Monthly Archives: April 2005

Obligatory Don’t Panic headline

I deliberately remained as unspoiled as possible for the Hitchhikers film. I saw a few pics in magazines and read a couple of interviews, but avoided detailed discussion. I didn’t watch the trailers. It was impossible to remain entirely unspoiled: I knew about some of the homages to the TV series. I’d also heard about, but not read, the mixed reviews.

The dolphin, er, sequence at the beginning. Well. That was a surprise. It left me thinking, what have they done?, and had visions of a Python film (not that that’s bad, just unexpected and out of place in this instance). After that, the first ten minutes or so of dialogue was almost word for word from the TV show, as far as I remember it. Strange: two scenes playing in your head, one from the eyes, one from the memory. I tried to turn down the memory volume, to little effect. Is it me, or did they film the pub scene in the original pub?

For much of the film familiar scenes suddenly lurched into unfamiliar territory. I wonder how many of the new bits were by Douglas Adams? I’ll have to go back and read what I’ve been avoiding, I guess. I suppose I can live with the obligatory love interest. There was, at least, some point to the story rather than just a 90-minute ramble.

Martin Freeman was perfect casting, and Stephen Fry not far off. The Americans were tolerable. I preferred the original Marvin, Stephen Moore; Alan Rickman was a good choice but there was something missing – not depressed enough I think. Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast stole every scene he was in. The League of Gentlemen did most of the Vogon voices, pretty well but a bit too recognisably Tubbs in places. Bill Bailey was a good choice for the whale.

I think Douglas Adams would have liked it. But I suspect that, were he here to see it, he’d still be writing it, if you see what I mean.

The BBC are showing the original TV series, starting next Tuesday night. I don’t remember the last time they repeated it: must be ten years ago at least. I might watch them again. Resistance is, after all, useless.

Avaragado’s rating: one green salad

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Long, long lunch

Odd day at work today. A Milestone Was Reached, and celebrations were deemed to be in order. I was expecting beers to spontaneously appear a la SCO Fridays from days of yore, or maybe a pub trip with a tab – nice day for it.

But the boat was pushed out slightly further. We were given five minutes to sort ourselves out before heading to the Wrestlers for free food and booze (it was nearly lunchtime). Everything had been arranged. Since it was before noon we were ushered, if that’s the word, in through a side door – not the token wheelchair-accessible side door, but a deeper side door with direct access to kitchen and back of bar. We felt suitably honoured as we trooped through to the front.

Usual food, mind you. Incidentally, the Wrestlers has now splashed out on laminated menus. Which is handy as they’re wipe-clean. Ba-dum-tish.

After lunch came the next treat: bowling. The fifteen of us looked slightly incongruous amongst the sprinkling of youths that permanently inhabit the place like orcs in Moria. But it’s not a bad way to spend a Friday afternoon, though given the weather I’d have been entirely happy with a beer and a patch of grass to sprawl upon. I very nearly won our second game, if that’s what you call them.

Perhaps the strangest part of the day was returning back to the office, where we were expected to put a couple of hours of work in. I did some bug-tracking chores and waved my mouse around a lot.

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Restaurant, restaurant

Last night Sharon, Evie and I went to Chez Gerard. It was my birthday, you see, and since Sharon couldn’t go to the official do last Saturday she decided to take me out on an unofficial do on my official birthday.

I’m pretty sure I had exactly the same meal as the last time I went to Chez Gerard: french onion soup, puys lentil casserole thing. Very nice.

Evie’s reached the interested-in-everything stage, so she stared at anyone and everyone who ventured near us – which was everyone in the restaurant, since we were parked next to the bar not far from the entrance. One of the nice barmen made Evie a rose out of a napkin; she tried to eat it. Like mother, like daughter…

Avaragado’s rating: one bowl of insufficiently pureed vegetables.

On the way back we crossed Magdalene Bridge – and turned round and crossed it again, and then again. We like this part of town, you see. Evie looked at Sharon strangely as we went back and forth, as did some others on the bridge.

