Gazpacho Soup Day

For those of you who get the reference you’ll know what I’m going to talk about. But for those of you who don’t I wanted to post about something I found out about last night. For those of you who like the classic BBC sci-fi show Red Dwarf I have good news for you (unless you’ve already heard it) Red Dwarf has been renewed for another two seasons!! Season (or series if you’re nasty) XI comes out this year and XII comes out next year. This makes me insanely happy!

Red Dwarf’s been part of my life for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is being in the car with my dad after he’d just bought the series III part 2 VHS tape. Series III aired it’s last episode on the 19th of December 1989 so he probably picked up the VHS in 1990 some time. I would’ve been three, that’s how entrenched in my psyche it is.

The last episode of series VIII was aired in April 1999, I was eleven and I’d seen every episode numerous times before and then was bummed out when they announced it was the last we’d heard of the Dwarfers. I got the DVDs as they came out individually, not as the box set you can get now, read the books, read the scripts, even tried to get a stage version of the first episode done at my school. Red Dwarf is as big a deal to me as The Curse of Monkey Island is and you can imagine how happy I was when they announced a three episode return called ‘Back to Earth’ in 2009, about as happy as I was when I found out about Tales of Monkey Island, but I digress. Back to Earth wasn’t fantastic but it did what it was meant to in that it got interest in the show back up again and got the support of a whole new series, series X, which aired in 2012. When X finished I was happy, that was a better ending than VIII’s, everything’s good and they’re going to bring it back for another two seasons!

I’m not worried about seasons XI & XII bringing the show down for one strong reason, and I believe it’s the main difference between UK and US sitcoms.

Grabbing two sitcoms from each country as an example, in the UK we’ll be using Red Dwarf (1989 – Present ) and Absolutely Fabulous (1994-2012 (2016 if you include the film)) and for the USA we’ll be using F.R.I.E.N.D.S (1994-2004) and The Big Bang Theory (2007 – Present). I love all of these shows equally so there’s no bias when it comes to that, I also watch a lot more US TV than UK TV which is why my UK TV examples are older than the others. The biggest difference between US & UK Sitcoms is character development from the first episode to the last episode. In F.R.I.E.N.D.S Chandler becomes less sarcastic and hopeless and more grounded and loveable. Phoebe is no longer the crazy woman she was at the start. Rachel isn’t as shallow and materialistic. The only one who didn’t make any real changes was Joey, and they ruined that with his spin-off!

In The Big Bang Theory (There may be some spoilers here, you’ve been warned) Leonard and Penny get married. Sheldon has sex. Howard stops letching, settles down, and is now expecting a baby. Raj can talk to women and is the stable one in his most recent relationships!

Let’s compare to for the UK shows, in Absolutely Fabulous, Edwina is still crazy, Patsy still enables her, Saffron still can’t stand her, and mother is still oblivious. In Red Dwarf Kryten is still obsessed with cleanliness, Lister is still a lazy slob, Rimmer is still up up up the ziggaraught lickity split, and the Cat is still as vain as ever. Sure, in both of the shows some of the jokes have been played down a bit so they don’t break the law of diminishing returns (Kryten isn’t as controlled by his programming as he used to be) but the basic gist of who they are hasn’t changed.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Honestly, it’s neither. US TV shows take you on an adventure with the characters which is great, I cried at the end of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, I know I’ll cry at the end of The Big Bang Theory, but that was never something that happened at (what I thought was) the final episode of Red Dwarf or Absolutely Fabulous. But it means that every new episode of Red Dwarf or the Ab Fab film will be greatly received because they’re not straying from the principle that made people fall in love with it in the first place. Kinda like a film adaptation of a book, the people who love it would be happy to have an eight hour long film that includes every line of dialogue exactly as it was in the source material, but it doesn’t happen so we’re happy when it does. Another example is the Final Fantasy VII remake (not out yet so sheer speculation) but it’s been said that they won’t just do an exact remake because people wouldn’t buy it. YES WE WOULD! THAT’S WHAT WE WANT!!

