1. Robin Hood. It's getting grim in Nottingham. I'm quite surprised the Sheriff didn't get some of what's coming to him this week. Still, presumably they can't kill him off and have a second series. The chances of me watching that second series have got gradually better over the last few weeks, but will largely depend on whether the final couple of episodes maintain the standard or revert to sledgehammer politics and cop-out endings. Even at this stage I don't dare to rule out the latter possibility.
2. Eragon. Oh, the transparently named Eragon. (He'll call the sequel "Fragon" - d'you see what he did there?) I may only have read one Anne McCaffrey novel (my eyes, it burns my eyes...), but I'm pretty sure I've seen this idea of Dragonriders and telepathic dragons somewhere before. Hmm, "Eragonriders of Pern". A trip to IMDB reveals that the plummy blond Brit kid is not actually the same plummy blond Brit kid who starred in Stormbreaker as Alex (Dragon) Rider.
(IMDB also reveals the disappointing truth that Black Christmas, seen named on the outside of the cinema, is a horror film. I'd imagined it as a seasonal blaxploitation movie:
"Damn, it's foggy outside. I'm gonna have to find me the shiniest-nosed brother in the 'hood to pull my sleigh tonight!" "Screw yo' sleigh, Santa, you deliverin' presents fo' da man! How can you do that, Santa? How can you deliver presents fo' da man?" "Shut yo' mouth, Rudolph!" Etc, etc. Why, it's as if the last thirty years never happened.)
See, sometimes it's good to watch a... differently good film. Gives you more to say afterwards. The prologue:
V/O: Everybody used to fly around on dragons until one man killed off all the other dragonriders and became king. His name is Galbatorix. Look, here's a picture of John Malkovich, just so you know who's playing Galbatorix. He's the king, by the way. Did we mention that? So anyway, somebody's stolen a valuable stone from the king, Galbatorix. He's being played by Malkovich, in case you'd forgotten. He's not very happy about it.
MALKOVICH: Somebody's stolen a stone from me. I'm not very happy about it.
HENCHMAN: I shall find it at once, Galbatorix.
MALKOVICH: Address me by my proper title!
HENCHMAN: Sorry, o King.
MALKOVICH: That's better. I wouldn't want any four-year-olds in the audience to miss the important plot points.
Later, in the tavern, haggard old mentor Jeremy Irons explains the premise of the film again:
IRONS: Everybody used to fly around on dragons, you know. That is, until the king killed off all the other dragonriders.
SOLDIER: Silence, fool! We don't like expository talk 'round 'ere!
Enter the hero:
ERAGON: Golly gosh, I'm only a simple farmhand. It's jolly hard work, you know, although I do enjoy a bit of roister-doistering with my equally plummy cousin.
Then, after he and his dragon have saved a community from ogre attack by torching the entire area:
VILLAGERS: Hooray, we cheer for you! We cheer for you in the burning ashes of our village!
Some of them were even cheering while he was doing it, the flames leaping up around them. Takes all sorts.
At least it wasn't as bad as Inspector Gadget. Perhaps I shouldn't demand so much from kids' films.
3. Torchwood. Ah, the effort to make Owen look like a human being has begun. It's too late, Mr Chibnall, too late!
Now, I don't stand for the obligatory knocking of the head honcho when it comes to Doctor Who. Many fans used to knock John Nathan-Turner, but while his mistakes are undeniably plural, he did a lot of good for the show too. I see many fans online now, knocking Russell T Davies, but wrongly in my opinion. I don't hold with this idea that the producer alone can drag a show down - and yet with Torchwood I find myself uncomfortably drawn to just that position.
It's like there are two Torchwoods - one written by Chris Chibnall, in which everyone is unlikeable scum, especially the rapist-in-waiting character called Owen, and one in which a variety of exciting things happen to a team of interesting people, one of whom is a mildly unloveable chancer called Owen. If it was just one or the other, I'd be better able to process the show as a whole. The problem now is that because of the Chibnall episodes, my perception of Owen is such that I can only cheer when his tiny leathery grey heart is crushed by love, and can only look forward to the beating next week's trailer promises. I can sense, frustratingly, how much more engaging these episodes would be if I didn't hate the character.
And overall I didn't think it was a bad episode at all. In fact, quite a good quiet character-driven episode (with much gratuitous sex). It's just that one area - making Owen sympathetic - in which it fell down, because the rug was pulled out from under it several weeks ago.
Oh, there was just one other thing - the flashbacks at the end seemed a bit pointless, yet I was left waiting for a final scene to round the episode off. Those minutes could've been better spent, people.
4. John Barrowman's Musical Christmas. Hooray! It's on BBC Radio 2 on Friday at 7.30pm, and everyone must listen to it (on pain of painfulness). Well, that's the second time now that I've driven over Westminster Bridge (invaded by Daleks, 1964) and parked up for some theatrical culture just downriver from the Millennium Eye (Nestene transmitter, 2005). We even found the same Italian restaurant we went to the last time. A jolly Monday evening was had listening to the talented Barrowman and friends crooning out show tunes and festive songs, and I'm sure my female associates - Sarah and The Lovely Jo - got even more out of it than I did. Tsk. He's gay, ladies.