing as I usually have breakfast at 11:00am and lunch soon after it does feel a bit weird. Well just before 11:00am Esther and her parents arrive and I get an amazing Easter Egg off her. I got Esther one that was just an egg with Happy Easter Esther on the front of it. It was interesting to see the egg I received from her and discovered it was not an egg but a rabbit with Sam written on it. Now that was a surprise but also a lovely one and a delicious one which I discovered the following day. Well while her parents are having tea and coffee with my Mam and Dad we leave and start our day. Even though during the day I have problems with my throat which is what happens when I have chocolate and nothing to drink (my stupidity for not buying a drink when I bought the cookies), I also have a nasty pain downstairs while walking which goes away once I have gone to the toilet. We go to the castle which for a small hill has a nasty climb which always tires me out. Well at least it is not as bad as the hill up to Williamson’s Park, I mean why can’t we have a tram system or flatten the hill. Actually a tram system would greatly benefit the city but it seems as though I am the only one who thinks so. Being a bank holiday many shops are open despite things that my family say about them not being open on bank holidays even though they were open last Easter Monday as well. We end up going to Pizza Hut for lunch only to find out that the buffet is not on because it is a bank holiday, probably because they think everyone is having a picnic at a castle somewhere. Oh well it was a Good Pizza, I end up having most of it because Esther had a massive breakfast. I phone up Myra (my brother’s wife) because it was an ideal opportunity for Myra to talk to Esther because she has wanted to meet her. Well Esther invites both Myra and Luke to our annual visit to Blackpool Pleasure Beach so we can have a fun day out where Myra and Esther can have some time together and Me and Luke can catch up, that’s how Fantastic Esther is always coming up with ideas, like me really, well they do say great minds think alike (whoever they are, that part has not been made clear, could they mean those characters with red eyes in that Mitchell and Webb Look sketch). We go to HMV and buy some CD’s, Esther buy’s some Love songs while I buy a Black Sabbath CD I have wanted to buy since September. Well we go to Juicafe for a milkshake but I continue to have problems downstairs so we go to the doctors but turns out it’s closed so I decide to wait till tomorrow despite the fact it is really painful (however the pain completely disappears and so if I was to go to the doctor they would probably not find anything, again). We go to the train station so she can catch her train and as her train leaves an old train passes by (probably one of those special day trip ones which cost £5000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 to go on) which was interesting to watch but a shame it was not a steam train. Within the next few seconds I already begin to miss Esther and I still do, even though she lives a whole lot closer to me than my friends from Roothill.

After watching The Hunger Games at the cinema I have been reading the book when I go to bed and it is quite fun to match things from the film to things I am reading, even though it has been over a week since I saw it and I still can’t get enough of it. It makes a change from reading comic books and by the time I have finished reading all 3 books I may have several comic’s to read. I have decided to start reading books again and have chosen bed time to read them because then I can read them at a good rate. I have been reading several books recently but despite the fact a year and a half has gone I still have not finished reading MogWorld. I have decided that I would like to read Bram Stoker’s Dracula and possibly Alexandra Dumas novel The Count of Monte Cristo. I keep looking up how well my blog is doing and at the moment the viewing figures look a bit erratic and I do sometimes get annoyed when posts I have enjoyed writing don’t do as well as others (and also when people don’t (as usual) leave comments or rate my posts, I like it when they do and it is also nice when they do, no offence to those of you who do, it is greatly appreciated). OK other posts I did enjoy writing are some of the most viewed but why is my review of The Hunger Games only getting viewed on the weekend. While it is not my favourite film (possibly my favourite non-Godzilla film) I do think it is one of my best reviews to date. I am already looking forward to its Home Video release, in fact I am looking forward to that more than the next Batman film seeing as it is unlikely that the Legendary Pictures Godzilla Film will not be getting released this year and there is no sign of The Host sequel.

