The Lowdown: Things You Didn’t Know About Alan Davies

December 31, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

You know warm and fuzzies? Those happy little feelings you get inside when something nice happens? Alan Davies made them. He did, really. OntheBox takes you behind the scenes on the lovable idiot, and brings you ten weird and wonderful little pieces of trivia about Alan Davies:

1. Whilst Alan Davies might not strike anyone as being particularly pugnacious, he made national news in 2007 when he was accused of biting a tramp’s ear in an altercation after Jonathan Creek producer Verity Palmer’s  funeral. Apparently said tramp shouted “Jonathan Creek” at the lovable mop-haired comedian, leading Davies to respond by saying “My name’s Alan. You know my name – Alan. What’s my name? It’s Alan” at which point he lunged in and munched ear.

2. This wasn’t Alan’s first brush with the law, though. When he left school at 16, Alan was …Read more

Tuesday’s TV: All New Shooting Stars

December 29, 2008 by  
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ALL NEW SHOOTING STARS, BBC2, Tuesday 30th December, 9pm Alert me

Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer are back, and they’re scraping the barrel.  As a show, Shooting Stars is fantastic – it always has been. The sense of anarchy and wonderful, hilarious lawlessness hasn’t diminished in their years off the screen, but the boys’ ability to pull in bonafide stars to shoot has. 

Christine Walken (the gardening expert off the One Show, apparently) is a particularly strong example of Reeves and Mortimer’s dwindling cache, and whilst Jack Dee is unquestionably a great comedian he was never going to be able to fill Will Self’s shoes as he attempts to play the straight man. He doesn’t have Self’s aloofness or cynicism, he’s just a bit grumpy.

In fact, the only two people on this show who are true stars are …Read more

Critic’s Choice – Films on TV Thursday 1st January

December 29, 2008 by  
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The Spy Who Loved Me – ITV1, 4.25pm Alert Me

The obligatory seasonal James Bond film, with Roger Moore flexing, furrowing and, indeed, raising his eyebrows as the titular spy. It’s the one with the union jack parachute, the underwater car, and metal-mouthed Jaws. A far cry from the seriousness of Quantum of Solace, this is quintessentially silly bond, and all the better for it.

Shrek 2 – BBC1, 5.15pm Alert Me

More postmodern fairytale/Disney lampooning, starring the big green ogre. Sharper than the first, but lacking the invention and heart of a Pixar film. Things are improved massively by the introduction of Antonio Banderas’ awwwww-worthy Puss In Boots, and the eponymous hero is vividly bought to life by Wayne Rooney’s excellent performance.


Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl  - BBC3, 8pm Alert Me

If you watched Pirates 3 on Boxing Day and were wondering what the hell was going on, you probably weren’t alone. If you were feeling even more critical, though, and wondered why on earth Dead Man’s Chest was even made, you could do with watching this one. It’s a throwback to the Erroll Flynn swashbuckling days of yore, and Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack is charismatic and

The Terminal – BBC1, 11.15pm Alert Me

Likeable Spielberg mush, as Tom Hanks, playing a man from nondescript imaginary eastern Europe, gets stranded at JFK international airport thanks to a coup in his home country. Catherine Zeta Jones plays the love interest, and it’s all dramatically inoffensive – in a nice way. Victims of stereotyping will probably not be too happy to see that our hero, Viktor, is a fantastic plumber, plasterer and decorator.

Critic’s Choice – Films on TV Wednesday 31st December

December 29, 2008 by  
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Spellbound  - BBC2, 10.20am Alert Me

More morning Hitchcock, this time set in a mental hospital, where psychoanalyst Ingrid Bergman falls in love with mysterious Gregory Peck. With a dream sequence designed by Salvador Dali, it’s typically good stuff from the tubby master of suspense – though not exactly made to be watched at 10 in the morning.


Just Like Heaven – BBC2, 7.05pm Alert Me

Reese With-her-spoon brightens up this jolly strange romcom with her spoon presence. It must have been an entertaining pitch: workaholic doctor has no time for love, is set up on a date, drives there, but has an accident and ends up comatose. The guy who she was going to the date with then moves into her apartment (not in a creepy way – it’s more of a coincidental ‘story quirk,’ similar to the way that Quasimodo has a spinal quirk), which her ghost is haunting (even though she’s not dead) – but he can see her ghost, and they fall in love. And (oh yes!) they have to work together to find out who this ghost is, because poor old ethereal Reese can’t remember a doggone thing! Oh, those crazy spirits! If you can somehow manage to swallow that unmitigated load of cobblers, then this is a surprisingly decent film.

Risky Business  - BBC1, 00.20am Alert Me

Ring in the new year with a 1983 teen sex romp starring Tom Cruise as a pampered rich kid whose parents go away for a while – leaving him to crash his dad’s Porsche and dial up a preposterously hot call girl. Despite  the film residing in some suburban Hollywood la-la-land and treating prostitution with teenage-boy levels of optimism, a sharp script means that it’s actually much better than it sounds. 