So why the difference between the UK and the US when it comes to sitcoms? I think it comes down to quantity. Red Dwarf has been running for 18 years this year on and off, but they only produced 61 episodes, less than three seasons of either of the US shows. Plus the years between the shows really don’t allow for change, Red Dwarf was off the air for 2 years between series 3 & 4 then 10 years between 8 & 9 with only six episodes a year. There’s no time to develop an overarching story arc when you’ve only got six 30 minute episodes in which to do it.

My wife also points out Midsomer Murders as a show that hasn’t had any growth or change in its tenure either, actors come and go but there’s never anything the leads up to it, one episode they’re just gone.

 

Anyway, the point of this blog was to talk about my love of Red Dwarf and I’ve completely gone off track! Before I go I’m going to do a quick top ten of the Red Dwarf seasons from worst to best.

10- Series VIII

This didn’t feel like the Red Dwarf I’d grown to love, there were other people in it and it was just generally off. Ending on a cliff hanger didn’t help.

9- Series IX

Works as a Blade Runner inspired three part episode of Red Dwarf, doesn’t work so well as a standalone episode.

8- Series IV

Dimension Jump brings a great character to the team of Ace Rimmer and Camille is an excellent Casablanca homage.

7- Series III

I love Timeslides, the whole premise being that nothing ever goes right for Rimmer!

6- Series V

Holoship opened this series really strongly and almost gave Rimmer some character development, fortunately he realised how ridiculous that was “I cannot believe I just said that!” and proceeded to wear a gingham dress with army boots later in the season!

5- Series VII

Tikka to Ride answers one of the classic conspiracy theories in the most convincing way I know! Stoke Me a Clipper sees the return of Ace Rimmer and is the closest thing Red Dwarf has to character development, I did cry a little at this one. The rest of the series is great, especially Duct Soup.

4- Series VI

Rimmer’s perfect backwards faint in ‘Psirens’, Legion threatening the Dwarfers with the scalpel in a dangerous place! The entirety of Gunmen of the Apocalypse is genius with the classic riding off into the sunset at the end.

3- Series I

From humble origins, we really get an introduction of the group and has one of my favourite back and forths in the show between Lister and Holly about erasing all the Agatha Christie books.

2- Series X

Such a monumentally brilliant return, meeting *a* Jesus (not *the* Jesus), lamp shading the impossible escape with the series VIII cliff hanger, Lister dealing with his bizarre family arrangements, all brilliant episodes.

1- Series II

My favourite Series, the introduction of Kryten, which humiliates Rimmer. Stasis Leak (“It’s a leak right, in Stasis, hence the name *a*Stasis Leak.”) where Rimmer’s genius plan doesn’t work because of freaky fungus. Better than Life, where Rimmer’s brain tries to destroy him! Thanks for the Memory, where nothing goes right for Rimmer. Queeg, where Rimmer’s life is made miserable with exercise and studying, and finally Parallel Universe, where things go terribly for, you’ve guessed it, Lister!! Ha threw you a curve ball on that last one!!

What do you guys think? Do you watch Red Dwarf? Do you watch more US TV or more UK TV? Which do you prefer? Do you agree with what I said about the differences between the two? Send me a comment! 

Also like to say thanks to everyone who now follows my blog! I really appreciate it and hope to keep you entertained, informed, or whatever it is that you get from me!! 

-Luke 

Red Dwarf Theme Song – BBC

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The Doctor Who (and Cardiff) Experience

The Doctor Who (and Cardiff) Experience

–UPDATED WITH GOOGLE PHOTOS–


So I went to The Doctor Who Experience today and got to experience Doctor Who and Cardiff. I’ll say a quick bit about Cardiff as all I did was walk through it (and now sat at a bar in it). I only saw the city centre and the docks (where the experience is) and it’s pretty cool. Very much like Bristol except people talk funny here.

Now to Doctor Who (which as we all know is the main reason I’m here!!!) the Experience is excellent and well worth the trip for any Doctor Who fan. When you get in there they say you can’t take any pictures in ‘The Museum of Gallifrey’ but you can take pictures after. I thought that was a little weird but it’s because the first half hour is an audience participationy bit where you have to help The Doctor rescues his TARDIS from space squid.

