“Shada” finds the Doctor in Cambridge working alongside companion Romana and retired Time Lord, Professor Chronotis, to defeat the evil alien Skagra who is attempting to steal the secrets to the prison planet, “Shada”.
You would be hard pressed to disagree with the fact that Douglas Adams, the much lamented and greatly missed author of legedarily iconic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Doctor Who are both giants of the pop culturesphere. (Yes that is now a thing, and yes, you may refer to it as such as whim takes you.)
So the idea of joining them together, especially when my second favourite Doctor Who ever, #4 played by Tom Baker – sorry good sir but I cannot deny the considerable charms of Tenth Doctor David Tennant – was firmly ensconsed in the TARDIS makes brilliant sense. I mean who could disagree with a such a sublimely imaginative combination?
Precisely no one, of course; alas, circumstances conspired back in November 1979 when a BBC strike meant that the studio filming needed to complete the episode, intended as the celebratory finale of the 17th series, was never completed as Tom Baker relates:
“‘Shada’ was one of my favourite Doctor Who stories. I have many fond memories of shooting the location scenes in Cambridge, and it was disappointing not to finish the story in studio. I’m so glad that BBC Worldwide have found a way to bring fans a complete visual version.” (Doctor Who Online)
In a bid to bring give the Douglas Adams-penned episode the release it deserves, the team who gave us the lost Doctor Who episode, “The Power of the Daleks” and lost Dad’s Army episode “A Stripe For Frazer” are hard at work restoring “Shada” to its originally-intended glory, using the voices of the original actors:
“The team have had access to nearly seven hours of raw footage from the original 1979 Shada shoot from which they are editing the new production from scratch, with all the original film negatives re-scanned in full HD and digitally remastered.” (Doctor Who Online)
This augurs well for a stunning telling of this story, bringing Douglas Adams and everyone’s favourite Time Lord together at last for everyone to see.
‘Shada’ will be available as a digital download on 24 November, and on DVD and Bluray on 4 December.
There is no such thing as too much Star Wars – unless you’re a diehard Star Trek fan in which case maybe but still c’mon you can love both can’t you? – and so I bequeath these three new-ish Star Wars Blips videos which were released last month.
Given we are now well within the sacred 100 days leading up to a news Star Wars film – The Last Jedi releases mid-December around the world – and pretty much everything that can be known about the film ahead of its premiere is known (not that this will stop über-fans from digging up everything and over-examining they can), we need something fresh and fun to keep us entertained.
Enter BB-8, Chewbacca and everyone’s new favourite creature, the Porgs (to debut in The Last Jedi to great sighs of appreciated adorkability everywhere), R2-D2 and his fan droids, and BB-8’s dark side of the force doppelgänger BB-9E (all black and no sense of humour).
They’re short, sharp, perfectly-entertaining cartoon vignettes, of fun, appealing appetisers to the big event coming up before you it (but still a long time ago etc etc).
Much as I love and adore kittehs, and I do, there is a possibility, just a minor one mind you, that they like to get their own way.
Pretty much all of the time.
Oh they undeniably love you, and want to be close to you and want cuddles, which are all good things but it’s often on their own self-determined timetable which can complicate things like, oh I don’t know, dating.
If you’re a single cat owner like Simon, of Simon’s Cat fame, that can be a wee bit of a problem – rat for main course anyone?
Of course we wouldn’t have it any other way, and it’s amazing what we’ll forgive our cats for – my old cat Fred used to lie right across the newspaper as I read it meaning I often missed great chunks of story; I shrugged it off and loved him anyway – but maybe next time Simon dinner out at a restaurant?
Assuming his cat doesn’t get a GPS which, given his feline resourcefulness, is a very real possibility.
Vulture sat down with the co-creators of Rick and Morty, Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, along with producer Ryan Ridley, and voice actors Spencer Grammer (Summer), and Sarah Chalke (Beth), and asked them to improvise an episode in a Spongebob-like world.
In this Vulture-animated short, Rick and Morty overlook a domestic dispute between Sponge-eons, and are interrupted by guest appearances from underwater heroes from both the DC and Marvel universe. (source: Laughing Squid)
Rick and Morty, Dan Harman and Justin Roiland’s gloriously, fabulously demented creations have been to lots of weird and wonderful places.
Gazorpazorp. Citadel of Ricks. Dimension C-137. The Teenyverse. (And lots more.)