Young Frankenstein  - BBC4, 00.25am Alert Me

Comedy classic from Mel Brooks. Enjoying a bit of a renaissance thanks to the universally-loved Broadway version of The Producers, Brooks’ next – not tremendously original – idea was to turn this film into a musical. It didn’t do so well, and is closing in the new year – the insidious credit crunch claims another victim! It’s slightly obvious, in hindsight – this is such a filmy-film. Shot in gloriously mucky black and white, it’s a parody of the old 30s horror films – the music, the atmosphere, the effects all add so much to the comedy – putting it on stage rather misses the point. There’s so much to love here as Frederick Frankenstein (“it’s pronounced Fronk-en-Steen!?), reluctant grandson of the famed mad scientist, inherits the family estate in Transylvania and continues the work of reanimating the dead. As you do. It’s all tremendously silly, terribly quotable. And depending on how much you’ve drunk, you probably won’t be able to find this elsewhere on New Year’s Eve: Frankenstein’s monster singing and dancing in a top hat and tails version of Puttin’ On The Ritz.

Critic’s Choice – Films on TV Tuesday 30th December

December 29, 2008 by  
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The World’s Fastest Indian – BBC2, 5pm Alert Me

Anthony Hopkins stars in this amiable Kiwi film about an ageing motorbike-tinkerer who dreams of setting his beloved Indian (that’s his motorbike, before you wonder about possible logistics/racism) loose on the Bonneville salt flats in Utah, USA. An excellent, honest, soulful picture – and not just for petrolheads. Hearts shall be warmed.


I Am Cuba – FilmFour, 10.55pm Alert Me

This exercise in visual filmmaking is deeply influential – it was preserved for the unwashed masses by Scorsese and Coppola. Made in 1964, and funded by the USSR, the story (or stories, rather, as the film is divided into 4 segments) is naturally pro-communist, ‘down with the decadent capitalist pigs’-agitprop. However, the photography is simply stunning – the camera seems to be always moving, always making daring shots and compositions that still look fresh, even after 40-odd years. If you know your F-stops from your bus stops and your dollies from your Barbies, this is one to watch – undoubtedly one for the cinematic nerds. Tuesday night is Highbrow night!

Citizen Kane  - BBC4, 11.35pm Alert Me

aka. The Best Film Ever – but is it as much fun as Cliffhanger? Probably not. Still, you can be dazzled by Orson Welles’ magnum opus, as he acts, writes and directs with outstanding ability and technical wizardry. Just a shame that they didn’t get him to take a look at the tagline: “It’s Terrific!?. Nice one, marketing.

Critics Choice – Films on TV Monday 29th December

December 29, 2008 by  
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Superman Returns  - BBC1, 8.30pm Alert Me

Bryan Singer, director of the first two X-Men films, turns his hand to the man in tights, with agreeable results. The question is, in this age of Dark Knights, when even James Bond is caught navel gazing and crying – do we care about the goodest of all the good guys? Tellingly, after being gone for years, the Man of Steel returns to a world that doesn’t necessarily need him (and his on-off bit on the side, Lois Lane, even won the Pulitzer for an article championing that view). As a character, Supes is inherently dishwater, especially in comparison to Batman – but that doesn’t mean that this film is a waste. It delivers on the big action sequences, and Kevin Spacey makes for an enjoyably unhinged baddie – but his big moneygrubbin’ plan just doesn’t quite bring the edge of, say, the Joker’s terrorist-maniac schemes. But then – this is the more clean-cut world of Superman, and for a Superman film, it’s pretty damn good.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith -FilmFour, 9pm Alert Me

Watch on as the too-good-looking Brad and Angelina perform real-life courting rituals through the thoroughly inconspicuous medium of film. The story is some guff about deadly assassins married to each other, but without either of them recognising.


Shakespeare In Love - ITV3, 10.45pm Alert Me

More disconcertingly-enjoyable Shakespeare, this time not to do with any of the plays, but the man himself. Everyone was fuming when it robbed Saving Private Ryan of the Best Picture Oscar, but when watching it, you realise what a work of quality it really is. A witty film with a smart twist on a  well-trodden path.

Notorious  - BBC2, 11.40am Alert Me

Amidst a commendable fug of alcoholism, Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman star in this superb Hitchcock flick, and create the sort of on-screen chemistry previously seen only in earlier classics from Hollywood’s golden age, such as Bringing Up Baby. 


Bringing Up Baby  - BBC4, 00.20am Alert Me

Grant (Cary – not Hugh, thankfully) and Katherine Hepburn team up and create the sort of on-screen chemistry previously seen only in classics from Hollywood’s golden age, such as Mr. And Mrs. Smith. Wait – that might be wrong. Still, if you like your repartee to be witty, and your babies to not be babies, but actually leopards, then you’ll love this screwball comedy.

Critics Choice- Films on TV this Sunday 28th December

December 29, 2008 by  
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Howl’s Moving Castle – BBC2, 10.05am

From Japanese sensei/director/god Hayao Miyazaki comes this tale of magic and adventure. Featuring what-were-they-smoking levels of imagination, the story revolves around the 18 year old Sophie, who falls in love with the dashing wizard, Howl. However, the evil Witch of the Wastes has her own designs on Howl, and curses Sophie, turning her into a 90 year old woman. Not before making friends with an animated scarecrow, Sophie gamely bundles herself onto the aforementioned moving castle – a wonderfully Heath Robinson-esque design. It all gets a little overcomplicated when wars and missing princes are thrust into proceedings, but this is generally an absolute pleasure.


