Those who have been paying attention might have noticed that the episode synopses for Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell (seen for instance in the Electronic Programme Guide on most TVs) have been getting weirder and weirder.
Courtesy of the ABC TV web site, here’s a summary of them this year so far (including the next couple of weeks’):
Shaun Micallef is BACK and he’s MADDER than HELL. We really should have changed the name but it’d cost us a FORTUNE in letterheads and we’d have to change the show GRAPHICS which also runs into MONEY. Anyway, he’s back FOR A SECOND SERIES – that’s the POINT. And THIS TIME he KNOWS what he’s DOING (slightly).
Nominated for an AACTA and HAILED by Fairfax Media as the ’20th WORST show ON Australian TELEVISION.
When Shaun’s racist neighbour Mr. Grealy invites him over to eat some Japanese, Shaun doesn’t know how to take it.
When Francis asks Shaun if he can change a word in one of the scripts, Shaun kills him.
A convention for people named ‘Peter’ goes horribly wrong when Shaun is mistakenly invited. And hydrochloric acid starts streaming from the sprinkler system.
Mongoose. Winter is closing in. It is not safe. Go into hibernation. Further instructions to follow. Cobra.
Yo! Join Kook and the Bambino tomorrow morning at 7am on 103.6 Smash FM for your chance to win $10 playing Puzzling Noise.
Voula, if you are watching this, I am so sorry babe. Please do not let the trust we have built up over the last two weeks go to waste just because I screwed another chick. Call me? Stav.
Winning numbers in Tatts’ Everybody Wins Lotto Draw No. 001: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39 and 40.
There’s a vampire loose in Las Vegas. No one believes or wants to believe it’s true. The police can’t stop him, people are dying, no one’s safe. How do you kill what’s already dead?
A little while ago I bought myself the Collected Shaun Micallef — a box set of numerous shows of his, including The Micallef P(r)ogram(me). The kids and I have been watching our way through it.
I remembered that I had gone to a recording of the show, but had no idea which episode it was. The other night it became very obvious that it had been the final episode of season 2 — in a sketch parodying The Price Is Right, there I was, in the audience.
Coincidentally last night we went to a recording of one of Shaun’s current series — Mad As Hell. We arrived about 5pm, and around half-an-hour later were let into a waiting area, then into the studio itself, with recording starting at about 6pm. With stops and starts and gaffs aplenty, it took until about 8pm to record the half-hour show.
It’ll air tonight.
Most unintentionally amusing moment: after numerous warnings to go to the toilet before recording started, the warm-up guy asked if there were any final questions before beginning, only to be faced with one gentleman piping up: “Is there time to urinate?” — he was whisked off to do so.
Best moment you won’t see on-screen: an audience member who is a musician from Morocco (who has just emigrated) being invited onto stage to play a guitar they’d found. He played a North African song which (if I got this right) is about a bloke who pays a dowry for a wife but is dudded by the father (who has dudded many suitors) and ends up alone.
I don’t think there were any shots of the audience filmed for the show, but the warm-up guy took a photo of part of the audience. I’m up the back, a blurry blob in the dark, waving.
Lots of fun… apparently they still need audiences for later in the season.
I’d forgotten this. A version of The Police’s stalker song Every Breath You Take — with new lyrics written by the Spitting Image team and sung by Sting. (Don’t be put off by Youtube’s preview frame — it’s not just a credits roll.)
There is some good stuff loosely in this genre these days, but I’m not sure we’ve got the level of no-holds-barred satire that Spitting Image and even our own Gillies Report provided.
Who remembers The Professionals? I for one was hooked on this as a teenager, despite it being, as Martin Shaw described it, a one-dimensional show.
It was a major inspiration for the amateur action video series “STRIKE” which I helped on in high school.
It’s amusing to look back on the original Professionals title sequence now — perhaps the frame rate or other artefacts in Youtube make it look particularly cartoon-like, but it’s not hard to see why they changed it:
From season two it was re-done to this more well-known (and I think markedly better) title sequence — and I suspect re-edited into most season one episodes as well:
The music is very 70s, isn’t it. Now I have it as an earworm.