Too many shows on TV to watch, I keep recording them but don’t really get time to watch them, I still need to watch some episodes of Casualty, Rookie Blue repeats, Sea Patrol season 5, Touch plus some movies not to mention the fact that Not Going Out returns this week. Oh well I need to keep working, I won’t pass the year without work. Need to get this maths thing done and 750 word essay for film and media. As the week goes on I finish the work but don’t start anymore, it’s the Easter break for crying out loud, I want a break. I continue to play Minecraft on the Server with friends form Roothill and continue to build my Giant Lighthouse, if only there was an easier way to gather materials. I could use better tools but everyone else finds the better ingredients in places I am not looking in. I could try to make a generator but once again I need the materials to do so and I don’t have the materials to make the materials. I have decided that my next major project will be a small version of the Hunger Games arena and I found an ideal location in a nice green area near Matt’s Waterfall party place. I suppose if I keep digging I will find better resources. I do like Matt’s new station for travelling from my house to the lighthouse. Because creatures keep spawning inside the thing I might remove most of the floors. One Question about Minecraft still evades me; how come my character can eat huge amounts of food but does not need to go to the toilet? I keep reading news on GamesIndustry.biz and as usual the media is being nasty to Nintendo, the only time the media is nice is when the media is proven wrong which is usually all the time. I remember when the Wii was about to come out and how everyone said it was rubbish, well they were wrong but too proud to admit their mistake. I remember before the DS was released and how all attention was on that massive failure that was the NGage, yes combine a phone with Video Games, didn’t work did it. Ok you have something similar with the IPhone and how people claim how it will be the future and completely forgetting how low the memory on them is and how big games on them won’t work, maybe on the next generation which will be tomorrow knowing how often IPhone’s are released but then the consoles will have better power in them and still beat them. Well now all the media is being mean to the Wii U and completely failing to notice that Kinect and PS Move were only released because Motion Sensing worked fantastically with Nintendo. Now this new controller is turning the media back into what it was and failing to notice that the potential tablet control on the PS4 looks similar to the Wii U but NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO the media still has to be nasty to Nintendo, technically everything that is standard on consoles today were invented by Nintendo so I don’t see why they can’t see that Nintendo are the innovators and the PlayStation and the YCube 180 are just copycats.

On Thursday I finally watch a Godzilla film for the first time in a long time. I decided to watch Godzilla vs Mothra 2 because it is the only one that I have not seen since buying it on DVD. One of my ultimate favourite films with some amazing monster scenes and Music as well as acting but does it get mentioned as often as that film with all the blue people in it or that one with so many plot holes the ship sinks or that other one where a bunch of small people have to transport some jewellery for miles instead of doing it on the giant eagles like someone with a brain would do, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I don’t understand why Syfy does not show Godzilla films in the UK, they could increase viewing figures immensely, it has been too long since a Japanese Godzilla film was shown in the UK, instead they show that 1998 (not technically a Godzilla film) film, I want to watch a PROPER GODZILLA FILM WITH MONSTER FIGHTS.

On Friday I travel to Ware which sounds like Where and as such it is complicated to tell people you are going there because it sound like a question for a Christian Conference Weekend. It is north of London but I have to travel to London just to change trains. I have reserved seats but there are some annoying children behind me with their dad, it is quite hard to resist the urge to turn around and shout SHUT UP at them. I do get to play on my 3DS and play some Su Do Ku. I get into Euston and look for something to eat and once again find out that Euston is the only major train station in London to not have a Sushi place. I like Sushi but nowhere North of Manchester has sushi places. I end up buying a giant pasty for £4.00, stupid pasty tax; I thought it was only supposed to be 60p more. I have been studying market theory and aren’t things supposed to get cheaper where there is more demand, I thought there would be lots of demand in London. I almost get into a panic when I think I lose my ticket but then find them hiding in my pocket. How come on the Great Anglia line all the stations don’t have the digital timetables like every other train station in the whole country. I finally get to Ware not where and remember that my only contact is Jim from GBM so I ring him only to meet the event organiser Nigel after ringing Jim so I ring Jim again to tell him that I have a lift. It’s a hot day so that means that pasty did not need to have tax included on it, cheapskate.

