Archive for the ‘TV Reviews’ Category

Bad Influence!

August 26, 2011

Bad Influence

 Year: 1992 – 1996

Genre: Video Game Show shown on CITV

Presenters: Violet Berlin, Andy Crane, Nam Rood, Z Wright, Studio Audience

I loved watching Bad Influence! Back in the day it was an awesome video games show which covered all the latest (back then) games consoles, games and technology, from the SNES to the N64 and even covered my favourite the Amiga, as well as the occasional PC release.

The show was presented by Violet Berlin, a video games guru, and presenter Andy Crane in a studio which was set up with consoles and various other gadgets which the studio audience could be seen playing on. The show featured games reviews (often done by members of the studio audience) in which they gave a ‘boys and girls score’ out of 5.

The show also covered the latest hardware news with reports from Z Wright in the US, who was replaced by ‘Virtual Violet’ in the final series. The show often covered in-depth looks at gaming issues and new computer technology. I always remember the launch of the Nintendo 64 (then called the Ultra 64) which is shown in the last series, as well as the virtual reality machines and robots in the US, and a special on Industrial Light and Magic. Being an Amiga fan most of my favourite episodes featured anything Amiga related, Bad Influence! Series 2 Episode 4 features the Amiga, and games such as Rise of the Robots (Meh!) Desert Strike, Robocod and the Amiga CD 32.

Another presenter was Nam Rood, an expert in games cheats who had his own special section of the show. He would present a cheat for a game (not always related to the show) in random and sometimes comical ways, usually whilst insulting the audience. I’m still not sure what a ‘furtler’ is to this day. Either way Nam Rood’s appearance was a nice break from the masses of information presented in the main show.

It was definitely one of my favourite shows, and I think Violet Berlin needs to be back on the TV at some point, she was pretty awesome. The show usually ended with a competition, and a ‘datablast’ of information that you were encouraged to record and play back to be able to read it. The datablast were pages of text displayed at speed during the end credits with all of the reviews, news, features and cheats of that weeks show.

For more information, and also the best source of information on Bad Influence! please check out this awesome Bad Influence website, where you can also watch the show! The shows themselves are taken from VHS recordings so the sound and picture on some of them isn’t so good, but it’s still great to see this show again and the effort that has gone into putting these online for us all to enjoy. The website includes information on the show, the presenters, the shows themselves spanning 4 series, and interviews with Andy Crane and Violet Berlin, the site also contains links to other related sites!

There’s also a Bad Influence YouTube channel here!

Below is Series 1, Episode 1 to get you started, which also includes the opening introduction 🙂

Manga UK 20th Anniversary Party

June 17, 2011

Manga UK 20th Anniversary Party

June 16th 2011

“Manga has cultivated the international theatrical market for Japanese animated feature films. Since 1994, Manga has distributed critically acclaimed and award winning anime features including The Wings of Honneamise, Patlabor 1 and 2, and the smash anime sci-fi feature Ghost in the Shell, bringing top-quality anime to the big screen”

I remember watching Akira in the early nineties and was extremely confused by what I saw (my only experience of anime before this was Robotech) but I was also blown away by the story and the animation – especially those awesome motorbikes. So much so when I finally managed to get my hands on a copy of the VHS I actually wore it out through playing it too much. I love the character of Kaneda, mainly because he was voiced by Cam Clarke in the English version. I’ve been a fan of him ever since Robotech (1985) where he voiced Lance Belmont  and Max Sterling, as well as Leonardo in the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles cartoon (1987-1996).

Some of the first Manga entertainment videos I owned were Ninja Scroll, Ghost in the Shell and Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, these 3 remain my favourites to this day and they have been upgraded in my collection to DVD from VHS, and will more than likely be upgraded to Blu-ray at some point as well.

The party was a well organised and awesome evening, and a great chance to meet some interesting people from lots of different industries! Our hosts served up some great sushi along with Asahi, a tasty but dry Japanese beer, and some funky cocktails with anime inspired names, ‘Sex on the Bleach’ was one of them as I recall. I say recall, the Asahi was flowing quite a bit so feel free to update this information! The room was filled with cosplayers, a live band and projectors playing various animes and trailers on the walls. There was also a gaming area with some PS3’s set up.

Have a browse at some pictures below of the night and please forgive my terrible photography skills.

 

 

A great evening all round, congratulations to Manga UK on their 20th Anniversary! Keep up the good work!

Starting quote from ‘About Us’ section on the awesome Manga Website here!

Please also visit Manga UK for the latest and up to date news! 