That sentence sounds a little ridiculous to non-who owns but I swear it’s awesome! It’s interactive and you get to fly the TARDIS (sort of) and then you go out into the museum. In the show you end up on Skaro surrounded by decommissioned Daleks but as soon as you get one of the energy crystals they wake up and start moving towards you. I’ll admit that as grown up as I am it was a little freaky but not as freaky as walking through the dark where Weeping Angels flash and move when you’re not looking at them.

I found the crystal in the Weeping Angel section so I got to reach in and grab it. The curator then felt it a good moment to grab my arm which did make me jump a little bit! Then we went into the workshop from The Idiot’s Lantern where you find the last crystal, put it in the doohickey and save the day. After that you head into the museum where you can take as many pictures as possible!!

I took SO many pictures there so I had to put them all here in a Google album! But here are the highlights!

Nine and Ten’s console
Me about to go on an adventure theough space and time

Eleven
  
Ten
 
Nine
 

Sonic Device Collection
War Doctor

New Scredriver

After the you go out into the little shop (“Oh the little shop! I love the little shop!”) where I got my merchandise pack because I got the ticket that included that.

The bag the goodies came in
My certificate decreeing me an official companion. im going to save this and take it to a convention with a Doctor to get my name printed then so it’s a little more official!
My Doctor Who Experience T-Shirt
The Official Companion Guide
Souvenir ticket – although I’ll be keeping my actual ticket as a souvenir too!
A festival style wrist band
Fancy box!

Key to the TARDIS in the fancy box!

I also bought the iconic Tom Baker scarf! Which was pretty fortunate as on the walk from the docks to the city (with a slight detour to The RHS Flower Show – I didn’t go in) it was a little chilly and I was thankful for the scarf!!

It was such a great experience and well worth the money! Now I’m going to kick back, enjoy my Strongbow, watch some Doctor Who, and maybe order a bowl of chips!


Allons-y!!!

-Luke

Heavy Metal Doctor Who Cover – 331 Erock

 

Wales!

I’m in the car on my way to Wales today. Despite being half Welsh I’ve never been to Wales before! In the car is me, my Nan, my Grandad, my sister, and my mum. My step-dad’s meeting us there as he had to drive from London instead of Plymouth. 

I’m pretty excited because like I said its my first time there but also because tomorrow, while everyone else is at the Royal Horticultural Show (flower stuff) I’ll be at The Doctor Who Experience. I’m not 100% what is exactly there, but I’m assuming I’ll get to experience Doctor Who. I have my Eleventh Doctor outfit with me, so pictures of that to come tomorrow!

Today’s also a big deal because I have a phone interview today for a new job. That’s in about five minutes so I’ll need to get prepared in a second. 

Wish me luck. 

-Luke

Tatted Lace – Alela Diane

Netflix vs Amazon Prime- which is the best?

So I’ve wanted to share my two cents on this for a little while. What I think are the pros and cons of each service. For the sake of transparency I have both services and I just have the Prime streaming service not the full delivery service. The only reason I have the streaming service is because I didn’t have the £79 upfront for the full service, so chose to pay monthly for just the streaming service. I don’t really buy stuff from Amazon a lot either so it doesn’t make much of a difference to me.

So, first comparison is the price difference. Netflix has three subscription options. The basic plan, giving you one screen at a time is £5.99, the standard plan is £7.49 (a recent hike from £6.99) which gives you two screens, and the premium plan of £8.99 which gives you four screens.
Amazon Prime has two price tiers, one is £79 for the year. This gives you access to everything Amazon Prime related, so that includes the videos but also the next day delivery feature, amazon music and ebook access. The other option (the one I’ve gone for) is a flat £5.99 a month. I can’t find anything that says how many screens Amazon Prime allows though and I haven’t been able to test this myself yet. I’ll give it a try later tonight and post an update. But for now I’ll assume it allows at least two screens.
Netflix’s average price per month is £7.49 ((5.99+7.49+8.99)/3) for an average of two screens ((1+2+4)/3)
Amazon Prime’s average price per month is £6.30 (((79/12)+5.99)/2) for two screens (like I said, an assumption at the moment)
So the winner for price is Amazon Prime, it’s only saving you an average of £1.19 a month. It doesn’t sound much but it’s the little things that count.