I arrive at the Christian college and pick up my info pack and a name badge, I loathe badges. I almost get into a state when I accidently doze off and discover I am 10 minutes late for tea. I get a shock when Jim comes looking for me. I recognize a few people but as usual am too shy to sit with them unless they want me too, I really need to work on not being scared of people I know. Unfortunately I forget to notice there is pudding available and go without, mince for tea 2 days in a row, I had some for breakfast as a toasted sandwich. The lasagne does look like cottage pie. Well I get picked out for accidently yawning at the beginning of the session. It is here that I realise I forgot to bring a Bible with me (along with my card games which would have been fantastic to bring but were not on my mind on Friday morning, I still have to play Munchkin and I have not played Fluxx for months, boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. I do get to observe Tom and Suzie playing Stomp or whatever it is called which usually involves slapping the table. I also read MogWorld for the first time since the Summer before going to bed because I want to prolong The Hunger Games because it is sooooooooo Good.

Saturday and today is the day we have to do those Workshops, I don’t like group discussions because I am always worried about saying something that may be wrong and might get told off, yes I am 22 but it still worries me. Egg, Tomato and Sausage for breakfast, nice, kind off, really messy to eat. I hear Tom talking about having a game of sardines which is something like Hide and Seek. I also talk to someone about drama and how one film I saw involved so much overacting it was quite good, I saw it at last year’s LMC end of year show but I cannot find it on YouTube, oh well. The first workshop is quite good but I find it hard to stay awake in the second, probably because of the Sardines Game. Basically it is like Hide and seek but one person hides while everyone seek them and once they are found they have to stay there until the last person. I end up looking where everyone isn’t and no wonder I am always one of the last people to find them, but to be fair they could easily hide up the chimney. It’s an interesting game but has some flaws particularly when you introduce buildings with several floors, if it was in a forest or just on the ground floor it would be better. In the evening I have tremendous fun playing Card Games for about 3 hours with Tom, Suzie, Chris, Tania and some other people who were friends with my friends followed by riddles for an hour. I end up having to pick up 24 cards in an extreme rules version of UNO. I even get more when I keep talking during the silent red phase, the game ends due to the number of cards I have. I keep thinking to myself “I should have brought Fluxx and or Munchkin. During one case of the ridiculous Silent Red rule I sing in my head and then when it is time for another colour I start singing aloud, if you want to know what song it was, well it was Cry Of The Banshee by Brocas Helm, one of the most obscure Heavy Metal Songs in the history of music which is quite a shame because it is an AWESOME song.

Decide to miss out on the early part of breakfast to get some more sleep on Sunday. Pain au Chocolat for the first time in years. There is a bit of service in morning with the weekend speaker Roger Carswell and Chris Hawthorne, there is also a Question time session where out of the 9 questions asked 4 of them are mine. After Lunch I need to get ready to leave by packing up my room. It’s a nice place but tiring to walk around for its size. I get some good answers for my questions. Then it is time to leave and say goodbye to people who I have come to know better as well as those who I knew already, it is hard especially with them all being in the south and near each other while I am in the north, oh well it was fun while it lasted (I did wish Esther could have come).

