Flashforward… What Did I See?

September 30, 2009

Monday night saw the start of new American show Flashforward in the UK. With comparison’s to Lost (and you should know how I feel about that show) this was always going to be big… but did it live up to the hype.

It only took a few moments to see why ABC think of this show as it’s new Lost. The opening scene sees the main protagonist, FBI agent Mark Benford walking through the wreckage of a massive car crash in a very similarflashforward-logo style to Jack walking though the Oceanic crash scene in Lost. It was an immediately gripping opening, which I appreciated and told the story slightly backwards as we then flashed 4 hours earlier.

The main crux of what happened is that everyone in the world ‘stopped’ for 2 minutes and 17 seconds. But they didn’t just blackout, they saw a vision of the future, 6 months to be exact, to the 29th April 2010. The fact that people ‘stopped’ obviously causes mass chaos leaving us with the New York ‘wastleland’ we see at the start of the show.

The programme is going to focus on just a few of these characters who’ve had specific flashes. Some of them are heartwarming, such as the doctor, ready to commit suicide, who has a vision that in 6 months his life is turned around and he is still alive. Some are funny such as the FBI chief who saw himself on the toilet. Some will clearly be integral to the overall story such as Mark’s where he sees himself in a room with snipers after him. And some are upsetting or devastating… Sonya Walger’s character is cheating and FBI agent Demetri Noh sees nothing, suggesting he isn’t here.

flashforward1The presentation of the show is both interesting yet cryptic. We’ve only properly seen one flash so far, yet heard details from others. It helps keep a blanket over the story’s larger plot. It also suggests that many of these flashes will be connected. The introduction of characters was also very good, with only a small, but satisfying amount of backgrounding for the main cast.

The production of the show did hit a few issues. Firstly in a car chase, the SUV hitting the traffic at high speed didn’t seem to be damaged in any way by this. This was… at best, very unrealistic! Also there were many shots at the beginning with many people around one moment, the next cut they had all vanished. Yes they’re small details, but for such a large production, I expected a little more attention to these details.

So should you continue watching? It seems like an OK concept, but what’s the hook. That came in the last minute of the show. Deep inside the FBI, an agent discovers an interesting CCTV clip. At a football stadium, when everyone goes into the ‘trance’, one man doesn’t and simply walks away. Someone was awake! But, who? why? This is what’s going to make this series and it’s happened far earlier than Lost’s first great hook.

Flashforward looks to be a very interesting concept and is certainly the most exciting new show of 2009. I’ll be sticking with it and hope it proves a worthy replacement to the awesome Lost.

To finish, I’ll just note a couple more easter eggs for Lost fans. Firstly, I hope you all noticed the Oceanic Airline’s logo in the background in the opening scenes. Also, April 29th, the day of the flash, is the same day Lost is scheduled to end in the US… coincidence? I think not!

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F1 2009 – The Singapore GP: Prediction

September 27, 2009

With an hour and a bit left until the start of the race, here’s my prediction for this weekends grand prix.

From the looks of qualifying and the practice sessions, it looks like McLaren are the dominant force this weekend. Hamilton is equal third heaviest at the start of the race, yet he’s managed to gain pole position. Now this is obviously partially due to Barichello’s Q3 crash, but there’s no denying the pace of the McLaren.

Vettel and Webber in the Red Bull’s are fuelled  very light and will obviously come in earlier. The question is will their opening pace be enough. The track is hard to overtake on, so getting in front of Hamilton early on could be key. This will be quite difficult, it’s not like Lewis to give up a position quickly.

Brawn are struggling here and look to be having yet another ‘damage limitation’ race. Jenson has fuelled very heavilly which could bring him back into contention, but I think really he’s looking at the bottom of the points today.

Ferrari are also struggling here with Raikkonen only making it into 13th position. But again he’s been fueeled heavily. And with Fisichella starting in 18th… well he may get somewhere with enough crashes!

It’s also fair to mention the Toyota’s, William’s, BMW’s and Alonso who are all fairly high up and could mess things up for the title contenders.