Supported devices. I mainly stream on four devices, my iPhone, my iPad, my PS4, and a PC when needs be. We also have a smart TV in the living room with a BT TV box. Netflix works on all of these without issue. Amazon Prime, however, does NOT work on the TV or the BT TV box. I think this is mainly a manufacturer thing as opposed to an Amazon thing through as BT also has an issue with Now TV. I’ve also heard that Amazon Prime doesn’t fit well with Chromecasts or Apple TV yet, but I’m sure this is due to change.
The winner for supported devices is Netflix, but I can’t imagine them staying that way for long.

The first two comparisons are objective but the next comparisons are pretty subjective. What I mean is that they’re true for me but you might see them in a different way.

Library viewing and amount of content. Like I said, I mainly do the streaming on four devices and the layout for each of them is pretty universal across all platforms. This is great because I can’t stand it when different services vary wildly across different platforms. So they both get an A for their cross-platform development but there’s got to be a winner and, in my honest opinion, it’s Netflix. Prime is great in that it allows you to search everything but, when I say everything I mean EVERYTHING. If you search for something on Netflix and you might find it then you can watch it, simple as that. If you search for something on Amazon Prime you WILL find it. The only problem is it might not be part of the Prime package. If you’ve bought or rented the series or movie then you can watch it on Prime but the whole reason I started streaming stuff is so that I don’t have to buy or rent things any more. So technically Amazon Prime has more in the library but it might not be under your Prime Membership.

Convenience. Before the most recent update Amazon Prime would have won this by a LONG way, that’s because Netflix’s iPhone app didn’t support post-play, you know, the thing where the next episode plays once you’ve finished with it. Netflix does that now so it’s pulled up some, but not enough. The thing that puts Amazon Prime as the winner of this is that you can download the videos to watch offline which is brilliant if you’re not on an unlimited data plan. I assume there’s a limit to it but I downloaded all the episodes of Black Flag, Lucifer, Fear the Walking Dead, and the first season of The Walking Dead and it didn’t stop any of them for me downloading too many. I also assume that there’s a time limit in the length of time you’ve got to download them but as I watched all of these within a ten day window it didn’t seem to affect me at all. So Amazon Prime has beat Netflix until they can provide this.

Interface. Netflix’s interface is fancy looking but fundamentally simple. There’s a play pause button, a back 10 seconds button, a list of episodes option, and a back to library option. That’s about it. Amazon Prime showed me what I didn’t know I needed. Not only do they have a back ten seconds button but they also have a forward 10 seconds button, not much I’m sure, but when a TV show has its credits 5 minutes in it’s really great. But the thing I love the MOST about Amazon, and that I find myself missing a lot in Netflix (and even on the videos I’ve downloaded), is the IMDB X-Ray integration. For those of you who haven’t heard of this (as I hadn’t until I got Prime) IMDB X-Ray eventually ends the whole “Who’s that guy?” or “What’s this song?” discussion. If you tap your screen (like I said, mainly touch devices) you’ll get a list of the actors and characters in the scene (which you can tap to get a short blurb about the actor) as well as the song that’s playing at the moment in the episode and even just general trivia about the episode or location or actors or whatever. I never knew I needed this until I didn’t have it but until Netflix gets something like this they’ll always lose out to Amazon in my opinion.
Winner: Amazon, by a long way.

Quality and range of shows. Like I said technically Amazon has everything so long as you’ve rented or bought the stuff on Amazon first so I’ll only be looking at what’s available for free through Prime. I stress that this bit is INCREDIBLY subjective and you may not agree with it but it’s my two cents at least. So which platform has a better range and quality of shows completely depends on what you want the service for. If you want to just turn your brain off and veg out Netflix has definitely cornered the market on that. They have a better range of comedies and sitcoms than Amazon Prime does, and so if you’re just in the mood to kick back and relax definitely go for Netflix. But if Netflix is ‘Netflix and Chill’ then Amazon Prime is definitely ‘Wine, Dine, and Amazon Prime’ (I hope that catches on, I’m hoping to make it a thing). Everything I’ve found on Amazon Prime is quality but it’s not casual watching, it’s Walking Dead, it’s Black Sails, it’s Vikings, fantastic shows with an incredible level of quality but it’s not something you put on in the background and veg out to, it’s something you watch with the intention of sitting down and watching a decent TV show. In that regard I would say that they tie for winner there because they excel at different things but I’ll be giving the point to Netflix because of the niggly fact that it shows everything, even the stuff that isn’t part of prime.

