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TV-News: Stargazing Live 2017

It’s that time of year again and the BBC is going to look at the skies: Stargazing Live is coming back for a seventh year and this time it’s completely different. Usually broadcast from the Lovell Observatory in England, the program moves its base of operations to the Australian Siding Spring Observatory for the first time to look at the southern sky.

Brian Cox and Dara O Briain will be hosting again, although there is an announcement from ABC TV that Australian tv presenter Julia Zemiro is going to co-host with Brian Cox. It looks like ABC is going to do three live shows on their own because when the BBC show airs, it’s in the middle of the night – that would mean pulling double duty for Brian! [Update: Sorry, the Australian version is actually airing one week later from April 4 to 6!] The Australian broadcast will also be followed by the Back to Earth after-shows, which the BBC apparently are not doing this time around. Hopefully the BBC is going to broadcast a recording of the Australian shows sometime.

The BBC broadcast airs from Tuesday, March 28 to Thursday, March 30 at 8pm UK time on BBC2. All programs are scheduled to be one hour long without an after-show segment.

Unfortunately the series has, typically for a BBC live production, never been released on DVD, but some episodes from 2011 and 2012 are still online – the rest has sadly been deleted.

Stargazing Live 2011Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3
Stargazing Live 2012Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3

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TV-News: Planet Earth II starts this Sunday

It’s been a decade since Planet Earth and while the BBC has produced a lot of brilliant nature documentaries, it was time for an update. Everyone’s already shouting it from the rooftops: Planet Earth 2 is coming and the BBC1 broadcast starts this Sunday, November 6, at 8pm British time. There’s already a fantastic trailer and almost every media outlet has an article like this one from the Guardian – David Attenborough will, once again, be the voice of the series and much has been made of the technical advances, but even if you only watch in plain old standard definition, Planet Earth 2 will be as fascinating as its predecessor. A bit worrying is the mention of Hans Zimmer as the composer, which could mean that the tendency to unnecessary drama and emotion, which has been creeping into other BBC nature documentaries, could be out in full force here, but maybe it will be completely the opposite. The animals accompanied by Sir David’s voiceover will be the stars of the series anyway.

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TV-News: QI Series N starts this Friday!

It’s mid-October again and that means the most amazing British television quiz show QI is going to return this Friday, October 21 at 22:00 UK time on BBC2 with the episodes of series N recorded earlier this summer. The 45-minute XL versions will apparently air on Sundays now, with the first one slate for October 23 at 22:35 BST. This year it’s going to be somewhat different with Sandy Toksvig taking over the Quizmaster’s role from Stephen Fry, who left after thirteen years and 180 episodes in 2015. There is already a very promising – and surprising! – preliminary episode list with all the guests on Wikipedia.

I expect that the new QI will be a lot like the old QI, because Sandi Toksvig has been a guest on the show so often that she practically belongs to the team. She will be awesome as the new, but still familiar presenter and the fact that there have been no major changes behind the scenes is a good indicator that QI will continue to be the quite interesting quiz panel that it has always been. Sidekick Alan Davies reportedly almost quit together with Stephen Fry, but along with producers Pierce Fletcher and John Lloyd he’s still a part of the series. The QI Elves, are also busy researching in the background and have not only had their own podcast No Such Thing As A Fish for a while, but also recently branched out into their own tv series No Such Thing As The News!

Update 22.10.: The first episode aired last night and, as expected, it was amazing. I’m not going to write a full review because I fully agree with this Telegraph article that says everything I would have written. Sandi Toksvig has hit her stride immediately and the show was everything you’d expect it to be. This way only the 30-minute version, the XL 45-minute edition airs on Sunday and it’s probably going to be even better.

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Raumpatrouille Orion – The 50th Anniversary

Fifty years ago to this day, the first and only science fiction series ever produced in Germany started its seven-episode broadcast, almost simultaneously with Star Trek in the USA. Raumpatrouille Orion launched six years before the German television audience even got a glimpse of its American counterpart and although the first reactions were not altogether positive and no more episode were ever made, Raumpatrouille Orion became a cult classic in its own right over time.