Tonight I went out with my family for a meal – the Black Horse in Elton, if you’re interested. Pub with posh food. Very good food too, except they did need prompting to actually take our order. And they produced a Cambridge+Chef bill, a long way from Cambridge and without Chef cuddling the wine list. Still, 21 again and all that.

Avaragado’s rating: one ostrich

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Birthday do

It’s my birthday next Friday, but for various reasons I had my birthday do last night. Everyone was there, except the people who couldn’t make it.

We went to the Riverside Restaurant, hidden away in the University Centre and consequently almost empty. On the one hand it’s a shame, since it has great food and attentive service. On the other hand you don’t want any old riff-raff turning up, do you?

From there to the Mill, then to Louise’s where Chef did his usual drunken rabbiting throughout a pretty good Doctor Who episode, and then home. I think it was about 2:30 when I got to bed. At 7:30 I was up again, as Mikey (kipping on my floor for the night) was heading off early to go climbing in Derbyshire.

Anyway, my birthday do photos are in the usual place. Chris has some photos too.

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Make your mind up

Last Sunday it was T-shirt and sunglasses and 20°. Today it snowed. My car reckoned it was 4° when I left work.

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Gone to Devon

M. Verdy, that is.

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The Quatermass Experiment experiment

As I write, BBC 4 is showing a repeat of The Quatermass Experiment (or The Quartermass Experiment, as a couple of announcers referred to it). Not the 1950s one, but the one they performed live last Saturday night. It was the first live drama on the BBC since an “afternoon play” about twenty years ago.

The 1950s version was six episodes of thirty minutes, in a two- or three-camera studio; this was a single two-hour show, with eighteen cameras spread over the inside and outside of an old warehouse, by the look of it. From a technical point of view it’s a lot harder to produce convincing and compelling live drama now than it was then – plus of course very few of today’s broadcasting bods know the tricks of live drama (Corrie and The Bill had special live episodes a few years ago, but that’s about it). Much of the equipment they used apparently had “Property of Match of the Day” stamped on it.

The plot creaked, but not too much. They didn’t attempt a massive rewrite, only some tinkering, so consequently the science was wonky. It’s safe to say there’s very little likelihood of a British spacecraft crash-landing in Surrey, but they kept all that in. It was interesting that they kept a fifties feel, while also using modern technology: one of the actors sported a fifties Cliff Richard-style hairdo, and there were lots of long coats and people smoking.

There were, to modern audiences, lengthy pauses between scenes: cutaways to shots of London at night, presumably to allow cast and crew to reposition. Some scenes screamed “filler”: a couple of characters having an earnest conversation but not advancing the plot much, just keeping the show going while other things happened off-camera.

Very few things went obviously wrong. Picky-picky Avaragado spotted a boom-mike shadow and a cameraman’s arm (I’m assuming the wide shots near the end with cameras in vision were at least semi-deliberate); there were a few dubious crashes and bangs that might have been intentional.

Cliff-alike forgot his lines at one point: he got someone’s name wrong, which threw him off for the next couple of sentences. He stuttered his way through with the help of the chap he was talking to. That’ll teach him for leaving Teachers.

The best performance was from David “next Doctor Who” Tennant, IMHO. Jason “Quatermass” Flemyng was pretty good but a little quiet, I thought. Mark “League of Gentlemen and writer of next week’s hopefully dark and creepy Doctor Who episode” Gatiss was also in it.

I doubt it will spark a revival in live drama, let alone live science fiction drama. But I’m still getting over the fact that the BBC showed new Doctor Who and new/old Quatermass on the same night, and a Saturday night at that.

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Chris and Melanie multiplied

Nice. (All their Lake District photos)

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Robots

Cat Deeley? Vernon Kay? Eamonn Holmes? Terry Wogan?

I suspect Robots has done a Shrek 2 by using regional celebs (I only actually recognised Wogan – the others we saw in the credits). I’m not a fan of this idea, really. I blame Andi Peters for somehow snagging a credited role in Toy Story.

The film was OK, I guess. Not in the same league as yer Shreks or yer Incredibles. Not that many titters in the audience. Not even from Chris, who’d had a few drinks at the pub beforehand and got through at least half a bottle of red at Pizza Hut.

Fantastic animation, though.

Avaragado’s rating: four nuts

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