Too Much Culture

Top 10 TV Detectives

Posted in Uncategorized by tneenan on 07/30/2010

Sherlock has been a huge success in the UK, updating the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for the modern age, so what better time to take a look at the top 10 best TV detectives.

1) Monk

Tony Shalhoub’s obsessive compulsive detective is always a joy to watch and Shalhoub is excellent as the clean freak Adrian. Highlights include Monk on the trail of the muddy thief who stole three tonnes of sawdust and oil from a factory where they make glue.

2) Columbo

With his trademark technique of leaving a room and instantly re-entering it, Columbo caught over fifty master criminals slagging him off behind his back. Columbo eventually quit the force to pursue his other passion of reading fairy stories to Fred Savage.

3) Kojak

The true tragedy of Kojak was that, while he solved every case he was presented with, he was never able to solve the problem, which plagued him his whole career, the mystery admirer of a young infant.

4) Jonathon Creek

Alan Davies plays the man able to unpick any riddle. David Renwick’s amazing mind provided some of the best head scratching brain teasers ever seen on British TV. Amongst the myriad classics, the impossible case of a stabbed corpse  found at the bottom of a well,  but how could anybody have stabbed him, there was nobody else down the well!? Jonathon later concludes the body must have been stabbed, THEN thrown down the well. Genius.

5) Martin Crane

We all remember The Crane Files from the early eighties, but what is less well known is the spin-off series which sees a post retirement Crane forced to live with his posh son, this series placed less emphasis on Crane’s flannel shirted DI and more emphasis on his son trying to impress the head of the wine club and keep two dates apart despite them being at the opera at the same time.

6) Vic Mackey

The Shield’s no nonsense tough guy would use any tactic to get answers, on one notable occasion he rammed a suspect’s head through a wall in order to find out who it was who had been destroying walls in the local area, what a maverick.

7) Sherlock

The new modern take of Sherlock Holmes modernises the traditional character for the modern age and makes it modern. Holmes texts, uses the internet and can frequently be heard exclaiming his catchphrases: “Come on Watson, the game is Skins and Myspace.” And “Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be Katy Perry.”

8 ) DCI Gene Hunt

The David Bowie based crime buster is anything but PC. Look out for Hunt’s next appearance on TV, set during Bowie’s Labyrinth period. Gene will patrol the magical realm of Jareth, investigating a race hate attack on Ludo and a bomb plot to destroy that worm thing from the start of the film.

9) Jack Frost

The heroic detective frequently exchanged cross words with the super intendment, but it was his fiery exchange with the woman who plays Miranda in Sex and the City that saw Jason move to the big screen in a cracking film written by Peter Morgan.

10) Jessica Fletcher

The crime writer frequently investigated killers happy to murder for money or revenge, but who were always reluctant to ice an old lady to get away with it. It was this same breed of criminal, who kept Miss Marple in business for so many years.

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A Contribution to the Burka Debate

Posted in Uncategorized by tneenan on 07/25/2010

Twitter has been awash today with discussions about a possible British ban on the Burka, Too Much Culture is always keen to offer its own view on the subject as I hope the below cartoon proves.

I hope that’s cleared that up.

Some Inimitable Stand Up Routines

Posted in Uncategorized by tneenan on 07/23/2010

Here in the UK, veteran entertainer Keith Chegwin has been causing a stir for “stealing” other comedians jokes and posting them on micro-blogging site Twitter. Too Much Culture takes a look at some of the most famous stand up routines of all time.

Bill Hicks

In Bill Hick’s short career he had a number of famous and controversial routines. His most celebrated is probably his “Bad things are bad” routine in which he launches an excoriating attack on murder, rape and war. “All murderers should be sent to jail” Hicks yelled at an appreciative crowd before laying into poverty and famine.

Chris Rock

Much imitated, much repeated, but nothing can come close to hearing Chris Rock’s “black people vs Godzilla” routine for the first time. “Every time a black man wants to have a good time, Godzilla’s got to stamps on some buildings” Rock highlights with pinpoint accuracy. It’s worth pointing out Rock borrowed heavily from Andrew Dice-Clay’s “women vs bitches” routine, although Andrew fails to find any difference between the two.

Woody Allen

Woody’s Moose story is a text book example of how to structure a perfect stand up routine by making the situation more and more ridiculous. It starts with Woody shooting a Moose, builds on it by getting married and adopting a daughter, before the inspired pay off where he divorces his wife and marries his step daughter. Ridiculous and brilliant. Allen also famously said “the difference between sex and death is I don’t look like I’m about to have sex.”