For the 50th Anniversary of the first broadcast on September 17, 1966, I’ve given the English translation of my extensive review another slight overhaul and although it’s a review of the one and only DVD release, it is more about the history of the series itself. Also, out of frustration that there has not been a remastered or restored version been released since the first DVD seventeen years ago, I’d like to point everyone to this Youtube Playlist that has the whole series in decent quality – and with optional English subtitles for the international audience. Those are not my uploads and while they are technically a copyright violation, due to the non-availability of the series outside of Germany and the lack of a properly restored version I can only endorse them. Except the first episode, they have already been blocked here in Germany, but they should be playable from other countries.

So, let’s launch the Orion once again and watch Commander McLane and his Crew get into trouble!

Continue to the Review »
Continue to the Series on Youtube »

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TV-Review: The X-Files Season 10 – Episode 1

It’s good to have them back on the television screens – fourteen years since the last episode aired and almost eight years since their second movie, Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully have returned to open the X-Files once again. For a long time, creator and producer Chris Carter had been looking for a way to continue the series either with a third movie or more episodes – and at the beginning of 2015 a proper compromise was found with a six-episode mini-series, allowing the lead actors the freedom to pursue other projects and the producers to concentrate on quality and not volume. The first episode, which aired in the UK and Germany this Monday, had a lot to promise and mostly delivered the good stuff – it feels like classic X-Files from the early days of the series with all the familiar elements in place.

Weiter lesen »

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TV-News: The Return of the X-Files

It’s been over a decade since the final episode was shown, but now Chris Carter’s X-Files are back with a six-part mini-series that has already begun to air in the US for the last two weeks. The first  reviews ranged from ‘meh’ to ‘utterly amazing’, but where can we actually watch it here in Europe, preferably in the original English language?

The British Channel 5 comes to the rescue. The station had already announced a while back that they had acquired the rights, but was silent about a possible airdate. Now several media outlets have confirmed that the first episode will air on Monday, February 8 at 9pm GMT on Channel 5, with an half-hour ‘making of’ called Reopening the X-Files before on 8.30pm GMT. The following parts will presumably air at the same time each week. In Germany, Pro7 is also showing the dubbed version starting on February 8 at 9:10pm CET, which is actually 50 minutes earlier than the UK premiere.

If you want to watch the highly recommended original language version, you should tune in to Channel 5, which is available on the Freesat platform receivable in many parts of Northern Europe – the only drawback is that their high-definition channel is not freely available, but you can get it at least in standard definition from the Astra satellites on 28.2°E  together with all the other UK channels.

I’m not sure if I’m going to write a review myself, but I might possibly do it – although I’ve never mentioned it much here, I actually like the X-Files a lot and it’s going to be exciting to find out if the new concept of a mini-series is going to work.

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TV-News: Attenborough’s Dinosaur and more!

He is almost 90 years old but by no means a dinosaur himself – but now David Attenborough has made a documentary about one of the biggest dinos ever found. Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur airs tomorrow on BBC One at 6.30pm GMT and promises to be a fascinatine one-off documentary following on the footsteps of Attenborough and the Giant Egg and his recent Great Barrier Reef three-parter.

Next week marks also the begin of a rerun of David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities, which has never aired on the BBC before, but now can be seen on BBC Two from next week Monday to Friday from January 25 to 29 at 3.45pm GMT and the week after that again from February 1 to 5 at 4.30pm GMT. It seems that the BBC is going to show the first ten episodes from the first two seasons of the series and hopefully the remaining eleven will be shown too soon.