So taking all that into account, here’s my top 3 prediction:

1. Hamilton

2. Alonso

3. Vettel

Of course this is a very hard race to predict and with the winding track and the stench of ‘cheating’ still in the air, quite frankly anything could happen!


Muse – The Resistance: Fantastic, Fair Or Flop

September 17, 2009

I’ve been putting this off for a few days as this album’s so flippin’ difficult to write about. But at last, here it is, my humble opinion on Muse’s Resistance.

From the previews posted on iTunes a few weeks ago, I think may fans, me included, were a bit disillusion. Muse

The Psychadelic album cover to 'The Resistance'

The Psychadelic album cover to 'The Resistance'

seemed to have lost their almost prog-rock sound and caved in to a more mainstream ideal. Well that and the plain weird… the ‘Queen like’ United States Of Eurasia was our only full song.

However, never have 30 second previews been so misleading to the final product. You really have to listen to this album in full to truly appreciate it, and I’m sure most will take several listens to ‘get it’. But that’s the kind of band Muse are and always have been. And when you really ‘get’ The Resistance’, you’ll relise it’s some of their best work to date.

It’s apparent from the first track ‘Uprising’ that Muse have once again challenged themselves to produce something quite different. Unlike any previous Muse attempt, this track is almost ‘dancey’. It opens with a beat reminiscent of Goldfrapp, but soon moves into familiar Muse territory with ‘Doctor Who-esque’ synths and some brilliant guitar sounds. The chorus is also similar to the ‘Knights Of Cydonia’ one, something to really chant out.

The next track is ‘Resistance’ a song I severely misjudged on first opinion. I was afraid this song was a bit too ‘pop’, but the epic and very dark opening with crashing drums and paranoid piano make this song amazing. It soon breaks into a powerful chorus about love, resistance and defying those who ‘control’ us. This brings us to ‘Undisclosed Desires’, a vastly different song for Muse. Firstly, no lead guitar, next the music is mostly a drum machine. This doesn’t sound good, but it is a good listen and the lyrics are beautiful. In my opinion this is the worst on the album, but I think many people (mostly R and B fans) will love what they’ve done here.

Next is ‘United States Of Eurasia’, which I now really appreciate. Yes it’s a bit weird, yes it clearly nicks parts from Queen, but the arrangement is brilliant and the orchestral parts work in harmony with the guitar and bass. This leads straight into ‘Guiding Light’, essentially a power-ballad. Initially I thought it was too strong and very overpowering, but I’m starting to ‘get’ this song now. And I really can’t stress how important that is. You may hate this album when you first hear it, but in my opinion it gets better with every listen, these songs take tome to ‘grow’ on you.

Muse-Uprising-480378

The teddy's are attacking! Uprising's cover

So far the album’s been quite different for Muse, but hardcore fans will be pleased to know they haven’t left their past behind. This is embodied in ‘Unnatural Selection’ and ‘MK Ultra’. US starts with an Organ sound, similar to Megalomania and builds into one of my favourite choruses as Matt ‘wants the truth’! It really is a throwback to earlier Muse songs with ‘New Born’, ‘Small Print’ and even ‘Plug In Baby’ spring to mind. ‘MK Ultra’ starts with a very spacey sound and builds up into the sort of epic music we all know Muse can produce. This song really surprised me with it’s quality.

The last main song is ‘I Belong To You’ which again is very different, but also very similar. It starts with piano not dissimilar to Maroon 5’s ‘This Love’. But don’t stop reading yet, it gets better, with some fantastic lines and vocals from Bellamy and even a French interlude in the middle. It’s an extremely over-the-top song, but I think it’s supposed to be. I always have a smile on my face when the Clarinet solo kicks in!