Michael McIntyre

Macintyre doesn’t give a damn who he offends, as evidenced in one brutal routine where he lays the smack down on Sainsbury’s Bags For Life.

Andy Kaufman

The king of controversy had a number of famous stage moments both as himself and as his alter ego Paul Giamatti. But who can forget the time he forced an audience to endure a two year rendition of all ten series of Friends. Only six audience members stayed to hear Kaufman’s horse voice conclude: “And then they say lets go for coffee, and Chandler asks, where?” For a brief time Kaufman held the record for longest stand up routine, but was beaten in 2006 when Dave Chappelle described everything that had ever happened in his life.

Richard Pryor

Pryor’s incredible stories of drug addiction won him a legion of fans, but sadly lost him his sponsorship deal with crack.

Michael Winslow

The Police Academy sound effects maestro reproduces sounds so accurately he received a standing ovation for his recent Udderbelly gig. His impressions included microphone feedback, microphone interference, angry Winslow footsteps, Winslow arguing with sound guy, sound guy being slapped, sound guy crying, before returning to the stage and doing a car engine.

Peter Kaye

Two words “garlic bread!?” Kaye could never recreate the success of his original routine, despite attempts to recapture the magic with “Basmati Rice!?” “Shredded Wheat!?” and “Iceberg Lettuce!?”

Bob Newhart

Bob Newhart wowed audiences with his trademark stammer for many years. He sadly had to put a stop to his most famous act after he received an abusive one-sided phone call while on stage in New York. Fans were confused to see a distraught Newhart crying into his right hand clutching an imaginary receiver.

A Quick Filmography of Christopher Nolan

Posted in Uncategorized by tneenan on 07/17/2010

With Inception topping the Box Office with its mind-bending heistery, Too Much Culture takes a look back at his career in movies.

Memento (2000)

Memento is probably best known for its impressive structure, as the whole story is told backwards. The movie kicked off Nolan’s career and influenced a generation film students, Film lecturer Herbert Singh explains. “Oh Jees yeah, after that film was made every goddam film I watched was backwards, or sideways or f***ing upside down. Kids, a crumby movie backwards is still a crumby movie.”

Insomnia (2002)

Nolan’s first dabble into comedy isn’t a complete success. The film sees Robin William’s trying to cure Paccino’s insomnia with the power of laughter. However, the ever tricksy Nolan delivers a brilliantly impactful final scene where Pacinno discovers he can only sleep if Williams does his impressions of a gay hair-dresser and a stoned Elmer Fudd.

Batman Begins (2005)

A retelling of the origin of Batman, where Batman’s parents are murdered in an alley outside the Gotham Opera House. Batman then goes on a quest for revenge to track down the Gotham Town planner that put an fancy opera house in the roughest part of town.

The Prestige (2006)

Mitchell and Webb vehicle Magicians gets a big screen revamp in the Prestige. In exchange Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale appeared in an entire series of Peep Show until Bale exploded at Olivia Coleman on set for “pulling her usual Bev and Kev bullsh*t.” Bale now presents a Radio 4 panel show about bad dinner parties.

The Dark Knight (2008)

Nolan teased a show stopping performance from Heathe Ledger as the Joker. Watching it back now its almost impossible to believe Ledger made it just months before his tragic involvement with “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.”

Inception (2010)

A heist film set in dreams, Leonardo Dicaprio plays a dream fraudster who gets rich from people doing exams they are unprepared for in their underwear and floating around their old primary school. Working Title, Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddie Gets Ponderous and Worthy.

We Put Mel Gibson’s Phone Etiquette Under the Microscope

Posted in Uncategorized by tneenan on 07/14/2010

Phone etiquette is a study still very much in its infancy with the rules of discourse changing all the time thanks to Skype, Mobile Phones and webchat functions, but the essentials still remain the same. We take a look at Mel Gibson and see where he’s going wrong and where he’s going right.

Mel isn’t “present” with his conversation.

By “present” we mean completely attentive to the conversation. Mel is clearly distracted and not giving Oskana his full attention. Not being “present” in the conversation can leave people feeling that they aren’t important to you, even if they are. A good tip is to empty your mind before making the call of everything but the subject of the phone call, then and only then will the recipient feel truly valued.

Mel is very controlling over the conversation

Mel is certainly pushing his own agenda in the conversation, he is not letting the conversation flow naturally and keeps returning to the same points. This is fine for business calls where things need to be decided in a hurry, but for social calls it can be nice to let the conversation find its own path. Who knows you could end up at a topic you find more interesting than your own. And don’t be afraid to throw in a few pleasantries to help the conversation move, a little “an how are you” can be worth it weight in gold.

