The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘channel 4’

Get Your Geek On – Day Two

Posted by BigWords on September 13, 2011

Channel 4 has a lot to answer for – It was where I got my first taste of both anime and Hammer films. Hell, it was where, before The Big Breakfast began, Jayce And The Wheeled Warriors and Ulysses 31 would keep me amused during my early mornings when the BBC channels (only two of them back then) were being boring with news or Ceefax. Yeah, my insomnia was bad even as a kid. I suppose that is how I often found myself sitting in front of the television when normal people were busy sleeping, so the late-night horror films would have been an attraction I couldn’t resist. Yet again, my introduction to a staple of geekdom was roundabout and unconventional. The first horror film from Hammer I can clearly remember was The Curse Of The Werewolf, though I’m almost certain I had sat through the television serial version of Quatermass And The Pit by that point. The Quatermass serial was one of the first videos I went out and bought with my own money, so it certainly struck a nerve with me. The lasting influence was cartoons though…

Anime wouldn’t really become an obsession until I happened across Ghost In The Shell, but the look of these strange cartoons popping up in the television schedules was interesting enough for me to look out for more to watch. Of course, being stuck in the UK in the eighties, the choice of viewing material was severely limited, and I had to make do with a lot of rubbish badly stitched together, and dubbed by people who would rather be doing anything other than voice-overs. Thundercats wouldn’t be shown in the UK until 1987, by which time I had well and truly discovered the school library, so I only caught the latter part of the first season.

Sunday mornings were where Land Of The Giants, Planet Of The Apes, The Time Tunnel and other shows were given a fresh airing in the 90s on Channel 4, and BBC2 slowly shrugged off its’ academic stylings to embrace Star Trek, Farscape (the game of which is the only black mark against the franchise), and the severely underrated Seven Days. The 90s was a great time for genre shows, both old and new, though I never really understood the immense hype surrounding The X-Files. Far more interesting was Babylon 5, which (for reasons I still don’t understand) always seemed to be on at 2am. It didn’t bother me, with the almost sleepless state I spent most of the decade cursing, and I was able to watch and read a lot of unusual material which would otherwise have slipped through the cracks.

Both the increased attention I was paying to science fiction and fantasy, and the growing output of great shows, made me aware of the older material which was just out of reach. Before the widespread uptake of the internet, I had to contend myself with reading about a lot of the classic films and television shows which were still hidden away. Most of those shows are now, of course, available to watch online, but the 90s was a frustrating time to be interested in them. I picked up a slew of magazines such as Cult Times, Shivers, Dark Side, the late, lamented Samhain, and – importantly – House Of Hammer. The old Quality issues, mind you. Those, along with a few books which were of varying quality, showed me how interconnected the world of film and comics were, and the beautiful adaptations of Hammer films made me seek out the films themselves.

Everything, as I often point out, is connected.

The 90s was also the era I really got back into US comics – well… when they only cost one quid, anyway. After the mid-90s I began waiting a few months to pick them up for a fraction of the cover price, especially after the colossal waste of money which was The Death Of Superman. Image Comics bored me with shallow characters and a heavy focus on art, while Marvel seemed to be intent on insulting people with clones of Spider-Man and so many X-Men titles that it was impossible to follow even the most basic storyline. I retreated from the front line and took to collecting Gold Key and Dell, which had far superior stories than the superhero titles. It’s the largest of my collections, ranging from the mid-50s to the late seventies, and the one which I spend the most time with. I have spread out in recent years to Charlton as well, because those hundred-pagers are so beautiful.

The main part of that comic collection? Twilight Zone, Man From UNCLE, Boris Karloff’s Tales Of Mystery, and the other shows I mentioned desperately wanting to know more about earlier in this post.

I told you everything was connected.

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It’s Not A Waste Of Money, It’s A Chance To Compare And Contrast…

Posted by BigWords on August 9, 2009

There was a time, many, many moons ago, when I had a fairly decent library of video cassettes. There was probably a couple of thousand bought films, and another four or so thousand films which I had recorded off the television, not taking into account the immense number of television series which I managed to accumulate over the years. Nowadays I stick to DVDs or DVD and CD-Roms with downloaded material burned to disk. The thing which always bothered me about videos was the noticeable deterioration, with every use adding to the destruction of the image on the tape in a small way.