For Profesionals fans, check this different version, which include Gordon Jackson/George Cowley introducing the premise of the show… perhaps this was the export version, a bit like non-UK versions of recent Doctor Who episodes have included an introduction from Amy.
Pre-Professionals, there’s also this scene from the New Avengers, which featured Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins working together before they appeared as Bodie and Doyle.
I never quite believed I’d see much of the difference between DVD and Blu-Ray on an 80cm (32 inch) TV. But with brand-name Blu-Ray players now below $100, and releases such as the complete set of Star Wars movies out on Blu-Ray, this past Christmas seemed like the right time to jump in and try it.
One of the presents I got was the Blu-Ray of Tron: Legacy, which also included the original Tron movie. Since I already had the DVD of the former, I’m able to compare the DVD against the Blu-Ray versions.
The scene from Flynn’s arcade had a lot more detail on the Blu-Ray, but you can’t really see it in a photo, so I won’t post it here. Jeremy and I looked carefully at this scene and were able to identify the names on some of the machines, for instance, which is impossible using the DVD.
More stark is the difference in this shot from the lightcycles scene, first on DVD:
(See it bigger)
…and on Blu-Ray:
(See it bigger)
There’s a lot more contrast in this scene on the Blu-Ray version. I think it’s not just a format question, it’s also that they’ve taken a lot more care in remastering the video. But the resolution being better also undoubtedly helps, and this is particularly noticeable (on the TV, perhaps not in the photos) with the grid lines.
Things to keep in mind:
- The DVD was from before the sequel movie was made, and it’s entirely possible that not a great deal of care was taken in the mastering. In comparison it appears they took a lot of care on the Blu-Ray version. It’s entirely possible that the current edition DVD is better.
- These comparisons were snapped off my TV with a camera, with the blinds drawn to reduce light. The snapshots were not taken under ideal conditions. (I don’t currently have any Blu-Ray drives in a computer, so I’m unable to grab a Blu-Ray image directly.) As noted above, it’s difficult to convey the difference seen on the TV in a photo.
- I’ve used the freeze frame, which may impact the picture.
There’s no denying the higher quality of Blu-Ray, even on an 80cm screen.
Question is, which movies or TV would I consider worthy of upgrade, and at what cost? I can’t see myself shelling how lots of money for discs of movies I already own. But for future purchases, I’d certainly lean towards the newer format if the price is not prohibitive.
(I did find The Life Of Brian on Blu-Ray, with lots of extras, for $8 yesterday at K-Mart.)
- MichaelDVD review of Tron DVD
- MichaelDVD review of Tron on Blu-Ray
- MichaelDVD review of Tron:Legacy on Blu-Ray
I’d heard ages ago that there was a Samsung ABC iView app in the works. It’s now out, but some kind of screw-up means it’s visible to newer (2011) Samsung television owners, but not owners of last year’s models.
Thanks to wiser people than me on the ABC iView forums, here’s how you do it, by changing the TV’s country and thus getting it to re-install the default apps:
(Note: take care here; this is at your own risk. As noted in the comments, MitH had problems with this after misreading the instructions. If things go wrong, you may need to contact Samsung support.)
1. Start @Internet TV
2. Press Fast-Forward, 2, 8, 9, Rewind. Leave about half-a-second between each button press and it should go to a menu that allows you to choose the country.
3. Choose something other than Australia. Go through the terms and conditions and wait for it to install the default apps for that country.
4. Do steps 2 and 3 again but this time choose Australia.
You should find the ABC iView app has appeared.
Yes, it’d be nice if it just appeared automagically on its own. Perhaps Samsung just aren’t publicising it yet, getting ready for some big launch.
I’ve played around with it, and it looks excellent. The navigation is never going to be as easy as via a computer, and unfortunately it’s not on iiNet’s free zone, but it’s much nicer to be able to watch programmes on the couch than sitting by the computer.
There’s only one puzzling thing: why do the Internet@TV apps (any of them) occasionally refuse to start, citing “Network interference”?
