Sunday, 27 December 2009

New Hamlet

I have now seen another version of Hamlet. It had David Tennant in it as Hamlet instead of Derek Jacobi. Both are very nice, they give me ideas for stories...
Patrick Stewart was Claudius again but he had a more modern beard this time. In fact all the mannys were dressed modern and had guns and cameras and things so I was confused if it was proper Shakespeare or not. But then there was a swordfight and everyone died at the end so I knew it was.
My best bits were the funeral scene when Hamlet fights with Laertes. Then Hamlet mentions cats.

"Let Hercules himself do what he may,
The cat will mew and dog will have his day."

One Year in the Zone

It is one year ago today since Duncan started posting on the Anorak Zone Forum. He has posted pictures of me and talked about Blakes 7 and Doctor Who and lots of things with other mannys and it helped him feel better when he was not well and sad. So here is a big thank you and a Prenty Thumbs Up from Duncan and me to all at the Anorak Zone.

Thanks guys.

Duncan likes Doctor Who a lot more than I do. He watched it on Christmas Day while I was busy on the internets writing a story about Willie from Mission Impossible. But Duncan says he got a new story on DVD for Christmas and it is by Terry Nation! I look forward to watching it because Terry Nation writes exciting stories that are good. It is called Planet of the Daleks.

Monday, 21 December 2009

The I Claudius Challenge: 12 episodes in 12 weeks - Part Three

Mon 7 Dec: 10. Fool’s Luck

With help from his friend King Herod, Claudius persuades the senate to accept him as Emperor. But after that the real plot begins - Messalina, Claudius’s wife, whom he loves unquestioningly, tries to become “the Livia to his Augustus” (if he has a moment’s pause this episode, it’s when she uses that very phrase to him - he knows the truth about Livia; she - presumably - doesn’t). Messalina begains to maneuver the man she wants to become her lover, Appius Silanus, into a position where she can gain access to sleep with him, and pretty skilfully at that, but when he refuses her she loses her grip - Silanus tries to kill Claudius and ends up getting executed.

The Messalina story is something of a return to the subtleties of the early Augustus and Livia episodes, after the OTT Caligula parts. It draws me in as it twists and turns; I want to know what happens next. These are wonderful episodes.
…and there’s a great comic scene with John Bennett as a Greek doctor, giving Claudius medical advice.

Notable characters that die this episode: Cassius Chaerea and Appius Silanus.

Mon 14 Dec: 11. A God in Colchester


The second half of the Messalina story.

Messalina manipulates events to the point of overthrowing Claudius to set up with a new lover/husband, but his advisors Pallas and Narcissus, fearing for their own lives if the coup comes off, out-play her and she finally gets her comeuppance.

It shows Messalina’s skill at manipulation that they have to ensure she never gets a chance to speak to Claudius or else she would talk her way out.

It’s difficult for me to think of anything more to say about this one - it’s all in the writing and the magnificent (as ever for this series) performances.

Notable characters that die this episode: Quintus Justus, King Herod, Messalina.

Sun 20 Dec: 12. Old King Log

“Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out.”

The final episode.

Before Claudius dies he tries one final scheme to restore the Roman Republic. He marries his niece Agrippinilla (Caligula’s sister) and makes her son Nero his adopted son and heir - the idea being that Nero will be a tyrant as bad as Caligula and be overthrown, as Caligula was, but with no Claudius around to succeed him, the Republic will be restored instead.

Agrippinilla is no Livia or Messalina, Claudius is always ahead of her, and her attempts at manipulating him only play into his own plans. And between her and Nero, she’s the brains.

“Farwell Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus.”
(It reads like a list of five characters from the series, but it’s actually Claudius’s full name.)

Notable characters that die this episode: Claudius. Britannicus, Narcissus, Agrippinilla and Nero’s deaths are foretold by the Sibyl.

Guest-star of the week: Christopher Biggins (Nero).
“What a pretty thing a fire is.”