It is only a short trip to the railway station with a couple of girls who came to the event I met at the train station on Friday, we go in Nigel’s car and then wait Half an hour for the train. They get off at Broxbourne and I get off at the final stop, Seven Sisters and have to take the tube back to Euston where I discover I have to wait for over an hour for my train, I decide to look for some food and discover there is a Sushi place at Euston and so I get some sushi. While waiting for the train I knew from past experience that everyone surrounding me would be getting the same train, any train that goes in the direction of Lancaster (even those that terminate at Lancaster) are popular, some leave when Liverpool Lime Street is announced. The announcement does the usual thing of telling us stuff it has already told us 5 times instead of telling us which platform our train is on. Then just as I predicted everyone heads for platform 8 for the Glasgow Central Train which goes to Lancaster. I get on and grab a Priority seat hoping it is not reserved. I do see something weird which is some woman looking at the seats in front of me and keeps looking at them for about 5 minutes, constantly. At this point I need to go to the toilet but I was going to wait until the train was moving before I did because someone could easily steal my seat. The seat in front gets filled but not by that woman. I get ready to go to the toilet and I really need it but people are still moving, there is one woman who keeps prowling around, maybe she thinks I need the toilet and is waiting to pounce, there is one person at the table across from me who keeps standing up, eventually he stops after messing with his case. The train moves and after a further 10 minutes I go to the toilet and remember something Alan Partridge said, Going to the toilet does take away some of the time on a long journey but he was referring to train stations. I finish the journey coming up with ideas of how to complain about the toilet situation on trains for a future blog post and play Pokémon Soul Silver for the rest of the way, the amount of potions you need to stay alive in certain matches particularly when you are trying to level up your Pokémon, Trostodon is up to level 30 while Sheep is up to level 20. I do get a bit annoyed when all the in-game characters use sleep and confusion potions on you and how come they always get to go first unless I have Trostodon out, also how come things are ridiculously expensive? It is a fun game but there are too many Pokémon, maybe I should get that Black and White one, at least then there is a controlled number of creatures. I then arrive in Lancaster and get a lift from my Dad home to my house and then finish off the evening by being on the computer and load my pictures for the week.

Well that was my week, it was an extremely fun week and this was an enjoyable post to write (please don’t forget to comment and rate, thank you), I might do it again, not every week because that would be too hard. Thank you Ed Reardon for inspiring me. So that was my week, how was yours in comparison?

GENEPOOL (This post has 3455 words in it).

Sam’s Rant – Film Awards 2011

18 04 2012

Yes it is that time of the year when Good films are given Awards. The awards season has passed but who cares. It is time for the awards that matter to be handed out. So Let’s see who has won this year.

Best Actor – Nominations are: Aaron Eckhart in Battle Los Angeles, Andy Serkis in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Chris Hemsworth in Thor and Robert Downey Jr in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

The Winner is: Chris Hemsworth for playing Thor in Thor.

Best Supporting Actor – Nominations are: Idris Elba for playing Heimdall in Thor, Anthony Hopkins for playing Odin in Thor, Stephen Fry for playing Mycroft in SH:AGOS (simple form) and Scott Glenn for playing the wise man in Sucker Punch.

The Winner is: Idris Elba for his fantastic performance as Heimdall in Thor.

Best Actress – The Nominations are: Natalie Portman as Jane Foster in Thor, Elle Fanning as Alice Dainard in Super 8, Noomi Rapace as Madame Simza Heron in SH:AGOS and Michelle Rodriguez as Elena Santos in Battle Los Angeles.

The Winner is: Elle Fanning for her performance as Alice Dainard in Super 8.

Best Supporting Actress – The Nominations are: Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis in Thor, Jaimie Alexander as Sif in Thor and Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler in SH:AGOS.

The Winner is: Kat Dennings as the teenage like Darcy Lewis in Thor.

Most Disappointing film of the year – The Winner is: Sucker Punch. It looked good but the film was all over the place, it was harder to understand than Inception. It has some nice bits and good characters but it’s not as good as it could have been.

Best Improvement of the year – The Winner is: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Seeing as Part 1 is the Worst Film in the history of cinema part 2 was a good improvement and a nice end to the series, I am just so glad it is all over (if there was a ninth one I probably would have gone insane).

HP7P2 (Warner Bros. 2011)

Trailer of the Year – the Nominations are: Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Thor, Battle Los Angeles, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Super 8.

The Winner is: Super 8 for both the original trailer and its main trailer (preferably the original one).

Best Special Effects – The Nominations are: Super 8, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Battle Los Angeles, Thor and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

The Winner is: Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Super 8 (Joint Winner), The battle scenes and the robots in Transformers were amazing but Super 8’s camera work, lighting and effects as a whole cannot be ignored so that is why they hold the title together.