Now you can added the quirkily crazy world of Spongebob Squarepants, courtesy of an non-canonical, improvisational mini-episode engineered by Vulture that is every bit as as funny and deliciously demented as you might imagine it be.
So throw away your stark divisions between cartoon properties, get your postmodern mindset up and running, and glory in a world where Rick and Morty and Spongebob Squarepants are part of the same gloriously demented world.
Fresh from news that ’90s animation stalwart, Rocko is coming back for a very modern TV special, where he has to contend with all the weirdass blessing and curses of modern life, comes the welcome announcement that the humorously well-intentional but life-inept wallaby from O-Town is being given a series of comics.
Premiering 6 December from Boom! Studios’ Kaboom! imprint, the series will be written “by Ryan Ferrier (Kong on the Planet of the Apes, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) [with] art by Ian McGinty (Adventure Time, Bravest Warrior) and backup stories by illustrators like KC Green (Invader Zim, that wonderful This is Fine dog), David DeGrand (SpongeBob Comics), and Tony Millionaire (Sock Monkey). (source: io9)
Refreshingly Rocko and his friends, Heffer (a steer), Filburt (a turtle) and the Bigheads (a pair of cane toads), won’t have changed all that much from their ’90s incarnations although there will be a modern twist to things and a little more introspection that an animated TV show allows, notes Ferrier and McGinty in a piece in The Los Angeles Times:
“The linchpin of the series is kind of how Rocko hasn’t really advanced much. That [sounds] very grim, but it’s also very funny too.
“In a comic you can kind of unpack characters’ motivations a little bit more than in a cartoon because a cartoon is so fast,” McGinty said. “‘Rocko’s Modern Life’ characters actually had weirdly complex personalities, and that’s what I’m looking forward to exploring a lot more.”
Given that approach it sounds like, sensibly, that the comics will mesh neatly with the 2018 reboot movie, the two working together to bring Rocko back to life in a thoroughly fun, clever, and yes of course, modern way.
A surreal animated comedy series from real-life best friends Nick Kroll (Kroll Show, The League) and Andrew Goldberg (Family Guy) that explores teenage adventures in puberty.
The series uses the voice talents of John Mulaney, Nick Kroll, Maya Rudolph, Jason Mantzoukas, Jordan Peele, Fred Armisen, Jenny Slate, and Jessi Klein. Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett serve as screenwriter-directors. (synopsis (c) Netflix / Monkeys Fighting Robots)
Hands up anyone who thinks growing up was super easy, with nary a complication to be seen?
Really? Seriously? You actually think that? For the rest of us, getting through the tricky business of growing up, and specifically, that emotionally tumultuous time that is puberty, was an obstacle course of fearsome proportions, made all the more challenging by the fact that we had no freaking idea, nope not a one, what we were doing.
It’s a messy, chaotic, schmozzly time of life which, of course, made it’s perfect fodder for an animated comedy series that is more than happy to let it like it is.
And as co-creator Nick Kroll says, it’s a series a longtime in the making:
“Andrew and I have been best friends since 1st grade, so this show is over 30 years in the making. I can’t wait to tell all the stories that make up the glorious nightmare of puberty.” (Coming Soon)
Clearly all that time was well spent with lots of thoughtfulness and insight sitting cosily along some fairly in-your-face (no, don’t go there; oh you did, OK then) humour, all of which beautifully explores what it’s like to find yourself in the foreign land without a language guide that is your body during puberty.
Big Mouth premieres its 10 x 1/2 hour episode run on 29 September.
The Moomins, Finn Tove Jansson’s delightfully philosophical creations who have been making our lives infinitely richer since 1945, will be given a new animated lease on life courtesy of an overwhelmingly oversubscribed Indiegogo campaign by Finnish company Gutsy Animation.
The pitch, which aims to deliver 13 new 22-minute mixed CGI/hand-drawn episodes by the first half of 2019, was wildly successful, attracting 127% of its stated goal of $USD 200,000, a reflection no doubt of how much the Moomins are treasured by legions of people young and old. (You can count me in that number, a fan since my earliest days, entranced by their peaceful, perfect world where people were valued and difference was not a dirty word.)
It’s not surprising that they have remained popular with their message of love, inclusiveness and respect for nature and others resonating still, especially in a world as riven by hatred and extremism as ours unfortunately seems to be.