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TV-News: Stargazing Live 2016

In 2015, the BBC had delayed the fifth Stargazing Live series until March to coincide with the solar eclipse, but this year they’re back in their January slot and in December Brian Cox and Dara O Briain had already covered the launch and docking of the new ISS crew with British astronaut Tim Peake on board. So this time it will all be about the space station and astronauts and the program’s twitter feed has already been telling all about it – including that there will be an additional broadcast on Friday on the occasion of Tim Peake’s first spacewalk. Unfortunately, there will be only one Back to Earth after-show chat this time for the first program, probably because of all the additional broadcasts, but with four main hour-long entries this is going to be an amazing event nevertheless. The schedule for BBC2 looks like this at the moment:

Tuesday January 12th
• 21:00-22:00 GMT: Episode 1
• 22:00-22:30 GMT: Back to Earth 1

Wednesday January 13th – 21:00-22:00 GMT: Episode 2
Thursday January 14th – 21:00-22:00 GMT: Episode 3
Friday January 15th – 
21:00-22:00 GMT: Episode 4

Unfortunately the series has, typically for a BBC live production, never been released on DVD, but all episodes from 2011, 2012 and 2015 are still up on Youtube at these links:

Stargazing Live 2011Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3
Stargazing Live 2012Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3
• Stargazing Live 2015 – Episode 1 & BTE 1 | Episode 2 & BTE 2 | Episode 3 & BTE 3
• Stargazing Live 2015 Special – Blast Off Live  | Brit in Space

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TV-News: Stargazing Live – Brit in Space Edition

This Tuesday on 11:03 GMT, three astronauts will be launching to the International Space StationTimothy Kopra from NASA, Yuri Malenchenko from Roscosmos and Timothy Peake from ESA, the first Briton to go to space under a British flag. For this occasion, the BBC has pulled out all the stops and will cover both the launch and the docking on Tuesday with two special editions of Stargazing Live, hosted by Brian Cox and Dara O’Briain. According to several news reports, they will be joined by Helen Sharman, the first British citizen to go to space and visit Mir in 1991 and  former Canadian Astronaut and ISS commander Chris Hadfield. BBC science presenter Dallas Campbell will also be reporting live from the Baikonur launch site. Here’s the schedule as of Saturday, December 10:

10:30 GMT on BBC One: Blast Off Live is going to cover the hopefully not delayed launch scheduled for 11:03 GMT for 45 Minutes.

19:00 GMT on BBC Two: Brit in Space will not be able to cover the actual docking procedures, which are scheduled for 17:24 GMT, but will be right on time for the hatch opening and welcoming starting at 19:25 GMT. This program is scheduled for an hour-long time slot.

Update: I completely missed that there was a Tim Peake Horizon Special on Sunday evening. This is repeated on Monday evening at 23:15 GMT on BBC2 if you want to catch it again.

As usual, NASA TV will also cover the launch, but the BBC coverage will probably be much more interesting with lots of interviews and much more. Stargazing Live will also return for a new regular series starting on January 12.


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TV-News: QI Series M starts this Friday

It’s that time of year again… the most amazing British television quiz show QI returns this Friday, October 16 at 22:00 BST / 23:00 CEST on BBC2 with the episodes of series M recorded earlier this summer. As usual, the 45-minute XL versions will air on Saturday around 21:00 BST, which is unfortunately slightly overlapping with the Doctor Who broadcasts on BBC1! There is already a preliminary episode list with all the guests on Wikipedia and it looks like it will be a lot of fun.

There are also some very sad and at the same time very good news: today the BBC revealed that Stephen Fry will step down as the quizmaster of QI after series M with thirteen years and 180 episodes under his belt. The good news is that his old friend and frequent QI guest Sandy Toksvig will take over in his place beginning next year, which – at least in my opinion – could not be a better choice. Stephen Fry will be missed, but QI will go on with a new, but familiar presenter and producer John Lloyd plus the QI Elves in the background. Meanwhile, there are still sixteen unaired episodes with Stephen Fry to watch this fall and winter!

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