Archive for TV

Classic Doctor Who on Horror Channels

Posted in TV with tags , , , , on October 28, 2014 by bytor

Following the successful run of classic Doctor Who episodes shown around the time of the 50th Anniversary celebrations, Horror Channel has recently acquired the rights to show a new group of ‘classics’. They started in October and run on weekdays. Two episodes are shown each day and they are repeated morning, afternoon and evening, so there are plenty of chances to catch them.

Here is a list of the start dates of each serial. (Keep checking back as list will be updated).

28/10/2014   The Sontaran Experiment (2 episodes, 4th doctor)

29/10/2014   The Sunmakers (4 episodes, 4th doctor)

31/10/2014   The Ribos Operation (4 episodes, 4th doctor, Mary Tamm as Romana 1)

1/11/2014      The Three Doctors (omnibus) (Saturday)

4/11/2014     The Pirate Planet (4 episodes, 4th doctor, written by Douglas Adams)

6/11/2014     The Stones Of Blood (4 episodes, 4th doctor)

8/11/2014     Death To The Daleks (Saturday omnibus, 3rd doctor)

10/11/2014   The Androids Of Tara (4 episodes, 4th doctor)

12/11/2014   The Keeper Of Traken (4 episodes, 4th doctor)

14/11/2014   Logopolis (4 episodes, 4th doctor, regeneration episode!)

15/11/2014   The Masque Of Mandragora (Saturday omnibus, repeat)

18/11/2014   Kinda (4 episodes, 5th doctor)

20/11/2014   Frontios (4 episodes, 5th doctor)

22/11/2014   The Robots Of Death (Saturday omnibus)

24/11/2014   The Two Doctors (6 episodes, Troughton & Colin Baker)

27/11/2014   The Greatest Show In The Galaxy (7th doctor)

29/11/2014   The Horror of Fang Rock (Saturday omnibus, repeat)

1/12/14         Silver Nemesis (7th doctor)

3/12/14         An Unearthly Child (1st doctor, repeat)

6/12/14         The Brain Of Morbius (Sat omnibus, 4th doctor, repeat)

10/12/14       The Mind Robber (2nd doctor, repeat)

13/12/14       The Caves of Androzani (Saturday omnibus)

15/12/14       The Seeds of Death (2nd doctor, repeat)

18/12/14       The Silurians (3rd doctor)

20/12/14       Attack of the Cybermen (Saturday omnibus, 6th doctor, repeat)

23/12/14       Inferno (3rd doctor, repeat)

27/12/14       Remembrance of the Daleks (Saturday omnibus, 7th doctor, repeat)

29/12/14       Terror of the Autons (3rd doctor, repeat)

31/12/14        The Daemons (3rd doctor, repeat)

2/1/15             The Sea Devils (3rd doctor, repeat)

3/1/15             The Sun Makers (Saturday omnibus, 4th doctor, repeat)

7/1/15             Carnival of Monsters (3rd doctor, repeat)

9/1/15             The Three Doctors (repeat)

(to be updated….)

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DIY Celebration of Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary

Posted in books, comics, music, TV with tags , , , , , , on October 5, 2013 by bytor

Doctor Who 50th logo tardis

Why “D.I.Y” (Do-it-yourself, for those not in the know)? Well, despite this being the biggest year in the show’s history, for fans here in the UK at least, there seems to have been a rather underwhelming push by the BBC to highlight and celebrate one of it’s biggest successes.

We are less than 2 months away from the actual anniversary date of 23rd November, and what have we had so far on BBC TV? An (admittedly interesting) radio show about the beginnings of the series (The Reunion, Radio 4), a Doctor Who Proms (clip, another clip), an announcement show for the new twelfth doctor, and a couple of very brief idents, or “stings“. Not even a proper trailer yet for the anniversary episode. A schedule of events has been released but I would have liked much more throughout the year on BBC TV.

I would have liked to see many more classic episodes getting an airing throughout the year (as has occurred in other territories). The BBC is sitting on a goldmine of classic Doctor Who adventures dating back to 1963 and we are seeing none of it!

There are a number of other events/products that are properly celebrating the full heritage of Doctor Who (going right back to the start; this is a 50 year anniversary after all, not a celebration of just the last decade). I am presenting here a guide as to how you can celebrate the show in the manner that it deserves.

–o0o–

1. Hunt down and watch some classic episodes.

Which ones? Well that is a whole debate! The old ones from the “classic” era might be difficult for some people who only know Who from it’s 2005 revival.  The actors will all be unfamiliar, and the slower pace and lower production values from decades gone by might be a bit off-putting. But there are some great moments, and of course a lot of history. Try my guide at this post. It contains links to several other sources and suggestions of which classics to seek out.