Exclusive shows. Whilst they excel at different things this is where Netflix really pulls ahead. The Marvel shows alone would put Netflix above Amazon (IMHO) but they also have House of Cards, Better Call Saul, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and a few other brilliant shows. And even though they do have some bad shows (Fuller House is atrocious and only made for nostalgia value) their good shows far outweigh their bad ones.
Winner: Netflix, no contest.

One other niggly thing that Netflix has over Amazon is that it skips the opening part of a show, the credits and the ‘previously on’ bits which is great when you’re binging. But the skip 10 seconds forward button does something to alleviate this so it becomes more of a minor irritation instead of a tedious start to every episode.

So when we analyse it and add things up where do we stand? Out of seven sections Amazon won three, Netflix therefore won four. So from a simple pass fail stand point Netflix just beats Amazon. But some things should be weighted more than others, convenience is a higher factor for me than price. So, in MY order or importance (I stress *MY*) is: Convenience, Exclusive Titles, Interface, Quality and range of shows, Library, Price, Supported Devices. I’m not fussed on the other supported devices. So with Convenience being a seven and Supported Devices being a one it averages out with the following scores:

Amazon:
Convenience – 7
Interface – 5
Price – 2
Total: 14

Netflix:
Quality – 4
Exclusives – 6
Library – 3
Supported Devices – 1
Total: 14

A tie. And honestly not an orchestrated tie so I could say they’re both as good as each other and sit on the fence. My personal preference is Netflix over Amazon Prime, I only really use Amazon Prime for when I want to watch shows out and about without destroying my data but that’s about it. If I had to make the choice between Netflix or Amazon Prime for good then I would go with Netflix, but Amazon Prime does have its benefits and (by the numbers) it’s just as good as Netflix. The other thing to note is that Amazon Prime’s full subscription of £79/year is an average of only £6.58 a month and when you bundle that in with the ebooks and the music it’s instantly better, especially when you consider the money you’d save if you have something like Spotify.

What about you? Which streaming service (if any) do you use? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree with me? Have I helped you make your mind up on a decision between the two? Send me a comment with your opinion.

-Luke

If I Had a Heart – Fever Ray

P.S. I just started watching Vikings today (as in whilst I’m writing this post) and If I Had a Heart’s the opening theme for the first episode (don’t know if they keep it for other episodes yet) I hate to get all ‘hipster’ but I liked this song before it was cool 😛

Oh My God! I’m so old!

Oh My God! I’m so old!

So, I’m sat here at the Doctor’s office (for an appointment that was 10 minutes ago) because of something so debilitating I had to take the day off work. 

I know what you’re thinking “Hey, Luke! You’re still young and carefree, right? I bet you’re just hungover.”

Nope. 

“Extreme Sport Wipeout?”

I wish. 

“Second degree burns from running into a burning building to save a kitten and just generally be a hero?”

I like you think that highly of me, but no. I’m here at the Doctor’s office because…i threw my back out. 

That’s it, I’m an old man! I didn’t even throw my back out doing something awesome like lifting weights or rescuing kittens. I did it walking to the washing machine. Not putting things in it, not bending over to adjust the dials, not picking up the basket, just walking across to the washing machine. 

Consequently, if I want to see anything to my left or my right I have to turn my whole body in that direction! Trying to get comfy on these waiting room chairs is also pretty damn painful!! 

Oh, and my service provider’s data just went down for everyone on their network as well, so whilst I may have full signal I can’t get onto anything more than a google search or an email. 

Fortunately, I’m writing this on the app and it’ll post when it’s up and running again. Which is disappointing as I was halfway through an episode of Community, which is my new comedy binge. My drama binge at the moment is The Walking Dead, before last week I’d only seen up to the mid-season finale of season 4, now I’ve rematched every episode and I’m about to start season six. 