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Sar Trek 4: Voyage Home

I have now seen Star Trek 4: Voyage Home and I am a very happy cat. Shakespeare one day and Star Trek the next. It was a funny film but serious as well. My best bit was Dr McCoy in the hospital making people better. I was in a hospital once visiting Duncan when he was ill and sad. I didn't see Dr McCoy there. But it was still a happy ending because Duncan got better and came home. Captain Kirk got a happy ending when they made him a new Enterprise to thank him for saving Earth by being clever and brave and a hero.

Happy cat!

I know there are more Star Trek films for me to see. I am looking forward to the next one.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

I am a Shakespeare-liking cat

I have been watching the First Part of King Henry the Fourth. I like Harry Hotspur, he is a good baddy. I like Sir John Falstaff, he is a very silly manny. And I like Prince Henry, he is a good protagonist as he starts off silly like Falstaff but he shows he is brave and a prince by the end. King Henry the Fourth is not in it that much when you think that the play is named after him. He was a baddy in Richard II, who was nice and was played by Derek Jacobi. My best bit is the big fight at the climax, but I also like it when Harry Hotspur mentions cats.

"I had rather be a kitten and cry mew
Than one of these same metre ballad-mongers;
I had rather hear a brazen canstick turn'd,
Or a dry wheel grate on the axle-tree;
And that would set my teeth nothing on edge,
Nothing so much as mincing poetry:
'Tis like the forced gait of a shuffling nag."

I have had a happy Caturday because I got to watch Shakespeare.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Star Trek 3: Search for Mr. Spock

A manny called sfdebris has reviewed Star Trek 3 Search for Mr. Spock on his Youtube Channel and he gives it 6 out of 10 and calls it "average."

I disagree.

It is fantastic! Captain Kirk was brave and it was great and then his son got killed and I was sad and then the Enterprise blew up and I was excited because Captain Kirk had a plan and then he won and I was happy!

It is now my second favourite film after Wrath of Khan. The only thing it does wrong is that it is not as good as Wrath of Khan. It still has many good bits. My best bit is just after the Enterprise has blown up in space and Captain Kirk says:
"My God, Bones, what have I done?"
and Dr. McCoy says:
"You did what you had to - what you always do - turned death into a fighting chance to live."

I am a happy cat!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

I love Captain Kirk!

I have been watching more Star Trek.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Your mission, should you decide to accept it...

I have been watching Mission: Impossible. I like Willie, he is my favourite. He is big and strong and I think he is really the clever one, not Jim. I liked Dan Briggs as the leader in the early episodes though, I miss him. There were also episodes with Ricardo Montalban and George Takei in them, they were good too. Later on there's Paris, and he is played by Leonard Nimoy who was Mr. Spock! It's amazing! He is a master of disguise. So is his character. I like Paris, and I like Barney and Rollin.

I don't like the films. I think Tom Cruise is rubbish and they spoil Mission: Impossible by being too silly.

Monday, 7 December 2009

The I Claudius Challenge: 12 episodes in 12 weeks - Part Two

Some thoughts at the halfway point

I haven’t bothered to give the individual episodes ratings (out-of-five or otherwise), partly because that’s not my style but mainly because I’d just be giving every episode top marks. They really are that good.
They’re not flawless productions - if I wanted to nit-pick I could say that they’re not first-rate production values, with the studio-bound sets shot on videotape, or that the aging make-up isn’t always perfect on, for instance, Tiberius, Livia, and especially Claudius himself. But it is so easy to forget about these things when watching the episodes because the acting is utterly brilliant from pretty much everyone. It’s a play performed by some of the finest actors of that era - as such, the sets and make-up are adequate to the task of letting the actors do their job.

If I Claudius were made today, it would be like Rome. Almost exactly like Rome, in fact, given that Rome’s second season leaves off in almost the perfect place for the events of I Claudius to start. Rome’s a bit like the Star Wars prequel films in that respect - also it has all the modern production values that one would expect of a present-day TV series that they could only dream of in the ‘70s, but the script and the performances aren’t up to the standard of the original. Though, that said, I do like Rome in its own way.