DVDs don’t have this problem, though they have managed to create a parallel and equally frustrating problem which is becoming apparent as my collection nears record levels. I’m a compulsive buyer, so when I see something that sounds like it might be good to watch, or just because it is on sale, I go ahead and lay my money down. This wouldn’t be a problem, but I have noticed that I am accumulating a number of duplicates which aren’t technically the same film twice bought over. I needn’t explain this to long-time DVD aficionados, but some people might be staring at the screen with a funny look on their face.

Back when Daredevil was released on DVD it was the butchered studio version which – honestly – didn’t make much sense. The Director’s Cut followed soon after, and I have both. The issue arrives with the versions of the film not being collected in one easy box set. Thus I must have two boxes taking up valuable space. The Hellboy disk is another case entirely, and it requires a bit of explanation, especially due to the nature of the third release, which outdoes everything…

Originally released was the single disk version of Hellboy, which was fine enough on its own. That cost me £8, which I thought was a decent enough price at the time. The 2-disk edition came along a short time later, at the (I thought) hefty price of £12, but yet again I had to have it, if only because there was more insights from Guillermo del Toro, Ron Perlman and Mike Mignola. I loved the film, so it was a no-brainer that I would buy the new release. A little time later there was a neat 3-disk box-set which I managed to pick up for £10. I don’t know if I should feel aggrieved that a single film cost a total of £30, or if I should be glad I liked the movie so much…

The latest film to make me wince at my own stupidity spending habits has been Fight Club, which I originally picked up in the single disk edition. You know, the one where Brad Pitt is holding up the bar of soap… Well, I managed to find the 2-disk version (with a beautiful slipcase) for only £3 in a sale, but considering I paid out £12 for the first copy, I’m now left with the impression that someone is laughing, somewhere, at me.

It isn’t as if the cost is the main issue, though it does add up over time, but rather the expectation that only films which do well on DVD are given the opportunity at getting shiny new releases with a wealth of additional material. How do they judge ‘successful’? By the number of sales of the single disk editions? Maybe? And who is buying all those releases? It me, and people like me. Am I being screwed over? Yeah. Will I keep on buying DVDs? Of course.

An interesting note, and a personal moment of WTF which cropped up when I was clearing out my cupboard: I have six copies of Blade Runner.

The video cassette, a copy taped off the television with the different ending shown on Channel 4, the Laserdisc, a Japanese DVD, the newish revised 2-disk DVD and the big box set which cost an amazing £36. I even have the Marvel comic-book adaptation, though I am ashamed to admit that I don’t own the original short story. Yes, my priorities are all messed up. I will get around to the short story eventually, don’t worry…

The wonders of Blu-Ray have yet to make a big dent in my collection, and I have the feeling I’m going to need to replace everything again. And when the replacement for Blu-Ray comes along (reported earlier this year) I’ll need to spend out more money. The relentless need for new formats and more tech to play them on is becoming a bit of a chore. Am I being screwed? Hell yeah. Will I keep upgrading? Watch this space.

If some bastard comes up crystals to store films on, I’ll kick their head in…

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The Pain Never Ends…

Posted by BigWords on June 30, 2009

It continues and continues and continues… I am, of course, talking about the endless stream of sub-par, quasi-retarded ‘reality’ television shows. The worst offender is, by a large margin, Big Brother, whose selection policy for contestants seems to be asking them a handful of rather simple questions:

  1. Do you know your own name?
  2. Can you tie your own shoelaces?
  3. Are you insane?

If they answer ‘yes’ to all three questions they get in. Lord Reith must be doing pirouettes in his fucking grave.

I don’t blame Channel 4. Not in the slightest. I blame the people who keep watching the show, hoping to catch the three minutes of actual entertainment broadcast in any 24 hour period, who gossip about the mundanities of the talentless, underachieving morons who parade their inadequacies to the nation in a series of humiliating and demeaning ‘challenges’. If there was a God, then the house would burn to the ground with all the contestants still inside.

Why do I care?
Well, apart from the fact that these kinds of shows are taking valuable television air-time away from shows which have writers, whose production needs actors, and whose shelf-life is a little longer than a bottle of milk, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with reality television. If the UK can’t create some new series, which have intricately crafted plots, subtle acting and intelligent messages, then the reputation for class and elegance (which we have been fooling the world with) is gonna be screwed.

There’s a thin line between populist broadcasting and whoring, and Channel 4 is pulling up her fishnets and scribbling “£20” on the side of her white stillettos.

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