Sunday, 12 June 2011

Ugh... ill!

Sorry its been a while since my last post - I've been very ill! Not sure what I've caught but I've felt particularly bad since Thursday (though wasn't feeling great before that). Luckily I already had Friday booked off from work so spent most of that and all of the weekend so far trying to get better. Yesterday was promising - I felt a lot better but could hardly speak.

Today... I can hardly speak and feel a lot worse. I can speak a fraction better than I could yesterday but I hope I feel better tomorrow. I don't really want to take any time off sick but if I feel like this I will probably have to!

Anyway, enough about my ailments for the moment!

I started watching Camelot last night (its just started screening on Channel 4 here in the UK) and I like it! :-) It's an interesting take on the whole King Arthur legend. I wasn't sure I'd like the whole teenage Arthur thing - thinking it would be a bit too similar to the BBC series Merlin (which is also quite enjoyable) but with added violence and boobs! It actually showed a lot of hints of being a lot better than that with much darker elements being set up and it seems to be a bit more faithful to the legend than Merlin (the whole premise for that series basically bins most of it anyway!). I've only seen the first couple of episodes so far but I'm looking forward to next week's already!

Ah! Smallville's final season is now screening too. I've already seen the season opener episode that was on last week but it was good to catch up again as we're a ways behind the US. I've enjoyed Smallville right from the start - so after 10 years it's going to be weird to have it finally finish. It's very different from the show it started off as - I always felt it was kind of Superman meets the X-Files at the beginning, with the villain always being a meteor freak with weird abilities but it has come a long way since, with lots of the Superman and DC universe being woven into the show in various ways. I'll be interested to see how the new Wonderwoman show compares once this has finished!

Oh - and Lex Luthor comes back at the end of the series as well, apparently. I mean, the proper Lex - not a clone or some unrecogniseable guy on a life support system or something. I wonder if they'll play the John Williams Superman theme at the very end? That would definitely end the show perfectly - Clark flying off in the Superman costume to that theme!

I'm keen to see how they'll explain the fact that Lex and everyone else will recognise that Clark is Superman. I hope they don't use some dodgy get-out like everyone's mind is erased or something! People in Smallville and Metropolis seem to forget so much they must have whole chunks of their lives they can't account for!

Obviously I've been to ill to play any games but I watched the replacement for Game Face and Ginx Files, called The Blurb from last night. If you didn't know, Game Face and Ginx Files are two computer game review shows that were showing on Bravo until our friends at Sky decided to can that channel for good.

Until this weekend, they were airing new episodes on Challenge (a channel that airs old gameshows... um... yeah!). The problem I had with it for the last couple of weeks is that they were continuously inserting old reviews into the new shows. What's the point? I'm guessing it was to concentrate on preparing The Blurb.

Well, The Blurb was ok. It still has Julia in it (good!) and it was entertaining enough although it seems to be more about game-related silliness rather than just all out game reviews. Plus, the reviews on last night's show were old ones recycled from old Gameface eps! Maybe they'll have new ones from next week. I hope so! I can only watch reviews of that flipping parrot party game thingy so many times before having a psychotic episode!!

Interestingly, actually have TV stations in other countries. Yep - computer game dedicated TV channels. Annoyingly, the one for the UK was announced in August last year and is still yet to materialise. The last I heard, it was launching 'in the first quarter of 2011' so that's another deadline missed as we're halfway through the year now!

I've no doubt this is due to technicalities but it does bring back bad memories of other efforts at a gaming channel. The aerliest I remember is .TV (dot TV) which was Sky''s attempt at a computer and technology channel. It looked like it was done for about 25 quid - all studio bound and each show was peopel chatting or some guy showing you how to use Photoshop. Ironically, when they announced it was to be axed, they just started sticking documentaries on about Bill Gates and hacking - and suddenly the channel was a lot more interesting than it had been!

Then there was the terrible Game Network. Nice idea and at least we saw some games being played, but the presenters mostly sucked. Obviously the idea was to have it as a european channel so sometimes the shows were in other languages - often with the same presenters. This meant that if you just felt like watching some gaming stuff, it was pot luck as to whether it was in English or not! Then there was the lighting! There was a continual issue with this - usually way too much. I could have done a better job and that's not me suggesting I'm an expert by any stretch! Unsurprisingly it eventually disappeared without trace.

Then we had This had a very promising start. It actually looked good. Some of the shows were quite entertaining and it was fun to see the leagues being played out on various games. It treated gaming as more of a sport so played on the competitive multi-player aspects. Plus it had Emily Booth on there!

But then it became apparent there was a problem. 24 hour channels are great but you need content and lots of it. Nobody wants to start seeing repeats just a couple of weeks later. I don't know the whole story here but there were clearly some financial issues - repeats became progressively more frequent until the schedule seemed to consist almost entirely of old stuff. Then, bizarrely, they added Chick Fight (a women's wrestling show) and some crud called Conventioneers where people did stupid things at conventions. I thought that maybe they were trying to become more like G4 in the states and have kind of geeky shows mixed in with the gaming and tech stuff. Fair enough - the shows they started with were a bit pants (well, I kind of liked Chick Fight as it was fun at least!) but then they added old movies in the afternoon... ok, well some of that stuff was ok... and then there was the promise of martial arts and even some anime. Not really looking like a gaming channel at all by then! The latter two never happened, as far as I know but I'd stopped watching anyway as the game shows were hideously out of date by then. Oddly, I think they added a +1 and a +1.5 channel by the end. I guess it was in case you were insane and actually wanted to catch the repeats rather than wait a couple of days to see them again! In any case, it was a good effort but ultimately died a slow and painful death.

So, back to This is promising. It already has a history of producing good shows and what it has produced looks very professional and polished. The kind of thing a serious gaming and/or tech channel needs to be.

There's clearly a market for this - just take a look at response to on the net. It just needs to be done right, well planned and with a decent budget.

That said, needs to sort out the UK launch soon. Otherwise, nearly a year on from the original announcement, people will just become cynical and not care. If the channel launches, they'll have forgotten and then we'll have yet another load of complaints of there not being a market for this kind of thing in the UK - which simply isn't true.

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