DVD-Review: Futurama Season 4

It’s time to bring the first batch of Matt Groening’s other animated series to a finish, although Futurama Season 4 was not the end of the series by a long shot, even though it looked like it back in Summer 2003 when the ‘final’ episode was broadcast. Even after 72 episodes, the series had only produced a few bad apples and the fourth production season – which was actually partly the fourth and fifth broadcast season – was the best one yet. Futurama had evolved from a science-fiction workplace sitcom to epic storytelling with often complex plots developing an overall mythology of the series’ own universe – combined with the brilliant animation and the indespensable voice acting, this made the series into a classic far ahead of its time. Back in the early 2000s, there was no was to watch it in its original English version here in Germany except from the DVDs, which were thankfully quickly released in the UK and were absolutely indespensable – and a lot of fun because of the great extras. This review is, as usual, primarily about the series itself with a technical DVD review tacked on almost as an afterthought.

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TV-Review: X-Files Season 10 Episode 3

If there’s one thing that The X-Files is not particularly famous for, it’s humour, since the series tends to keep on the suspenseful, mysterious and dramatic side. So it’s easy to forget that there have been more than a dozen episodes with light-hearted stories that often branched into outright comedy – and with only six episodes in the new mini-series, there was no way that the humouristic angle of the show could be ignored. Luckily, Chris Carter thought so as well and enlisted the help of Darin Morgan, who had written some of the more funnier early episodes of the series and came up with the brilliant Mulder and Scully meet the Were-Monster. Yes, we are behind in Europe – while the final episode has already aired in the US, we are only on the third in England and Germany unless you want to pay for the streaming offers from Amazon or iTunes, which are in sync with the American broadcasts.

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TV-Review: X-Files Season 10 Episode 2

The X-Files have returned with a limited six-series run and with the second episode called Founder’s Mutation they’re really back – as in business as usual in a very good way. Mulder and Scully are in the FBI again running the good old X-Files department, meaning they are called out to all the strange cases… and that means the Monster of the Week concept is back too. This could have meant a boring, paint-by-numbers affair, but instead this episode is as classic as it gets – even more so than the first one, which now feels more like an introduction. This new season of The X-Files is currently being shown on Channel 5 in England with a three-episode delay compared to the US broadcast, but the episodes are also available on Amazon and iTunes everywhere following the American schedule – although I’m sticking with the UK TV broadcast, so the reviews are a bit delayed as well.

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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.

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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: Shaun the Sheep returns for Christmas

For the last post of the year I haven’t been able to finish a review, but here’s a TV recommendation instead: after the huge success of the Shaun the Sheep Movie, Aardman has produced a brand-new half-hour movie called The Farmer’s Llamas for Christmas! The premiere broadcast is on Saturday, December 26 on BBC One at 18:10 with repeats on December 27, 09:05 on CBBC and January 1, 16:05 on BBC One again (all GMT times). It will also be shown on German television on Friday, January 1, 17:05 on the children’s channel KiKa with repeats on Saturday, January 2, 08:45 on WDR and again on KiKa at 13:20 on the same day (all CET times).

There’s a short trailer and a featurette with more footage on the Shaun the Sheep Youtube Channel promising all sorts of shenanigans involving the new farm arrivals and the BBC is also airing a new, hour-long Aardman Documentary on Saturday, December 26 on BBC One at 14:25 GMT following an airing of the classic Wallace & Gromit debut A Grand Day Out.

The Farmer’s Llamas will also be released on DVD in the UK on February 8 and in Germany on March 10 – although the prices are a bit steep for just an half-hour movie. This is one DVD I will not be buying, but instead I will finally get the boxset of Series 3 & 4 soon, which has already been released in October and I only just found out about – I haven’t even seen those episodes yet!

Since this is the last post of the year for DVDLog, I’d like to wish everyone Happy Holidays – I will post some more season’s greetings soon over on my blog. I’m not sure when I’m going to start up DVDLog again, but there will be a Winter pause until early to mid-January, although there could be some occasional posts in the meantime. Stay tuned! :-)

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Star Wars: The Hype Awakens

First of all, I won’t be able to see the new Star Wars movie until the home video releases are out sometime next year, simply because going to the cinema to see the only showing of the original English version in our region would be much too expensive – but I’m in no rush and I can wait. Don’t get me wrong – I really hope that the movie turned out well, but I’m still skeptical about the whole hype. Now that the first reviews of The Force Awakens are out, I’m beginning to suspect that the press might be a little bit too enthusiastic and I fear that the same has happened as with the new Star Trek movies – everybody loved them, but I found them absolutely terrible. And both times J.J. Abrams are involved plus the addition of Disney in the mix make me wary, so pardon the pun when I say I have a bad feeling about this…!

The movie is welcome to prove otherwise in a couple of months when it comes out on DVD… until then I’m just not going to say much about it. You don’t need to worry about spoilering the plot to me, though – I actually would read the film script if I could get my hands on it, but sadly the days of screenplays available freely on the web are long over. Meanwhile, what I’m much more looking forward to is the DVD release of The Martian early next year – and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to write a final review of the year for DVDLog, but if it happens it will probably something from the archive, maybe one more round of Futurama. Which I actually prefer a lot over any incarnation of Star Wars!

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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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