From the series of “articles” which brought you the programme leaflets for The Brittas Empire, Every Silver Lining, and new Yes Prime Minister, comes this: the last episode in the series of the ITV revival of Birds of a Feather, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.
RX: 24th November 2013, Studio 2, The London Studios.
TX: 6th March 2014, ITV, 8:30pm.
As I was at the recording of the episode, I can let you into a little secret – they shot the last scene of the episode a number of different ways:
- Firstly, as broadcast, with Sharon and Tracey just sitting on the sofa realising Dorien is at the door
- Secondly, with Tracey getting up, opening the door, and Dorien just standing outside.
- Thirdly, with Tracey answering the door, Dorien stepping in, and them both hugging… to the audience going “Ahhhhhhh”.
Bearing in mind the episode was already too over-sentimental and syrupy at times, you can imagine what I thought of that last ending. (For the record, I also predicted they’d use the ending as broadcast.) Also worthy of note: the episode as we saw recorded didn’t have the final outside shot with everyone saying goodnight. Do I spy a last-minute fix in the edit, perhaps?
For the truly anal amongst you, at this session they also re-recorded the first scene of Episode 2, where Sharon sits down with a nice cup of hot chocolate and is interrupted by the phone. (Who knows what ludicrous catastrophe made the first version unusable?) They also recorded a version with her scraping shavings of Dairy Milk onto the top of it, but used a second take which didn’t include this. Why not impress your friends with this fascinating piece of trivia?
Anyway, I’m always interested in these programme leaflets, so if you have any hanging around, please scan them in and stick them up somewhere. I’ll give you a great big girly kiss on the bottom.
■ Posted 6th March 2014 @ 9pm in Comedy, Television. No Comments Yet.
Years ago, I created – along with Jeffrey Lee – a website about two of my favourite RISC OS games, Asylum and Oddball. (I did the design and some of the writing for the site, and Jeffrey did all the ACTUAL WORK involving the software.) Both games were loads of fun – but to get them running these days, you either have to have a RISC OS machine, get a RISC OS emulator up and running, or mess around with an SDL version. One thing that doesn’t need any setting up however, is listening to the fantastic music from Asylum.
From the relatively calm music for the easy levels, through to my favourite track for the medium levels, and this absolute insanity for the hardest levels – and that’s only three of the eight pieces – any lover of videogame music should give it a listen. They aren’t very well known, but I think the tracks are absolutely gorgeous. Aching for a remix of some kind.
So: do you have any favourite lesser-known music from games – from obscure tracks from famous releases, right through to something which once sold four copies in 1982? I’d love to put together a mix of them, similar to my BBC Micro TV themes mix from last year. Add ‘em below, or send a tweet across. Any platform, any genre, any year. GO.
■ Posted 23rd February 2014 @ 2pm in Computers, Gaming. No Comments Yet.
I just read two articles. Two articles about two entirely different subjects. Oddly enough, however, they both managed to annoy me in exactly the same way. (Incidentally, congratulations – you’ve just managed to find the only site on the internet to tie together Mrs Brown’s Boys and Flappy Bird.)
Firstly, Rachel Cooke interviewing BBC director of television Danny Cohen:
“Would he explain to me the success of Mrs Brown’s Boys, watched by 9.4 million on Christmas Day? “Yes. There are huge numbers of people – and I’m one – who love studio-based sitcoms. The joy in the room!” Again, I peer at him, trying to work out if he’s being sincere. Oh, Lord. I think he is.”
Secondly, Patrick O’Rourke on Flappy Bird. He starts off with an interesting question:
“After about 10 minutes, I came to the realization Flappy Bird is an absolutely horrible video game and began to wonder why it’s so extremely popular.”
Somehow manages to contradict himself within two sentences:
“It’s Flappy Bird’s simplicity that makes it so addictive. What I don’t understand is how people genuinely seem to be enjoying playing Flappy Bird.”
And then just gives up:
“So do yourself a favour and stop playing Flappy Bird; it sucks.”