Sun 15 Nov: 7. Reign of Terror

This is the story of the downfall of Sejanus. At the moment of his triumph, thinking he is to be named Tiberius’s successor, he is undone.
First he is shown still rising towards his ambition in scenes that illustrate how ruthless he is - torturing confessions out of senators and arranging to marry Livilla’s daughter when Tiberius refuses him permission to marry Livilla herself.
The downfall itself - organised by Tiberius and Caligula with help from John Rhys-Davies’s Macro, Sejanus’s ambitious second-in-command (and therefore his replacement) - is equally ruthless; it’s not just Sejanus that dies, there’s a purge in Rome and the episode ends with the streets full of bodies, including Sejanus himself. I like the way Sejanus’s murder is shown from his point-of-view, with Macro and two guards advancing towards him - the camera - with swords out.

His death scene is followed by Livilla’s, locked in a room and starved to death by her own mother, who had uncovered her poisoning of her husband and attempted poisoning of her daughter.

Claudius again plays a small but significant role in the plot - he is the one that brings the news of Sejanus’s treachery to Tiberius since, in spite of the fact that Sejanus controls access to the Emperor, he doesn’t consider that Claudius could be a threat. It’s a nice touch that keeps the title character from being merely an observer of events.

Mon 23 Nov: 8. Zeus, by Jove!

This is my favourite episode. For all the brilliance of BRIAN BLESSED, Sian Phillips, and the other actors in previous episodes, at this point John Hurt totally steals the show.
Caligula becomes Emperor. He started mad, and gets madder; thinking he is a living god. His madness, and the episode, builds up to the stunning final scene.

Don’t go in there. Don’t go in there.”

Mon 30 Nov: 9. Hail Who?

You set the standard of sanity for the whole world.”

Caligula, backed by German guards loyal to him alone, is all-powerful, and reaches new heights (depths?)* of insanity:
- Claudius saves two senators from death by quoting Homer to amuse Caligula.
- Caligula thinks the Jew’s prophecy about the coming Messiah refers to him.
- Thinking he is the god Jove, Caligula makes war on Neptune and his armies take seashells as plunder.
- After a campaign against the Germans (and Neptune), Caligula orders no Triumphs upon his return, and then rages at the lack of them awarded to him.
- He also reprimands the Romans for celebrating the victory of the battle of Actium, when his ancestor Mark Antony was defeated, but later admits he would have done so if they hadn’t - because Augustus, who won, was also his ancestor.
- And then there’s the most utterly crazy and unforgettably insane scene of the series - the dance. If you’ve seen the episode, you’ll know the bit I mean. If not, words cannot describe. As evidenced by the following exchange between Caligula and Claudius:
“Did you like it?”
“It was… indescribable.”
- Caligula forces the beautiful Messalina to marry old, crippled Claudius as a joke, though it backfires somewhat as they are happy together… for a time, but more on that in episodes to come.
- “The noble senator Incitatus.”

Eventually a conspiracy gets underway to kill him, and finally, he’s dead.
Then the Praetorian Guard force Claudius - virtually on pain of death - to be the next Emperor so they can keep their cushy jobs guarding him. The final shot of the episode is Claudius wearing a golden laurel wreath - less than gracefully.

With Caligula, and the fabulous John Hurt, gone, the series will never be the same again. But that doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to the remaining three episodes. Far from it.

* Yes, I know I’ve used this before, for episode 6, but the point remains.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Christmas is coming...

...look busy.

That seems to be what all the mannys are doing nowadays. I am a cat, though, so I don't have Christmas because us cats have Caturday instead. It happens 52 times more than Christmas so it is better in that way. Yay for Ceiling Cat who is watching us.

I don't get presents on Caturday but I don't mind because I don't have to give anyone presents or else get called bad names like "scrooge" or "humbug" which is what happens to mannys who don't do Christmas. At least that is how it seems to me, although because I'm only a cat I may not see the whole picture. Ceiling Cat sees the whole picture, though.

If I want to give someone a present I will not wait until Caturday, I will give them it right away unless they are not there in which case I will give it to them the next time I see them. I do not have money because I am a cat, so if I give someone a present it will be hugs, kiffs, or fish. Or sometimes I will write them a story and put it on the internets.