DVD-Reviews: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Today is Towel Day, the annual rememberance of Douglas Adams and his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in its multiple incarnations. Because I certainly know where my towel is, last year I translated and improved my original article about the original 1981 television series, which was based not on the books, but actually on the radio series. It might be corny and low-budget over thirty years later, but next to the radio play and the 2005 movie, it remains simply the best and most original incarnation of Douglas Adams’ story until today. Watch the earth get blown up with Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect making a narrow escape! Vogon poetry reading! Space battles! Two-headed presidents on the run from the law! Listen to Marvin, the depressed robot argue with a smug talking door! All lovingly restored with many interesting extras on DVD from the BBC and even though the release is already over a decade years old, it’s still the best way to watch the series. Read all about the beginnings of the Hitchhiker’s Guide and the creation of the radio play and television series in today’s articles – and also about the quite different, but still amazing 2005 movie incarnation, whose review is now finally translated together with the original!

Continue to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy [1981] Review »
Continue to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy [2005] Review »
Bonus Youtube Link: Douglas Adams on the South Bank Show »
Bonus Youtube Douglas Adams Playlist » from the Towel Day posting on my main blog.

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TV-News: Red Dwarf Returns – Twice!

Somehow this completely slipped by me this weekend – the amazing british science-fiction comedy Red Dwarf is going to return for not one, but two series in 2016 and 2017! The announcement came on Saturday at the Dimension Jump convention and had also been heavily hinted at by series’ co-creator and current show runner Doug Naylor on his Twitter stream, which I didn’t even notice because I had no idea he even was on Twitter. Not much is known about the new two series, especially the number of episodes, but the return of the original cast and shooting in front of a live audience has been mentioned. Given the enormeous success of Red Dwarf X back in 2012 they will probably go back to a very similar and classic format.

The series will be again produced by UKTV and will be aired on Dave like the Back to Earth special and Series 10 – the BBC apparently does not want to be involved anymore with their former hit show. This unfortunately means we won’t be able to see it officially in Germany until the DVDs and Blu-Rays are released because the channel does not broadcast on the Freesat platform. Nevertheless, this is absoultely fantastic news and the lead up to the first new Red Dwarf episodes since 2012 will be very exciting!

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DVD-Reviews: Yuri’s Night 2015

Fifty-three years ago, mankind had reached space for the first time when Yuri Gagarin had made his flight and since about a decade, this event has been celebrated as Yuri’s Night all over the world. This post is the same as last year and I have already written another article on my other blog about the event, but for this occasion I’d also like to bring a little something together from my archives, because there are now quite a few English-language reviews. There is nothing specifically about Yuri Gagarin, but the movies and television series are covering the early years of spaceflight very well.

Documentaries and Dramatisations:
The Right Stuff » – The Mercury program, as told by Tom Wolfe (1959-1963)
From the Earth to the Moon » – Gemini & Apollo – the way to the Moon (1963-1972)
For All Mankind » – The Apollo Program in original footage & sound (1969-1972)
The Dish » – The moon landing from an Australia perspective (1969)
Apollo 13 » – Dramatisation of the near-catastrophy (1970)

Although I have never written about it before, I can also recommend the BBC four-part miniseries Space Race, an excellent docudrama about the beginnings of spaceflight from the perspectives of the rocket designers Sergei Korolev and Wernher von Braun. The series is available on DVD, but can also be found on Youtube.

More Fiction than Science:
Space Cowboys » – Clint Eastwood, the Space Shuttle and a broken Soviet satellite. A fond spaceflight comedy from the shuttle era.

And in closing another tip: First Orbit was made for the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagrin’s flight in 2011 with footage from the ISS, recreating his flight in space with amazing visuals and original sounds. The 99-minute movie can still be viewed on Youtube for free, but it is now also available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

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DVD-Reviews: Shaun the Sheep

Each year around this time, I usually try to post some Easter-themed reviews, but since this year I unfortunately don’t have anything new to post, so something from the archives has to do. Because the sheep have stormed the cinemas this spring, how about a bit of Shaun the Sheep? I’ve already reviewed the first two series a long time ago and I would aleady have done so with the current episodes if the BBC had released a proper boxset in the UK! But I guess that will come when Shaun the Sheep – The Movie is going to be released – which, incidentially, will be on June 1st in the UK and on August 6th in Germany. Until then, here’s some classic Shaun – Happy Easter everyone!

Continue to Shaun the Sheep Series 1 »
Continue to Shaun the Sheep Series 2 »

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TV-News: Stargazing Live 2015

This year, the BBC has delayed the fifth Stargazing Live series until March to coincide with Friday’s solar eclipse. Brian Cox and Dara O Briain will be joined at the Jodrell Bank Observatory by Rosetta lead scientist Matt Taylor and none other than Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who has already arrived in England according to the program’s Twitter stream. As before, this will be very much worth watching and every bit as interesting as in the previous four years. Because there will be a live broadcast of the eclipse on Friday morning, the schedule will be a bit different this time with one additional program.

Wednesday March 18th
• 20:00-21:00 GMT: Episode 1 on BBC2
• 21:00-21:30 GMT: Back to Earth 1 on BBC2

Thursday March 19th
• 20:00-21:00 GMT: Episode 2 on BBC2
• 22:00-22:30 GMT: Back to Earth 2 on BBC2 (note the different time)

Friday March 20th
• 09:00-10:00 GMT: Eclipse Live on BBC1 (note the different station)
• 21:00-22:00 GMT: Episode 3 on BBC2 (note the different time again)
• 22:00-22:30 GMT: Back to Earth 3 on BBC2

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

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

Update: The highlight of this year’s series, the view of the total eclipse from the plane that the Stargazing Live team sent up, has been uploaded by the BBC on its own channel and Episode 1 and the first after-show chat Back to Earth have also been uploaded by somebody else, albeit in a bit of an unusual fashion with a large border around the image. Although if even the ESA links to this video in a Google+ post, it should not be a problem here too!

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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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DVD-Review: Futurama Season One

Good news, everyone! Last year, I completely forgot about the 15th anniversary of Matt Groening’s other animated series Futurama, but this year I’m going to make up for it by translating all the existing reviews and, of course, write about the final series, which I had not even gotten around to yet. But today’s review goes back to where it all started – Futurama Season One is still one of the most impressive debuts of an animated television series and although it shares the same drawing style as The Simpsons, it has always been its completely independent entity. The series only arrived three years after its US television debut on DVD, first in Europe while North America had to wait another year. This article is both an introduction to Futurama and a review of the DVD boxset that was released in Europe in Spring 2002, which still holds up reasonably well even until today.

Continue to Review »

Note: The next reviews are going to follow when they’re ready, that means not necessarily in weekly installments. But they’re coming, I’m just taking things slow – stay tuned!

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DVD-News: Cute and Cuddly Edition

Time flies, January is already gone and I’m still working on getting something new for the website done! Plus there was a certain frustration over a highly anticipated movie we watched over the holidays that turned out a terrible disappointment – to the point that I actually shelved its review indefinitely.  So there will be some archival stuff first in 2015 with a whole planned series of translated articles and maybe some other shorter ideas which I still have to figure out. Bbut to show that this site is not dead and will be still alive this year, here is a short-ish article with some news – the only ones I’ve been able to find so far – and a bit of general news observation about what’s going on in the business at the moment. Overall, it’s rather slow and unexciting from my viewpoint, but let’s see…

Continue reading »

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