Cam Clarke on IMDB

Manga are also on twitter @MangaUK and on Facebook, further links available on their website.

Please also follow the brilliant @SFXmagazine and @MangaMasters on twitter!

TV Shows: The Prisoner

April 26, 2010

The Prisoner

Starring: Patrick McGoohan, Angelo Muscat, Leo McKern, Fenella Fielding

Year: 1967 – 1968

Genre: Science Fiction

The Prisoner ran for a short period in 1967 to 1968 and spanned 17 episodes, with a lot of the episodes written and directed by the star and co-creator himself Patrick McGoohan. It combined spy fiction and science fiction and has sparked much debate to the meaning and reasons for each episode and the series as a whole.

The plot outline for the series follows McGoohan as a former British secret agent who is kidnapped from his home and held prisoner in a mysterious seaside village. His captors remain anonymous and they attempt to find out why he abruptly resigned from his job. McGoohan is named as Number 6 and is watched by the mysterious organisation and the man who appears to be the head of the village known only as Number Two. To add an extra quirky element to the series the actor to play Number Two changes each time, and it appears if the current Number Two fails in his mission to find out why Number Six resigned he is immediately replaced.

Take a peek at the opening credits for The Prisoner below! Includes that awesome funky intro music!

Some of the places you see in the series and opening credits above can still be seen in London. For instance I believe Buckingham Place is the location of the house used for the series opening credits and in various episodes throughout the series, check it out below!

Google Street View “Buckingham Place”

Tour Page from the website “The Unmutual” showing the annual tour of the prisoner locations in London.

Although sold as a thriller in the mould of McGoohan’s previous series, Danger Man (called Secret Agent in its U.S. release), the show had a brilliant combination of 1960s cultural themes and a surreal setting which had a far-reaching impact on science fiction and television programs then and now, you only have to look at recent shows such as Lost for references and ideas influenced by The Prisoner. The show was bizarre at best and some of the episodes very weird in places, however throughout the series McGoohan’s writing is compelling and edgy and keeps you interested. He plays the paranoid agent brilliantly and draws the audience into his plight and into the quirky mysterious setting of The Village.

The setting for The Prisoner is a real village called Port Meirion. I’ll probably get there myself one day but would be good to hear from people who have been there already! Oddly enough the closest I’ve gotten to “The Village” is through the online virtual community Second Life. Research into something you love for long enough and it can take you to some bizarre places. I couldn’t resist finding out more, and going against my nature as a gamer I dived right in. Second Life members had re-created a pretty accurate version of “The Village” in this virtual world, you can join the community and you are assigned a number. After an initial look around I chatted to a few residents who said they loved hanging out the in the Village, I guess not quite the same as the visiting the real thing but it was fun for a while and worth a quick visit, although I don’t think I’ll be needing to look any further into Second Life.

For further information (and just the tip of the iceberg really) take a look at the sites below:

  • Please check out the website The Unmutual which is a fantastic resource of all things The Prisoner, from cast and crew information, news, locations and the Prisoner London tour.

 

  • Patrick McGoohans IMDB page here!

 

There are also numerous other websites, information, and video clips to be found on the interweb.

Final thoughts

The Prisoner is one of my most favourite sci-fi shows right alongside Farscape, Stargate and Red Dwarf. The Prisoner, Number 6 and the Village were, and still are a fascinating concept. Watching, listening and reading McGoohan’s thoughts on the show reveal even he didn’t know how it was going to end, with the final episode “Fall Out” literally a mystery right up to the day of writing it, the mystery was only solved, albeit in a very unusual way, when he wrote it.

Some of my favourite episodes include:

 A, B and C (Episode 3) – A desperate Number Two tampers with Number Six’s dreams to discover where his loyalties lie.

Checkmate (Episode 9) – Number Six thinks he has a means to tell the prisoners from the warders, and assembles a group for an escape attempt.

Fall Out (Episode 17) – Number Six finally discovers the answers to the questions he has been asking, what follows is a bizarre but satisfying end to the series in my opinion, but apparently not too popular back in 1968.

The new series starring Jim Caviezel as Number Six (or just “Six” in this series) follows a similar storyline and scenario to the original. Being a die-hard fan of McGoohan it was hard to get into the new series but I still highly enjoyed it and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Caviezel can’t pull off angry and paranoid as well as his predecessor but there were enough homages to the original and McGoohan references and style to keep me interested, right down to the banging of a fist on a desk and spilling tea. 

Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as i enjoyed researching it!

Be seeing you.