Now, what I think about the two topics is irrelevant. (For the record, I really like Flappy Bird, and haven’t seen enough Mrs Brown’s Boys to be able to judge.) What irritates me is the acknowledgement of how successful they both are… and a complete lack of engagement on behalf of the writer as to why.
In the case of Mrs Brown’s Boys, I genuinely don’t understand the interviewer’s response to Danny Cohen’s statement. Which bit is she disagreeing with? That people like studio-based sitcoms? That Cohen specifically likes studio sitcoms? The bit about the “joy in the room”? Or does she think he ducked the specific question and just spoke in generalities, and that’s what she’s perturbed by? It’s not clear at all. It’s just a dig from someone who doesn’t like the show, expecting the reader to happily go along with it without a single further thought.
The Flappy Bird article is even worse. It claims to be a piece where someone who hates the game genuinely tries to find out what people love about it… and yet the writer makes little effort to actually figure it out. The point of the article having now completely disappeared, instead he throws out an order from on-high to tell people to stop playing the game. I would hope that last part at least has some level of irony attached, but it’s still pointless. The entire article is ridiculous.
Let me be clear. I’m not saying that just because something’s popular, you have to like it. You hate something popular, you should write articles in deep and penetrating detail saying exactly what you don’t like about it. (God knows I have.) What annoys me about these two articles is that both specifically bring up the fact that something they hate is popular… and then refuse to engage with any potential answers as to why. Instead, they prefer to sit back and sneer.
My suggestion: have a go. Listen. Engage. Think about why people might like something you don’t. You don’t have to suddenly agree that something is brilliant – but at least have the discussion. You’re more likely to come up with something that’s actually worth saying.
■ Posted 9th February 2014 @ 9am in Journalism. 1 Comment.
Take a spin-off of a spin-off: a 1995 SNES game, based on The Flintstones live action film, based on the Hanna-Barbera cartoon.
Take a music track found in the cartridge, which isn’t even used in the game1.
And from this obscure origin, find one of the most gorgeous chiptunes you’re ever likely to hear.
Funny how life turns out.
■ Posted 19th January 2014 @ 12pm in Computers, Gaming. 1 Comment.
Emotional Public Domain Software.
That’s what the opening title of the program reads. This is BBC Micro public domain disc BBC PD #171, “Something About Me”. The catalogue description reads: “…by Oliver Debus. A personal anthology of graphics, digitised images and scanned pictures.”
And that’s what we get. Dated 1989 in one of the program files, you can download the disc image file from 8BS – but I’ve captured a video of it below, to save you the trouble of emulating. (Contains brief, low resolution nudity.)
At first pixellated glance, at a slideshow of 320 x 256 black and white photos, this might seem far removed from anything teenagers are doing now. But come on – pictures of yourself, of famous people you like, of things you’re interested in, of silly cartoons, all with captions – sent out into the world for other people to see?
This is just a 1989 version of Tumblr. How fabulous.
■ Posted 14th January 2014 @ 12pm in Computers. No Comments Yet.
The following is one of the most fun videos I’ve ever seen. The BBC One O’Clock News, from 29th December 1986 – with gallery talkback. 27 years ago to the day. And things are getting rather hectic…
Part 1 above. See also: Part 2, Part 3.
The bulletin begins with the announcement during the title sequence that the lead story won’t make it. Not an unusual event maybe, but it’s thrilling to hear it actually happening. Unfortunately, things get worse from there. The whole thing is better experienced as a whole rather than just having me picking out bits and pieces, but trust me: it’s well worth your time. (If you’re in Dirty Feed’s core demographic, at least.) It all builds up to a genuinely thrilling climax… and one that the production team, to their credit, pull off superbly. That cut, 6:18 into the third part, is beautifully done – under immense pressure.