But that’s not quite it for the album. Matt Bellamy has been working for several years on a Symphony and this is what ends ‘The Resistance’… ‘The Exogenesis Symphony’. It’s split into three distinct sections starting with strong but slightly sinister strings. This leads way to Matt’s very high and ghostly vocal which complements the melody very well. Part two opens with piano before moving quite heavy with Bellamy screaming ‘You Must Rescue Us All’. It’s space-rock at it’s very best. Part 3 is easily the most beautiful, but also very sombre as Bellamy asks for fogiveness and the chance to start again. It’s a very powerful and deep way to end.

Exogenesis is in my opinion amazing. Symphonies might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this is a masterpiece and is such a truly original way of ending.

The Resisitance is a very different album for Muse, but at the same time, it’s like nothings changed. This is the bands most ambitious record to date, and I do think the risks have paid off. I couldn’t see any other band having the ambition to create what they have and that really should be commended.

In Matt Bellamy’s own words, it’s their ‘most definitive album’.

Fantastic!


Harry Potter’s World Is Coming To Life

September 16, 2009

As a massive theme park fan and an avid reader of the Harry Potter books, I’m really lookingpotterworld1forward to ‘The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter’ at Universal Orlando. Yesterday, chiefs finally revealed what’s going to be in the new area.

But first, a bit of background. ‘The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter’ was announced a couple of years ago. It’s to be a new ‘land’ as part of Universal’s ‘Islands of Adventure’ themepark in Florida. It’ll be taking up part of the existing ‘Lost Continent’ part of the park. The new area is due to be open by Spring next year.

So what’s going to be in it? Well, loads! They’ve created the whole area of Hogsmeade, including a Hog’s Head restaurant. There’s going to be various locations from the films including Ollivander’s (an interactive attraction) and an Owlery. There’s to be two rollercoaster’s, one based around Dragon’s and one based on Hippogriffs. And the highlight of it all, a massive Hogwarts castle with an all new interactve ride inside called ‘Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey’.

It’s the biggest single themepark development that I’ve seen in a long long time. What they are planning to do looks amazing and I really cant wait to experience it.

However, this has all come at a cost. The ‘all new’, ‘Dragon’s Challenge’ coaster isn’t as new as Universal will claim. It’s been there since 2002 and is currently called Duelling Dragon’s. For me DD is one of the best themed rides in the world. Although the Harry Potter theme is similar, I do fear that the whole story of the ride will 6a00e54ee7b64288330120a55e4945970b-800wibe altered and will never be as good. I understand that this will mean little to some people, but to me it’s very important and I think it’s the shame the ride, as it was, will be leaving. They could’ve at least kept the name, ‘ Dragon’s Challenge’ is rubbish!

But apart from the sad decline of Lost Continent, I think this will be an absolutely phenomenal development and can’t wait to see the final results.

the construction is already well underway and you can see the latest update here. For more information as it’s revealed, visit the themepark’s official website.


F1 2010: Lotus Return To The Sport

September 15, 2009

Exciting news has broken this morning as it seems Lotus are set to return to Formula One after a 15 year absence.

The FIA confirmed this morning that the team (which now has Malaysian backing) will take up the 13th slot onLotusLogo the grid in the 2010 season. Mike Gascoyne (remember him) will also be joining the team as their technical chief.

It will be the first time the British team have competed since the 1994 season.

But what does all this mean for BMW Sauber, the previous owners of this grid slot. In a statement, the FIA also mentioned that they had received ‘an impressive application from the BMW Sauber Team. However, given that BMW has announced it will withdraw its support in 2010, there are still uncertainties regarding the future ownership of the team.

“Nevertheless, the FIA considers that BMW Sauber’s application is of high quality and would constitute a competitive participant in the Championship. As such, it has awarded BMW Sauber the ‘14th place’ in the Championship meaning that it will be entitled to fill any vacancy that arises on the 2010 grid.”

So could we be seeing one of the biggest grids ever next year with a full 28 cars starting in Melbourne next year. Or of course, there could be a possible space coming up if Renault are chucked out…..

It looks like another quite different year for F1.

Source : James Allen


Advertising To Enter Our Programmes

September 14, 2009

It was decided yesterday to allow product placement on British TV for the first time ever, but will this simply turn out viewing into one big commercial?