Where to find them? Well, either buy them on DVD, or visit one of the many “unofficial” online sources. Try Dailymotion. Search for users “greendude33“, “matrixarchive“, “WHOat50“, “f630475257“. Alternatively if you are in the States I believe Netflix has some Classic Who .

First episode of “Genesis of the Daleks” at Daily Motion:

(Lost episodes) – There are many episodes of Doctor Who that unfortunately no longer exist as video recordings. However they can be experienced in other ways, and should not be discounted if you really want to get a feel of the history of the show. See my separate blog post for further details.

–o0o–

2.  Listen to The Reunion

A BBC radio show bringing together some of the creators and actors of the very first Doctor Who story, “An Unearthly Child”. (Non-UK users, if you cannot access, use a proxy service like Tunnelbear)

–o0o–

3. Check out The Guardian (UK newspaper) series of features on 50 Years of Doctor Who.

50 Years of Doctor Who

Best episodes of all time

–o0o–

 4. The Doctors Revisited. 

BBC America commisioned a series of 30 minutes documentaries, one for each doctor, starting from William Hartnell, and have been broadcasting them monthly since the beginning of the year, each accompanied by a showing of a classic serial featuring that doctor. A little lightweight but with a few nices nuggets of information and clips nonetheless, they are worth watching. You can see a list of which stories were shown for each Doctor here.

But, how can you see them? Well in another massive FAIL by the BBC, they are not being shown in the UK on BBC TV, but only on a pay TV satellite channel! So, again, internet to the rescue.  Try this playlist at DailyMotion from user Tardis_Central. You should be able to find the other episodes by a quick search.  They can also be found in the usual torrent places. Currently I am working through these with the accompanying stories.

Trailer for Doctors Revisited (Second Doctor)

–o0o–

5. BFI Doctor Who 50th Anniversary events.

The British Film Institute has, throughout the year, been hosting a series of special screenings of serials from each era of Doctor Who. They have of course been incredibly popular, and nigh on impossible to get tickets for. At each show there has been a panel Q&A session with many guest stars, ranging from actors (including doctors, companions, and guests) and writers, directors and other notable related people. Luckily the BFI has recorded these sessions and you can view them at the BFI YouTube channel. The most recent of these events was held last night (4th October) and focussed on the eighth doctor Paul McGann. Paul himself was a guest, along with Daphne Ashbrook (who played the companion in the TV Movie), writer and script editor Andrew Cartmel, and Nicholas Briggs provider of many alien voices in the current revived series.

Tom Baker talking at the Fourth Doctor BFI Q&A Event:

–o0o–

6. Big Finish

Big Finish is a company that has been producing original audio adventures related to Doctor Who for many years, and was instrumental in keeping interest in the show alive in the years when it was off our TV screens. Personally I have not really listened to many of these, but the special that has been commissioned for the 50th Anniversary has piqued my interest. “The Light At The End” is a lavish production starring Doctors 4-8 (all original actors: Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann as well as classic companions Louise Jameson (Leela), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa).

Check out the trailer here.

And here is a nice advert detailing the various formats in which the story is being released.

–o0o–

7. IDW Comics series – Prisoners Of Time

doctor-who-prisoners-of-time-1 idw-prisoners-of-time-4

For those who like their graphic novels, have a look at IDW’s serial Prisoners Of Time. Again this is a currently running series, featuring all the doctors and many companions, and scheduled to finish in the Anniversary month of November. The series is available as physical media and also digitally at ComiXology.

–o0o–

8. Anniversary books. 

Puffin, in conjunction with the BBC are publishing a series of short eBooks each featuring one of the doctors. They are written by well known authors, and each is announced at the start of the month. A list of the books and authors is here. Each of the announcements of a addition to the series is accompanied by a YouTube video of the author giving some insights into their book and why they decided to do it. Example of Richelle Mead talking about her sixth Doctor book here.

–o0o–

9. Fan blogs

Finally, I would like to give a shout out to a couple of fan blogs that I have enjoyed.

First is the Confused Companion. This is a blog by an American Doctor Who fan who chronicles her marathon odyssey from the very first episode of the William Hartnell era, right through to the present day. Although a fan of the genre, she had never seen any Who before starting this and it is fascinating, and fun to see her reaction to these stories for the first time. Her perspective is unusual (if not unique) in being completely new to Who, but watching stories originally made in the 60s from a 21st century perspective, and also in a very compressed time frame. I have enjoyed reliving many classics of my youth vicariously through her blog.