It’s not wireless interference, as I’ve got a LAN cable plugged into the back of my TV. It doesn’t seem to kick-in when there’s particularly high usage of our internet connection.
Just one of those mysteries; something I’ll investigate further as I get time.
When their logo pops up on the telly at the end of some production, I often wonder what, if anything, WTFN stands for.
Their offices in Hawthorn East have the logo above the entrance.
Any suggestions welcome. But keep it clean.
(If the photo looks distorted, it’s because I took it from the tram zooming past. The original picture looks even more skewed, proving that my new phone may be rather nifty, but like the old one it has issues with objects moving sideways at speed.)
I’m still liking it.
The picture really is excellent, though occasionally when it’s windy it seems like the old antenna isn’t handling the digital picture well, so the odd digital glitch occurs. Might look at an antenna upgrade. (Actually I still have a good one in the shed from my old rental place. I wonder if it’s worth trying to resurrect it.)
I love the 100 Hz refresh rate. DVDs in particular look incredibly smooth.
It’s got enough sockets in the back that it can handle everything we’ve got plugged into it: Wii (via component), ancient (10 years) but reliable DVD player (component), Set Top Box/Personal Video Recorder (HDMI), VCR (RCA), antenna in (via the PVR), LAN.
And it plays video files via USB — very VERY handy. It seems to play everything I try, including WMV files such as those downloadable from the ABC for shows such as Mediawatch, which from what I’ve seen don’t play on a lot of other devices. The little USB media player I have no longer gets used — it’s become the one I take to Marita’s house to watch videos from USB.
The Internet@TV feature is interesting. Some of the applets are pretty dull, but the Bigpond TV one gives you effectively a bunch of extra channels via the Net (the girl in Retravision was wrong; it’ll happily work via a LAN cable plugged into the router, without buying the wireless dongle). The channels include a bunch of sports ones, but also Bigpond News, which is a rebadged Sky News. Very nifty, and clear as normal digital channels, though who knows how much bandwidth they burn up.
Apparently an ABC iView applet is due to be released sometime in the first half of this year (and is currently in testing). Definitely looking forward to that (and hopefully it’ll connect to servers within the iiNet Freezone, and similarly unmetered for other ISPs).
Once you have a widescreen TV, it’s striking how much American material isn’t in widescreen — in contrast to Australian material, and that sourced from Europe. Almost all US news footage, for instance, appears to be still 4:3. Perhaps it’s like metric… theoretically they can do it, but in practice, they refuse to change? (Or is it the whole of North America which is resisting?)
The TV has plenty of settings to fiddle with, and they are specific to each source — so for example when we switch to looking at the Wii, it’s permanently in Game mode (reducing the lag between the controller and the screen to something almost but not quite as responsive as the old CRT). The VCR is permanently in 4:3 mode. The DVD can be set in 4:3 for older, non 16:9 discs (the DVD player appears not to be able to do this by itself).
So all in all I’m still happy with the purchase.
There are just a couple of minor niggles:
- Changing channels doesn’t show the current programme information, unlike on many digital televisions and STBs. You have to press the Info button to do this. Seriously Samsung, why not make automatic showing of the Info information an option? Apparently this is a well-known criticism. Do we have to start a Facebook group or something to get it fixed?
- You can’t change the order of the channels: they’re in LCN order, but with alpha sorting, not numeric. This means if you want to put the main channels ahead of their minor cousins, you can’t: so for instance 7 is ahead of 72 (7Two) and 73 (7Mate), but I’m stuck with 90 (Gem) and 99 (Go) ahead of 9. And it’s lucky OneHD is available on LCN 12 (as well as 1), otherwise it’d be a long way from its parent and siblings, 10 and 11. Not a huge issue, really, but again, it’s offered on many other TVs/STBs.
- Oh yeah, one more. The remote works well, but the Power button appears to be designed so it’s a little less sensitive than the others, probably to prevent the TV being switched-on accidentally. I find it a tad irritating that you have to press it that little bit harder.
(Re: the photo, at some stage I should replace the horrible brown speakers, but there are other things afoot in the household budget.)