Sunday, October 12, 2008


I watch a lot of TV. Too much TV by most standards I am sure. This has been recently exaggerated by the fact that I don’t get out much (as they say) at the moment since my daughter was born.

Anyway I think this leads me to a little bit of analysis of what I have been watching recently…..

1. Dexter series 2.

Yes I have been a bit behind and I watch a lot of TV from downloads. Well I wasn't sure how they would follow up the strong first series but this has been great. Further character development, interesting new twists with Dexter having lovelife troubles and the FBI on his case, all maintaining the dark tones previously established; very impressive.

The series hangs on the impressively restrained performances of Michael C. Hall, who at least gets to show a little more emotion in the second series as he continues to learn more about himself. The ending of the season, though clever seemed almost too neat, but in a world of series-end cliffhangers it was more than welcome. I thoroughly look forward to season 3 which has just started screening in the US, especially with Jimmy Smits entering the fray as the new assistant D.A.

2. Soap update. Yes, I still catch bits and pieces of both Coronation Street and Neighbours. Corrie enters it's 'Week of Death' this week and though this is not a Dexter crossover it should see Tony up to some more eye-popping acting as he seeks to bump off his love rival Liam, the palest man in Manchester. I have to say I don't really pay attention to many of the sub-plots and I don't really care where the terrifyingly contact-lensed Rosie Webster has gone to unless it is that taxi-driver's boot. And that would only be interesting if the writers managed to have two would-be killers at work simultaneously in the soap.

As for Neighbours, there are many weak storylines taking place here. The key one has been the capture of Jay, the arsonist/ fireman (another idea picked up from Dexter?) who has upset the residents of Ramsey Street by starting a fire that ended Marco's life and left Kirsten in a very bad way. Luckily after stabbing Steph, he has been apprehended. Yes murder is the order of the day in these two soaps at least.

The tone, storylines and filming have become increasingly bizarre since the move to Five. Scene sequencing has become almost impossible to follow unless the characters have secretly developed teleportation powers and the clash between scenes of Kirsten with her serious burns, Jay stabbing Steph and the light-hearted word of Harold, Declan and the kids has become jarring. Oh, and Sienna's acting really is poor, even by these standards.

3. The Story of Maths on BBC4 appealed to the Mathematics graduate that lurks within. Oxford professor Marcus du Sautoy leads us through a historical journey of Mathematics and how important it was to the ancient cultures in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece. The history of quadratic equations, the 'number' zero and the base-60 Babylonian system that still drives our timekeeping are all explained here clearly and in context.

I found the programme interesting, available to non-mathematicians and definitely worth watching. Some of the graphics were annoying and unnecessary and there was a worrying description of irrational numbers, but overall it was a decent programme, and the sort of thing one should expect to see on BBC4. Still available here on iplayer for those interested....

Well that is enough for now. Next up Heroes series 3.....

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Sebastopol Uprising Of 1905

I am no history buff, and I certainly didn't cover this in my History GCSE, but I do have most of the scripts of ‘The Mary Whitehouse Experience’ and ‘Baddiel and Newman In Pieces’ indelibly etched on my mind. Having recently been reading about the problems in the former USSR I had a brief flashback to this period the other day that left me asking myself the question: Was the Sebastopol Uprising the birthplace of the Russian Revolution?

Well it appears that city of Sebastopol is a port in the Ukraine on the coast of the Black Sea. Sebastopol has been a key naval base throughout history from the Crimean War through World War Two and even today. The port is currently leased to the Russians and they used it to stage part of the August assault on Georgia. This has led to the Ukrainians stating that the lease will not be renewed after its expiration in 2017.

As for the Russian revolution it does appear that the Sebastopol uprising in 1905 can be seen as a precursor to the Russian Revolution of 1917. In October 1905 a part of the Russian fleet rebelled against the Emperor and led a fleet only slightly smaller than the remainder of the government forces. They were roundly defeated and the ringleaders executed (see more here).

It was earlier in the year that the Battleship Potemkin had suffered its own uprising that was later to be dramatised in the film Battleship Potemkin, directed by Sergei Eisenstein in 1925. This was designed as a piece of revolutionary propaganda and contains the famous and incendiary scene on the Odessa Steps where women and children are killed by Russian forces. Of the sailors on board the Potemkin in 1905, Ivan Beshoff made it to Ireland and set up a fish and chip shop, Beshoff's.

I think that is quite enough for now.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Missed September and Roger Ramjet

Well, I am sorry I have been off the radar for a month, don't worry I was not kidnapped by Scientologists. One week was spent very pleasantly in the South of France but the month has been dominated by the needs of my baby daughter whose sleep patterns have severely affected those of my wife and I.

Anyway my quick recap of the month involves a relaxing time in France, dinner at a corporate do on a table with Max Clifford (who came across as a pretty decent chap despite fielding questions including "Do you have a conscience?"), witnessing a friend's stag walkabout around Earlsfield in a mankini and my aforementioned daughter's one metre projectile vomiting at 6am....

I have had a little sleep but have noticed too very disturbing news stories today that do make you ask what is going on. Firstly the seven year old boy in Australia who embarked on a killing spree in a zoo near Alice Springs. He killed 13 animals and fed them to a crocodile and this included smashing a turtle on the concrete.....

Secondly, closer to home, in Derby, a number of people in a crowd encouraged a teenager to jump to his death.
I obviously don't want to come across all Daily Mail, but I find this very depressing....

On a random aside, do people remember 'Roger Ramjet', the cartoon? I am pretty sure it was shown during the Saturday morning BBC kids shows here in the UK, and I seem to remember a troubling propensity for him to be pill-popping...