Super 8 and Transformers 3

One to Watch in 2012: at his point it is unlikely that the Legendary Pictures Godzilla film will be getting released this year and there is still no news on The Host Sequel, they would be the ones to watch but for now they are not. This award goes to a film I did not see coming and have already seen. I am looking forward to its home media release more than seeing any other film at the cinema this year. It is quite possibly my Favourite Non-Godzilla film (I will find out when it gets released on DVD). It is the Incredibly Fantastic film known as The Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games (Lionsgate - 2012)

Best Original Idea – The Nominations are: Super 8 and Battle Los Angeles

The Winner is: Battle Los Angeles for bringing back the Alien Invasion idea to the 21st Century and making it awesome once again (OK it is not as Good as Independence Day).

Best Character – The Winner is: Heimdall in Thor. An absolute beast of a man, an incredibly intimidating and cool character.

Best Cameo – The Winner is: Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in X-Men First Class telling Magneto and Xavier exactly what he thinks (WARNING: Contains Strong Language), it would be good to see him in any future films they do.

Best Director – The Nominations are: J. J. Abrams for Super 8, Michael Bay for Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Kenneth Branagh for Thor.

The Winner is: I was unsure if making a Super Hero film would work for someone like Kenneth Branagh but he has done an amazing job, he picked some of the finest actors who took on the roles just because he was Directing it. It was an incredible film and he has done an incredible job.

Now The Important One

Best Film of 2011: Just like previous years I will show my Top 5 with Number 1 being the best.

5. Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows

4. Super 8

3. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

2. Thor

1. The Best Film of 2011 is

Transformers: Dark Of The Moon

Roundup: Number of Award per film:

Sucker Punch – 1

HP7P2 – 1

X-Men First Class – 1

Battle Los Angeles – 1

The Hunger Games – 1

Transformers: Dark of the Moon – 2

Super 8 – 3

Thor – 5


No Dodos Were Made Extinct In The Production Of This Review, Except For That One That Mysteriously Got Into Brian Blessed’s Lunch Box – The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists

11 04 2012

Hurray, another Pirate film, well at least this time it is done differently. I wonder if Aardman get bored with continuously doing Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Adverts (that’s not a wacky animated TV Show). I wonder if Morph will get a film one day. There must come a time when they want to do something a bit different and they have shown that in the past they can do it. Rex the Runt was brilliant, Flushed Away and Chicken Run were both amazing films and now there is The Pirates!

Aardman’s first film in a while but to be fair that is to be expected, it is a slow process using the animation techniques that they do. Apparently it is not uncommon to only produce 4 seconds of footage a week; it’s a good thing then that there is more than 1 person working there. This time the story is set on the high seas. When Flushed Away was made that was done in CGI because the effects needed could only be done in CGI but that brings the question of why I this one done in Plasticine and has several water splashes in it.

Anyway the story goes that a pirate captain simply called The Pirate Captain and his crew of mixed match pirates including the long-suffering Number 2 and one pirate who is obviously a girl with a fake beard enters the Pirate of the Year competition, however when he sees the other entrants he knows he really needs to impress to win. After several unsuccessful plunders he lands on the beagle and meets Charles Darwin. As he is made to walk the plan he notices that the crew’s beloved parrot Polly is actually a Dodo. He convinces them to go to London and try to win a science prize. However this is a bad idea as Queen Victoria hates pirates. When they arrive in London they pretend to be Girl Guides and sleep over night at Darwin’s house. During the night Darwin tries to steal the Dodo with help from his butler monkey. He fails and the pirates disguise themselves as scientists and win the prize; however they are unmasked by Queen Victoria. The Pirate Captain is then pardoned and given lots of Gold in exchange for his Dodo.

