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TV-Review: Futurama Season 11 #1 – The Impossible Stream

Once upon a time, there was an animated television series about a hapless pizza delivery guy who got kicked a thousand years into the future… and despite two cancellations and living on several television networks, Futurama is still alive after almost a quarter of a century. While its bigger sister series The Simpsons has become old, tired and predictable, Futurama is still coming up with fresh ideas and the first new episode after a ten year hiatus that just came out on Hulu in the USA and Disney+ in Europe does not disappoint.

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David Attenborough turns 90

On Sunday, May 8, the amazing David Attenborough will turn 90 years old. He is the original nature documentary filmmaker who pioneered and practically invented the genre with a multitude of programs and series spanning over sixty years of broadcasting not only in England, but all over the world. His unmistakeable voiceovers, always written by himself, gives countless documentaries something very special even if he does not appear in person while his own documentaries are always even more fascinating, showing his own boundless sense of wonder and enthusiasm.

The BBC has a modest birthday program for David Attenborough with some specially selected archival documentaries, a new hour-long interview program and a new one-off documentary. BBC2 screens Attenborough’s Passion Project on Satuday, May 7 starting at 18:30 (all times UK) with the two reruns A Blank on the Map from 1971 and The Lost Gods of Easter Island from 2000 which are both available on DVD in the collection Attenborough in Paradise and Other Personal Voyages. On Sunday, May 8, BBC1 starts with a re-run of the recent Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur at 16:35 with the interview special Attenborough at 90 following at 19:00 GMT. The new documentary Attenborough’s Life that Glows is then shown on Monday, May 9 on BBC2 at 21:00.

On Tuesday, May 10 at 23:00, BBC4 will be showing a rerun of the 2012 Natural World Special Attenborough’s Ark and Saturday, May 14 brings a second part of Attenborough’s Passion Project on BBC2 starting at 18:30 with one episode from the Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives from 1989 and Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life from 2009.

Tuesday, May 17 has the most interesting program of them all: BBC4 will be showing the 90-minute documentary David Attenborough’s Zoo Quest in Colour starting at 21:00. Recently, it was discovered that some of the surviving 16mm footage from his early Zoo Quest series was actually filmed in colour, but only printed and broadcast in black and white – this program will showcase this discovery with Attenborough and his camera man Charles Lague remembering their first foray into documentary filmmaking in the 1950s.

This seems to be all the BBC has to offer, but wait – Aardman has made two wonderful Creature Comforts specials which are on Youtube as Lyrebird Meets Attenborough and Penguins Meet Attenborough – Happy Birthday!

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TV-News: Atkinson does Maigret & Attenborough Returns

British television continues to surprise, and this time it’s not the BBC but ITV: the Guardian revealed that Rowan Atkinson will be taking over the iconic role of Jules Maigret in two feature-length movies. The first one, titled Maigret sets a Trap, will be aired on March 27, Easter Sunday, at 8pm GMT on ITV1. But can Atkinson, to many viewers primarily known as the bumbling Mr. Bean, pull this off? I believe so, because he is actually a terrific character actor, which you can see in Blackadder or even Johnny English, where he is much less a clown but more serious most of the time. There may be a bit of subtle comedy infused into this new incarnation of the french detective, but I’m confident that this could be Rowan Atkinson’s finest hour. Viewers expecting an Inspector Clouseau clone should probably stay clear of this adaptation, but as the Guardian article remarks, this could fill the gap that David Suchet’s retirement as Hercule Poirot, also an ITV production, has left.

More good news also comes from the BBC: Planet Earth 2 has been announced, to be aired later this year and it will again be presented by David Attenborough, who will also be honoured by an hour-long interview programme for his 90th birthday on May 8th. There is also an interesting remark in this article about Attenborough making a documentary about luminescent lifeforms called Light on Earth for BBC2 which will also air this year.

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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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RIP Terry Pratchett 1948-2015

On Thursday, there were even more sad news with the passing of the great Terry Pratchett, the inventor and curator of the Discworld. I had posted the review collection of the Discworld adaptations only shortly before Christmas and now sadly the creator of one of the greatest satirical fantasy worlds of them all has left us. But I am sure the turtle will continue to move without him. I also wrote a longer post over on the main blog, but it’s only fair to mention his passing here too.

Terry Pratchett playing a short guest role as a postman in Going Postal.

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RIP Harve Bennett 1930-2015

More sad news – Harve Bennett, the producer and writer behind the Star Trek movies of the 1980s, has passed away only a short time after Leonard Nimoy. Bennett, a former television producer, came to Star Trek knowing nothing about the series and ended up knowing everything about it – without him The Wrath of Khan or The Search for Spock would not have existed. Together with Leonard Nimoy and Nicholas Meyer, he was the one who transformed the Star Trek franchise into the classics they have become today.

Harve Bennett and Leonard Nimoy working on Star Trek III.

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RIP Leonard Nimoy 1931-2015

Sad news are coming in today that the great Leonard Nimoy has passed away. He will always be the only and only Mr. Spock, the role that made him famous, but he was also so much more – a wonderful storyteller, writer, director and even photographer and poet. But above all, even though he played one of the most famous aliens in television and movie history, he was a wonderful human being with a great sense of humour and wisdom. Goodbye, Leonard – you were truly one of a kind.

Leonard Nimoy’s final scene in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

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TV-News: Brian Cox’ Human Universe

More good stuff on the British television fall schedule – the first air date for Brian Cox’ new science series Human Universe has been announced by the BBC on Twitter and on the Program’s website for Tuesday October 7th at 21:00 British time on BBC2. The five-part series, which was filmed over the course of the year, will tackle the question how humanity became what it is today. Brian Cox has frequently been dropping hints about the shooting of the series on his website Apollo’s Children and on his Twitter stream like posting photos from the Soyuz landing in the snowy Kazakhstan steppe this March. Like his previous three series, Wonders of the Solar System, Wonders of the Universe and Wonders of Life (of which I wrote a full review here), this is going to be fascinating to watch and not to be missed.

[Update: A trailer has been airing in the last few days and is also available on Youtube together with a preview clip!]

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RIP Richard Attenborough

The sad news keep coming… the British actor and filmmaker Richard Attenborough passed away yesterday. The older brother of David Attenborough was 90 years old and his work both in front and behind of the camera was so vast that I won’t even begin to describe here it when the Guardian’s obituary and their film clip collection does it so well. He was one of the great ones of the British film industry, but at the same time a really humble man with many charity projects who never wanted to be just a movie star.

Richard Attenborough popping a champagne bottle in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park in 1993.

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