Another different take on the task of watching all the Doctor Who from the beginning is the Doctor Who Mind Robber blog. This is written by an Australian fan who obviously is a big fan with an extensive experience of the show. But as she rewatches from the start she gives some interesting comment on how the show related to fashions and events of the time in which it was made. Here is the first post which explains her plans. Also you get some great Doctor Who news and factoids!

So, although we have the official BBC 50th Anniversary epsiode on the 23rd of November to look forward to, as well Mark Gatiss’s dramatisation of the story behind the series back in the 1960s, there are a lot of other ways to make your own Doctor Who celebration. I hope you enjoy it!

Using the Eurosport Player

Posted in sport, TV with tags , , , on May 5, 2013 by bytor

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Here are some brief experiences using the Eurosport Player service, which I am trying so I can follow the Giro d’Italia bike race.

  • I am using a Windows 7 laptop and Chrome browser, and using the service from UK
  • i have a fairly decent broadband connection (about 20Mbps)
  • You can subscribe to the service either on a month by month (cancel anytime) for £4.99, or a yearly subscription (£2.99)
  • There is a separate Android (and iOS) service, I believe it is a separate subscription
  • The Android app gets the worst ever reviews on the Google Play store. In fact, now I can’t even download that app even if I wanted too, as it has mysteriously become “unavailable” for my devices, or my location. (It wasn’t like that a few days ago)
  • The streaming quality is not bad, about standard def, but definitely not HD. I had a pretty constant connection while watching for a couple of hours. Only the very occasion short pause or buffering.
  • It looked reasonably good when fed into a 40″ LCD TV using standard VGA cables.
  • The video quality is better than those types of streams or videos you see on youtube or other “unofficial” sources.
  • There does NOT appear to be any “catch-up” or on-demand facility to watch videos for Giro after they have been broadcast.
  • Eurosport are showing all the stages of the Giro live on one of their two channels, and there is a highlights show about 10:30pm each evening which lasts about 60-90 minutes.
  • Since the Giro occurs during the day, I can’t watch the live broadcasts except weekends, although there is a lot of good action on the weekends including the main time trial and the climax in a couple of weekends from now. So will be reliant on the highlights shows (and their timing since no catchup) during weekdays.
  • the support from Eurosport regarding this service is pretty poor. Their twitter account hasn’t been active since about 2 years ago. The comments on the Google Play store about the Android app suggest attempts to contact Eurosport for service issues fall on deaf ears.

The Lost Stories of Classic Doctor Who

Posted in TV with tags , , , , , on April 14, 2013 by bytor

In my last post I looked at what were generally considered to be “classics” of the “Classic” era (1963-89) of Doctor Who. As I have become more familiar with the Hartnell and Troughton eras, it has become obvious that a lot of the lost episodes were at least worth investigating, and some might be considered classics in themselves.

In total 106 episodes are currently missing from the first two doctors’ eras, and it seems unlikely that any more will be recovered. So how can you enjoy them?

Well you need a little dedication and persistance, but here are several ways:

  • First check out which serials are missing here at Wikipedia
  • There are novelisations of all of these stories available from the usual places. Example for “Marco Polo” from the first season.
  • The audio soundtracks from the original TV episodes still exist, and many are available individually as CDs or download (E.g. Marco Polo). There are also 5 boxed sets of CDs containing between them all the missing serials, along with some interesting additional info as data on the CDs e.g. original scripts.

Doctor Who photonovel exampleSometimes, however, you need a visual cue to really engage with the story even in audio form. The official BBC Doctor Who website has hidden away in the “Classic” section, a number of “photonovels” that are basically still pictures with captions to tell the story. Some of them have links to sound effects, but these are clearly from another era, as they are Real Audio links which most broswers no longer accept. These give a surprisingly good feel for the stories.

In addition, the episode guide at the BBC Doctor Who website also gives additional insights into each story. (Example: Marco Polo). Strangely, there is another, separate, episode guide also on the BBC DW site, that contains further different information about each of the old episodes. These often include a picture gallery, and sometimes even video clips. (Example again, Marco Polo).

Finally, there is the synthesis of the soundtracks and available clips and photos, in the form of fan-made “reconstructions” (or recons). These are certainly unofficial, and no doubt infringe BBC copyright, but appear to be tolerated by the Beeb. These are made by various groups of fans, but one of the best collections is by Loose Cannon Productions who have a full collection covering all the missing serials. You can find them from various sources that you might expect, such as their website, on video sharing sites like YouTube. If you really like them, the whole collection is floating about the internet in one big 8GB torrent. It’s not too difficult to find.

