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Friday, November 25, 2016

Comic Cuts - 25 November 2016

I'm happy to report that the trip to see James Acaster – trailed in last week's column – was hugely and hilariously successful. He has a very dry wit that will dart off on some very unexpected tangents, as anyone who has seen him on Mock the Week and other shows will have gathered.

As far as I can recall, I first heard him on the Josh Widdicombe radio show, which feels like a very long time ago, but which can only be three years, four at most. He's a storyteller, with loosely threaded themes running through the show – in this instance a desire to be able to reset ones life back to some earlier point, whether by time travel or being relocated into witness protection.

Fast forward to Tuesday, and we're in the same venue for a very different show: Alex Horne and the Horne Section, which had a far higher energy and was equally as utterly daft and surreal in places. I've had to use a photo from the Horne Section website as I only snapped a couple of the backdrop and neither of them were in focus. I've stopped taking photos when people are on the stage – I used to with my old camera, but with the new camera the bright light used to focus is very obvious to the person on stage. Hence the lack of photos from my recent reviews. The above will give you just a hint of what the show was like. All I'll say is that the whole audience was dancing at the end.

The rest of the week has been relatively quiet. I binge watched a series called Sense8 over the weekend, which is the perfect way to watch that particular show. Compared to most terrestrial TV it's a very slow-burning tale; by offering it to download via Netflix, you can watch multiple episodes at a sitting (these days two is my limit before I need to get up, stretch and do something else... I used to watch 24 four episodes at a time and then I only stopped because the DVD needed changing!). I managed to watch all 12 episodes of the first season over four days.

As a fan of both the Wachowskis – although they vary from utterly brilliant (Bound, The Matrix) to utterly awful (The Matrix Revolutions, Jupiter Ascending) – and J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5, lots of comics), I had high hopes for the show. And I wasn't let down. The story is about eight people from around the globe who find themselves developing a psychic connection which allows them to see, then feel and then interact with each other. This 'sensate' power makes them targets for a mysterious figure known as Whispers.

I don't want to spoil it, so I'll say no more. It tackles gender politics and there are some quite graphic scenes (childbirth and some of a sexual nature), so it won't be for everyone. But I enjoyed it.

I've also dipped into science fiction at the other extreme. We've been rather spoiled of late with big-budget SF drama (we're also watching Westworld), so I chose this week to start watching (or re-watching) BUGS, the BBC series from the mid- to late-1990s. Oh, boy, does it look cheap! It was a bit of a guilty pleasure even when it first appeared, but I'm watching it now thinking, "Why is there no security in that supposedly super-secure building?" Seriously, the lead characters just walk into anywhere they want and sit down at a computer... which is running something that wasn't even top of the range in 1995. And there's a countdown every few minutes. You'd swear the scriptwriters wrote (URGENTLY) "You only have..." fifteen times and then tried to figure out what to put in between in order to link to the next bit of dialogue without spending too much cash.

Anyway, in honour of Alex Horne, I've tried to create my own "horn section" in today's random scans. To start with, there's the C. S. Forester cover gallery featuring many a Hornblower novel.

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