Monday, 9 January 2017

Seen and heard: November 2016

Humans series 2 – lovely to see a UK-based high-concept sci-fi series, especially one such as this which keeps on piling on the issues and the tension. Also nice to see Carrie-Anne Moss as the token American Dr Morrow (or should that be Moreau, as in The Island of Doctor Moreau).

Television’s opening night: how the box was born – fascinating reconstruction of the BBC’s first television transmission, or rather transmissions, since the broadcast was made twice using the two competing systems. Great experimental archaeology to reconstruct the now lost engineering of the Baird mechanical disc scanner.

Don Giovanni Behind the Curtain – a privilege to sing with Polymnia alongside the Glyndebourne chorus, in their introduction-to-opera show at Milton Keynes Theatre.

Close to the Enemy – drama series by Stephen Poliakov. Fascinating and compelling, as usual, although none of the characters are really likeable, even the one played by the very wonderful Alfred Molina.

Arrival – really super high concept SF film about communicating with aliens, except that it turns out to be actually about something else entirely which makes it even more brilliant. The plot and the short story on which it was based is nicely discussed here. I kept on being reminded of Jodie Foster’s Contact (obviously), also the pilot episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (‘The Emissary’), as well as a little known SF short story called ‘The Gift of Gab’ by Jack Vance. Amy Adams is great as the professional linguist; I’ve got myself a T-shirt of her handwritten whiteboard sign proclaiming ‘Human’.

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