I’m using both Netflix and Amazon Prime at the moment and I think I’ll make a blog post of the two and their pros and cons of both, you know, for the real geeky of you that maybe care. 

But in the meantime I’m just going to keep growing old and injuring myself by walking. 

My appointment was 30 minutes ago. 

–Update–

I’ve been given a few anti-inflammatories and sent on my way. Also told to stretch it out. 

-Luke

No song yet because I have no internet to get the YouTube link. But I am listening to ‘Little Moon’ by First Aid Kit. 

An Artist in Training

Hey everyone! Happy Sunday!

A couple of weeks ago I talked about how much I love Bob Ross. I’ve been watching the YouTube channel with every episode on it (which can be found here) and whilst I’ve mainly been using it to get to sleep (as apparently most of the viewers do) today I decided to step it up a notch and actually try my hand at painting some of the stuff. 

First of all, I really need to stress that I have NEVER used oil paints before. Both pictures took me an hour total so they are NOT masterpieces. I haven’t painted anything at all in about five years. Yes these sound like excuses (and they are) but I really wanted to give an idea about my natural ability (none)and what I can do when watching Bob Ross.   

This was my first one. It’s meant to be a nice morning scene with trees and bushes etc.  Bob Ross’ one looks like this 

So you can see the basic idea of what I was following, mines more impressionist than his though!  


This was my second one, done in acrylics instead of oils and is a kind of glade area at night with a waterfall and illuminated by a full moon. I’m a lot happier with how this one turned out, not just because of the picture itself but because whilst it was inspired by Bob’s paintings it’s not an attempt to copy one like the first one, this was me just putting happy little trees in my own places. 

Anyway, that’s my painting. First time for everything.  I’ve taken a few things away from it, one is if I do wet on wet with acrylics I’ve got to wait for it to dry a little bit before adding more. 

Do you paint? Do you draw? Do you do art of any kind? Tell me about it in a comment, I’d love to see the pictures. 

-Luke

Steal Tomorrow – The Tallest Man on Earth

Always remember to pay your exorcist…

…Otherwise your house’ll get repossessed!!

Hey Interwebs!

Sorry I haven’t been on here for two days. I’ve been pretty bummed out the last couple days and when I get bummed out I kinda slow to a stop and have no interest in doing anything. Because of this I didn’t sleep overly well on Tuesday night and that made Wednesday a bit of a wash. 

Prized Posession

Describe an item you were incredibly attached to as a child. What became of it?

My prized possession I had from my childhood is without a doubt my bear, Teddy. Or to use his full name Theodore Ursidae. When my mum was pregnant she was working at a nursery and they hosted a teddy bear’s picnic. Which is like a normal picnic except you bring your teddy bear with you. 

At the end of the day there was a bear left behind. So my mum kept hold of him for a while, expecting someone to come back for him. But they never did so she gave him to me a couple of months later when I was born. I loved this bear to the extent that my Nan had to refur him twice. Every time she did refur him she had to cut a hole through the fur so his tag could stick out! I liked playing with the tag as I slept. 

I know exactly what became of him. He’s currently sat on my bed at home with a couple of other fluffy ‘friends’. He went to boarding school with me, he went on holidays with me, he went to China with me, he went to Turkey with me and my wife. He is probably the oldest, most traveled, and well loved bear in the world. 

If anyone reads this on a computer or has me bookmarked on their phone (that last one’s probably just me!) they would’ve seen this picture:

 
Because I’m just that adorable! Teddy is the one in the top left of the picture, sitting on my right. Clockwise from Teddy it goes, Geoff Elephanté, Edward Bear, Hedgy Hogg (You can just see his eye and nose in the picture), Hughie Dogg, Steve Isabella (The gender-fluid dragon). This isn’t all of them. This isn’t half of them! And I know it’s crazy for a twenty-eight year old man to love cuddly toys, but I do, and I’m ok with that. 

Teddy has been the most constant thing in my life, with me through house moves, my parent’s divorce, girlfriends, jobs, different countries, getting married, every aspect of my life that bear had been there for. And that’s why not only was he my prized posession when I was a child, but he’s my prized posession now too. 

-Luke

Suffer Well – Depeche Mode

Inspiration for today’s post taken from: 365 Days of Writing Prompts.