Fun for obsessives! – Organizing your media with PlexApp

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2013 by bytor

I would like to tell you about PlexApp, a fantastic service that helps with all your digital media needs.

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Basically it is a media server that runs on MacOSX, Windows and linux, and has a multitude of clients (some third party) e.g. mobile devices (iOS, Android) and hardware set-top boxes like Roku, but importantly for me there is a native app for my Samsung D6530 TV.

There are two things that PlexApp does really well, better than any other similar service I have tried. First, it actually works as a server over wifi. I have tried a few: AllShare, Serviio, Windows Media Player, Twonky, but none of them seemed reliable. Either they wouldn’t always connect, or the PS3 would see them but the TV wouldn’t, or vice-versa or they could be seen, but the video wouldn’t play correctly or some other hassle.

PlexApp (so far) has worked every time. There is a great looking and surprisingly fast and slick app which is downloadable to the TV, and it has a great interface. It always connects with the server (my Windows laptop) and lets me stream HD video easily.

This is what it looks like on the Samsung TV:

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The second thing PlexApp does really well is something that all obsessives like me will love. It organizes you meta data and thus organizes your media in a logical and standardized way, and does this almost automagically. I have a Freesat PVR (discontinued model) but unfortunately its hard disk (500GB) is bulging to bursting point and I am constantly fighting to delete stuff. I have a bunch of video stored on a large 2TB external HDD which is attached to my laptop. The sources of the video are varied: downloaded from the internet, some ripped off DVD, BBC iPlayer (you must get Get_iPlayer it is a godsend), and now I have discovered that I can export the recorded video from my Freesat PVR. There is a USB connection on the machine and you can connect a flash stick or portable HDD and export files fairly easily. Transfer is a bit slow, and the native export format is not compressed very much (=large files) but the important thing is you can do it.

I export files from the PVR and then re-encode them to a more compact MP4 file using Handbrake. Once you have decided your preferred settings, it is a simple drag and drop process although the actually re-encoding can take some time so best left as an overnight task.

Now the PlexApp magic can begin! You are forced to adhere to a strict folder and naming structure (great for us obsessive compulsives ), but if you comply, PlexApp has “agents”, software pixies that go out onto the internet and pull down the relevant metadata for your movies and TV shows. This includes cover/poster art, titles, info about actors, directors etc. and even theme music for TV series. It gets this right most of the time, although you may have to occasionally “nudge” it with a manual correction.

What you are left with is a beautifully organized and annotated collection, which is on your external hard disk, but which can be easily and reliably streamed to you big screen TV over your home wifi network. You can search by genre, title, actor, director and many other ways. Just beautiful.

If you haven’t got an LG TV (which apparently have PlexApp built in) or a Samsung like me, you can use your PS3 or XBox 360 as a client box which then can throw the video at your TV.

 

Follow @PlexApp on twitter

Doctor Who – The Waters of Mars micro-review (minor spoilers)

Posted in TV with tags , , , , , on November 16, 2009 by bytor

waters of marsI just finished watching the latest Doctor Who special and the last before the two part Christmas finale which marks the end of the Tennant reign. I loved the trailers for this special and have looked forward to it eagerly. Unfortunately I was a little disappointed. It was not bad, just not nearly as good as the trailer hype.

Liked:

 

  • The Mars biodome – shades of Silent Running. Could have been a great atmospheric setting for many scenes. Instead criminally underused.
  • Ensemble cast of trapped workers in an alien environment with some monster(s) on the loose. Always a good potential – see “Alien” and many others.
  • The exploration of the idea the the Doctor was getting fed up being a slave to cosmic events, and wanted to take more control
  • The actual infected people. Great make up.
  • Adelaide’s ultimate act
  • The trailer for the Christmas special

 

Didn’t like:

  • The underuse of the outside/biodome setting.
  • The shallowness of the characters. We never really got to know any of the supporting characters. Even with Adelaide I didn’t feel I really connected with her. There was a hint of tension between her and the 2nd in command Ed but this was never expanded upon.
  • The stupid robot (reminded me of the dumb robot guards in the Phantom Menace)
  • The over the top uptempo music for the running scenes.
  • David Tennant’s portrayal of the change in character of the Doctor seemed forced and black and white with little subtlety.
  • The use of the newspaper/website reports to “fill in” the backstory of the characters seemed a lazy way to do it.
  • It wasn’t nearly as frightening as it could have been. Previous episode “Blink” was much more frightening.
  • The explanation of why the water was infected was lame and confused.

Overall I think I can only give it 6, maybe 7 at a stretch. I was hoping it was going to be a 8 or a 9 out of 10.