He goes to Blood Island and wins the Pirate of the year award but is then stripped of it when the Pirate King finds out about his pardon and this means he is no longer a pirate. He is stripped of his Pirate clothes and then the crew of his ship find out that Polly was traded and leave him. He returns to London and discovers that Polly has been taken aboard the Queens Flag Ship as part of special club for people who like to eat rare animals. The captain and Darwin go to rescue the Dodo and have a long fight with the Queen and with the help of his crew rescue Polly. He then learns about the true meaning of friendship and the monkey joins his crew, while Darwin gets a girlfriend in the Galapagos.

The film as a whole is quite short and feels quite short but to be fair you can’t really string out an animated film like this for too long or you’ll ruin it. The cast has been well-chosen with Hugh Grant taking the lead role with David Doctor Who Tennant as Charles Darwin and Martin Freeman as Number 2. Other cast members include the Fantastic Lenny Henry and the Incredible Brian Blessed playing the Pirate King.The film has a nice soundtrack but for me the best part of the soundtrack is used in one scene where the pirates sail to London and in the background you can the song London Calling by The Clash, it’s a shame it’s not used anymore in the film.

The film is well written but it is based on a book, so who knows maybe more than one film. It does have a nice Britishness sense about it which makes a nice change from American Pirate films. It has some verbal comedy in it but it’s best comedy is more visual and in case more slapstick including things on the map and the early ships that are plundered.

While this is a pretty short review you cannot say much more about it because it is a pretty short film, but that is not necessarily a bad thing because for a short film there is a lot of content. I mean at the moment it is my third favourite film this year behind The Muppets and a certain film I saw a couple of weeks ago. I do see a possible future series from this film and one that will be exciting to see how it pans out. The film at best is a comedy and so while it does have the scenes you would expect to have in a film such as emotion the comedy pieces are the highlights and really enjoyable, It is all round an enjoyable film and makes a nice change from Wallace and Gromit and Pirates of the Caribbean.


The Mighty Mallard

6 04 2012

Last May I did a post on Steam Trains. Now I thought I would do another one this time about my Favourite Train, Mallard.


Mallard is a very famous steam train. It was designed by train designer and engineer Sir Nigel Gresley (who later had an A4 named after him). It set the speed record for the fastest Steam Train in the world. It is also a very BIG train. Mallard is a member of the LNER A4 Class, a group of streamlined steam trains built in Britain in 1935. 35 of them were built and were one of the most recognisable trains around. They were used until 1960 (1966 In Scotland) when diesel locomotives were brought in. Possibly one of the world’s first High Speed rail trains. The A4’s were fitted with double chimneys (first introduced with Mallard in 1938). Their streamlined design not only helped with aerodynamics and increased speed but also prevented smoke getting in the driver’s visibility.

It is interesting to note that while Mallard holds the speed record for Steam Trains it is a Giant Train being 21 metres long and weighing 165 tons if you include the tender. The Speed record was achieved on July 3rd 1938 (4 months after it was built) and achieved a speed of 126 mph which compare it to the Virgin Pendolino’s operating speed (125 mph) means it is faster to go by steam train than modern electric. The train went from Little Bytham to Essendine Railway Station. Mallard beat the previous record which was held by the German DRG Class 05 002 from 1936 (124.5mph).  However the engine overheated and required maintenance and repair work before it went out on the line again. Mallard was eventually withdrawn from service in 1963. Mallard is now part of the National Railway Museum in York. In 2008 Mallard was brought outside for the first time in years and was displayed alongside the four surviving A4’s in Britain. It was moved to the Locomotion Museum in Shildon in 2010 but then brought back to York in 2011.

Now while Mallard is an amazing engine to see what would be fantastic is to see it move under it’s own power again. I do sometimes think that when the Flying Scotsman is finished it may be an idea to restore the Mighty Mallard back to working condition, I would like that. I also think that maybe a future project for the A1 trust would be to make a new A4 (ok, it is a different class but the A4s are fantastic). While Mallard is now a legend in the world of steam trains it’s speed and design can be seen in many high speed trains today, it’s design was perfect for aerodynamic and speed and from this many of the fastest trains running today honour Mallard in their design and speed. While Mallard is now a Museum peace it’s legacy continues.


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