Archive for the Television Category

Whither is fled the visionary gleam?

Posted in Poetry, Television with tags , , on June 26, 2016 by telescoper

The final scene of the final episode of Penny Dreadful, with excerpts from Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood by William Wordsworth.



Next! – The Complete Animated Shakespeare

Posted in Literature, Television with tags , , , on April 23, 2016 by telescoper

I’m sure most readers are aware that today is the 23rd April 2016, which is the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. Despite the fact that most modern scholars agree that many of Shakespeare’s plays were not actually written by Shakespeare, but by someone else who had the same name, it’s still a good excuse to celebrate the life and work of a towering figure in the world of literature and drama. I was trying to think I suddenly remembered this marvellous animated film I saw when it was first released over 20 years ago. I couldn’t remember the name so it took me a bit of time to find it, but I got there in the end. It’s by Aardman Animations (best known for the later Wallace and Gromit films) and it was part of a splendid series of animated shorts called Lip-synch commissioned by Channel 4 and broadcast in 1990. It’s hard to imagine Channel 4 doing anything this good nowadays.  This film, called Next,  is only 5 minutes long yet it manages to refer to every single one of Shakespeare’s plays by having the immortal bard himself do them all as an audition. It’s not only clever and visually appealing but also a lot of fun…



The Ballad of Barry and Freda

Posted in Television with tags , , on April 20, 2016 by telescoper

Rest in peace, Victoria Wood (1953-2016).

If Dick van Dyke tried a Geordie accent…

Posted in Television with tags , , on March 8, 2016 by telescoper

…it couldn’t be any less accurate than this effort from the US TV series The Castle:


Could this be the worst attempt at a regional accent ever recorded?





Lines on the Death of Sir Terry Wogan

Posted in Poetry, Television with tags on January 31, 2016 by telescoper

So, farewell then,
Sir Terry Wogan.

You were knighted
For services to
Blankety Blank.

Keith’s Mum
Thought you were
The Archbishop
Of Canterbury’s
Special Envoy
Who got

But it turns out
That was a

by Peter Coles (aged 52½)



Posted in Television with tags , , , , on December 12, 2015 by telescoper

Over the past week or so I’ve been watching the original TV series The Killing (in Danish with English subtitles). This was actually first broadcast in Denmark in 2007 but apparently achieved a bit of a cult following in the United Kingdom in 2011 when it was shown on BBC4. That was round about the time that I basically gave up watching television so I missed it then. However, I saw the DVD box set at a drastically reduced price a few weeks ago and decided to buy it. I’m very glad I did.


I’ve been to Copenhagen many times in my life but this is the first time I’ve seen some familiar locations on the small screen, which added a personal dimension for me, but my main reason for doing a blog about it is just to salute it for being exceptionally good.  The Killing (in Danish Forbrydelsen: “The Crime”) is often quoted as an example of Nordic or Scandinavian Noir but that term is generally reserved for crime fiction novels rather than movies or television programmes.  The Killing definitely retains some elements in common with classic  Film Noir – a strong central female character and low-key visual style to name but two – but I’m not sure I would categorize it as “noir“. On the other hand some classic examples of film noir don’t display many of the characteristics associated with the genre either. Categories don’t really matter that much anyway, even when they are easily defined which is not the case with Noir.

The plot of The Killing revolves around the police investigation into a terrible crime: the brutal rape and murder of a young woman, Nanna Birk Larsen, who disappears after a Halloween party. Each of the twenty 50-minute long episodes depicts one day; the series has to be that long to accommodate all the twists, red herrings and false dawns, but it never loses pace or tension. That everything happens in a Nordic November means short days of grey skies and long wintry nights, establishing an appropriatelt sombre visual mood.

The complexity of the plot and the Copenhagen setting are not the most compelling things about this as a piece of TV drama, however. What stood out for me was the excellence of the acting not only from Sofie Gråbøl as lead investigator Sarah Lund but from the entire cast. The effect on the Birk Larsen family of the loss of their daughter in such cruel circumstances is portrayed most movingly, especially by Bjarne Henriksen as the father, Theis Birk Larsen.

I am so late writing about this that I don’t suppose I would spoil it for too many people if I revealed who did it, but I’ll refrain from doing it. What I will say, however, is that I was pretty confident that I knew who the perpetrator was right from Episode 1 and I proved to be right. That doesn’t mean that I’d make a great detective, just that I’ve had enough experience of detective stories to know some of the tricks writers use to throw the reader (or viewer) off the scent.

If you haven’t seen The Killing, I thoroughly recommend it. I gather there’s a second series too. I must watch that sometime…


Pogles’ Wood

Posted in Biographical, Television with tags , , on October 19, 2015 by telescoper

And now for something completely different: a piece of pure nostalgia. I remember watching Pogles’ Wood when I was a little boy. I wonder if any of my readers are old enough to remember Pippin, Tog and the Pogles? Here is an episode, called Honey Bees, which will bring it all back…

P.S. Should it be Pogles Wood, Pogle’s Wood or Pogles’ Wood?


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