The Beatles, Get Back

What’s The… Movie? TV Show? Documentary? Er, Thing: Get Back

What’s It All About, JG? Back in the dim and distant days of *checks notes* 2020? Really? That feels ages ago. Anyway, back then, Peter Jackson started to assemble footage from the apparently-near-infinite amount of film shot for what was originally Get Back, but ultimately became Let It Be. Let It Be as a movie had one rare distinction – it managed to make arguably the most important band of all time seem boring. The rooftop concert is amazing, that goes without saying, but the rest is tedious drag of frazzled band members, myth repeated so endlessly it’s become fact, and a gloomy, depressing and doom-laden atmosphere.

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Squid Game

A bloody and violent Korean TV show takes the world by storm. But can it live up to the hype?

What’s The Show? Squid Game.

What’s It All About, JG? Somewhere on an island off the coast of Korea, contestants who are in various desperate situations due to debt and poverty are driven to compete in lethal games for the amusement of a bunch of rich assholes. Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

Oh alright, you want more?

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And Introducing… Korean TV

The excellence of Korean TV shows, introduced.

What’s The Topic? Korean TV, and the wonders thereof.

Even the most pop-culturally blind person in the world could not really have failed to notice just how dominant and mainstream K-Pop has become in the world. BTS are, of course, the big-ticket item there, and have secured an enduring legacy outwith their home country and around the world . Even just a few years would have seemed vastly unlikely except with a novelty hit like “Gangnam Style”. Yet music – and there’s a whole lot more to Korean music than just K-Pop – isn’t the only place Korean culture has been flourishing.

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The Rematerialisation Of A Writerly Icon

The man who saved Doctor Who from obscurity returns to his throne. But how good an idea is that?

Russell T Davies

Russell T Davies is returning to the world of Doctor Who.

This is, to put it mildly, an interesting development. Davies’s absence from the Doctor Who world, after standing down alongside David Tennant back in 2008, has been fairly striking. Other than a brief, and really rather excellent, cameo during the (also rather excellent) The Five-ish Doctors Reboot, he was entirely in absentia from Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary shindigs. While some of that might simply be out of respect for his replacement, Steven Moffat, it’s still noticeable that the person responsible for guiding the show back from the Wilderness Years, and the person who single-handedly turned it into one of the most popular shows on television, was completely absent from the big party. Davies has done nothing for Big Finish at all, a company he claims to have been rather proud to have saved in the early days of the new show by quietly deflecting questions about licencing. And if ever there was a refuge for Doctor Who writers of the past, it’s Big Finish. There’s been the novelization of Rose, and it’s pretty good for what it is, but beyond that? Zip.

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Leaves On The Cultural Line – A Doctor Stands Down

A Time Lord exits – but does it matter, and if so, why?

Jodie Whittaker has decided to stand down as the Doctor.

Rather than debating the merits or otherwise of her era, it’s been interesting to see the press reaction to the news that the first female Doctor has decided to leave on a schedule pretty much in line with the previous two Doctors. Sure, there will be fewer episodes in her third season, but there’s a pandemic on – there’s not a lot you can do about that really. Otherwise, though, she’s done her shift and it will be time for a new Doctor (cue much rampant speculation and little-to-no accuracy) and a new showrunner. Still. The news made a few front pages. The Guardian went with the relatively staid and accurate “Jodie Whittaker Quits Doctor Who”. OK. “Time’s Up Already: Jodie Whittaker To Leave Doctor Who” says The Independent. So far, so accurate. “Woke Doctor Who Quits The TARDIS”, says the Daily Telegraph. Hmm. One of these things is not like the other.

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Babylon Berlin

A series set in Berlin, Germany in the late 1920’s – that can only end well, right?

What’s The Show? Babylon Berlin

What’s It All About, JG? The series is set in Berlin during the dying days of the Weimer Republic, where Inspector Gereon Rath has arrived, fresh-faced and slightly innocent, from Colonge who is sent on assignment. He’s there to try and take apart an extortion ring – it very much doesn’t just so happens to be his father that’s being extorted – aided and abetted by Charlotte Ritter, one of the police clerks trying to make her own way past the inherent sexism of the era in a time when women were finally starting to make progress in the workplace.

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Loki

A trickster god, multipe timelines and a Disney budget – what could possibly go wrong?

Not what I’d call low-key

What’s The Show? Loki

What’s It All About, JG? After (well, during) the events of Endgame, the trickster God Loki manages to escape with the Tesseract and finds himself in an alternate timeline. There he is taken in by the Time Variance Agency, an organisation that exists outside of normal space and time who help to regulate the “one sacred timeline” by ensuring one version of history is always running as it is “meant to”. Since this version of Loki is a time variant, everyone’s favourite troublemaker has a choice – either face being pruned form existence as a variant or assist in fixing the timeline in order to prevent an even bigger threat. That means we get six episodes of various differing amounts of things, during which we learn that the TVA is a bit of a fraud and the Time-Keepers who are meant to run the place are entirely fictional. The whole thing ends with the reveal of He Who Remains, the real power behind the throne and gratuitous set-up for the upcoming slate of Main Range movies. Oh, and the inevitable post-credits thing which makes it clear Loki’s getting a second season.

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Chernobyl

What could scream “entertainment!” more than the worst nuclear disaster in history?

Happy Soviet Funtime Hour!

What’s The Show? Chernobyl

What’s It All About, JG? Whacky, zany adventures down at the old мама и папа power plant! What crazy shenanigans with the crew get up to this week, as they try to prove the superiority of Soviet technology? Uh-oh, that’s a lot of flashing lights, Anatolay! What you done this time?! Alternatively, one of the most bleak, powerful and moving dramas ever put together, as the HBO/Sky miniseries explores exactly what happed before, during and after the nuclear explosion at Chernobyl power plant in 1986.

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Star Trek: Picard – Season 1, Episode Nine/Ten

When the poster is better than the show…

Episode Nine / Ten – “Et In Arcadia Ego” Pts 1 And 2

So Picard is a Cylon. Huh. 

When, at the end of episode eight, I pleaded for the series to fix its basic ability to tell a story I didn’t actually expect that to happen. And lo and behold it didn’t. Episode Nine – which consists of the same old go-not-very-far-slowly that has become Picard‘s storytelling modus operandi – goes through the usual stop-start motions of delivering exposition a lot, followed by small bits of forward plot momentum, followed by more exposition. The small bits of forward plot momentum are often huge bits of forward plot momentum but rarely feel so, even when – to take a far-from-arbitrary example – a Borg cube crash-lands on a planet, our heroes do the same thing, and a vast Romulan fleet zips into orbit.

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Star Trek: Picard – Season 1, Episode Eight

I couldn’t even be bothered to find an image for this episode

Episode Eight – Shrug

I mean, I did watch it but I’m not motivated to say a lot more than that, really. It was just a bunch of expoisition vomited on screen in the usual structureless way. The Grief World, though? Really? That’s the explanation for the Zhat Vash’s millenia-long problem with AI? And what happened on Mars? I mean, it’s an explanation but it’s really not an especially satisfying one. Though – and this is the real problem – there really wasn’t going to be a satisfying resolution to the “why the Zhat Vash hated AI for so long” question. Because, how can there be? It’s either going to be evilevilfromthedawnoftime, some bullshit Mystical Orbs thing that would be less well than the Orbs Of The Prophets, or Godlike aliens. Turns out it’s basically the first one. Shrug. There’s no sense of this even really functioning as a ta-da! reveal, it’s just another piece of information trotted out. And how many people did they let die just to stop the Federation’s AI development? Does this make even the slightest bit of fucking sense? No. Not it does not.

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