Mel is direct

This is actually a good course of action for many phone calls, he gets straight to the point, so there are no awkward pauses and everybody knows where they stand in the conversation. Be careful not to be too direct, but quickly and definitely assert what you want to be discussed.

Mel does not moderate his voice for the telephone.

Voice moderation, otherwise known as a “telephone voice” is useful skill to master. A nice telephone voice can work wonders and open many doors for you. I get the feeling that Mel is simply using his everyday voice, in some instances this is too loud for a telephone conversation and in others it can seem unprofessional. It may not be fair, but it happens.  According to John Robertson of EZINE @rticles, within 60 seconds people will make assumptions about your education, background, ability and personality based on your voice alone.  What reputation do you want to build?  What impression do you want to make?

Time of call

I get the feeling that Mel has made the phone call quite late. You might be a night owl, but be wary about waking those early birds if you call them too late. As a rule of thumb anything after 9.30 pm. is probably too late for a social, non emergency, call. Also if you call people late, don’t expect them to be as alert and on the ball as you are, it’s just not fair to make that assumption.

Now you’ve learnt the rules, we hope you can go ahead and have plenty of great and fulfilling phone conversations. Happy dialing!

A Salute To Alan Moore

Posted in Uncategorized by tneenan on 07/13/2010

Alan Moore has announced he is moving away from the super hero genre, because modern super heroes are more akin to bullies.  So to doff our cap to Northampton’s most famous resident we run down some of Moore’s best work and their film adaptations, which of course Moore will not have seen.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Moore’s graphic novel about the crime fighting super team is probably best known for the TV adaptation “A League of their own” with James Cordon. Moore refuses to be part of the ongoing  series other than to donate a few killer one liners with which Phil Tufnell can ridicule Cordon’s weight.

The Killing Joke

Moore’s contribution to the Batman canon is thought to be a major influence on The Dark Knight. But it also saw Moore add more to the Batman legend with a brand new crop on onomatopoeias which appear in stars whenever Batman punches a villain. Some of Moore’s classics include “Splank!” “Darp!” “Shlenga!” and “Effron.”

Watchmen

Zach Schneider’s adaptation of the graphic novel is probably the most faithful Moore film adap, following the graphic novel almost frame for frame. That was until Gus Van Sant topped him by making a shot for shot remake of Zach Schneider’s frame for frame remake of Alan Moore’s Watchmen. Until recently this was the most faithful adaptation of Moore’s work, until Titan books published a frame by frame recreation of Gus Van Sant’s shot for shot remake of Zach Schneider’s frame by frame adaptation of Alan Moore’s Watchmen. This book was known as a reprint of Alan Moore’s Watchmen remains the most faithful adaptation of Moore’s work.

V For Vendetta

Graphic novel 22 of 26 but the only one to be made into a film. This dystopian thriller tells the story of a angry young man who goes around beating up Roger Allam dressed as a comedy French painter. Famous for his outrageous French accent, long Parisian moustache and catchphrase: “Killing you should be easel.”

From Hell

Moore’s grizzly retelling of the murders of Jack the Ripper. The graphic novel was eventually adapted by the Wachowski Brothers for the cinema. In the film version you find out Jack the Ripper was in fact reality itself, and the whores of London were being used as batteries or something.

Minnie The Minx

Moore’s erotic exploration of female sexuality was eventually dumbed down for The Beano’s readership. It was this move, which meant Moore was forced to leave the Beano offices. While there he had masterminded the creation of The Numbskulls, Billy Whizz and the free Refresher bar celotaped to the front. A film version of Minnie The Minx is currently under option with Universal.

Some of the Best Cancelled TV Shows

Posted in Uncategorized by tneenan on 07/07/2010

So Damages has been cancelled, the Machiavellian adventures of Patty Hewes have come to an end, but sadly Damages isn’t the only show to fall foul of the commissioner’s knife. Too Much Culture presents some of the best cancelled shows which are sadly missed.

Dot Comedy (U.S)

Dot Comedy was cancelled after one series. The show, which featured humorous clips from the Internet, suffered from terrible viewing figures. The show itself was cursed from the beginning, being scheduled against the internet, a free thing which contains millions of humorous clips and can be watched at any time.

Firefly

Another cursed show, Joss Whedon’s Firefly suffered the indignity of having its pilot re-filmed and the series transmitted in the wrong order. Fox ordered a brand new pilot which placed less focus on Mal Reynolds and his crew, and more focus on Keifer Sutherland foiling a terrorist plot in a strict amount of time.