The idea of product placement is that companies pay to get their products featured in TV shows. For example, Apple could pay ITV to feature their laptops in one of their drama’s. The idea is to to get the product in the subconscious of the viewing public without specifically advertising it.

It has always been banned in British TV, but yesterday the culture secretary Ben Bradshaw announced that ‘theIRobotwentalittleoverboardwiththeproductplacement...climate has changed’ and has agreed to lifting the ban. It;s designed to help the likes of ITV who are losing massive revenue with their current advertising due to lower viewing figures and PVR’s which allow viewers to skip commercials.

The introduction of product placement is a very damaging idea in my opinion. It’ll all start off innocently, but how long before Rebus is telling us the advantages of his new iPhone, the IT crowd list off all the songs available in the new Guitar Hero and the folks of Corrie let us know why Carlsberg is probably the best beer in the world.

I love some of the quality there is on TV, there’s some great writing, great acting and real entertainment to be found. I don’t want all of that to be forgotten in exchange for characters we know promoting products we don’t want to know.

Product placement is not new to America where is dominates schedules and films. A good example is i Robot, a film made up  of FedEx, Converse trainers and Audi. Let’s not forget the classic moment where the camera zooms right in on the Audi logo on Will Smith’s car. I don’t want advertising thrown at my face all the time! I don’t want our media to be ruined by it.

But there is of course the problem of lower advertising revenues. Why dies ITV have so little money? Is it because it was possibly a little complacent. Is it because it wasted millions on shows that would never work (‘Celebrity Love Island/Wrestling’ I’m looking at you). Yes the advertisers are less willing to pay as much, but ITV could still manage without if they’d just been a little more careful in the ‘glory days’. We shouldn’t need to introduce product placement to save our commercial broadcasters.

I’ll finish this little rant with a quote from Andy Burnham, chief executive of Channel 4

“We have consistently taken the view that confusing the lines between editorial and advertising raises serious issues of trust for viewers. Relaxing the rules would deliver a marginal commercial benefit and do little to redress the growing funding imbalance between state- and advertising-funded broadcasting.”

Read more on this story at Media Guardian and have you say in our Poll on the right.


Song Of The Week: 13/09/09

September 13, 2009

songweekA million apologies for not doing this for the past two weeks, been really snowed under with stuff :(. But here it is again for it’s triumphant return!

So as many of you will know and hopefully you’ve noticed from the top-banner change, this week is a very important week musically as Muse (the greatest band in the world) release their fifth studio album, ‘The Resistance’. As a fitting tribute I’m featuring a song from the album as my Song Of The Week.

This Week’s RHP Song Of The Week

Resistance

Muse

Yes I’ve gone for the titular track on the album, mostly because it has really surprised me. I heard a 30 second preview of it a while back and was quite underwhelmed. However, now hearing the full version, this is clearly one of the best on the entire record.

In the way that Muse have often been known for, this song has many distinct sections. It starts off with the sound of wind and dark noises. A piano then kicks in along with striking drum beats. This builds up to Bellamy’s

The Psychadelic album cover to 'The Resistance'

The Psychadelic album cover to 'The Resistance'

first vocals, ‘Is our secret safe tonight, and are we out of sight’. These are the kind of lyrics that this album is built on, paranoia all the way through.

After the verse we move to a new section with Chris Wolstenholme providing backing of ‘could be wrong’ while Bellamy screams that it should’ve been right! This then breaks through to the brilliant chorus, ‘love is our RESISTANCE’. It’s an extremely powerful line and takes the track into a new level.

The song also ends in this vein with Matt Bellamy screaming out the final few lyrics, very reminiscent of the end of ‘Sing For Absolution’.

Resistance is a great track. It’s the first Muse song in my opinion, that perfectly walks the line between mainstream and old-style Muse. It’s a real credit to the band and I can’t wait to see it performed live in November!

You can listen to Resistance now on Muse.mu. the album is released tomorrow, the 14th September.