The Indiegogo even made reference to this message when they wrote about the history of the Moomins and how relevant they are all these years later:
“In 1945 The Moomins and the Great Flood was published in Finland by the Finnish writer and illustrator Tove Jansson. Inspired by the fantastical adventures she read as a child, by the likes of Jules Verne, it first introduced the world to the Moomins – a curious, friendly type of troll. Their ancestors supposedly lived behind the round, tall ceramic stoves typical in the Nordic countries. The Moomin family settles in an idyllic valley – a magical and exciting place, it is their whole world. Eight further Moomin novels were to follow, along with four picture books and a long-running comic strip. In the decades since, the growing worldwide popularity of the Moomins has spawned plays, theme parks, merchandise, TV series and films. Today the Moomins are more popular than ever, and their core values of courage, respect for nature, good humour and tolerance have never been more vital.”
The return of Jansson’s idyllic Moomins to TV follows a series of books, a comic strip, films, animated TV shows from the ’80s and ’90s with Gutsy promising “innovative new television animation, which will help bring Moomin to a new generation …with each episode is based on an original storyline or incident from the novels and comic strips.”
The writing and production is in stellar hands with Oscar winner Steve Box serving as director and head writer, Emmy winners Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler as co-head writers and BAFTA-winner John Woolley as the producer.
The voices of Moominpappa, Moominmamma and Moomintroll will be courtesy of the equally impressive line-up of Matt Berry, Rosamund Pike and Taron Egerton respectively, with Richard Ayoade as The Ghost and Kate Winslet as “spick and span” Mrs Fillyjonk, and Warwick Davis, Will Self and Akiya Henry also joining the cast.
The entire looks and sounds absolutely delightful, particular since the company, with the involvement of Jansson’s estate, aren’t shying away from the complexity of Jansson’s work which talked about some fairly substantial issues, informed by the author living through the barbarity and immoral senselessness of World War Two.
The Moomins were designed as an idealistic counterpoint to this dark period in human’s chequered history and while they live in an idealised peaceful world, it is one that is not untouched by the problems of our own.
The sad part is that the world is once more spiralling into extremism and hatred, but at least the Moomins are with us now to remind us that there is an alternative, a rich, wonderful tolerant, caring alternative to that horrible trend, a reminder that will only grow ever stronger when the new TV series arrives.
Supposedly the much-revered ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle once said “Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man”.
While it’s not absolutely true, of course, since life is way too messy and cruel sometimes to keep that 7-year-old in absolutely pristine condition, there is a enough truth in that age-old observation to warrant the quote’s repetition over and over again.
In my case, it’s very relevant with the TV-obsessed 7-year-old I was in 1973 becoming the TV-obsessed 51-year-old adult of 2017.
One of the TV shows that played a significant role in helping me to appreciate and love the way television could tell a pithy, well-wrought story was the classic BBC animated program for kids, Mr Benn.
Broadcast by the BBC in 1971 and 1972, the 14-episode series, created, written and animated (with Ian Lawless) by David McKee, with warmly conversational narration by Ray Brooks – 13 episodes were transmitted in the early ’70s, with the 14th “Gladiator” only making an appearance in 2005 on The Noggin Channel – was an enchanting diversions for me.
There was an enthralling wonder to every episode with the eponymous Mr Benn of 52 Festive Road, which was always described as very ordinary, taken on a magical journey to far-off kingdoms, outer space, jungles and prehistoric times and even the wild, wild west, all courtesy of a mysterious fancy-dress costume shop located in a small off-the-grid lane.
The proprietor of the shop, a mustachioed, fex-wearing man who always appeared out of nowhere,always happily let Mr Benn try on any costume he liked, before our intrepid explorer walked out the end of the change room into an exciting adventure of some kind.
The stories always had a gentle morality tale quality to them such as environmental concerns or respecting someone’s word and not listening to scurrilous talk about them but it was never heavy-handed, and each episode ended with the shopkeeper appearing again, ushering Mr Benn back to the change room and sending him with a memento of his trip out of the ordinary and the mundane.
As David KcKee told The Guardian recently, the object of each episode, all of which followed the same reassuring and delightfully repetitive pattern, was to provide an escape but too much of one for viewers:
“I wanted to write a story about Mr Everybody. Everyone is trapped in a situation … we all have that routine and the adventures were an escape from routine.
“Of course, in some ways we don’t want to escape. There is the security of routine but to escape and have a little adventure every now and again might be quite nice.”