Angel

Joss Whedon’s LA based vampire show was cancelled after David Boreanez left the show in disgust that he had actually been playing a Vampire the whole time. “I thought I was just playing a cool guy in a leather jacket, not some pointy nosed Sesame Street f*ck” he later told LA Weekly.

Dollhouse

Joss Wheedon’s sci-fi thriller was cancelled after three series. Joss Whedon now spends most of his time surrounded by finale scripts for his cancelled shows acting them out with action figures and crying.

Futurama

A rarity in TV world, but despite poor viewing figures, Futurama was resurrected. Much to the delight of its many fans who rushed to watch it on illegal download sites.

Family Guy

Another resurrected show. Amazingly Family Guy has been cancelled and brought back seventeen times. It was once cancelled during the set up to one of its famous cutaways. Viewers had to wait eighteen months to find out why Louis wanting to take night classes was like the time Peter went fly fishing with Carl Rove.

The Hills

This series of the reality show will be its last. As the show follows the real life exploits of rich Californians, once the show is cancelled all its participants will have to cease living their current lives and spend the rest of their days in a German forest.

Ugly Betty

The last minute cancellation of Ugly Betty was a real shock, as you can see from the last episode, two thirds of which is Betty Suarez desperately trying to organise a charity fund raiser, followed by a stock footage explosion and ten minutes of a camera panning meaningfully around an empty office.

Scrubs

After the exit of Zach Braff et al, it was always going to be tough to continue the series, resting the whole show on the shoulders of Snoop Dog Intern was surely a bad move. The last episode will see Dr John Dorian returning one last time to Sacred Heart and shaking his head in disbelief that anybody ever found him charming.

Some advice on rewriting from a good friend

Posted in Uncategorized by tneenan on 07/01/2010

In honour of the screenwriting festival, today I am handing my blog over to Arthur N. Stafford, actor, screenwriter and co-creator of “Pulp Dogs Productions.” he’s a good freind of mine and I think he’s just about to make it big, here is what he has to say about rewriting:

It’s a well known phrase, writing is rewriting without the re at the front, and that’s something for all good writers to remember. Rewrites are your friend, they help you revise and correct you vision and eventually leave you with a better script. So with that in mind, please find below my top tips for tackling rewrites:

Identify Problems:

Is your script top heavy, does it sag midway through, is the end damp and lifeless, does the title sound gay? You should identify problems and find the best way of correcting them. In one script I wrote, I had a character who was in a wheelchair, but it was crucial to the script that he ran a marathon, so I wrote a scene where he gets better. You see, sometimes the best answers are right in front of you.

Character:

Sometimes in a script, a character doesn’t quite work, this is where rewriting comes in. Say you have a character who you have written as happy, but you want him/her to be angry. Simply do a search and replace, changing every time you’ve said “happily” to “angrily” in the script. Search and replaces also work if you want to change the race or sex of a character.

Page count

There is no ideal page count for scripts, but the perfect page count is 142 pages. If you’re script is longer, get out your scissors. Look at page one, is it necessary, does the story start at page two or three? If your page one begins: “Int.Park.Day, John makes a cup of tea” it can go. If it says: “Int.Park.Day John is being blackmailed” you’re off to a flying start.

Page One rewrites

Just last month I got an email from a producer saying a script I had sent required a “page on rewrite.” Its days like this remind me why I became a writer, clearly the script is near enough perfect, I just need to rewrite page one. A new draft of the script is due in tomorrow, but with just page one to do, I think I’ll leave rewriting ’til this evening, I’ve got Deadwood season two to watch after all ; ).

Embrace Criticism

Sending out scripts to people you trust can be really useful, however, be prepared to take on board the criticism you receive. I recently sent a thriller spec I was writing to my mum. Aside from some criticism about the strong language (chill out mum) she said she thought the script was “really good, and looked really professional, but its probably too well written” She advised that some producers might be jealous of how good I am at writing. You see sometimes its good to receive harsh criticism and start rewriting accordingly.

The red pen

Speaking of criticism don’t be afraid to take a red pen to your scripts, a real writer should have a first draft covered in red ink from all the ticks you have given your excellent writing.

Don’t over think

Half way through reading your script? Getting bored? That’s probably because you’re script can’t be improved. Just print it off, whack it in an A4 envelope and send it to a production company.

Next week we’ll be looking at how to write a covering letter for your script, how many times should you swear in them?