Incidentally, despite working in a TX suite which deals daily with live news, I don’t listen to enough open talkback to judge whose fault it is that the bulletin nearly falls apart. If anyone with a bit more experience in a live news gallery feels like playing the blame game, please do so in the comments. As a TX op, the bit that does give me the shivers is when the team realise they don’t have a duration for their late-delivery tape, meaning they can’t give TX a proper off-air time. “We’ll crash out of it, I’ll talk to pres…”
Finally, a slightly more serious thought, with the inevitable crunching gear change. What I found interesting about the lead story here is how much it has faded from the collective memory, mainly to be remembered only by the people involved. This isn’t some big story that impacts on a large number of people – it’s a very personal slice of pain. Listening to the story now, when the main public interest in the case has long gone, feels at best rather uncomfortable.
It’s an odd feeling to have about a news story which went out to millions of viewers on BBC1.
■ Posted 29th December 2013 @ 4pm in Television. No Comments Yet.
Player character identification in video games is one of those topics which academia seemingly loves. There are reams and reams of papers dedicated to the subject. I’m never scared to dumb things down here at Dirty Feed, however, so let’s ludicrously simplify things. How I identify with a player character comes in two forms: they’re either not me… or they are me.
In Final Fantasy IX, I am Zidane, a cheeky chappy with a ludicrous tail who discovers he is an Angel of Death. In I-0, I am Tracy Valencia, with all the added anatomy and latent lesbian tendencies that part requires. On the other hand, in a game like Angband, I’m creating a character from scratch, not taking the role of a pre-existing character with their own story – and I tend to think of that character as an extension of myself.
With a life simulation game like Animal Crossing, it’s even more clear-cut. Sure, the world is absolute fantasy, full of talking animals: but I’m still called John. I can wear the kind of clothes I wear in real life, furnish my house like I would if I had endless money and wasn’t a lazy bastard. I’m not playing a part: that character running around on the screen is me.
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■ Posted 20th November 2013 @ 5pm in Gaming. No Comments Yet.
CLERK: Gordon Welsley Brittas, you are charged that you did on the 13th of November 1992 murder Julio Escobido, Eduardo Ramierz, Juan Mendosa, Robert Penchard, Ian Trahern – also known as Big Gary – and Raymond Watts… That you did have in your possession controlled drugs of class A, namely five kilos of heroin and an unknown quantity of amphetamines, contrary to Section 4 of the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971.. and that you did unlawfully cause Grevious Bodily Harm to Alice Whitely, Grace Beatty, Agnes Swinton and Doreen Lavern-Smith, all of the Whitbury New Town Sunshine Retirement Home, contrary to the Offences of the Person Act 1861.
When The Brittas Empire returned for its third series at the beginning of 1993, it clearly wanted to grab the viewer. Instead of Brittas merely sitting in his office about to start the snowball rolling on another day of calamity, it had him up in the dock on charges of GBH, drug possession, and a murder or six. For most shows, perhaps that would have been enough of an attention-grabbing opener.
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■ Posted 13th November 2013 @ 9pm in Best Of, Comedy, Television. 1 Comment.
On Friday, Challenge did the best thing since they acquired the rights to Knightmare again: the start of a repeat run of Les Dawson Blankety Blank episodes. I honestly – no joke, no exaggeration – count them as some of the best, funniest television ever made.
Sadly, take a look at the video above, taken from the end of the second episode. At 18 seconds in, I’m afraid I made an extraordinary noise.
To Challenge’s credit, they apologised – if only all TV stations would do that when things like this happened. Despite my childish headline, they get huge bonus points for that, and it’s something other channels could learn from. The problem is, it’s not even that unusual for programmes to be ruined in this fashion – and most of the time, there’s not a snifter of an apology.
So, a plea. To all television schedulers in this world – and, indeed, anyone who happens to pass an eye over end credit DVE offsets (they are generally scheduled these days, rather than an operator manually pressing a button) – please, please get this right. There is very little which hurts viewer experience more than misplaced credit shrinking over the final part – the climax – of a show. It absolutely kills it.
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■ Posted 10th November 2013 @ 8pm in Television. 1 Comment.