You might not think that a 7-year-old boy would have much need of an kind of escape, but teased almost from the moment I went to school because I didn’t fit the notion of masculinity that even first graders seemed to have hardwired into them (yeah, I never got that memo), I most certainly needed to get away and get away often.
Of course I had my own imagination to draw on, but beyond that, the episodes of Mr Benn, whose then 13-episodes were repeated twice a year for 21 years by the BBC – this requirement meant that a Father Christmas episode never made the cut, a pity since I love Christmas and would have welcome a festive escape from Festive Road – and whose deliberately simple but charming animation is a pleasure to watch even as an adult many years later, proved a lifesaver for a young boy for whom reality was not always kind.
The good news is that universality of needing an escape from the everyday but not one that places that everydayness in jeopardy, is still as current today with an exhibition in London at The Illustration Cupboard gallery (it finishes today) and a mooted movie (first raised and discarded in 1999 but back on the drawing board) and even an opera keeping the Mr Benn love alive.
What was so distinctive about Mr Benn, and what no doubt keeps him in the public consciousness even today, is that all his adventures, no matter how magical they were, actually happened and weren’t just dreams, a particularly important facet of the storytelling according to McKee:
“I never liked stories that ended up as dreams. I never liked the character having a fantastic adventure and on the last page it was ‘Come along, John, and John realised it had all been a dream.’ What a cheat!” (The Guardian)
And in the end, what would have been the point for a show like that?
Granted I never found a fancy-dress costume shop that took me on grandly epic adventures to all kinds of places and times just by putting on a costume, but the idea that I could, that it could maybe, possible, really happen?
Ah know, that was the beguiling promise from Mr Benn that got me through childhood, and reminds every day as an adult that finding the magic in the everyday is something we owe yourselves to find whenever we can.
The animated movie tells the story of young Mariah, who wants nothing more for Christmas than a puppy and has set her eyes on a specific little pooch named Princess. Little Mariah is tasked with taking care of her uncle’s dog to prove her responsibility to get the number one thing on her list, which results in her having the best Christmas ever. (synopsis (c) Billboard)
“All I Want For Christmas is You” is unarguably one of the catchiest classics of all time.
Rare among modern Christmas songs which often that mysterious x-factor which transforms heartwarming Christmas songs into tunes that effortlessly and perfectly capture the most wonderful time of the year, the song has only grown in popularity since its release in 1994.
Now, after becoming a book in 2015, it is being released as a captivatingly cute festive animated film, replete with the kind of delightfully sentimental storyline that feels like Christmas.
It won’t be to everyone’s taste but if you’re into Christmas, and I most certainly am, then you will enjoy immersing yourself in the joy and bonhomie of the season, with a new song “L’il Snowman” to speed your decking of halls bliss along.
All I Want For Christmas is You releases on DVD & Blu-ray and On-Demand on 14 November.
Featuring four new original songs, the 21-minute featurette welcomes the original cast and characters back to the big screen, including Olaf (Josh Gad), who is on a mission to harness the best holiday traditions for Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff). Directed by Emmy-winning filmmakers Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton (Prep & Landing), produced by Oscar winner Roy Conli (Big Hero 6), with original songs by Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson (Between the Lines). (source: Coming Soon)
News that Olaf, one of the breakout animated stars of Frozen, itself a mega breakout Disney hit of earworm-consuming proportions courtesy of “Let It Go”, would be back in his own short film, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, was greeted with much joy by anyone who enjoyed his chaotic, geewhiz charm.
Which includes yours truly, a man who brazenly and without apology uses his delightful nieces and nephews to see all manner of gorgeous animated films.
So naturally, when news broke that Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, which is being billed as the set-up to Frozen 2 which releases November, 2019, would be screened ahead of Pixar’s Coco (the first non-Pixar short to do so, I believe), there was much rejoicing. (I danced on the inside because #commuting but trust me there was dancing and giddy celebration.)
Granted it will screen in Australia after Christmas has officially wrapped but still in the middle of the 12 Days of Christmas which means I can keep the celebrations going after the last cracker has been cracked and present unwrapped.
Thank you Disney.
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure will screen ahead of Coco from 22 November USA and 26 December Australia.
Recent tweets from Idina Menzel and Josh Gad, who voice Elsa and Olaf respectively, are also giving us a delicious sneak-peek listen at some of the new songs that will debut in Olaf’s Frozen Adventure …