The Borrowers  - BBC1, 11.30am

Teeny tiny ickle people living under the floorboards, getting up property-developing John Goodman’s nose (eww, not literally). A cozy way to revisit childhood memories of the early 90s TV show.

The Princess Diaries  - BBC3, 7.40pm

“My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!? If you liked the recent Stardust, you’ll love this fairytale romp, which comes equipped with a postmodern eye and a razor-sharp script.

Critics Choice- Films on TV this Saturday 27th December

December 29, 2008 by  
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Jurassic Park –  ITV2, 9.40pm

This film is sheer ecstasy for the eight-year-old boy inside us all – dinosaurs! Real life dinosaurs! Alright – not quite, but the 15 year old special effects still look convincing. Richard Attenborough plays god (always laden with good omens) by using DNA cloning techniques to open a dino theme park – but in Jurassic Park, the Velociraptors are real. Shock horror – it all goes wrong. Spielberg keeps the sentimentality at bay, and delivers grandiose spectacle and stirring action sequences. 

Starter For Ten – BBC2, 9.30pm

Likeable/ubiquitous James McAvoy puts in a star turn in this University Challenge-based, 80′s set comedy. Do as much of the lazy TV schedule does and bask in the warm glow of nostalgia – the soundtrack is particularly good, even if the film is never quite as giddily enjoyable as watching Paxman go about his business.

Interview With The Vampire – BBC1, 10.50pm

A fine example of titular clarity as Brad Pitt, a vampire, gives an interview to a present-day journalist. Tom Cruise co-stars. A giant load of sucking follows.


King Kong – BBC4, 11.30pm

Reportedly Hitler’s favourite film, the original King Kong is a much leaner beast than the recent remake – 80 minutes leaner, in fact. Fay Wray does a lot of screaming as Ann Darrow (probably the fashion at the time). The effects may look, well, a bit crap now, but they were truly groundbreaking in their day and somehow still retain their charm. The film always retains its pace and sense of action and adventure – something that evidently pleased the Fuhrer, though I doubt that they’ll be putting that as a quote on the DVD box any time soon.

Bring Back Fame Review: Actually, Don’t

December 27, 2008 by  
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BRING BACK…FAME, Channel 4, Saturday 27th December, 9:00pm Alert me

It’s probably my age, but watching ‘Bring Back… Fame’ felt like throwing up Friday night’s Kebab on Saturday morning.

I don’t have any real, coherent recollection of experiencing it the first time around, but its stomach-turning reappearance is oddly familiar. And while there may be a rather large degree of discomfort and shame-spiralling embarrassment seeing it again, you’re brain gradually begins to pick up the odd flicker of why you enjoyed it in the first place.

Yep, Justin Lee Collins is back on the Reunion track again. While Fame didn’t really hold a sacred place in my childhood (age again, methinks), it’s never-ending legacy (High School Musical, Britannia High) is still lingering around today like the smell of your Nan’s …Read more

Top Six Possible Names for Doctor Who

December 25, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

OntheBox’s Alejandro Ahmadi Gestoso asks, who is Doctor Who?

Archaeology and a night in with the BBC have one thing in common: both require painstaking years of searching through cobwebbed, mud-spattered, sh*t-laden ruins of a once grand era to find something worth examining.

Fortunately, for now at least, that search has come to an end. But what show could I be talking about?

Let’s see: it features a time-travelling ship cloaked as a 1950s police box; a central character with more incarnations than a Greek pantheon and a power tool that puts Black & Decker to shame; enough temporal anomalies to give Stephen Hawking a headache, and, to top it all off, is the only doctor you’re likely to see on a Saturday night.

You’ve guessed it.

After various failed attempts to revive the Doctor Who franchise, it was finally resuscitated and relaunched in 2005, produced in-house by BBC Wales in Cardiff. Despite having gone through more doctors than a hypochondriac, the series has gone from strength to strength and the latest incarnation is no different, implementing a fine balance between innovative storylines that manage to surprise whilst staying faithful to the over-arcing mythology established over its 40-odd year run.

Shakespeare once asked: “What’s in a name?? and, certainly, of all the mysteries yet to be resolved in the series, the Doctor’s name has to be one. So, in light of the inevitable Doctor Who Christmas special, we suggest the top 6 possible names our resident Time Lord could don.


Of the Argonauts variety, and not the axe-wielding water-fearing psychotic kind, of course. The name has a certain epic quality to it: the hero who stands up to colossal evil with the likes of Hercules while the Johns, James, Marks, and Bobs of the man-world cower, huddling borderline homo-erotically in some recycle bin. The name conjures images of sailing along the Aegean sea, navigating treacherous straits; fending off malevolent gods, gorgons, and hydras, and reclaiming lost kingdoms and loves.

In short: the name ejaculates manliness; so, if you don’t want your face covered in it, stand back. …Read more

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